dimanche 10 juillet 2016

PuppenMITmacherei 2016 ~ Doll Sew Along 2016

Ich mache MIT!

1st meeting: Collection of ideas 

In the first place, a great THANK YOU to Maria from Mariengold and Caro from Naturkinder, who have organized PuppenMITmacherei 2016! I am excited to participate in this doll sew along and I am looking forward to sharing ideas with other doll makers. Also, thank you for inducing me into making a blog (I am not even on facebook!), which was fun to do and also the reason why I connect a little bit later...

My name is Agathe, I am Dutch, living in France, Normandy. I hope it is OK if I write in English. I understand and read German, but writing it correctly would take me more time than making the doll itself!

Maria and Caro asked for a few questions to be answered. It is very helpful to sit down every now and then reflecting on why you do what you do, where you want to go, how to improve and develop. It is also interesting to hear from other doll makers what moves them, as well as their stories 'about'.


I have always been interested in dolls (hence Karin Neuschütz's book - 1979 editon!), but only started making them when my first granddaughter was born - it began with a cuddly cloth. 

 I kept most of the first try-outs

 Now, eight years later, and as grandmother of a growing tribe, I have made various dolls, depending on the age of the child. I still make a cuddly blanket for a new born baby. For a 12-18 months old I make a soft cuddly nicky velour doll. Once the children are 3 years old, we sit together and talk about what a new doll should look like, how big, the colour of hair and eyes and the accessories or clothes it should bring in its little suitcase.

accessories: "... a satchel and a green note book, just like me!"

I find it hard to make something nice when there is a deadline and I admire professional doll makers who perform under pressure. Making a doll is very special to me. I am in my own world, and I create with my heart for a little one I know; with my hands, because I love the touch of wool and fabric as well as the slow process of stitching, forming the head; while concentrating on the process, I think about how I could adapt a pattern, use a different technique... And when the doll is finished and the child adopts it, my happiness is complete. It is endearing to be able to see how they play with it, as well as useful to see if the doll has the right size, keeps its form, if the clothes are easy enough for little hands to handle etc.


from books, (grand)children, other doll makers, internet

* books: 

Van Lappen tot Poppen, by Anca van der Elsken. The illustration buttom right is from a children's book by Dutch illustrator and writer Rie Cramer
* grandchildren

Children are also good critics in their own honest way. Sometimes very delicate, like the remark of a 7-year old: "making ears must be difficult Omi" - why? "well, otherwise you would make them!"  So her doll got 'upgraded', also with a belly button, bottom, knees and a new ballet outfit (after which it became interesting again for her). However, without an important intervention a nose could not be added so the bigger dolls have a small nose now .

* internet of course, amongst many, I think of Ineke Gray, Knecht Ruprecht Dolls, Petit Gosset.

* and last but not least: Maria from Mariengold who inspires many professional and amateur doll makers with her blog and courses. I have her Baby Twink e-book and discovered in it new and more secure ways of fixing legs and arms; stuffing the body and head in a way that is not tiring for your hands; crocheting a wig (even though crocheting in NOT my thing); making weighted dolls and much more.


I usually buy the doll making material on line from Kamrin's Poppenatelier in the Netherlands. Her site is in Dutch, English and German; well-cared for and quick delivery and always helpful feedback.
Last April, Kamrin organized the first European Waldorf Doll Seminar in the Netherlands. There were over 90 participants from all over the world and as Maike from Feinslieb put it in her report: we were on doll planet for a whole weekend... talking about inspiration!

The nicky velour comes from a fabric shop in St Lô (la Manche, France), called Tissus d'Isa where they usually have a slection in their winter collection. I also buy fabric on line from Niels Holgersson.


I went to Maria's and Laura's first FilzKopfKurse in Berlin last summer. It was a unique experience to participate in their course and to meet them and other doll makers. There was time to chat and laugh, but we mostly felted, felted...we worked hard (my painful hands confirmed this next day),  and went home with a felted head, as well as with the Charlie Bo tutorial, full of clear pictures, a source of information about material and techniques. Afterward I exchanged with Maria by email our ideas about this new trend in doll making, the difference between the gorgeous "art dolls" with needle felted faces on one side, and the more traditional Waldorf dolls for small children, where "less is more" on the other side. Each category has its own place in the doll making world, depending on why or for whom one makes them. One day I hope to work on an art doll, but for the moment I have too many little clients under the age of 5 and so I go for the more simple, soft dolls that children can play with, cuddle with and identify with. Which does not mean that I don't use the felting needle at all.

I want to make a 35 cm nicky velour doll for a little boy who will be 15 months in December. It should be slightly weighted and I have to improve the soft head - they tend to lose their form and especially the chin after a while! I am not sure yet about the colours, primary colours or more pastel. And there is the question 'a nose or no nose' to solve.

In the mean time I would like to know if any of you have experience with weighted dolls. Do you also see children handle them more carefully, do you see they help to calm children down? I use the Glorex granulates, but I wonder about the weight and use of something like aquarium sand?

I am looking forward to the next get-together in August!  

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