We had a parent/teacher meeting at Teddy’s little Waldorf school last night. While our magical teacher enthralled us all with the Kindergarten going’s on, the parents engaged in ‘meaningful work’. Our task was to make a little Waldorf doll. What a delight it was. It was my first Waldorf doll and I’m not quite finished but my little Teddy will have a ‘Little One’ to love soon. With this in my heart and Christmas around the corner, I wanted to share this wonderful post from the archives…
I am delighted to share the artistry and sheer beauty of Waldorf Dolls in today’s Discovering Waldorf post. Marie, who comes from Austria, has been making these magical dolls for many years and has kindly agreed to share her knowledge, wisdom and art with us. Please enjoy her lovely words and photos.
Donni the very talented artist of Fairyfolk was so kind to ask me if I would to write a guest blogpost about Waldorf Dolls and I happily agreed. “The Doll is special among toys, because it is an image of the human being. With the doll’s help we can seek our own identity. We can reveal our own innermost thoughts, sorrows, and joys to our doll friend.”
Karin Neuschütz, Das Puppenbuch
Everything learned and experienced by the child can be repeated in doll play. If the child is progressing through something, the doll will do the same very soon, too. If the child is sick for example and has a fever, her doll will get in contact with the thermometer soon, too.
“Play with dolls is of special importance because it is one of the ways through which the child can externalize his own inner being.”
Rahima Baldwin Dancy, You Are Your Child’s First Teacher
The Waldorf Doll has been used in Waldorf education for generations. It is handcrafted with loving care using only natural materials like pure lambs wool and cotton, materials that are soft and warm to the touch. When cuddled, a wool stuffed doll takes on the warmth of the child, a warmth that makes the doll come alive.
The origins of this type of doll come from a strong European tradition of doll making. Many dolls were made by mamas at home during long winter months from materials that were at hand, like sheep’s wool and cloth scraps, instantly giving life to those simple materials.
“As the child nurtures & mothers the doll, he is – not simply metaphorically but also in reality – caring for himself. It is important therefore, that we offer a doll that closely resembles him/her, not so much in features but rather in proportion. The child’s “felt experience” of the doll will remain with him/her. So let’s keep the doll simple, proportional & tactilely truthful.”
Shariffa Oppenheimer in regards to Waldorf dolls
The appearance of a Waldorf Doll is intentionally simple with minimal facial features in order to allow the child playing with it to improve and strengthen imagination and creativity.
The beauty of simplicity is stimulating creative learning by drawing on the child’s imagination.
Jaffke Freya, Toymaking With Children
At first glance, it may occur not to be so much effort to create such a simple doll, with few facial features instead of a more detailed doll. But actually, it is a great challenge to put life into a doll’s face using only a few stitches. Handembroidering a dolls face is always something like a meditation for me. I do have to center myself to find calmness and serenity for that task. Every stitch has to be in the perfect spot in order to make a dolls face shine. In my opinion the main effort about waldorf doll or Waldorf toy making in general, is to find what is essential, to limit it to that and to put soul into the creation.
Waldorfdolls are traditionally available in different types for different ages.
The very first doll for a newborn can be a simple silk snuggle doll made from one piece of silk and a little wool ball. This kind of Snuggle Doll is probably the most simple but yet one of the most enhanching dolls I know.
Here You can find a free tutorial for a silk snuggle doll.
The Pillow Doll or Cuddle doll is a great doll for young children. It is very soft and cuddly and can be a Babies first friend.
A companion doll is a perfect friend for all children that can change clothes already.
The body of this doll is entirely made from skin colored tricot and can be dressed with all kinds of different clothes.If a companion doll is custom made for a child it is often made in accordance with the childs skin, hair and eye color.
Things that are made by hand, using natural materials, are instilled with the soul of the maker. Play is the true work of our children, therefore whenever possible we should provide them with the best and highest quality play things. Surrounding our children with handmade and natural toys means that their memories will be full of these natural, important, and handmade things, rather than toys that are unimportant, inexpensive and disposable. “They are real ‘child dolls’ not because they mimic exactly the features and form of an individual as many of the tough plastic toys available today try to do, but because they reflect the inner softness and warmth both of their maker and their owner.”
Maricristin Sealey, Making Waldorf Dolls
Thank you SO much, Marie! Your dolls are enchanting… so much so that I honestly want one for myself! I love the image you make of the child’s love and hugs literally giving her doll life through her very own body warmth. And I can totally see how your doll’s simple facial features can take on any expression and emotion through the child’s own imagination. Once again, as with so many Waldorf ideas, less is so much more.