May 9, 2018

Early Summer and Simplifying

I am finally closing down the doll making.  After ten years, and who knows how many dolls, I am through. 

The creative urge will never go away, of course, so my work is changing more toward useful things, textile arts, or else y'all would find me posting from a padded cell.  (Do they allow computers in padded cells?  No?  Oh well.)  My reasons for leaving the doll phase of my art behind me are complex, but if I had to sum it up, I'd say a combination of a very weak doll market and a need to stop making things that collect dust and/or take up closet room. 

It seems the older I get, the less patience I have with things that are not functional.  Please don't get the idea that my home is in ANY way minimalist or sparse--I do still have a smallish collection of antique and art dolls, a million books, and more than enough tchotchkies and seasonal decorations.  But compared to a few years ago, my house is practically bare.  And getting simpler all the time. 

The point is, why make things to sell that I wouldn't buy?  I love the dolls my friends make, and I know I will miss the sculpting so much--seeing that little personality emerge like magic.  But I'll have to live that part vicariously, because right now I'm up to my ears in a world of rug hooking, needle punch, wool applique, and crazy quilting.  I'll publish patterns for the items I make for my home or for gifts I give to others, but with the exception of original small gifty type things (fancy pin cushions, reading glass cases, etc), I probably won't have much but patterns and supplies in my Etsy store. 

I'm finding my own way to the understanding of Mr. Thoreau's words: "Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify."  This process will take me a decade, but I've made a start. 

Am I equating doll-making with frittering my life away?  NO!  When I was caught in the passion of learning that art, the absolute zen of any particular aspect--from how to make a good hip joint to how to pain Izzy curls--I was building my life.  Building who I am.  But change is part of life, and I guess I've changed with it.  What challenges me now is to see if I can make the things I'd love to have in my home--rugs on my floors, hangings on the wall (that roll up small and tidy for next season), textures and colors with infinite stitching. 

There's a detail to fritter away one's life, eh?  Hand stitching?  Ha!  But it satisfies me the way the doll challenges used to, so I'll take my cue from it. 

Forgive the long philosophical post, please.  Here's the second in the Seasonal Wall Hanging series I'm working on.  This one is Summer.  Forgive the photo placement--Blogger has a big hiccup in its photo adding function that seems incurable. 

Have a fine Wednesday.




  1. I am sorry to hear that you will not be making dolls to sell anymore. I understand all you said. I really agree about not making things that you personally wouldn't want to buy. Making and selling dolls is ( iffy ) you don't know if any one will buy what you have made. And the house does fill up with them. I am glad I got my dolls you made, especially now that I know they won't be available any more. We have to do what we are motivated to do and that does change over time. Our patience and our taste do change as we get older. the textiles are super interesting and I would love to know more about the textile industry, especially a hundred years ago. Working with cloth is very satisfying. the wall panels are so pretty and I do love them too. Make all sorts of things for your house and friends and be happy.

  2. I, too, am sorry, but I do understand. We have all admired and loved your beautiful dolls, so you can understand that we are a bit surprised and sad. Your work shown here is quite wonderful. I can't help admiring all of your lovely stitches. So, best wishes and happy stitching!

  3. Jan, although I'm sad you will no longer make dolls, I understand. It makes me feel even more blessed to have Sybil. I will enjoy seeing the other things you make for your home. I wish I was better at making things. Keep on being your inspiring self!

  4. I have to admit, I was somewhat shocked when I read that you were through with doll making. Your folk art style of doll making has been a lovely journey to watch. I completely understand your reasoning and with the doll market being slow sometimes it's difficult to continue making items that sit around. I too have thought the same. The dolls you've made had such personality and will become special treasures for those who purchased one.
    I'm glad you're still creating and are drawn to the textile arts of hand stitching like your rugs and quilts, which are lovely. I'm looking forward to see what you will be creating.

  5. Jan... I too am surprised but so completely understand this MAJOR new direction that you are moving in. Your dolls and creative spirit have inspired me and will be missed. Best wishes and blessing on this new, creative journey.

  6. Thanks, guys. I appreciate the understanding. It seems kind of mercenary to let the sales factor in to my decision, but I'm not a wealthy woman, and while this is a creative endeavor for me, it's also one by which I try to add to the family coffers. If it's not adding, then I have to change directions. That said, I will always make what appeals to me, rather than chasing a market, so who knows if the new direction will do any better? At least the results won't take so much room to store. :~P


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