4 Mar 2013

a bump of wool roving

I love working with natural materials, there is a warmth to them  and I know them well, I know their characteristics from a life time of using them.

When I was in grade 7, my first year of high school, we did home arts and crafts, basically sewing and cooking.
 Part of sewing was learning how to look after different fabrics and weaves, how to launder them and tell one from the other.
 I learned early on that the fabrics I most liked working with were also the ones I like to wear; cotton, linen and wool.

In the end I did sewing every year at high school, I dropped cooking after second year. 
I loved my sewing classes especially as the years went on and the people who didn't really want to be there dropped out of the class.
 It was always relaxing, often challenging and so much fun, making things to wear at school, like a holiday really.

Now when I make my dolls I use natural materials.
The wool stuffing is one of the defining elements that people think of when they see a Waldorf or Steiner doll.
 The stuffing needs to be clean and soft but not too slippery so that it will hold onto the other wool fibres around it and not bunch up.
 Crossbred wools such as Corriedale tend to suit this purpose best, merino is too slippery. 
It really is a treat to be able to use such a lovely natural product. 
Unfortunately getting hold of organically produced wool fleece is more difficult though if any of you know of a source please let me know.

I have large bags of stuffing waiting to be used, some suitable for dolly heads, some for bodies.
The stuffing gives a wonderful weight and warmth to the doll. 
It  takes on the scent of the child as they cuddle and snuggle and the smell of the doll becomes a comfort to the child.
 Working with wool stuffing makes dollmaking such a joy, just as the child responds to the warmth of the wool so does the dollmaker and over time you get to know just how the wool will act as you create the doll, especially the doll's head.

found... headless bodies, don't know what Nicky Lad is thinking..What the????

I was clever at school, I did well over a range of subjects and so university and studying towards something that would use my brains and help people was my goal, physiotherapy was where I ended up though in my heart I always wanted to study history, just love the social history of any age but especially the 19th and 20th centuries.
 I also wanted to be some kind of artist but I kept that hidden away deep inside, I was one of the clever girls and I felt  I was not a natural artist as in good at painting or drawing, I never knew that visual arts could encompass many things, maybe even dollmaking.

I have read that if you don't know what you want to do with your life then think back to what you were truly passionate about  when you were around 12, when you knew a thing or two about the world but were wildly idealistic, before you became too obsessed with the obsessions of teenagers and worrying too much about what others would think of you and could lose yourself in your hobbies and  dreams. 
I loved sewing, knitting, my dolls and their clothes and having fashion parades, history, music, swimming and dreaming as I swam lap after lap, reading, walking for miles and miles.
Twelve year old me was very wise.

Me summer of 1971/72

10 Responses to “ Natural”

  1. Now that i think back to when i was 12, i can remember sneaking bits of material out of my mothers sewing box to make clothes for my dolls.
    i also remember hiding them if my friends came to visit as i was deemed 'to old to play with dolls' among my friends
    Why do we insist on growing up so young!

  2. I just popped by to see who the chicken was named after...
    I like what I see so I will be back around to look some more.
    thank you for sharing. You were a cute twelve year old. I loved sewing and cooking at this age too. I still do lots of cooking but have run out of time for the sewing. I really will have to make more time in my days..

  3. Hi Jenny,
    Just wondering if the full size jammy sold on the weekend? I must have missed it again.

  4. Hi Michelle, I didn't get the Jammy dodger finished so she will be available on Wednesday

  5. This is a lovely post, I had not heard about looking back to being a twelve year old when thinking what you really loved.
    Back then I was busy knitting which has stayed with me all my life but like you I was clever and not good at drawing and painting, so went on to do a science degree. If I had my time again I would like to have done photography or someething to do with textiles but I am very lucky that I have time to knit and take photographs as hobbies.

  6. Oh I love that. I am a history girl too. I did a double major in Classics in my arts degree. I loved dolls and clothes and cross stitch and that was the year my stories and poems won first prise in the Launceston competitions. And French and reading, speech and drama and art. And cooking cakes. I discovered pastel drawing that year and loved it but had no faith in my ability. I also got my first lead in the school musical. I love singing. And I adored small children. What a fantastic exercise! I've returned to so many of these things in the last few years. Who knew 12 year olds were so clever!!

  7. At 12 I remember pouring longingly over embroidery designs in women's magazines and my mum telling me all that was a waste of time but since then I've always sewed and made things - having 3 daughters and no money it was a necessity ;) I recently found out my Opa was a couturier and costume designer so maybe I inherited my love of textiles from him. Though I'm pretty sure he never made dolls for a living!

  8. Love your post, as a 12 year old I did love knitting and sewing but it was not considered ´cool´at the time. I did love reading a lot as well and arts. I see lots of similarity´s with many of you, I also went to university and studied history of art, I did not quite find a carreer in it though and when I made my first doll for my daughter completly fell in love with dollmaking. Now my 7 year old daughter wants to be a dollmaker when she grows up isn´t that sweet.

  9. So lovely to read everyone's memories of the passions of their 12 year old selves.

  10. When I was 12 I was passionate about collecting dolls! This interest completely disappeared for over 20 years. Then, when I had bought 2 or 3 Waldorf dolls, it took my aunt asking "are you collecting dolls again?" To make me realize that I was! I hadn't made the connection at all. ;)


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.