In creating this little one, for a soon to be 12-years old little dollmaker, I feel like I am growing up. This entire year has been such a growth for me, when I actually decided I was going to do "this" (as I call dollmaking).
Changing my patterns has always been a struggle for me, as I am attached (design wise) to the look of the simple and sturdy dolls that I have been creating. Every year I seem to tweak something. I have a pattern named 2008, 2009, 2010...and this year, I have so far four patterns with the same year on them. My aesthetic has changed dramatically from last year, from this doll on. And this year, with opening this space, much has happened.
I have seen my work evolving, sometimes almost without me noticing it. And sometimes I fear I am straying, I am wandering too far from what a child's toy should be. Then again, when I have these ponderings, I come to think that not all children need the same. Since now I seem to be creating dolls for children 5+ (and some adults who have really a child's heart!) I think of these children when I make a dress or add a button, when I do a ruffle, or make a pleat. When I started making dolls I had a 2 to 3-year old in my mind, perhaps because that was the age my own children had at the time, and now time has passed and their inclinations and doll play has evolved, hand in hand with my skills and my dollmaking. But I still feel like I should draw a line, make a conscious declaration of what I want my dolls to be.
My dolls are created as toys. As tools for children's imaginations. As comforts for the heart and vials for play. This is the main intention I have in mind when I create a doll. This is the drive that makes me stitch hard, sculpt heads, embroider eyes, make several rounds of thread when I add a button. Because I want them to be sturdy, to sustain years of play. The fact that my dolls aspect and clothing is "growing" with me has a lot to say about my path as a dollmaker's apprentice. And even though as an adult I have my aesthetic to hold on to, I hope these dolls speak clearly for what they are.
I am aware that a lot of adults have these dolls for themselves and that has always been fine with me. We need to play too! and I couldn't think of something healthier for us to do than to play with the children in our lives, to rejoice in changing doll clothes and braiding doll's hair, or to do it by ourselves. This out-loud declaration has more to do with my need to declare the direction of where my hands are taking me. To have a clear vision, that's all.
As I put this doll together, I reminisce of dolls I have made in the past. Of my intentions back then. Of how much I have learned. As I stitch this doll I am grateful for the request this little girl has placed on me, for the design nightmares I am going through, for the longing to visit my homeland. As I stitch this doll I think of her and what she would think, what she will tell this doll, how she seems to be growing up at such a nice pace. It is my hope that this doll of hers is everything she wanted, and that it peaks her curiosity, and brings her joy.
Now off to stitch some more.