A ramble, and a tumble.

Yes, be prepared for a lot of questions still with no answer to call their own. Indulge my very tired brain, and even more tired body, into the wee hours of the night, where I am contemplating the direction of my work.

I have been pondering a lot of questions, that sometimes I answer immediately to myself, but it feels like cheating. I know the answers are superficial for now, as I lack deeper understanding of what this world really needs.

What do children need? Do they need toys to play with? Most do. Thousands of children around the world have nothing, in the form of structured toys, to play with, yet their imaginations are alive and on occasions in much better shape than our pampered children. Constricting the scope of my question, to the children of those who buy my dolls for them, what do these children need from me? A well made doll, that encourages their imagination and creativity. A doll that leaves space for them to re-enact, to ponder, to dream while awake, to be used. A doll that withstands their playful twists and shoves.

What do I need? I need to exercise and play-out all this artistic energy that is constantly bubbling inside me. I do it in the form of dolls, clothes, and other different toys. It is an extremely organic process, and it nourishes me and my family, not just monetarily, but it creates an atmosphere of self-made, of artistry, of believing in yourself, in our home, which is an extremely important aspect for raising our children. Politically, I exercise my convictions by creating. I make things, and send them out, in the hopes that the energy with which these were created revolves around and inspire, and creates play, and brings positivity to the place where these toys dwell. That is one of the reasons I love doing what I do so much. Not just because there are dolls, with an uncanny aliveness in them, personalities and thoughts, coming out of my hands constantly. Where do they come from ? I keep asking myself. But also because by creating unique and extremely thought-out toys, I stand against commercialism. Against buying just because you can or because you can't help yourself. I stand against plastic toys, which are not only polluting the world, but the minds of our children, the next generation to take care of this planet. I really believe in this, and by putting my hands to work, I believe I am making a small difference; nourishing with handmade dolls the lives of those that play with them, be it young children or adults. But perhaps not. Perhaps by doing it I am contributing to the greater evil. The road to hell is after all, paved with very good intentions.

I have been thinking that the above questions have been very superficially answered by me so far. Having an online business, which has been the only possible choice for me so far, requires shipping dolls all over the world. In this globalized economy, what I do affects someone in Russia or Australia. That is the beauty and the pain of it. The resources that I use, are going to cause a depletion somewhere else. No doubt. You cant have an action without an effect, without a ripple. I make use of airplanes, and transportation, and bureaucracy, and highways, and paper waste, to make the last part of my process happen. There is no way to hand-deliver what I do in 99.99% of the cases. And it upsets me, to the core, that I am contributing to it. Putting a strain on farmers, on grass land, on animals, on water sources, all to get me the necessary raw materials that I require is also painful. Fabric comes to me all over the planet. I am aesthetically inclined to use fabrics that are not commonly seen most of the time, and creating the way I do requires a lot of planning and a lot of resources that are made and shipped from literally all over the planet. I cant even imagine the criss-cross, multitudinal pathways that materials take in order to get to my hands: cotton (in all its chemically pervasive processes), dyes, factories, threads, buttons, wood, wool (which is grown in Canada and processed here, but still all this happens on the other side of the country), felt (which comes from Europe, god knows where its made), elastic (made in China of course), yarns (most commercially produced in Canada and the US, a lot of them handspun with somewhat relatively close fibre to the artistes)...the list goes on. The mere fabric I use to construct the doll is manufactured in the Netherlands and Switzerland. I am pretty sure cotton doesn't grow there. This overwhelming list is starting to make my shoulders quite heavy. And the worst part is, I am not the only one using the same avenues, there are hundreds of dollmakers. Do I really need to put this strain in the world, so I can make dolls? Does the world really need yet another doll? Does the world need a doll made by me? The answer is no, of course.

Answering no to this question brings me to the next level in the pondering. If what I do is not necessary to this planet, then what to do? How do I fulfill my needs, without creating and CAUSING more strain in resources that are not a bottom-less feed. Yes, we could argue that I am mostly using materials that are renewable resources, cotton grows, linen too (with pesticides and a lot of oil and water invested). Wool is such an awesome material to work with, and it provides income to farmers, who are trying to subsist in a world that is pushing them out of existence.  Alternatively working with man-made materials would be the death of all of this. So I choose to work with natural materials, but still, the scope of rape of this world in order to produce "commodities" and to move those commodities is unreal, and even though I have the best intentions, I am in so doing it a part of the problem. I don't want to be part of the problem. I don't want to stand in a world at the brink of extinction, sitting in my very comfortably-lit home, with an iMac and iphone at my hands, in a three-bathroom house, using my state-of-the-art sewing machine, and the finest materials, thinking that I am making a difference. It is hypocrite of me to think that.

I can't really say what the answers will be. Mass-producing toys is obviously a much bigger part of the problem than what I do with my hands in my own home. Deforestation in order to grow soy, bamboo or corn for fuel, is a much bigger problem than what I do by shipping dolls. Yet, I can't honestly say that I am not involved in it. How do I know if what I do has touched upon that, if the resources that I have claimed and purchased have not been put in my hands by some of that? What a nightmare.

I am struggling in understanding, and appeasing my troubled heart. I know that I am going to come up with some lame answer, again, in order to feed my soul. But I feel that by feeding my soul, and by choosing to feed my family, in this way, I am also causing hunger and strike somewhere else. Everything we do is tainted. There is no escaping it. An organic farmer needs to transport his food to a market, and uses non-renewable resources in order to make it happen. We all use computers, which have a life expectancy shorter than a fly. It is all so terribly mind-shattering. So I wont ever be able to solve this conundrum, but I really need to ask: is this necessary for me to do what I do? what aspects of my business can I change? in which way can I cause less impact? in which way can I contribute better? how can I help? I will leave you with some quotes, which are also bopping up and down inside my head.

"To send light into the darkness of men's hearts, such is the duty of the artist". Schumann.

"Come away, O human child
To the waters and the wild
With a fairy, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand". W.B. Yeats

I would love to hear your opinion on this matter, not to sooth my heart, but perhaps to shed light on the matter. Thank you for reading it.
Posted on September 30, 2012 .