handmade toys

22 Aug 2011

The doll, the quilt and Maggie

Buying handmade toys for your children can be very expensive I know.
 Part of the reason I started making dolls was because I couldn't easily afford to buy the doll I wanted for my daughter. 
That of course was only part of the reason because I have always enjoyed making things by hand especially things that involve needles and thread and yarn and soft cottons and wools and felt.

baby bug 2

When Kate was just a baby I went to a Steiner (Waldorf) parenting course and there I found a lovely bunch of like minded people who wanted to help their children have a wonderful childhood filled with nature and colour and handmade goodness. 
Some got a little side tracked into thinking they had to buy all the Steiner props to ensure a wondrous childhood but most got the message that it was the atmosphere of the home and the conscious parenting that were the most important.

Nonetheless it is a joy to surround your child with a calm rhythmic home filled with handmade lovelies, handmade by you, by your child and by others whose work is filled with positive energy and peace.


Two books that I loved to use when my children were small and that I am revisiting now that those days have passed are Toymaking with Children by Freya Jaffke and The Children's Year by Stephanie Cooper, Christine Fynes-Clinton and Marye Rowling.
 The latter book especially I found inspirational and have used many many times. The children often used this book to make Christmas presents .
 The simple line drawings and instructions  belie the wonderful results.

Don't be afraid to make toys with and for your children.
 Don't think everything you make has to be a step towards becoming a professional toymaker.
Don't think everything you make has to last forever, little paper and string creations can just be for a day, a week or a season and then recycled.
Enjoy the process and enjoy the fact that there is no pressure for perfection. 
You are creating to satisfy your own need to create, to give your child a new plaything and to show your children that it's possible to make toys as well as buy.
 You may find new skills or polish up old forgotten skills or add to skills you use everyday.
 It's a great example for your children and they will come to believe that mummy or daddy truly can do anything, magic!

Oh and I found a blog that is doing a craft along based on The Children's Year, you might like to take a look


10 Responses to “handmade toys”

  1. Wonderful contented and sound advice. Going to check out the books now.
    P.S. have had some beautiful comments about Kate's jewellery on the blog

  2. This is so true. Even a cardboard box becomes a toy when a child is around, I know this because when our oldest child Rachael was little, she would throw all the toys out of the box and get in it to sit and play. We cut out pictures of food from magazines and played Grocery Store. Bits of yarn and Elmer's Glue became Christmas ornaments when glue was squeezed on wax paper in the shape of a tree, the yarn was added and sequins, left to dry. Yes, I still have those ornaments and she will be 35 in December. It doesn't take much to make a child happy. People need to remember they don't need to buy out the store. Thank you for your post. It helps put things back into perspective, especially in these days of high prices.

  3. Lovely post, thank you. I just made a toy cat out of an old sock and the children are fighting over who it belongs to, so I have to make another one :).

  4. thank you for the reminder. our dollhouse is full of tiny handmade bits (food, rugs, bedding, books), it makes it very homey and genuinely ours and very special to us.
    those are two of my favorite crafting books as well.
    best ~ annri

  5. Very well put! My son was born in 1968 and grew up with handmade toys that his Dad and I created. I had never heard of "Waldorf" anything (other than salad LOL!) back then, but instinctively realized that I wanted my son to develop a healthy imagination, which he would not be able to do if the toy was something that did everything for him (if that makes sense?!). Keep up the good work - your dolls are lovely.

  6. beautiful post.

    i started making dolls when my oldest was at a Waldorf preschool. Most everything around our house is handmade...I wouldn't have it any other way :).

  7. A lovely, thoughtful posting, Jenny! My children are now approaching their 40's so I am onto grandchildren. When they were little, I didn't know of the existence of Steiner philosophy in child-rearing, but I kind of did all that stuff fairly intuitively (and because it was a necessity - we didn'y have that much money to splash around on expensive toys). I made things for them and with them; they did spinning and weaving with wool from from their own lambs; we made books that they wrote; we made pots that we fired in ouside bonfires; they learned music and did every kind of art activity. They often compared notes with their school friends, many of whom were not allowd to create any sort of mess in the house! It certanly wasn't like that around here!

  8. Thanks so much for the reminder to take this lovely book off of the shelf, and for the wonderful blog link for inspiration. As we look toward autumn here it is the perfect time to be thinking about yummy crafty things that can be done indoors with and without the little ones.

  9. You nailed it, so very well.
    It is so important to make things for them, as well with them. And it doesnt have to be perfect, "the right gift", or even purchased. I firmly believe that creating with our children is an education in itself.
    The atmosphere of our homes and of our hearts, when surrounded by our small children, is so much more important for their development, than x amount of waldorf-inspired toys.
    The girls played with dirt the entire weekend, and made huts and people out of all kinds of things they found in the old cabin.
    I love those two books, and I will check the blog. Thanks for your lovely reminders Jenny :-)

  10. So very well said, Jenny. And not only does your child benefit; you can find the child in yourself when you take the time to craft a doll or toy with your own hands :-)



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