|The World of Waldorf|
Behind the uncomplicated shapes, colors and materials lies a concept that started 14 years ago when Käthe Kruse owner Andrea Christenson met and befriended her colleague’s good friend, teacher Claudia Juhn. When Juhn gifted Christenson’s baby with a doll she had made, Christenson liked the doll so much she proposed the duo develop a doll line together.
It was Juhn’s involvement with the Waldorf philosophy that inspired her to start making those first dolls. “She enrolled her children in Waldorf preschools and kindergartens. This is when she got very involved in the whole Waldorf thinking and philosophy and started to make the dolls,” Christenson says.
Käthe 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. “They thought they were exactly the dolls they’d always thought of being Waldorf dolls,” says Christenson. So, now Käthe Kruse owns the Waldorf license for textile toys and clothing.
The marriage of the Waldorf philosophy with Käthe 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 “What is Waldorf Education?”) was first conceived. Starting with the first doll the company founder, Käthe Kruse, made for her daughter, Mimerle, in 1905, the dolls are still handmade of natural materials more than 100 years later. The classic Käthe 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 child’s imagination, including the natural materials the dolls are made from and their neutral facial expressions: They can be interpreted in many ways by a child—happy, angry, wild, intimidated, etc.—encouraging roleplay.
“We have to roleplay over and over again to live through the day, and this is so important for children to learn, too—to speak, to understand and to develop empathy,” 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. “When you have your own child, you want your baby to be unique—not 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,” 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 doesn’t know what to do with a fashion doll intended for an 8-year-old. A young child hasn’t 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.
“By the time kids are 14, all the technology is fine!” Christenson enthuses. “It’s just when they’re very little, they don’t need battery-activated toys. They will grow into the iPods of the world. They will love them, but they don’t need them at age 3!”
Passion for and belief in what she does laces Christenson’s conversation; it runs deep, stemming back to her childhood. Christenson played with Käthe Kruse dolls long before she knew she’d one day own the company; she also played with similar-looking dolls her mother and aunt made. “It 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,” she laughs.
“Don’t ever throw your dolls away,” she continues. “You wouldn’t throw away anything you love. If you do, there goes the love that you put into a doll. Even though it’s shabby and loved to pieces, maybe even smells badly, just keep it. You throw them away, the memories might go down there as well.”
And that’s 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 they’ve stored their beloved plaything in a basement box. And the dolls do it without a preconceived identity—children get to flex their imaginative muscles to create a unique identity for their own dolls.
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The winners of the 2013 Industry’s Choice DOLLS Awards of Excellence (DAEs) were announced April 12 at the Debut of Dolls Banquet held at IDEX in Orlando, Fla. Each entry in this year’s competition was evaluated by our panel of judges: Doll industry consultant Pat Burns, doll writer and historian Penny Herbst, Simon Farnworth of DollObservers.com, author and DOLLS contributor Stephanie Finnegan,
DOLLS editor-at-large Jill Jackson, and Modern Doll President Patsy Moyer. This year’s Industry’s Choice winners go on to become the nominees for the Public’s Choice awards voted on by DOLLS readers. Look for photos of all the nominees, ballot, and online voting instructions in the July 2013 issue of DOLLS.
Iola, Wis. – Jan. 9, 2013 – DOLLS magazine publisher and former editor Carie Ferg received a special VIP Award for Outstanding Achievement in the 2012 Colliii Awards. The Colliii Awards are the largest online dollmaking competition in the world.
“We wanted to present the 2012 VIP Award to Carie Ferg as a recognition of the dynamism and innovation she has brought to the doll industry over the past few years,” said Colliii Awards Director James Carlsson. “The VIP Award is presented every year to a person or organisation that has made a significant contribution to the doll world. It was Colliii.com’s pleasure to present this to Carie as a token of appreciation for her hard work.”
Past VIP Award winners include DOLLS’ Editor-at-Large Jill Jackson for her work with "Doll Reader," the Biemann family from Schildkröt dolls in Germany, and such atists as Stephanie Sullivan.Registration for the 2013 Colliii Awards will begin in July. For more information about the competition, go to www.colliii.com/en.
The winners of the 2012 ProSculpt Annual Sculpting Contest have been chosen by collectors and artists from around the world. Winners this year are from England, Italy, Japan, South America, and the United States. Photos of all the winners can be viewed at the Johnston Original Art Dolls website. The winners are:
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Haute Doll introduces its new exclusive by Horsman Ltd., the modern-style “Heart Chair” perfect for 16-inch fashion dolls. The design was inspired by Verner Panton’s 1959 full-scale contemporary chair design.
The fourth Pullip and Dal Doll Lovers Event (PUDDLE) drew 60 doll lovers from 10 different states and Canada to the Elk Grove Village Holiday Inn in June. This year’s theme, cranes, was inspired by the sandhill cranes at the group's charity organization, the Willowbrook Wildlife Center. Six custom dolls and other items donated by sponsors like The Sleeping Elf and Denise's Dolls were raffled off at the event, raising $500 for the center.
The weekend started Friday night with dinner at Mitsuwa Japanese Mall in Arlington Heights, followed by a tea party at the hotel. PUDDLE officially kicked off at 9 a.m. Saturday, starting with an organized buy-sell-trade opportunity, and dozens of fans milled around trading and buying doll wigs, eye chips, bodies, clothing, and more.
Every attendee received a door prize, thanks to generous donations from many sponsors. Distribution of the door prizes was followed by a secret gift swap and lunch break. Afterwards, an informal Q&A-format customizing workshop answered questions for many fans new to the hobby, followed by a display of fully customized and modified dolls entered in the customization contest. Winners of an online photo/art contest which was held and judged before the event were announced along with the customization contest winners. The photo and art entries can be seen at www.puddlestyle.com/photoart.html.
Many fans continued the fun over dinner in the hotel restaurant and in the hotel lobby until the wee hours. Krista Farmer, who traveled from Toronto for the event, said “It was a crazy cool day.” Although the event officially ended Saturday night, 11 fans stayed for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Willowbrook Wildlife Center Sunday. — Jane EasterlyFor information on PUDDLE 2012, visit www.puddlestyle.com.read more
Attendees at the third annual R. John Wright Convention enjoyed the festivities of several major holidays coupled with outstanding dolls, all rolled into four fun-filled days! R. John and Susan Wright chose “Celebrations!” as the theme for their 2011 event held at the historic Desmond Hotel in Albany, N.Y., which was co-chaired by Loretta Nardone and Lillian Wright.
The convention opened with St. Patrick’s Day reception Wednesday evening, where everyone laid claim to being a wee bit Irish while enjoying a scrumptious dessert buffet. The sales room opened immediately after this kick-off event, with conventioneers hoping the “luck of the Irish” would help them find that perfect doll or dolls.
Thursday began early with the Easter Morning Breakfast; those attending this ticketed event didn’t have to search for large, beautifully decorated baskets serving as table centerpieces. They were filled with molded felt eggs in pastel colors. At the end of the breakfast, the eggs were distributed and the happy new owners opened them to find “Peep,” a 3-inch yellow mohair chick as their event souvenir. His companion, “Posey,” was available for sale. After breakfast the special and competitive exhibits opened, along with the helper room. This year’s special exhibit, arranged by John and Susan Wright’s daughter Emily, was titled “Happy Holidays” and showcased R. John Wright dolls and animal characters and the traditional holidays that inspired them.
That afternoon, attendees boarded buses for the short trip to Bennington, Vt., for a tour of the R. John Wright facility along with other local activities. The Wrights explained the development of their creations from concept through completion before everyone had the opportunity to visit with their employees as they made various doll parts and accessories and shopped in the R. John Wright store. The day culminated with a Fourth of July BBQ followed by fireworks at dusk.
Workshops by dollmaker Gail Wilson and a program by Alan Pate, a leading American expert on Japanese dolls, were offered on Friday, along with several roundtable discussions on various topics. Attendees dressed up for the frightfully fabulous costume parade leading into the Halloween Masquerade luncheon, with prizes awarded in five categories. After lunch, the newest piece from R. John Wright’s Wizard of Oz collection, “Wicked Witch of the West,” made her debut in front of an enthusiastic audience.
The ticketed Victorian Yuletide Dinner featured traditional table decorations and an enchanting program, “A Victorian Christmas,” presented by Nardone. The event souvenir was the 10-inch “Mary Frances,” the latest addition to the Victorian Children Collection. Available for purchase was her 7-inch little sister, “Baby Grace.”
Saturday morning’s activities included another program by Pate and a workshop conducted by Emily Wright. That afternoon, a Valentine’s Day High Tea charmed conventioneers with fine teas and delicacies. The newest addition to the Flower Fairies series, “Rose Fairy,” was available for purchase. The evening’s closing event was a New Year’s Eve Gala Celebration. This elegant banquet featured another entertaining program produced and presented by Nardone. When the souvenir dolls were distributed, delighted attendees found the adorable 12½-inch “Celebration Scootles” would be going home with them. As an added bonus, her delightful twin brother was available for purchase.As the convention ended, attendees were already making plans for next year’s “Around the World” event, which will be held at the same location June 20-23, 2012 and will celebrate the magic of children around the globe. There will also be an added treat as the first bear event held at an R. John Wright convention will be incorporated into the excursion to the Wrights’ facility in Vermont. For more information, visit www.rjohnwright.com or call (802) 447-7072. — Pat Burnsread more