***please note all seminar photos were borrowed from Maike Coelle from Feinslieb Dolls (Germany) link to her blog below! Thank you Maike!***
Greetings from Indiana, back home and reflecting on my recent trip to the Netherlands. I jumped right back into the craziness here, with my daughter’s first dress rehearsal for her upcoming ballet performance (the cutest thing I ever did see). I literally started to tear up when I saw her and her 3,4 and 5 year old dance mates on stage in their costumes and yes, make up. It will be quite the production! I was impressed by the organization and professionalism of the dress rehearsal. She was in awe watching the older girls dance, so I just sat back and let her be with her friends and her teacher, and watched from the back of the auditorium. Growing up so fast! The kiddos did great while I was gone, safe in the hands of my husband and the little one with my mother (who accomplished the great feat of bottle training and getting her to sleep through the night- Grandma’s magic touch!) I heard grand tales of their Papaw coming to visit, trips to the museum complete with treasure hunts and maps galore. Yep, it’s official…they were totally fine without me and I’m a big sap. I did however get a huge hug from my son before he ran onto the mat of his karate dojo and he whispered “Mom, I really missed you a lot!” Then he was off doing roundhouse kicks, jabs and upper cuts.
In Holland, time flew by, it truly was such an honor and treasure to visit Europe. Where should I begin? After traveling for about 24 hours, I reached Amsterdam. It was quite lovely weather when I arrived, only a brief rain here and there throughout my entire stay. Temperatures were brisk, in the 50’s and 60’s but the sun came out every day and the weekend really warmed up a bit to the high 60’s. I was lucky enough to be met at the airport by an old friend, Robby, who I used to dance with 16 years ago! We had a chuckle about that, how time passes so quickly. His partner Sylvia and he opened their home to me and were spectacular hosts, brining me all around their town, ‘s-graveland, Amsterdam, driving me to Elspeet (where the seminar was) and after the seminar to a beautiful town called Laren. For only being in Holland 4 days, I got quite the experience and it was all due to their hospitality. I walked around Amsterdam’s “central park” called Vondel Park, visited cheese shops for yummy samples, had delicious Indonesian food for the first time, and of course experienced lots of yummy traditional Dutch food and Belgium and Dutch beers. Friday, Robby and I spent the day at the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in in museum square in Amsterdam. This was definitely a highlight. I have always loved Van Gogh’s work and I urge you if you ever have the opportunity to see his work in person, whether in Amsterdam or another museum, GO! There is beauty in his work that can in its entirety only be grasped in person. Our visit there was quite inspirational and moving, definitely a highlight for my trip. Dutch hospitality was warm and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting their country and would love to return one day with my husband to see even more sites that we just didn’t have time to visit.
The hotel was set in the forests of a small, quaint countryside town in Holland, gathered a group of incredibly talented doll making artists. This seminar was organized by Kamrin and Berend te Kronnie from Kamrin’s Poppenatelier. They were so sweet and the organization of an event like this I’m sure was very involved! Coming around and brining us coffee and tea while we worked and making sure we were comfortable. Many thanks to all involved who made this possible! The doll artists present ranged from professional dollmakers whom I have watched grow and have inspired me for years and others who I just met this time around who also sell their work maybe locally in their countries or on Etsy like myself. There were women who have been making dolls for years and years who were raised Waldorf and some who make dolls for themselves because they love the joy of creating, and others who create for children at European kindergartens. All the dolls I saw were inspiring and so different, and when you are able to hold these pieces of art in your hands, you really can feel the love of the maker. I can’t say enough about the joy I experienced from being able to attend this seminar. The instruction was incredible and the topics very interesting. If I could have taken every single workshop, I would have. Obviously, time was limited, but I learned so much from the ones I did attend. I focused on face felting (an all day workshop on Saturday) with the incredibly talented Joanna from Lalidom in Poland, embroidery (baby hair style) with Agnieszka from Lalinda (Poland) and a clothing workshop from Maureen from Poppenliefde (Netherlands). I really fell in love with face felting for the first time. I have done very simple face felting on a few dolls, but never the detail I achieved in Joanna’s workshop. I will be finishing the face hopefully this weekend and posting a picture on Facebook and also here. I knew it took a long time to felt, but wow, after 7 hours on Saturday (with a 1 1/2 hour lunch break in the middle to break it up) my elbow and shoulder were feeling a bit beat up, I will need to revisit my proper body mechanics! And that was just the face…and it’s not finished yet! I guestimate I will need another 2 hours to have the face finished and doll skin attached, which is in line with the average time that I was told it should take, about 9-12 hours per face. People often ask of the price of these dolls, and I think just that small tidbit of info helps to explain the type of time and work that goes into making a Waldorf and a Fiber Art cloth doll.
On Sunday, I first took a hair embroidery workshop from Lalinda, which gave me lots of information on how to play with yarn hair. This specific type of “baby hair style” is especially great for younger children. The hair is very secure and minimizes shedding of the wool fibers. Also, it’s adorable. I look forward to creating many cute baby dolls with this technique. Sunday afternoon, I took a dress making workshop. I was relieved that the machine closely resembled mine at home, so that was not too much of a challenge, however I quickly ran short on time in this workshop….did I mention in takes me a really long time to sew up doll clothing? But again, I have the knowledge now and a really sweet pattern from Poppenliefde to practice at home…and the fabric! We used fabrics from Monday’s Milk which included a lovely washed linen and a sweet gift of Nani Iro. I suggest you try these fabrics for anyone who sews! It was quite dreamy. I have used Nani Iro double gauze in the past, in fact I have a lovely stash of it at home and it is hands down my favorite type of fabric to create with. It looks like a painting, every single print she puts out looks like a masterpiece, coupled with the softest texture in her double and triple gauze. You and Mie turned me onto Nani Iro, years ago. Her blog is quite inspiring and she is also quite active on her Instagram account. Then poof! The seminar had come to an end, and it was time to return to my friend’s home in the country, after a stop in Laren for Dutch appetizers and beers on a beautiful sunny terrace and then traditional Dutch pancakes, called poffertjes (YUM!). The next day, I jetted back to America where I was able to give into the exhaustion and lay down with my littles after no sleep for almost 24 hours. This opportunity I will hold dear to my heart on this doll making journey for years and years to come.
I hope you enjoy the pictures I do have, some are from my adventures on Friday inside and outside the Van Gogh Museum and the others are borrowed from another sweet doll maker, Maike Coelle from Feinslieb Dolls in Germany. Enjoy!