I first came across the term ‘Waldorf’ doll when I was looking on Pinterest for ideas. I was pregnant with my second daughter, and wanted to make a special doll for my firstborn. I felt that her having a baby doll on the day her baby sister arrived would help her deal emotionally with the change to her little world.
I didn’t make a Waldorf doll, I went for a traditional, woven cotton, rag doll. I called her Enid (pronounced the Welsh way) after the women who cared for two-year-old me when my brother was born and my mum was in hospital.
Enid, however, did take the facial features of a Waldorf doll. The doll’s faces are traditionally very simple to allow the child’s imagination to take centre stage. I put a lot of thought into Enid’s simple eyes and mouth, with an expression that could be happy, sad, cross, or laughing. She also used natural fibres for her hair, a full hank of Noro wool yarn! Here she is; Enid is still very much loved by both my daughters, although far from perfect.
As I had made a special doll for my first daughter I knew I had to make one for my second (and I was excited to make it – the doll making bug had started). I had more time to develop my idea of what I wanted her doll to be like, and the more I looked on Pinterest the more I loved the Waldorf dolls.
I made by first Waldorf doll using a kit a purchase from Waldorfdolls.co.uk and the pattern was by Joy Chambers. Here is Rosie! She is a big doll so she fits into my daughters’ newborn clothes so she has many outfits to choose from.
Very old, traditional techniques are used to make Waldorf dolls. The craft is mainly European and although forgotten and unseen in many parts of Britain, is still very much alive in Germany, Poland, Sweden, Denmark and many more European countries. A similar technique is also popular in Russia.
The dolls traditionally only use natural materials, the most important being the carded wool stuffing and the jersey skin (which can be wool or cotton). Using natural materials heightens and intensifies the child’s senses when playing with the doll. The wool is heavy to hold, absorbs body heat and the jersey is soft and gentle to touch.
The Waldorf eduction movement has, over many years, adopted these dolls as their own. The dolls in style, technique and materials reflect their educational philosophy, along with many other simple toys made from natural materials. They became know as Waldorf dolls.
I refer to my dolls as Waldorf-inspired, as although the roots of my craft are in the Waldorf doll style, I feel things move on and develop. The tradition of doll-making is a living craft, constantly involving.
I hope that you found that interesting. I would love to read your comments!