|The World of Waldorf|
Behind the uncomplicated shapes, colors and materials lies a concept that started 14 years ago when KĂ¤the Kruse owner Andrea Christenson met and befriended her colleagueâs good friend, teacher Claudia Juhn. When Juhn gifted Christensonâs baby with a doll she had made, Christenson liked the doll so much she proposed the duo develop a doll line together.
It was Juhnâs involvement with the Waldorf philosophy that inspired her to start making those first dolls. âShe enrolled her children in Waldorf preÂschools and kindergartens. This is when she got very involved in the whole Waldorf thinking and philosophy and started to make the dolls,â Christenson says.
KĂ¤the Kruse had been producing the dolls for two years when the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America took notice and offered to license them. âThey thought they were exactly the dolls theyâd always thought of being Waldorf dolls,â says Christenson. So, now KĂ¤the Kruse owns the Waldorf license for textile toys and clothing.
The marriage of the Waldorf philosophy with KĂ¤the Kruse dolls was a natural one because the German company had been making dolls that jived with the Waldorf concept for a century, years before Waldorf Education (for more information, see sidebar âWhat is Waldorf Education?â) was first conceived. Starting with the first doll the company founder, KĂ¤the Kruse, made for her daughter, Mimerle, in 1905, the dolls are still handmade of natural materials more than 100 years later. The classic KĂ¤the Kruse dolls, for instance, are stuffed with reindeer hair and the Waldorf dolls with genuine wool, and their facial features are individually painted and/or hand-sewn.
Indeed, crucial to the Waldorf philosophy is the idea that natural impressions stimulate a childâs imagination, including the natural materials the dolls are made from and their neutral facial expressions: They can be interpreted in many ways by a childâhappy, angry, wild, intimidated, etc.âencouraging roleplay.
âWe have to roleplay over and over again to live through the day, and this is so important for children to learn, tooâto speak, to understand and to develop empathy,â Christenson says, stressing the importance of roleplay in childhood development.
Because the Waldorf dolls are handcrafted, each is unique, a concept also important to the Waldorf philosophy. âWhen you have your own child, you want your baby to be uniqueânot like 10 million other children. That is our philosophy with our dolls. They are created by women who put a lot of love and attention into the dolls,â Christenson says.
Another key Waldorf value the dolls showcase is age-appropriateness, so as not to stimulate children beyond what their age demands. The Waldorf dolls progress from the simplest dolls for babies, barely more than a towel with a sphere head, to dolls for older children with more defined features, hair, limbs, clothing and accessories.
All is fine in time, Christenson says, but a 3-year-old doesnât know what to do with a fashion doll intended for an 8-year-old. A young child hasnât developed the hand-eye coordination to manipulate such a doll, she says. A soft, cuddly doll intended to encourage bonding would be more age-appropriate for a 3-year-old.
âBy the time kids are 14, all the technology is fine!â Christenson enÂthuses. âItâs just when theyâre very little, they donât need battery-activated toys. They will grow into the iPods of the world. They will love them, but they donât need them at age 3!â
Passion for and belief in what she does laces Christensonâs conversation; it runs deep, stemming back to her childhood. Christenson played with KĂ¤the Kruse dolls long before she knew sheâd one day own the company; she also played with similar-looking dolls her mother and aunt made. âIt was a big family of those homemade, handmade dolls, and I thought they were just so special and unique. Most of them, I still have. Some of them look very loved,â she laughs.
âDonât ever throw your dolls away,â she continues. âYou wouldnât throw away anything you love. If you do, there goes the love that you put into a doll. Even though itâs shabby and loved to pieces, maybe even smells badly, just keep it. You throw them away, the memories might go down there as well.â
And thatâs what Waldorf dolls do. More than mere playthings soon discarded, they teach kids to empathize and love, bestowing the essence of humanity and benefiting children long after theyâve stored their beloved plaything in a basement box. And the dolls do it without a preconceived identityâchildren get to flex their imaginative muscles to create a unique identity for their own dolls.
The 2015 DOLLS Awards of Excellence Industryâs Choice winners (DAEs, also called the Diamond Awards) were announced at the International Doll & Teddy Bear Show in Asheville, N.C., June 6. The Industry's Choice winners will go on to become the nominee's in the Public's Choice voting, set to begin in late June.
Without further ado, here are the winners of this year's Industry's Choice Diamond Awards!
The Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed upon one recipient per year. This award was created in 2002 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the teddy bear, with the first recipient being Steiff, a German-based plush toy company known for its high quality and prices.
The Lifetime Achievement recipient must be or have been involved in some aspect of the doll and/or teddy bear field for a minimum of 25 years. The recipient may be an individual, partnership, corporation, company, author, artist, marketer, historian or any other industry professional. Lifetime Achievement Award nominations may be made by previous recipients or members of the LAA committee.
To qualify as a nominee, entrants must meet the following criteria:
The Lifetime Achievement Award has been presented to the following individuals and companies since its inception:
2003 Hildegard Gunzel
2004 Alexander Doll Company
2005 R. John Wright
2006 Wendy Lawton
2007 Virginia Turner
2008 Toy Shoppe
2010 Helen Kish
2012 Maggie Iacono
2013 Heidi Plusczok
2014 Jack Johnston
2015 Kaye Wiggs
August 8, 2014 - Blackall Associates Inc. is proud to announce the winner of its Summer Heat Photo Contest. The contest drew entries from around the world. Masterpiece Doll collectors sent in a special photo showing how their Masterpiece Dolls were enjoying the summer heat.
You havenât seen a toy show until youâve seen this one. Six buildings! Over six hundred exhibitors! Exclusively toys and dolls and childrenâs playthings on display everywhere! This is the show everyone always says they intend to visit, and now is the time to do just that. Collectors say the Chicago Toy Show really is the largest in the entire world. They are correct. Collectors say they find toys at this show that are never seen anywhere else. Correct again.
19 April 2014 â 5 October 2014
A special exhibition will take place at the Toy Worlds Museum Basle to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Japanese-Swiss diplomacy and friendship.