Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Waldorf Toys, Ideas and Dolly Faces

Waldorf principles and education and toys are relatively new to me but any search for wooden toys will bring you several toys labeled "Waldorf".  Guided play is central to early Waldorf education and out of curiosity I've explored the movement as it relates to toys.
Wooden Helicopter via Bella Luna Toys

 One principle is that handmade and artisan toys have a spirit that is felt by the child that plays with the toy. Another central idea is that play should stimulate the imagination.
Little Wooden Rabbit via jupiterschild on etsy
 I like the idea of handmade toys that carry the spirit of the maker with them  though my toys would not quite fit into the Waldorf idea as they are more decorated than the typical Waldorf type toy and I'm not sure that many toys labeled "Waldorf" that are mass manufactured would really meet the ideal either.  The Waldorf idea is that simpler toys give a child's imagination more room to play.   As a result, dolls have simple, barely suggested face.
Via Elijbeta on Etsy
 I confess I've shown this Etsy seller - Elijbeta,  at least 3 times on my blog. I'm clearly in love with her dolls.  This beauty has the barely suggested face, so her owner can imagine her happy, sad, sleeping, etc.  I'm not sure that works for everyone.  As I remember my beloved dolls, there were some characteristics I really wanted and some I disliked.  I loved dolls that had eyes that closed - especially baby dolls.
American Girl Bitty Baby
  Who wants to put your baby to bed and see his/her eyes still open.  Creepy!  I realize that the dolls I love the most, even now (do a check - most dolls on the web are NOT for kiddlets) have a pleasant, neutral expression.  I've always disliked crying baby dolls.
Berenguer La Newborn
Even as a pretend mom I knew crying was not good and like the Waldorf idea, it's hard to imagine the above doll doing anything else.  In the same vein, I don't like overly smiley dolls.
Ashton Drake So Truly Real Baby Doll
I want to be able to add a bit of my own imagination to a pretty doll.  What's your favorites?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Paper Toys and Kidlet Fun

I have a thing for paper toys.  What is a paper toy? Anything printed that can be cut out, assembled or otherwise manipulated to create a plaything.  Paper dolls - love them!  Paper planes -  classic!  There are lots of stuff other than paper dolls and plane out there.  One of my favorite Etsy shops has doll houses you can print, cutout and play with.
Mushroom Cottage Dollhouse
For $4.00 you can download and print this loveliness.  The fun is in making it as well as playing with it. Paper dolls are part of this category and I'm the proud owner of some but that is another blog post.

Made by Joel is a blog of a Portland artist that makes simple toys, many of paper that are tested on his own twins.  My favorite is his Tumble Bunny.  This is a variation of an age old toy and you can download for free the template.
From Made by Joel
Another favorite artist that does much more elaborate folded paper toys is Marilyn Scott-Walters.  Her website, The Toymaker , has some free downloads and some books that I covet.  Check out her marble mouse for free.
Marble racing mouse by The Toymaker

In anticipation of kid time in AZ I got some paper toy goodies for play.  One of my favorite artists, Sarah Jane Studios had a download for a paper theater and puppets for Peter and The Wolf. 

I printed out two sets (still one price) and then laminated them at my local bookstore for only a dollar.  I assembled them all but the sticks (bamboo kabob skewers with their points cut off) and bagged the whole thing.  I ordered a CD of Peter and the Wolf so we were set!  I loved this when I was in grade school and I think schools rarely use this anymore. (I'll repress a rant). 

This was a hit with the seven year old.  Our four year old listened and played with the puppets for a while but lost interest.  Seven year old got it out on her own later and played with it on Sunday evening.  Her Mom thought it was a wonderful Sunday activity.  The littles Mom took their copy home to use later.  Yeah!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Arizona Week

The Best Loved household has migrated from AR to the great state of AZ for a week of kid cuddling and family togetherness.  First things first.  I decided it was time to pass on my childhood dolls to the BestLoved Grand girls.  I have two Madame Alexander dolls that I treasured as a child and thought my own daughters would love them.  Alas, they were indifferent to dollies and when they were old enough to take care of my beauties I felt that they wouldn't really care if they had the dolls or not so the babies stayed in the drawer.  Now the grands are getting old enough to enjoy them and they DO like dolls.  I have two childhood dolls and (at least for now) two Grand daughters.  It's kismet, the planets are aligned and I'm ready to pass them on.

Baby girl 2 is now the custodian of my Little Women Jo doll.  Her stringing broke years ago and I was able to find several tutorials on restringing and think I did a great job of putting her back together.  I did some research, and she is a Lissy doll body - eleven inches tall and straight legged. From what I can find Madame Alexander has always made Little Women dolls but this model from 1962 or 63 was a little unusual.  The most common ones are in the 8 inch Wendy doll body or I found a few on line that had bendable knees.  Apparently the greatest value in these dolls comes from their clothes and my Jo's dress is in fantastic shape with her labels still intact.  I did replace the elastic on the waist of her petticoat and the black braid trim on her pinafore was stitched down  where it was coming unstuck a little.  I was sad to find her pantaloons and socks had vanished somewhere in the last I won't say how many years.  Her original shoes are still perfect, and a good thing cause on ebay these things cost more than I spend on my own shoes.  

I wanted to make her some modern clothes and went on a search for doll patterns.  I feel lucky that I found MHD Designs at  I got to "play dolls", BL Girly girl was excited. I can't tell who's prettier.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Box or Toy?

The best classic toys are sometimes not designed as toys.  Take your basic cardboard box.  One memorable Christmas my youngest sister (#3), aged 2 at the time, had the most fun opening her presents ever.  She emptied gifts from their containers and played ecstatically with the box.  She appropriated all of our boxes and never looked at the toys they contained.

She wasn't the only one of our tribe to find happiness in the box, not the contents.  Here''s another of my sisters (Sandy? Carol?) loving a cardboard box under the Christmas tree.

The first Best Loved Grandson went through a time when he was about two years old when his favorite pastime was playing with a large box that he had decided was his "truck".  When he started to pretend the box was his truck, Mom and Dad drew a dashboard on the box flap with crayon and the box became officially his favorite toy.   He would carry around a set of plastic teething keys in his pocket when he wasn't in the "truck", just like his parents did.  To make the scene even more real, his Daddy drove an old truck that needed a screwdriver to start it (the ignition had been drilled out at some time) so BLGrandson carried his keys, but kept a plastic screwdriver in the box so he could "start" his truck.

I found this that is supposed to attach to a box to make a toy.
Rolobox via Odeedho
 What do you think?  Would this have made our BLGrand's truck better? Or does a kid need it? Should we defend the purity of the cardboard box?