Oh dear. Where do I begin?. Things haven't quite gone as expected with my set of siblings over here. Things took on a total different idea once they were being made, once I had knit two different things for Chloe and she refused them, or the time I made Cowan's boots with fantastic linen, only to get one chewed up by the puppy. Bad puppy!. From one scare to the next, from one adventure to a flip of the heart, these two have kept me on my nerves. Always ready to see how they twist things or how they change their minds. If anything they have made me very fidgety and I grew so unsure of my abilities to finally bring them forth.
I dont know how many times I double checked their mother's requests, how many times I brought their pictures up, how many times I read about their personality and the things they like or didn't like, I was so eager to see them come out of the fabric, to see wether my vision and their creation would match the lively children who they were made after. It is always such an ordeal, more emotionally than technically, to create dolls that are made after real children. There is the aspect of trying to please, to accommodate, to match the sensibilities of the children, while at the same time the dolls themselves talk. I know you think I am crazy, but they do. They talk and they have their own ideas, and if you don't listen you suffer. I like to listen. But I also suffer. No real winning over here.
I had every liberty, every freedom, to design them, to choose their outfits, to make them as close to their inspiration or not. Yet there was something in this pair that was giving me such a hard time. And it was from the very beginning. I like to keep my customers a little in the dark, especially when things are giving me the sweats, I don't like to make them feel anxious or worried. It is bad enough that they don't get to see the dolls until they are ready, bad enough I take months to make them, so why add stress to the mix? I like to work through all these issues by myself, to understand why is happening and to work through the emotions and thoughts the dolls arise in me. With these two I had a bit of a moment, brief but felt very real to me: all we want is our children to be happy.
I think it boils down to that. Their mother sent me several photos of them, and in every single one the children had amazing smiles, twinkling eyes. They looked so happy. As I kept working through my own emotions and thinking I came to realize, no big thoughts there, that everything we do in our lives as parents is for our children to be happy.
I think their mother wanted, willingly or not, to impress that emotion on these dolls. When her children are all grown up, two smiling dolls will stay with her. Two very happy dolls. Not freaking out happy, not jumping up and down happy, just the happy you look when things are well in your world: when your parents care for you, when you come home from school to a clean house, a bowl of food, a cozy bedroom, your pets and books and toys. Closets with clean laundry, towels in the bathroom, mowed lawn, activities sorted out. A world organized and made possible by your parents. Ah! childhood. Things get so much more muddy afterwards.
I had every intention of writing a completely different story for them. Chloe was a princess, who was a bit stubborn and didn't listen to her mother. Quarrelling with her she had fallen prey to a spell that had turned her into a mermaid (since she has a mermaid outfit and all you know) and now she couldn't talk and say she was sorry. Oh, but trusty older brother, with his caring and brilliant brain had figured out a way to bring her back to human form. Chloe said she was sorry, her mother hugged her, and they all lived happily ever after. Well, once they were finished this story felt imposed. Not their story anymore. Their was a much simpler but also much deeper one. They made me think all sorts of things and the story I had envisioned disappeared with the fog one morning.
"One day Cowan will be all grown up. Chloe too. They will go through life remembering with tenderness the beautiful childhood they had. They will grow their own families. They will visit their parents. They will ask about those dolls one dollmaker made long time ago, and smile kindly to the passions of their mother, perhaps even shaking their head a little. Cowan and Chloe will grow together, brother and sister. They will help each other out, and together, being brave in this crazy world. They won't be afraid, they have each other."
See? much more simple. But so much more meaning and emotion. I am putting many good wishes in these dolls, little secrets and little clues, so when Chloe and Cowan grow up they can see a little of who they were when they were little. A love for kittens and mermaids, tomboyish little girl. Animal lover, carhart wearer, hedgehog-whisperer little boy.
And while there are still clothes to photograph, boxes to pack and cheeks to blush, these two are happy knowing they are going home. I am happy for them, and for the person who will open that box. I hope her day is brightened when she does. It has been such a pleasure to see these dolls come out of my hands, and more importantly, it feels such an honour to create dolls that mirror the life of a child out there. A great experience. Thank you.