Soup simmers

Slow pace

As the pot of simmering turkey soup dwells in the kitchen, so new ideas and new dolls are simmering in my studio. Herbs and spices, calico prints and vintage ticking. Warmth and creativity. As the title of my last post reads, "the most wonderful time"...this is, for me, the most wonderful time of the year also in the dollmaking front. Another year draws to a close, and I get to do to two very important things: look over my sketch book at every single doll I created this year, count them all up, see if I can remember who bought each and every one (which I do, at least for the larger dolls, the bunnies are all a blur!), and close said sketch book and start a new one.

Yesterday I bought my new sketch book. It has less pages than the one I used this year, and maybe that just means that my hands have surprises for me. Maybe my hands were drawn to pick up a very large, voluminous, black-bound sketch book, with not so many pages, perhaps telling me that this year my hands will create less dolls. I do wish for less dolls, because I have so much fun creating them that I want to make more things for them. Less dolls for me means I get to make more toys. And if I learned something this year was this: that making toys gives me great pleasure. Don't get me wrong, creating dolls is my absolute passion. But creating toys for the dolls is almost such a guilty pleasure that I doubt my sanity at most times. Confession over.

A nice winter
I am savouring this end of the year so slowly, looking at all my sketches, almost not willing to create a congratulatory photo collage of my dolls, because to do so means to me that I really am closing this year, and I am not quite sure I am there yet. I want to have all these dolls in my open head, in my heart, just a little longer. To me, even though they all are in the homes that they were meant to be, there is a little part of them still here. I see them about in the bits of fabric lying about in a dantesque mess on my shelves, on the mismatched buttons that went on some outfits, on that little piece of yarn left over from the shoes for so and so. All those dolls are still here, and I am not ready to say good bye to them, to open a new book, and to start dreaming and drawing my next year. I know it is coming, but I wish to dwell on it just a little longer. Don't be fooled by this romanticism, these hands of mine will soon, very soon, get rolling wool, cutting embroidery lengths, laying fabric to be cut. And when that times comes, I will be ready. Oh! so ready. But for now, let us linger and simmer the new dolls a little longer.
Posted on December 27, 2012 and filed under dollmaking, our life, process.

The most wonderful time

Christmas joy

So it says the song, and I do have to agree. These winter holidays have to be the most exciting time of the year, at least for us. And not just because of the anticipation of the Christmas celebration, and all the hidden presents, the sneaky crafting and all of that, but also because it brings family together: to cook, to bake, to craft, to create, to sing, to play board games, to rejoice in the company of one another.

Christmas decorations

I miss my mexican family so much. I miss the flavours of a mexican Christmas, the smells and the different kind of winter. But after these six years of ex-patriate celebration, I have learned to appreciate the canadian celebrations: perogies, cabbage rolls, hot chocolate and marshmallows (no cinnamon here! heresy!!), chocolate bark and all kinds of different sweets, a different recipe to cook the turkey, the christmas crackers in exchange for the piñatas and posadas. I try as much as possible to imbue our Christmas celebration with a little of what I grew up with: paper flags, cinnamon and oranges, advent candles, calientitos (a beverage that requires mostly ingredients unavailable to me, but that now that we have moved closer to Toronto there is some of that stuff available to us), etc. We are going to attempt tamales and also churros con chocolate. Because to me Christmas is no Christmas without them.

The joys

It snowed again and so my fears of an un-white Christmas have been erased. The girls made a snowman with their Grandfather this morning, and now they are off for a walk, while Mom and Dad (as usual) are working feverishly at every chance they get, to finish the Christmas presents. I am almost positive we will be wrapping things in the wee hours of Christmas Eve, it seems to be our tradition. I hope I get to wear skates this year, and I get to try my legs on some frozen ponds.

Feliz Navidad

In the mean time, I wish you the best, and I hope you get to eat lots of yummy food, and take time to spend around those that make you happy. I wish you a nice winter walk, with rosy cheeks and sparkly eyes. I will be back shortly after so you can tell me how it all happened. So many dolls are waiting to be discovered, and I almost can't wait! Merry Christmas to you, and Happy and Joyous fourth sunday of Advent. Like my girls have been saying all day: two more sleeps! (I better get going or I won't finish!).
Posted on December 23, 2012 and filed under our life, toys.

The myth of killing a dragon


Two woven dragons

I have been reading a lot about the mythology surrounding dragons, folklore stories of heroes slaying the evil beasts and peace and wealth restored to the community. There seems to be so much deep meaning to this fantastical creature, and the fact that it seems such a personal voyage of discovery and realization to "slay the dragon".

My last ancient warrior was The Dragon Slayer. Except she wasn't, right? In this case, her dragon is a wise creature, who reconnects her with the past, and serves as bridge to her future. How it all ties to the particular spot I am in my dollmaking life is a bit uncanny, but also extremely exciting.

First I thought this doll was going to be a boy. But as the days passed, and as I started designing everything I kept having this nagging thought about the conventionality of it all. All boys play rough. No girls are warriors. I know obviously better, and while I did try to offer boys in this collection mainly (one of the reasons being that I normally don't make many boy dolls), I felt the girls were misrepresented in the lot. I felt I needed to make a doll, a little as a female role model, of adventure, of strength, of courage. A bit symbolic to my own struggle as well, trying to find the courage in my daily battles, trying to overcome my own inner turmoil.

From the Book of Kells

The ending of this collection has been a sort of ending of many self-doubts and anxieties for me, not just on the dollmaking front. At home, we came to some conclusions and some decisions in regards to the education of our children, which feels like it all happened at the right time for us. It was such a ride to work with my husband into pulling all these dolls together. I normally work alone, and never ask questions in regards to what I am doing, but felt a bit reassuring to have him by my side guiding the lineage of the dolls as they were being made. If nothing else, I felt very humbled the entire time, humbled by his talent and inspired by everything he was creating.

The culmination and the auction of Red Scarlet and Cinder, has been a completely different ride. From tears of joy and immense happiness at the realization that there are people in the world, so giving, so kind, and so invested in supporting my work; to finally letting go of the last doll I have made in this collection, at a time when terrible tragedies happened to children all over the world. To say that the emotional front was charged would be an understatement. I feel incredibly humbled by this demonstration of support, not just from everybody that participated in the auction, but by all the emails I have received and the heartfelt congratulations my fellow dollmakers have bestowed on me. Thank you.

And this morning, talking to the winning bidder, she gave me just one more quote to close it all:

“Fairy tales are more than true; 
not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
G.K. Chesterton 
(**which we both agree we won't share with Cinder!).
Posted on December 19, 2012 and filed under collections2012, dollmaking, process.

Red Scarlet and Cinder, her faithful dragon.

Red Scarlet

Cinder did find a girl, beautiful enough, courageous enough, smart enough, kind enough. He found all these qualities in a little girl, that lived in a village tucked away in between two big mountains. The villagers called her Red Scarlet, not because she had a bad temper, or because of her beautiful red-hooded cape, but because her cheeks were always flushed red from laughing, a girl so full of life. Kind to everybody, the people in the village adored her, and were always trying to help whenever she needed something.

Scarlet and Cinder

Red Scarlet was playing one afternoon, when she felt herself observed. Looking everywhere around her, couldn't see anybody; but she knew someone was watching. After days of observation, Cinder decided to make himself visible and tell her his vision of peace , asking her to come with him to convince Dracco to change his crazy ways, or defend herself against him in case he didn't want to listen. Being the gentle and brave girl that she was, she jumped at the opportunity to help the people of her village, who were in fact very much afraid of dragons. Cinder warned her about the dangers of encountering an old dragon, but gave her the weapons needed to defend herself, and promised to teach her everything he knew about how to defeat a dragon.

Dragon Tower Shield

Dragon fighter
Cinder gifts Red Scarlet with the beautiful sword his grandfather made, and honours her with the magical shield. Together they embark on a journey to change their world. A little girl and her dragon. Some would say they are up against hundreds of years of ignorance and mutual grief, some could say they are attempting the impossible, but Cinder and Red Scarlet will reply: only by going through the hours of darkness can we come to see the morning light. They have faith in their quest, and that is all that is needed.

Fur in Winter

Winter soirée

Only time will tell if Red Scarlet and Cinder triumph. I can only hope I get to hear part of their coming adventures. I am sure they are bound to meet many wonderful allies, change a few obstinate minds along the way, and above all teach kindness and the powerful magic of play.

Winter for Red Scarlet

Red Scarlet is well prepared for the magnificent occasion when she gets to celebrate the dragons return to the outside world. She cannot wait for the time that she doesnt have to defend her friend Cinder, against the ignorance of her people. She is very excited for this day to come, and has a beautiful set of clothes to bask in her glory and feast. Cinder always by her side, cannot wait to get bigger, so he can carry Scarlet on his back and fly her all over the land. I wish I could be there to see it.

A scarlet red hooded cape

Red Scarlet

Red Scarlet, a 21" Figlette, and Cinder, her velveteen dragon, plus her wooden weapons and clothes,
 will be held for auction HERE, starting Sunday December 16th at 10:00 PM EST
and end on Tuesday December 18th at 8:00 PM EST.
This team effort (my husband made all her weapons) has finally concluded after almost two months,
and we are ready to let them go out into the world to continue their journey.
I cannot even tally the amount of hours these toys took my husband and I to create,
am I ever happy to see them ready to meet a family!

Red Scarlet and Cinder

Thank you for being so extremely patient with us, and for allowing us and encouraging us to let lose our imagination and our creativity take reign. 
Your support this entire year has been nothing but wonderful and a blessing. 

Thank you.

Pretty Scarlet
Posted on December 16, 2012 and filed under ancient warriors, collections2012, design, dollmaking, figlette, stories, toys.

Cinder seeks the truthful one.


In chain maille

In ancient times, before the world as we now know it, dragons and humans were friends. They co-existed on the basis of being true creatures of Mother Earth. Not one superior or better than the other. Dragons helped humans evolve and get deeper knowledge on many arts: hunting, intuition, lucid dreaming, working with metals, construction, etc.

Dragon tail

One very old and wise dragon however, Dracco, grew restless of this cooperation. He seemed to see it as a useless endeavour to teach humans, who were greedy and pigheaded, who fought for the little losing sight of the big picture; he grew restless seeing the numbers of humans grow steadily, while the number of dragons just dwindled. He proclaimed his race to be stronger, wiser, better, and rallied the dragons to not teach humans to make the very same weapons that could decimate them. He then convinced dragons to fight instead against the humans and subjugate them. Human villages and towns were raided, burnt to the ground. All the knowledge that was had and enjoyed previously was vanished. Humans grew to be fearful of these amazing beasts, and deemed them vicious, selfish, gold-oriented, greedy. Dragons retired to the underworld, with an occasional excursion to the outside, only to be greeted with violence and hatred, and retaliated with fire and chaos. Their once peaceful kinship was now an endless cycle of pain.

Dragon weapons

Such was the state of affairs when a young dragon, by the name of Cinder, had a very prescient dream. He dreamt that he could heal the relationship between humans and dragons; a dream in which he didn't have to dwell in cavernous homes for most of the time, and could actually fly and be free outside, without having to raid villages, pillage humans and burn things to the ground. He dreamt he wouldn't   have to follow the orders of Dracco, who was just getting more and more insane due to his age and a life of hate. This dream was so etched in his heart, that he consulted his great grandfather, and old emerald dragon by the name of Tulsi.

Dragon slayer sword

Tulsi used to be a blacksmithing teacher of humans, back in the day, and upon hearing of Cinder's dream he forged for him the last dragon-slaying sword and a magic shield; a sword that could actually pierce the metal-like skin of an old dragon, a shield that could protect the bearer of the engulfing fire of a dragon's breath. Tulsi instructed Cinder to go out into the world, and find a human girl to be the bearer of these gifts. He told him that only a girl could appease the hate of Dracco, and defend herself against his vicious attacks. Tulsi told Cinder to find a truthful girl, who was strong enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, kind enough, courageous enough, to be able to do this. Cinder was dismayed at the amount of qualities to find in a human girl, but above all, did not like the idea of having to be among humans, who hated dragons and didn't think twice about killing them whenever they had a chance, especially since at his young age he was pretty vulnerable and didn't have much strength to defend himself. However, the promise of a better future for his kind, the yearning to fly free, lured him out of his cave, to find the person who will bring upon such life to all.

Silver dragon

Sweet Scarlet

Cinder leaves his sacred lair, in search of a girl. He carries a magical shield, and a beautiful sword. And the weight of a beautiful dream guides him, a dream of peace, and a dream of flying, unhindered by hate or fear.

“No, I would not want to live in a world without dragons, 
as I would not want to live in a world without magic, 
for that is a world without mystery, 
and that is a world without faith.” 
R.A. Salvatore.


**After the horror of the events of Friday Dec. 14th in Connecticut, working on a doll and a dragon seemed a bit silly and useless; I felt a bit powerless against the dark forces that have turned the world so grey and full of suffering. However, I remembered this quote and it gave me hope. There is magic in this world, and we all need to feel it in order to create change. Change is not imposed, it comes from within, and it is within where we will find the answers to heal our world, and give our children a better and brighter future. 
Please believe in magic, as I believe in dragons.


Little Scarlet
Posted on December 15, 2012 and filed under ancient warriors, collections2012, dollmaking, figlette, stories.

Back to Barleysugar Town

Marie and her beloved toy

By way of the Honey River, crossing Gingerbread Village. Doesn't it all just sound so amazing? A trip, started through a tiny cedarwood staircase, coming down through the sleeve of her father's travelling coat, Marie embarks on a wonderful journey beginning at Christmas Wood, all the way to Marzipan castle, where her beloved Nutcracker introduces her to his four sisters.

On their way to Marzipan castle


The Nutcracker dream

My little ones, and I have to admit me too, are completely enamoured with the story of The Nutcracker. This is the first year they have heard of it, so it is pretty magical to them. I try to introduce them each year to one of the important ones, instead of jamming them all in one big puddle. The littlest one has been drawing ever since the end of November, nutcrackers in all kinds of denominations, Grandfather clocks, little girls called Marie (with no left shoe of course!) and all kinds of whimsical stories accompany her drawings. They watched me make, with much joy and anticipation, this Christmas custom doll, and they actually pleaded she must have a Nutcracker to go with her.

Marie and her Nutcracker

Mr. Nutcracker

Although we haven't had the pleasure of taking them to see the ballet yet, we did watch a movie version of it, the one produced by Maurice Sendak. And they were captured with every step of it. I think wonderful stories have that kind of magic, the one that stays in your heart, and inspires you to dream about them, to draw, to dance to their music, to create in their name. Most definitely, The Nutcracker and the Mice King, written by E.T.A. Hoffmann, is one of those stories. Now I must go and wet-felt this little needle-felted Nutcracker, so that they can both start their journey to their new home. In the mean time, I will perhaps listen some more to Tchaikovsky. See you soon!
Posted on December 13, 2012 and filed under custom orders, dollmaking, fairy tales, needle felting, process, toys.

Sweet Aida, a sister for Alice and Audrey.


Miss Aida

I just finished this sweet custom doll. I didn't envision her this sweet, but I guess her true personality came about as she was made. Sweet Aida will be a sister to another pretty doll called Alice, who serves as a life companion to a wonderful and bright little girl that goes by the name of Audrey. Now Audrey loved seeing the Royal Ballet's Alice in Wonderland performance, and asked that maybe her new doll could have a dress "just like Alice". So I tried to make something along those lines for little Aida.

Ballerina shoes

I have been thinking a lot about this doll, on and off, since Audrey's mother got lucky on the custom spots drawing a few months ago. My first instinct was to make a doll just like Audrey, whose ethereal beauty is extremely inspiring to me from the dollmaking point of view. But of course, the  majority of the time when I create custom dolls I have to "oblige" so to speak to the wishes and dreams of the intended recipients. Most of the time, everybody allows me to bring forth my vision for the doll, which is extremely nourishing and comforting to me. There is little pressure for me to match my vision to something else, but in this case, I wasn't feeling stressed or anxious about matching Audrey's vision for her doll, but more so in creating something that would speak to her inner self. A doll that she seems to need at this point, a new friend, an extra shoulder to play on and lean on, a sister for her doll Alice.

freckle face

Little Audrey also asked for "hair that would blow nicely in the wind". What a wonderful picture she painted for me!. So I commissioned some lovely handspun suri alpaca, which is extremely soft, but also light, so that little hair wisps can blow softly in the wind, just like Audrey wished for, plus some of my very special Luxfish handspun yarn, which comes with lots of fibers and colours mixed in. Her head is crowned with a crochet flower headband to keep some of those locks off her face.

A flower headband

Now, the name of sweet Aida came to me in a book. I was reading a lovely book (Tasha Tudor's Heirloom Crafts by Tovah Martin) and in it the author mentions that Tasha's dress-form is called Aida. The way Tasha speaks about Aida reminded me of what a doll is to a child: a dress-form which they clothe with their dreams and fears, with their wishes and aspirations. They use the doll as a seamstress uses a dress-form: to try out if something fits, if a theory pans out; they re-live episodes in the same way a dressmaker goes over a design with a muslin first. I immediately thought of this doll, of Audrey, and I thought this name was very suitable for her doll. Whilst Audrey might very well choose a new name for her doll, I felt positive that the energy within this name would also suit her.

Aida

I hope that come Christmas morning, little Audrey giggles at what my hands made for her. She knows I am making a doll for her, and she is very excited, as we all are. One of the many joys of the dollmaker comes at this special time of the year, in which many, many children all over the world, will get to meet their new friends, made with our own two hands! To be part of the childhood memories of children whom I have never met, ah! what a beautiful reward. Thank you Amber and Audrey for giving me this wonderful opportunity, I hope you enjoy playing with her for many years!
Posted on December 10, 2012 and filed under custom orders, dollmaking, process, stories.

Batkhuyag, a mongolian warrior.

Little hunter

Sorry for the absence the last couple of days, I have been sick and trying to rest as much as possible in between bouts of energy and dollmaking. This fellow was getting very anxious to come and meet everybody so without much delay here he is: Little Batkhuyag, a mighty archer from the steppes of Mongolia.

Mongolian hat

Batkhuyag, or strong warrior, is a little boy who dreams one day of having his own horse, to ride the steppe where he has never been before. For now, he is not allowed to take the horses out to play, so he tries to be a good boy and do as he is told...for now. He knows that one day he will be a mighty warrior and hunt for his family with this very special bow.

Little Mongolian archer Mongolian bow details

Since the horse is his favourite animal,  his father made him a special mongolian bow with horses on both ends. Batkhuyag smiles every time he sees them, and wonders and dreams all different names for his future horse. He is learning to make arrows, and while sometimes he loses one or two, he always tries very hard to go and find it. It is said it's bad luck to lose an arrow, so he doesn't tell anybody when he can't find one, and the next day (bright and early) he sets out to search for it again. He always does. He is getting better at shooting his bow, although for now he is working on speed and aim. At least he knows how to hold the bow, and more or less to aim successfully at a target. But he doesn't have strong arms yet to held a bigger bow and really hunt with it. He is such a good boy, he doesn't complain about it, knowing that he will just get bigger and stronger and his abilities will then increase.

Batkhuyag and his goodies

Batkhuyag wants to teach someone else how to play with his very special bow and arrows. He says they are toys that work, but that have to be used gently, as to not hurt somebody else, or break them. He says his father broke two bows trying to make him one (much to the dollmaker's dismay!) and so this one is just even more special, not only because it works perfectly, but because 3 is a lucky number. He is very superstitious, this little boy of ours.

Quiver and arrows

Batkhuyag is the last little boy in the Ancient Warrior collection. A collection dreamed with toys that reminisce of times gone, a collection in which I tried to mirror the many games and pretend adventures that I see little boys embark on. I hope you enjoy seeing them all come to life as much as we did.

Batkhuyag and his arrows

Little Batkhuyag is a 14" tall doll, made with cotton and stuffed with wool. His hair is a mix of llama/wool and the strands have been attached one by one, to a cap sewn to his head. He is wearing linen clothes, a top that closes with a wooden bead and elastic loop, and comfy pants with elastic on legs and waist. His wooly boots keep his toes toasty, and his furry cap does the part of the mongolian attire (it is made with rabbit pelt).

Mongolian wooden bow

My husband designed and created Batkhuyag's bow. It is made of wood, the handle is made of leather, and it has leather cord through out. The bow is fully functional (it measures 17" from horse head to horse head), and will shoot the arrows quite far, so please be careful when using it. It doesn't shoot them too hard but it could still cause damage. The arrows are made of wood, and have also been trimmed with leather. The soft ends are blunt and will not pierce. The beautiful quiver where Batkhuyag stores his precious arrows is also made of leather and hand sewn. A lot of time was spent creating this set of toys for Batkhuyag, it required several trials to get the bow to work properly without breaking once strung. That is why this little fellow took a little  longer than expected.

The last warrior

Batkhuyag's toys

If you would like to bring him into your home, please leave your name and email address, and we will select a person to purchase him on Monday December 10th at 12:00 PM EST. The price for Batkhuyag and his bow, arrows and quiver is $330 USD plus postage charges. Thank you so much for your patience, for your support and for coming to read about him. He is very eager and excited to show someone how to play with his bow. We would recommend this set of toys for a child 5+, one that can learn how to play with it gently and responsibly. Good luck!!

Thank you lovely people, for entering the comment-style offering of Little Batkhuyag. I have just 
messaged the selected recipient, and if all goes well he will be going home without delay
so that he can start practicing in his new home with his bow and arrows!

Now, all I will have for you is the wonderful development 
and unveiling of my last doll for sale in this collection. 
Stay tuned as she is a force of nature 
to be reckoned with. 
More soon!
Posted on December 8, 2012 .

Daisuke, a helpful samurai.


Daisuke

A long time ago, before you and I or any of us were here, during the olden times of giants and ancient warriors in the land called Japan, there lived a very smart and kind Emperor. People attributed his wisdom and kindness to his magical councillor. A giant koi fish, who dwelled in a special pool built for him in the middle of the castle, and which legends says, was able to speak and had a bit of a temper. This koi was called Kotei. When Kotei was a young fish, and therefore a bit immature, in a wave of rage swallowed an entire fishing town off the coast of one of Japan's many islands. That is how the Emperor got to hear of him, and how they became best friends. The Emperor took him into his palace, and promised to keep him fed and happy, as long as he remained his trusted councillor.

A legendary samurai sword

Many years passed, in which their friendship flourished. Kotei was happy, and grew to enormous caliber. The Emperor ruled a happy kingdom, and everybody prospered. Then, as legend tells, the tide changed and strange things begun to happen. The country was ridden with sickness, and Kotei was unable to give a good answer to his Emperor. The ruler, worried for the health of his dying people and angry at his councillor for not giving him the answer to fix it, ordered the fish to be killed.

Daisuke

Kotei tried to escape but didn't make it too far. He was injured and knew that his time had come. He managed to reach a small village, and talk to a talented swordsmith. He ordered him to make katanas out of his ribcage bones, and told him that these swords would always find themselves in the hands of those who belong guiding and ruling their country. The swordsmith did as he was told, and created unique katanas from the rib bones of beautiful Kotei.

Mikado

Many years passed and the swords all got lost. Except one. Mikado. The most beautiful one. This sword was inherited by a happy and kind boy named Daisuke. His family's history dated back to the times of giants and ancient warriors, and his Grandparents told him that one of his ancestors once had made katanas from the bones of a giant koi fish. Daisuke didn't know that his sword was one of the special magical ones, meant for heroes. But he still liked to play with it nonetheless, waiting for the time when he would grow up and put it to good use. He rather wished he lived in the time of samurais, and he knew that with his katana he would always defend the helpless and aid his people. His mother read him this poem many times, and perhaps that is why little Daisuke wished to be a helpful samurai:

The knell of the bells at the Gion temple
Echoes the impermanence of all things.
The colour of the flowers on its double-trunked tree
Reveals the truth that to flourish is to fall.
He who is proud is not so for long,
Like a passing dream on a night spring.
He who is brave is finally destroyed, 
To be no more than dust before the wind.
A classical japanese poem, taken from the Heike monogatari.

My little samurai

Daisuke is a little doll, inspired by the japanese culture. It has been so much fun to dream up these little boys, to work with my husband and take note of his creativity (names, characters and mythology employed in this tale are his doing, I merely put it into words), and to be able to finally share them with you all. Daisuke is a 14" tall doll, made with cotton and stuffed firmly with clean wool. His long hair is made of wool strands, attached one by one to a cap sewn to his head. His facial features are embroidered, his rosy cheeks blushed with beeswax. He is wearing a kimono top made of linen, and hakama-inspired pants made of cotton, as well as an obi belt. His boots are made of wool. Daisuke's katana was made by my husband, specifically for him. It is made of wood, and trimmed in leather and fabric. It has an etched koi and kanji symbols for the word Mikado, meaning emperor. The sword has been finished with natural materials, and suits little Daisuke perfectly.

Hakama pants

If you would like to invite little Daisuke into your home, and let him infuse your daily life with his high ideals and japanese flavour, please leave a comment in this post with your name and email address, and we will select a person on Dec 5th, 2012 at 10 PM EST to proceed to purchase him. The price for Daisuke and his sword is $275 USD plus postage charges. Thank you kindly for reading about him, and good luck (in case you are interested in bringing him home).

Thank you all that entered! We have just selected a person to take this sweet fellow home, and if all goes well he should be going home pretty soon. I have one more boy to share with you, but he played silly today so no photos yet. But tomorrow you will be able (with a little dusting of luck) to see some previews. I am just working on a few of his favourite things. Thank you again and see you tomorrow.
Posted on December 3, 2012 and filed under ancient warriors, collections2012, dollmaking, stories.

Cetan Nagin, my little Lakota.



Little Lakota


The Lakota, or more properly Lakȟóta, are part of the Sioux nation. Little Cetan Nagin was happily born amongst them, one fine winter afternoon. The Lakota are a bit famous for their hunting and warring culture, so as is presumed, Cetan Nagin has a bit of a wild streak. Aren't all children happily wild? Free, wild and unbound by social constraints? Well, Cetan Nagin is the perfect example. I will let him speak for now, as I think he is pretty excited to tell you all about himself.

Wooden tomahawk

Hau, Wíyuškiŋyaŋ waŋčhíŋyaŋke ló (pleased to meet you), my name is Cetan Nagin, which in your language can mean "Shadow Hawk". I am very proud of my name, as I am very fond of all birds. The hawk is my favourite one; they are amazing hunters, they can be tamed (a little) and they speak the truth. The song of the hawk always makes me happy. I wish one day to be a hawk, to fly high up in the sky, and look down upon my people, and the land, and the rivers. I wish I can fly. I have dreams of flying, and I always think I am a hawk. My beak is hard and I can grab mice really easy, no problem.


My felt details

I play all day, to be a scout. I bring my tomahawk with me, and lie on the ground, behind the bushes; waiting for the time to make a move, without being seen, like a shadow. Leaving no trace, no smell. I am a real good scout. I map the way for my friends to move up, so that we can all go ahead in safety. My friends are hunters, but I am the scout. Being a scout is a position of high honour and I am very proud to be the scout for my friends.

A tomahawk

Leather and Feather

When I am tired, I like to lie down on the wet grass. It makes me feel happy again. I like having my legs feel heavy, from running and playing. But I like more to sit under the stars and think about the day I will be a hawk, one with the sky. Then my feathers will take me higher, wherever I can go, and the sun won't blind me. That is my dream.


Lakota boy

Cetan Nagin, is a handmade doll, inspired by the Lakota nation. Even though his clothes are non-traditional, I feel like he does look the part. Simple attire, leaving space to the imagination to claim him as a lakota member, perhaps comanche, perhaps apache, perhaps arapaho, or sioux. I have always admired native american cultures. I think they were, and some still do, in possession of greatest knowledge and wisdom. Their mythologies have always spoken clear to me, and even though the southern cultures are deep in my memory, (I come from the northern desert plains of Mexico) the apaches and the sioux also feel close to my heart. I spent too many days trying to choose the culture to inspire this little fella, and finally decided that he was to be a Lakota. Mainly because his name was just ringing loud in my heart.


My tomahawk

Cetan Nagin is a 14" tall handmade doll, made with all natural materials. He is stuffed with wool, and is made of cotton. He has been sewn strongly to withstand active play. His hair is made of wool, and was applied strand by strand to a cap sewn to his head. His clothes are made of pure linen, and are trimmed with ric rac. He has a wool felt bib, resembling a bone necklace. The feathers that he so loves, and that adorn his mane, are made also of wool felt. Cetan Nagin has little moccasins made with cashmere and wool. And his fabulous tomahawk is made of wood and leather. The design of this wooden weapon is reminiscent of Cetan Nagin's name, and I was so giddy just trying to get everything together to be properly shown to you. The tomahawk handle is wrapped in leather and accessorized with real feathers. A treat for any child to play with.


Cetan Nagin

I hope Cetan Nagin finds a home that cherishes multicultural influences. A home in which learning about different cultures, and knowing that we all have a place in this world, is important. Perhaps the little hands of a child descendant from one of these wise nations, or a little one who with no direct connection can be taught all about them through play with this little doll. Fostering the love in our little ones for people of all walks of life, is one of the many great lessons we have to teach and nurture.

If you would like to welcome Cetan Nagin in your life, please leave a comment in this post, with your name and email address. The price for the doll and his toy is $265 USD plus postage charges. 
I will leave the comments open until December 3rd, at 10:00 PM EST. 
Thank you so much for reading about my little Lakota, 
and for opening the doors of your home to him. Good luck!

*I have just notified the selected person to purchase Cetan Nagin, if all goes smoothly he should be travelling to his new home pretty soon. If there are any glitches I will let you all know. 

Thank you SO much for all your emails, comments, love and interest in this little fella. I am very humbled by the sentiments he inspired in all of you, and feel very proud that my work reminded some of you of your wonderful heritage. Thank you.
Posted on December 1, 2012 and filed under ancient warriors, collections2012, dollmaking, stories.

Björn, a lovely viking.


Viking shield and hammer

Björn was born a while ago. Him and I have had the pleasure of spending many days together, getting to know each other, voicing our dreams, our stories, our likes and dislikes. I feel like I know him pretty well, like I've known him all my life. So, with that in mind, I will let you know a little bit more about him. He is by the way, a lovely fellow (just don't ever call him lovely, to his face, or pretty either, he gets very cross!).

Little Viking

Björn was born (or so he says, as I know otherwise), in a sea village. The pungent smell of the salty sea foam rocked him to sleep as a baby, the sounds of iron and ocean, of birds and laughter, are deeply ingrained in his personality. He can be quiet and mild, like the flight of a sea gull, or boisterous and happy like a frenzied sea. His love for ships is probably only surpassed by the love for his people. He is helpful, kind, intrepid and very brave.

Ragnarok

He loves to pretend and enact the future battle of Ragnarok. It is his favourite pretend play. He figures that he will turn the tables, and aid the Gods against the giants and evils of the world, and he will be rewarded with a trip through the Bifrost. His biggest dream. So you will find him, most of the time, with shield and hammer in hand, yelling all sorts of insanities, directing battles here or there, hiding behind a chair or pail, waiting for his time to subdue that mean and old dwarf who is coming to get him. It is a joy (with a dash of dismay and fear), to watch him so deep "in battle"; so enraptured by his imagination, so concentrated, and so happy. He really glows when he plays. He comes back sweaty and joyful, hungry and tired. We feed him, clean him, and put him to sleep.

Björn in the snow

Björn defending his tree

Björn, as you have probably deciphered by now, is a Viking. He was created with this culture in mind, and although I have created wee vikings before, I truly believe this is a true viking (although his horned helmet is obviously not a true viking fashion, we just had to do it!). He has told me so. He is part of a small group of dolls, which we call Ancient Warriors. Dolls that will hopefully spark the imagination of your loved ones, that will bring a little bit of magic into your life. I believe Björn is full of magic. He seems to embody not only a little of that scandinavian joy of life, but also the love for play. I wish I could play with him forever, but his time has come to find his own home.

Björn, my littlest viking

This doll is made with all natural materials, as it is our custom and aim in this toymaking adventure. He is stuffed firmly with wool, and is made of cotton. He is firmly sewn to withstanding rough play, and his hair is made of llama and wool fibers. His clothes, albeit simple in design, speak of his culture: a linen tunic with wool felt details and embroidery stitches; his cashmere leggings (those winters can be cold), and his wooly boots; his helmet, also made of wool and melton cloth; and his fur coat, made with a rabbit pelt. His wooden weaponry was made by my husband Derek, who has a long history of viking infatuation. He lovingly made him a wooden round shield, and a mighty hammer. Both trimmed with leather. The weapons are coated with natural materials (no varnish), and the leather was dyed with water-based natural dyes. The shield and hammer have been laminated with different woods to give a simple yet elegant design: walnut, cherry, ash and poplar. The construction of these weapons involved many trials and many hours in design and execution, to make them sturdy, natural and beautiful. I am so marvelled and humbled by what my husband has created for this group of dolls, that the excitement almost sent me over the edge. I am so happy to finally be able to share them with you.

Tuckered out

Björn is a 14"(36 cms) tall doll, who would be more appropriate for a child 4+. A boy or girl that engages in this kind of games, who spends hours in deep and concentrated pretend action, and who would love to play with a little viking. We are sure someone out there would love these toys, and would cherish them in their life (we hope so!). If you are interested in welcoming this charming fellow into your home, please leave a comment in this post, and we will (very excitedly) choose a name on December 1st, at 10:00 PM EST. The price for Björn and all his toys, is $320 USD plus postage charges. Thank you for reading about him, and for considering taking him home. Good luck!!

Thank you kindly to those interested in Little Björn. I have just notified the selected person 
(and warned them a little about his personality) and if all goes well, my courageous viking
will be heading out to his new home soon. Thank you all so much for stopping by
to read about him, and to those that offered to be his new family. Three more boys to go!
Posted on November 29, 2012 and filed under ancient warriors, collections2012, dollmaking, stories.

With hook in hand


Miss Anne

I seem to be making quite some progress, although today was a total write-off in the working department. My littlest girl and I got to spend awesome snuggle times reading three different versions of The Nutcracker. We both agreed at least on one thing: the version illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger is our favourite. We are big fans of her work, since we have her illustrated version of the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. It prompted many questions, and we had to watch a few videos of the ballet renditions (she seemed rather confused about the change of name from Marie to Clara).

Crochet madness

In between bouts of peanut-butter sandwiches, mail escapades, some light snow shovelling, and what not, I did get to crochet tidbits of this or that. I even managed to snap a few photos while there was still light! Major success on my behalf. Some days are just so good like that.

Bjorn
Cetan-Nagin

So for now, I retire into my cozy sewing nook, and work some more on these little fellas. With some luck I will be able to introduce them tomorrow or the day right after. Björn and Cetan-Nagin are almost ready to start their escapades of mischief and valiant thundering. With a bit more luck, we might be able to see a little samurai and a mongolian rider by the weekend. Cross your fingers!


Posted on November 27, 2012 and filed under crochet, dollmaking, process.

Charisma


Anne Sophie

Of course that is  not her name, but she does possess a whole lot of it. This morning she decided to pull all the strings on me to convince me to let her go outside. Looking longingly through the frosty window, which made her almost painful to look at, she contemplated the little girls that were busy making a snowman outside.

Play clothes

But I want to...

But you don't have a coat, or mittens, and those shoes are certainly not appropriate to romp through the snow. You are going to get wet and cold and you will be miserable. I tried to remind her of the unkindness of Father Winter when one goes outside with no layers, but she still grab her hat and pointed at the door.

A doll outside

Alright, alright! But just for a little bit (said the woman still in her pyjamas), let me just get my galoshes (because I can't seem to find my snow boots) and hopefully no neighbours will be outside just now. What would they think of me? A slightly deranged woman, in night clothes, sitting a doll in the snow? One must keep at least an ounce of decorum and so I grabbed a coat. Anne Sophie seemed oblivious to my morning predicament (it is still early at noon on Sundays, right?) and she gave me one of her best smiles.

Anne Sophie

Outside Play

Lucky for her she will live in the land down under, where no snow will tickle her nose. So I had to let her play for a little bit in the white stuff, and we both came in a little bit rejuvenated by the cold. Now, on to finish her party dress that time is of the essence. I hope you are enjoying the beginning of the winter season, because snow boots or not, I sure am!.

Posted on November 25, 2012 and filed under custom orders, dollmaking, figlette.

Winter Greetings!


Wee Winter Babies
Yes, yes! I know it is not Winter, not officially yet. But we gotta be ready people. I simply cannot wait for the first dusting of snow to turn my world white and frosty. Truth be told, although I am a hundred percent a fall-worshipper, I do also relish the wintery scenes. Just don't tell anybody. It's my best kept secret, that coming from a land of infernal heat, I love and appreciate the snow, the cold, the red noses and all the warmth that one has to create in order to face King Winter.

Wee winter babies

I have been busily working away, spending my afternoons (and many nights) with needle in hand, soft music on the background, and some cozy little wee babies on my lap. We have come to finish them just in time, and they will soon hop out to their respective families. I am happy that I got a chance to work on more of these soft dolls, as they are very fun to have around, and also tremendously calming for me. I needed some quiet, hand-sewing time, turning little footsies up, making little ears appear, embroidering tiny eyes.

Soft and cuddly

This freshly-baked batch of heart-warming critters will be ready for their stellar Etsy debut on Friday November 23rd at 10:00 AM EST. Price is $58 USD plus postage. Photos of the little softies in my Gallery (in a little bit). I hope you can take one home, I won't complain if one or two go missing from the update and decide to stay with me. No! I won't do that I promise!
Posted on November 21, 2012 and filed under dollmaking, process, toys.

And this week's happenings...


Baby Snowflakes

Will be full of wonder! I am preparing another wee update of Babies, to arrive in time for your Winter Holidays. Baby Bunnies, Bears and Kittens will hop out of my basket this weekend. More details, date and time, as I finish the little munchkins (more likely everything will be ready by Friday/Saturday). Previews will be up on the Gallery once I get to take photos of all of them.


Tiny

But tomorrow November 20th at Noon EST, I will have this bunch of Snowflakes up for grabs on my etsy store. Their individual price is $20 USD plus postage, and they will all be loaded as one bunch, i.e. there won't be single listings for each snowflake (to preserve what little sanity I have left, I've decided to list them like this; you will get a unique snowflake). They all measure roughly between 4" to 5" tall, are all made with angora (super fuzzy stuff) and stuffed with wool. The knit placement varies, some have purl bodies, other stockinette bodies, but they are all cute as a snowflake (giggle!).

A little white dusting

These little dolls are NOT recommended for children under 3, for two reasons: A, they put everything in their mouth and the angora doesn't taste nice, B. they are quite small and while not a choking hazard I still don't recommend them especially for babies or toddlers. They will make a wonderful present to stash in a stocking though!. I hope you can make some time to grab a few Snowflake babies to celebrate the Winter holidays, and I also hope you have a wonderful week. Mine is turning out to be a great one.
Posted on November 19, 2012 and filed under dollmaking, toys.

At play.


Sand in your boots
I know that some of you are very excited and eager for me to introduce the next collection. How do I know this? well, the emails are starting to pour. Can you give me a hint? how many dolls? what are their names? I giggle because as much as I want to tell you, I feel like the dolls in this collection are special and they do not need to be talked about too too much before you can actually see them. Then you will see what the fuss was all about. In the mean time I will distract you with photos of our weekend.


At play
The name for this collection has given me inner struggle since the moment I came up with it. Back in January, I woke up one day (or perhaps I took a nap) with this idea. I was going to make an entire series of dolls based on ancient warriors. Now, the "warrior" part and its straight association with conflict, has given me much fabric to cut from this year. Making toys that glorify war? Making dolls that play about violence? It was all a bit too much for me. Some times I didn't think they were actually going to happen. But how could I? I just didn't want to scratch that surface, you know?


At play

But little by little, all these dolls grew into me, literally. I could see the value in playing imaginatively about being a knight, not only defending damsels in distress, but also protecting the village; or the scout who goes ahead and makes sure the land is safe for the convoy; the sailor that must strike to conquer new lands; the ancient warrior that defends and protects the elders and those vulnerable. And a part of me wanted to make them all boys, perhaps a very old-fashioned view on the subject. But no, the dolls kept talking to me. One specifically, who I was certain was going to be a jolly fella, said to me "But I am no boy, I refuse to, I am a girl and I demand to have long and luscious hair, and an extra set of clothes to boot". So there you have it.


Treasures
While designing their outfits, and coming up with the "weapons" of choice, has been quite the ride; the execution has been painfully slow and the stories are just brewing. And when I say brewing, I mean literally brewing. There hasn't been a moment when I am not reading about their cultures, their points in time, about the development of their mythologies; I have gone as far as listening to their respective music, so to speak, to really guide my hands when I have had the pleasure of working on them. I have worked this deeply on a few dolls in the past, but I really feel that with this group is all or nothing. Either I make them the way I envisioned them, or they won't feel right.

F and A

So now we wait. I know. We have all been waiting for at least two months, haven't we? But believe you me, we are getting closer. I don't want to push the buttons of the woodworker in the house, as he must work deeply and very slowly. I am just bursting at the seams over here, wanting to play with the dolls and their "toys". So for now, still nothing. But a lot of hope and a cute smile. You will see four warriors: a samurai, a viking, a lakota, and a mongolian rider. And her, the object of my affection. Just saying her name makes me shiver (and giggle a little). Ok now, to stop the rambling and get back to work. See you soon my friends, patience.
Posted on November 13, 2012 and filed under collections2012, dollmaking, our life, process.

Sweet Baby Georgia, a handmade cloth doll


Gigi
Well, sorry for taking so long to come up and offer up this little bit of sweetness, in the shape of an all natural handmade baby doll, by the name of Georgia. Some family business kept us very busy, but here she is: Baby Georgia is ready to find her new home. Gigi, as we lovingly call her here, is a sweet doll with a lovely personality. She loves to play, is learning to grasp (really tight!), and is on her way to learn to crawl. She loves to be carried around, and especially loves to look at trees and animals. Gigi is ready to go to a new home, where she can be played with gently and where she can bring many hours of baby giggles.

Gigi

This is the first doll available with this new baby pattern. The pattern has many new designs, is completely different than my regular dolls. It has glass beads in her belly, to add weight and a bit more realistic feel when holding her. She is stuffed with wool, made with cotton jersey and has mohair bouclé for hair. Her arms and legs are quite moveable, but she is not jointed.

Baby body

All dressed up.

Diaper duty

This doll, due to the weight and the pose-ability is recommended for a child 6+. Most small children hold and carry their doll by the arms, since she is weighted I do not recommend handling her like that. It will create a lot of stress on her arm/shoulder seams if she is tot around by the arms. Therefore, I strongly recommend this doll for an older child, that can appreciate the baby-like qualities of this doll, while at the same time playing with her in the same manner: carrying her like you would carry a baby. She is approximately 20" tall. She will fit in the regular clothes I make for the 16"/21" dolls since they are all made with different proportions and can share clothes quite easily, but with a slightly different style.

Gigi resting


Baby clothes

Baby Georgia has a bit of a trousseau: a linen kimono top and pants, both lined in cotton chambray (babies needs softness around them). The kimono top closes with two mother-of-pearl buttons, and has cotton trim throughout. Her diaper is made of cotton velour and waffle knit, closes with two snaps. Booties have ties, so they don't slip off, and her hat is also knit with the same wool yarn. Her bib is made of cotton and velour, and closes with a pretty pink snap. For night time, she comes with her cotton bunting sleeper. Overall I think she has the perfect clothing to spend many hours playing with her.

Baby Georgia

If you would like to bring Georgia into your home, please leave a comment in this post, with your name, email address and country of residence. I will select a home for Georgia on Monday November 12, around noon EST. The price for this doll and her clothes is $375 USD plus postage charges to where you live. Thank you so much for reading about Baby Georgia and for considering giving her a family to belong to. Please only leave a comment if you are personally interested in bringing Georgia into your home. Thank you everybody, and good luck.

Gigi

Thank you kindly everybody! A family has now been selected, and it only took longer than expected because I was entranced embroidering a little doll's face. My apologies! 
If all goes well baby Gigi will soon be traveling to her new home, 
where she will be welcomed by a loving family.
Thank you, once again, for your kindness and your love for my work. 
Be back soon with lots to talk about 
these group of boys who are making me so happy!
Posted on November 10, 2012 and filed under dollmaking, toys.

Baby Gigi and a baby snowflake


Winter babies

We are delighted to present this bundle of sweetness, in the name of Baby Georgia. A November baby if I've ever seen one. Baby Gigi, as we fondly call her, sits all by herself and enjoys playing with soft things; except she has taken interest in a basket full of Snowflake babies (we the toy faeries have to work hard to make part of the winter magic happen, you know that?), and although I have tried to keep her away from them, she keeps putting them in her mouth! Oh no, Gigi, these are not meant for babies! Please give it back! And she just tots away on her bum (she hasn't learned to walk just yet and is in the beginning stages of full-on crawling).

La pechocha

Lace socks

Baby Gigi takes lots of naps, as most babies do. She sits still while you put on hats or hair accessories to her hair, which is a remarkable feat, as most babies hate things on their heads. Not this baby! She loves hats, and so I am almost done knitting her chapeau and perhaps I will even make her a bonnet. I am in love with this new baby style, and while time does not allow for another baby-doll this year, I do appreciate the fact that I stole time from some custom dolls to work on Baby Georgia. I just had to. She is wearing borrowed clothes on these photos, but fear not, her outfit is almost ready.

Snowflakes

Now, I received a few inquiries about this sweetheart already. And I am wondering what the best route should be to offer her: etsy, comment-style, or Kismet? Kismet dolls are offered only to people who do not have a Fig&me doll in their home. Perhaps I just need to ponder a little more. In the mean time I will let you with these images of a sweet cloth baby who is bringing me much happiness this day. Enjoy!
Posted on November 6, 2012 and filed under collections2012, design, dollmaking, toys.

Come with me.

Sunday walk

On a short adventure, a walk through the woods.
The weather is chilly, your cheeks are flushed, your skin feels taut and parched.
Your hands are inside your pockets, because you forgot to bring mittens for everybody. Bugger.
As you get down from the car, and your feet are welcomed with a rustle and bustle, then
your worries and thoughts start to get quiet. To be more rhythmic, more attune to what is around you.

Forest treasure

You follow the trail and follow the laughs of the children ahead of you. Perhaps too far ahead to feel comfortable. But yet, they run and you just don't feel like yelling. They are yelling for you: "Mom, look at this" "Dad, take a picture" "Mom, I found a mushroom" "Guys, check this out". Little by little your steps take you to witness the treasures found. And you smile.

In the woods

So many trees. So many leaves. So many colours,
that calm you and remind you: winter is coming.
You wish you had something to drink, something hot to hold on.
The camera feels heavy, but you have to keep up. Those kids run too fast.

Church of the Woods
Rust

Is time to get back, and you just don't want to.
But you do anyways, and you feel calmer and more peaceful.
You wish you could feel like this all the time. So grateful. And a little bit cold.

Through the forestYes, now is time to get back and warm up.
Tea anyone?
Posted on November 4, 2012 and filed under process, stories.

So inspired.


Inspiration
That I transpire. Seriously! I am sweating it. I want to come and burst out with all that is currently happening in this home of ours, but I just can't. I have learned my lesson of not spilling the beans until the rice is cooked. And for now, let's just say we are in the "soaking" period, so there is still a lot to be done.

Green wood at work

I am of course talking of the next collection of dolls. So much to tell, so much to explain, so much to do. Some of you thought I was making celtic dolls, or irish dolls, or dolls inspired by medieval times. I have already answered individually those questions. I am not. I am making a collection of boys, in the way boys play. At least in the ways I have seen them play: full of energy, imagination, activity, and wonder. I always giggle at the differences between boys and girls, aside the obvious ones of course!. When I am making dolls for girls, which I mostly do, I know I have to add this little here or that little there, because girls love that. But when I am making dolls for boys I am always at a loss. I don't have any boys, other than my grown-up husband who seems to behave like one most of the time, and so I try hard to see from their point of view. Following the lead of the man in the house, we are creating a collection of sweet dolls inspired by very imaginative play. I hope you like them, as in the coming weeks I will get to finally introduce all these little fellas, and these two girls I am working on. This photo shows a little bit of the set that belongs to the big girl in this collection, who has the most fantastical story to tell, as of date.

My uniform
Bursts of colour

Also, some of you happened to notice that this week was my birthday, and although it came and went with no fanfare, let me assure you I had a good day. I worked all day, I had a nice meal, there were some presents to be opened of course, thanks to the courtesies of family and dear friends, and so we hope the Sun shines on us this weekend so we can then proceed to properly celebrate my birth day. I asked for a picnic, and in this kind of weather, that might turn into a nightmarish endeavour, so we shall see. If we don't end up going out to do that, I should not complain. Maybe the world is trying to let me know that I should sit and work "just a little more" in those sweet boys, right? Right. Have a wonderful weekend!
Posted on November 2, 2012 and filed under collections2012, dollmaking, process.