my Steiner story

23 Oct 2012

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Many many moons ago, when my 23 year old son was just a tot we visited a Steiner school fair.
What made me go there or how I found out about it I don't know.
I do remember being captivated by the hand crafts for sale.
 The school was small and the crafts were all made by the school family including dolls by the lady who went on to be the leader of a craft group I attended years later.

It wasn't the dolls that enchanted me then it was the knitted and felt animals. 
I loved them.
 I also so picked up a catalogue for a US business, Camden Rose .
 Oh such sweetness was on those pages.
 I loved it. 
The gentle colours, the illustrations, the toys, the dolls. 
For me this was pre-internet, probably 1993 and the thought of buying something from overseas was too difficult to contemplate.
 I didn't know where I could buy this kind of beauty for my children and then I realised I could make it. 
That fair was an entry for me into a whole new world.



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Fast forward to 1995, my eldest son in his first full year of school, over crowded classrooms, screaming teacher who seemed largely disinterested and my quiet boy was being lost and uncared for. 
The Steiner school had moved, closer to home.
 It was tiny, marginal student numbers, it was battling to survive. 
My shy little boy went along with me and his younger brother to a playgroup where I saw him feel instantly at home, tentatively interacting with the other children and then playing with them, my younger son enjoying everything he could see and touch.
 It was joyous to see them.
 But we didn't make the decision to change, something about the school made it seem impermanent. 
We chose instead a small private school 
that seemed nurturing and the classes were small but the school was strong.


Move forward another 2 years, 1997 and my younger son started school, the Steiner school had exploded and been blown to the four winds with a significant number of the children ending up at my children's school, several in my younger son's kinder class with younger siblings. 
The following year, needing to do something for myself, I joined a Steiner parenting course and truly felt that I had come home.
 Some of the class members had children at my sons' school, some were women I had been to school with so may years before. 
Through this course I met so many that I felt  a bond with, I discovered a playgroup that moved from house to house each week and I happily went along with my little girl.



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I remember those playgroup years as golden years, the time before all our children had started school and some of us moved into part time and fulltime work.
 It was in the playgroup that I made my first doll.
There was also a weekly craft group run by a dollmaker and crafter who had made her living from her craft for many years. 
At these classes I saw my first glimpse of a Magic Cabin catalogue and I was enchanted.
 There were lots of anthroposophical lectures, eurythmy, cooking, painting, feltmaking, dollmaking. Everything was there for me and I loved it so.
I read everything I could, I soaked up all the wonder of the craft, the toys, the philosphies. 

I subscribed to Mothering magazine, not available in Australia and learned about a whole world of women embracing a more natural family life.
 I studied the ads and sent off letters to businesses such as weir dolls for copies of their catalogues so I could dream about being able to get my hands on some of those wonderful materials which didn't seem available here in Australia.
 From the beginning of all this I was selling little pieces of craft work, mostly felt and knitted animals and occasional dolls, even selling some to a mailorder shop I somehow found out about in Melbourne. 
I was a busy mum and didn't feel I had time for more than a hobby that paid its way. 
Somewhere along the line Winterwood opened and suddenly there was easy access to European tricot and felt, wool stuffing and books, all by mail order, not on line. 
We didn't have a computer anyway.
 We were doing our best to bring our children up in a natural wholesome household and I loved being a full time mum.
The Steiner school and Steiner movement in our town seemed to be growing and the school had new premises that seemed permanent and full of possibility.



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Move forward to 2004 and we were all ready to move our daughter into the Steiner school, we had even filled in the enrolment papers, when poof, the school closed and has never reopened.

In September 2004, I gave up part time work as a physiotherapist and began to build a business out of my dollmaking hobby.
 In mid 2006 I opened my Etsy store and by the Christmas 2007 I was selling enough on Etsy, from my blog and locally that I felt I was a full time dollmaker. 
While I have been growing as a dollmaker and without small children to take to playgroup I have grown away from the local Steiner community, and I do feel sad for this. 
Perhaps it's time to get involved again,
 perhaps my dollmaking life and my homemaking life have now come to a stage where I can give more time to community.
 I really do think it's time.



Isabelle

all photos taken from my archives, most are pre 2009

4 Responses to “my Steiner story”

  1. beautiful to read your story. I guess all lovers of Steiner ways have a story but not everyone goes on to create such beauty themselves. I would love to make dollies if I had time. Maybe when I am a grandmother some day! Have made some handmade rag dollies but not the lavish little beings I admire so much here and elsewhere :)

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  2. thanks for sharing your story Jenny. It sounds wonderful, I am looking for a 'group' to join, a place to belong...sometimes I think it's easier with small children.

    cheers Kate

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  3. It's a nice surprise to find your story this morning. It makes me sympathize with you, it shows a bit more of who the real Jenny is... About your story: I guess it's the same everywhere: alternative lifestyle and schooling is difficult to sustain, since the group of interested people just isn't big enough. And I think there also isn't enough encouragement about how to practice an antroposophical or other natural lifestyle, how to apply it in your life. It's a matter of 'spreading the word', making people aware of another possibilities, alternatives. Another way of playing: playing with natural toys (dolls) and evolving in a creative way... the way to happiness! (I hope you understand my English )And I love the pictures you added. Greetings from the other side of the world

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Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.