Snow White and Rose Red. A little story.
I know some of you love this story, while others have never read it. So here I am, with the dolls in my hands, letting you know how their story shaped their creation.
The following text is taken from the University of South Florida, text in parenthesis is mine of course.
There was once a poor widow who lived in a lonely cottage. In front of the cottage was a garden wherein stood two rose-trees, one of which bore white and the other red roses. She had two children who were like the two rose-trees, and one was called Snow-white, and the other Rose-red.
They were as good and happy, as busy and cheerful as ever two children in the world were, only Snow-white was more quiet and gentle than Rose-red. Rose-red liked better to run about in the meadows and fields seeking flowers and catching butterflies; but Snow-white sat at home with her mother, and helped her with her housework, or read to her when there was nothing to do. (My Snow White is just like that, she loves to spend more time at home than her rambunctious sister Rose Red).
The two children were so fond of one another that they always held each other by the hand when they went out together, and when Snow-white said: ‘We will not leave each other,’ Rose-red answered: ‘Never so long as we live,’ and their mother would add: ‘What one has she must share with the other.’
They often ran about the forest alone and gathered red berries, and no beasts did them any harm, but came close to them trustfully. The little hare would eat a cabbage-leaf out of their hands, the roe grazed by their side, the stag leapt merrily by them, and the birds sat still upon the boughs, and sang whatever they knew.
No mishap overtook them; if they had stayed too late in the forest, and night came on, they laid themselves down near one another upon the moss, and slept until morning came, and their mother knew this and did not worry on their account.
Once when they had spent the night in the wood and the dawn had roused them, they saw a beautiful child in a shining white dress sitting near their bed.
He got up and looked quite kindly at them, but said nothing and went into the forest. And when they looked round they found that they had been sleeping quite close to a precipice, and would certainly have fallen into it in the darkness if they had gone only a few paces further.
And their mother told them that it must have been the angel who watches over good children.
Snow-white and Rose-red kept their mother’s little cottage so neat that it was a pleasure to look inside it.
In the summer Rose-red took care of the house, and every morning laid a wreath of flowers by her mother’s bed before she awoke, in which was a rose from each tree.
In the winter Snow-white lit the fire and hung the kettle on the hob. The kettle was of brass and shone like gold, so brightly was it polished.
In the evening, when the snowflakes fell, the mother said: ‘Go, Snow-white, and bolt the door,’ and then they sat round the hearth, and the mother took her spectacles and read aloud out of a large book, and the two girls listened as they sat and spun. And close by them lay a lamb upon the floor, and behind them upon a perch sat a white dove with its head hidden beneath its wings.
One evening, as they were thus sitting comfortably together, someone knocked at the door as if he wished to be let in.
The mother said: ‘Quick, Rose-red, open the door, it must be a traveller who is seeking shelter.’ Rose-red went and pushed back the bolt, thinking that it was a poor man, but it was not; it was a bear that stretched his broad, black head within the door.
Rose-red screamed and sprang back, the lamb bleated, the dove fluttered, and Snow-white hid herself behind her mother’s bed.
But the bear began to speak and said: ‘Do not be afraid, I will do you no harm! I am half-frozen, and only want to warm myself a little beside you.’
‘Poor bear,’ said the mother, ‘lie down by the fire, only take care that you do not burn your coat.’ Then she cried: ‘Snow-white, Rose-red, come out, the bear will do you no harm, he means well.’
So they both came out, and by-and-by the lamb and dove came nearer, and were not afraid of him. The bear said: ‘Here, children, knock the snow out of my coat a little’; so they brought the broom and swept the bear’s hide clean; and he stretched himself by the fire and growled contentedly and comfortably.
It was not long before they grew quite at home, and played tricks with their clumsy guest. They tugged his hair with their hands, put their feet upon his back and rolled him about, or they took a hazel-switch and beat him, and when he growled they laughed.
But the bear took it all in good part, only when they were too rough he called out: ‘Leave me alive, children, 'Snow-white, Rose-red, Will you beat your wooer dead?'
When it was bed-time, and the others went to bed, the mother said to the bear: ‘You can lie there by the hearth, and then you will be safe from the cold and the bad weather.’ As soon as day dawned the two children let him out, and he trotted across the snow into the forest.
Henceforth the bear came every evening at the same time, laid himself down by the hearth, and let the children amuse themselves with him as much as they liked; and they got so used to him that the doors were never fastened until their black friend had arrived.
When spring had come and all outside was green, the bear said one morning to Snow-white: ‘Now I must go away, and cannot come back for the whole summer.’
‘Where are you going, then, dear bear?’ asked Snow-white.
‘I must go into the forest and guard my treasures from the wicked dwarfs. In the winter, when the earth is frozen hard, they are obliged to stay below and cannot work their way through; but now, when the sun has thawed and warmed the earth, they break through it, and come out to pry and steal; and what once gets into their hands, and in their caves, does not easily see daylight again.’
Snow-white was quite sorry at his departure, and as she unbolted the door for him, and the bear was hurrying out, he caught against the bolt and a piece of his hairy coat was torn off, and it seemed to Snow-white as if she had seen gold shining through it, but she was not sure about it.
The bear ran away quickly, and was soon out of sight behind the trees.
A short time afterwards the mother sent her children into the forest to get firewood. There they found a big tree which lay felled on the ground, and close by the trunk something was jumping backwards and forwards in the grass, but they could not make out what it was.
When they came nearer they saw a dwarf with an old withered face and a snow-white beard a yard long. The end of the beard was caught in a crevice of the tree, and the little fellow was jumping about like a dog tied to a rope, and did not know what to do.
And so the story goes. If you want to read what happens with the dwarf, the bear, and these two brilliant girls, you can head over here and read more about them.
This version is pretty close to the vintage book we have at home, and which I read many, many times to my children. When we were homeschooling my girls, I have to say we had about 2 to 3 hours of daily reading time. Mostly me, reading to them out loud. We sampled biscuits, lemon scones, cranberry muffins, and thick smoothies while I read and read and read.
Growing up in Mexico I wasn't really very exposed to these fairy tales. My parents had bought a very lovely encyclopedia (those were the times!) that contained excerpts and poems from gems of children's literature. I got to read Little Red's lovely story, some watered down version of The Tempest and Midnight Summer's Dream, and quite a few others. But I always read in Spanish and there wasn't a whole lot to read literature wise, more history wise. That's one of the reasons I have always loved history, as is so tied with my childhood readings.
When I moved to Canada, a new wealth was made available to me: public libraries and thrift stores. Both always full to the brim with books. And I started reading, and reading, and reading again. And soon enough, reading to my children. First, during our short "story time" around lunch time when they were toddlers, then it turned into a huge chunk of our day when they were being homeschooled.
I discovered with them Charlotte's Web (oh my gosh, I cried and cried like a baby with them, I did not know the spider dies!), James and the Giant Peach, The Secret Garden (one of the very first chapter books I read to them when we started homeschooling), The Search for Wondla, The Spiderwick Chronicles and The Chronicles of Narnia, The Water Babies, The Little Princess, Pippi Longstocking, all the Grimm's fairy tales, Anne of Green Gables, The Nutcracker, The Penderwicks, Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, The Borrowers and Peter Pan. Those are just some of the ones I remember most closely.
Their father read to them at night. He reserved his very favourites: The Wizard of Oz, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Amulet, The Hobbit. I don't remember exactly all the books he read to them as I wasn't with them.
And then there are the audio books. This passion for stories, for reading them and writing them, has grown so strong over the years.
Not a trip goes by for us where we don't put an audio book during our drive. We got to listen to Harry Potter's entire saga at least 10 times each book and I am sure some we have heard way more!, we listened to The Westing Game, The Best School Year Ever, Odd and the Frost Giants, Ramona and Beezus, The Graveyard Book, A Wrinkle in Time, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Mrs Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
I have taken many liberties with the books I have read, and let them transpire into the stories and creation of my dolls more times than I care to remember. Many of their names have come straight out of whatever book I was reading to my girls at the time. And many more times, certain passages in a book inspired a whole doll right then and there.
I consider this a very healthy inspiration method. I read, I dream, I create. Maybe because creating dolls for me has always been tied with writing a story. Even before I had this blog, and I was just writing their listing, I could never help myself and I always had to say "something" about the doll. Where she had come from, who she was, what she was after.
While making dolls inspired by something I have read has always been very easy to me, writing my own stories is a necessity. I just cannot help but write. I see each doll as a story unfolding. I know each one has a path and a life of their own, and they will write their story in their own time.
Creating Rose Red and Snow White has been such a lovely experiment for me. I wanted to make these dolls close to me. I am extremely fond of their story because my children loved it. I am even more fond of it because I discovered it with them. It was as magical for them as it was for me.
And by creating them after this timeless fairy tale, I have awakened a love in me for reading children's literature. Now that my girls attend school we don't read together so much. So perhaps it is time to dust the books, to buy new ones, and to imbue our life with the written word. Who knows? That might spark the creation of another wooly soul.
As for Snow White and Rose Red, as you already know they are made as custom dolls, and this is only part of their wardrobe. I shall come back tomorrow to show you the clothes they plan to wear when they help their sisters in the garden.
I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane, of fairy tales, lovely books that are deep in my heart, and the many photos that these two sweet girls allowed me to take of them.
We shall come back tomorrow! So I hope you come back to see them. Thank you for reading.