The first dolls I ever made were made from vegatables from our garden, then I started making dolls from my mother’s fabric scraps. As I grew older, I had to take home economics in school; I learned how to follow a pattern and this allowed me to make rag dolls. As time went on, I started making dolls from paper mache, wood, clay and mixed media. After we moved to Israel, the girls were little and I made puppets for the girls to play with. My fabric puppets, evolved into mixed media puppets and now I;m making mostly felted puppets. I taught myself to neelde felt a few years ago. Needle felting is like sculpting, its additive and subractive like clay.
Today I make dolls; I love to make dolls and I’m not sure why. Before I started to make dolls, I played with dolls, then I collected dolls and then I bought dolls for my daughters and every now and then I’d buy a doll for myself. Most of the dolls I’ve collected were my mothers. She treasured her dolls and when she gave them to me they were in mint condition. I played with them alot and now they are very used.
My grandma Burch used to make dolls for me and my sister and I’ve kept all of them. This is Raggedy Ann, she’s 30-some years old!
This is Andy, Raggedy Ann’s friend. Raggedy Ann and Andy are characters from the Series of books by Johny Gruelle. These dolls are well known by American children.
My grandma Burch had a good sence of humor; she used to make funny things sometimes, like this Dammit Doll.
The tag that comes with the doll reads:
When you think you want to climb the wall or stand right up and shout,
Here’s a little Dammit Doll you cannot be without.
Just grab it firmly by the legs and find a place to slam it.
Then as you whack it’s stuffings out, yell DAMMIT…. DAMMIT…..DAMMIT…..
I remember one of the first dolls I made myself, she was made from a gourd that I picked from our garden. Her body was a gourd, and her arms and legs were toothpicks and my mother made a summer dress for her. I have a photo of myself as a skinny little girl of 7 or 8 years old and my doll in front of our house in Greenfield, Indiana.
This was my doll from the 1970’s. She recited a bedtime prayer when you pulled her string. My mother taught it to me and we used to recite it every night before bed, on our knees.
I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee lord my soul to keep. If I should die, before I wake, I pray thee lord my soul to take. Amen
We bought this tiny doll in India for something like a penny. She’s about 3″ tall and she’s made of wire and thread. How simple and cute.
Immediatly following the Purim season for us, we started to prepare for a fashion show for children, showcasing some of our best costumes.
This is Emili as Marie Antoinette, one of our most popular costumes for girls. The dress is made from embroidered taffeta and embellished with cream lace and gold trim. The dress utilizes an underskirt and it is cinched in the back for a maximum fit. I made the wig from wool; the base is felted and I made wool curls to put all over the wig. We recieved a special request for a Napoleon Bonaparte costume, that we feel stands up to our Marie Antoinette in beauty and historical accuracy.
This is the epaulette, something many “military guys” wear when they’re dressed up; this was the most important part of the costume for Tal.
I wanted to make a knight in shining armour because I’d never seen a costume like this before made in fabric and I think the ensemble is interesting.
What do you hope for? When I was younger, I hoped for things like a nice car, an artistic job, a higher salary, more vacation time and a little bit of a tan in the summer. Today, I hope for very different things, like a parking spot, a tiny garden space, health and happiness for my family and friends. I hope for the success of Doron and my businesses, for a wider variety of organic fruits and vegatables in the organic market where we shop. I hope for peace, even though I think this sounds like a very beauty pageant thing to say, living in Israel makes hoping for peace a daily thought.
Grafiti in Tel Aviv
When Lili was 6 or 7 years old, I was driving her to school and out of the blue she asked me what a bomb looked like. I told her I didn’t know exactly, but that I did know that we shouldn’t pick up bags, packages, toys or dolls that were left on the street or on a bench because there may be a bomb inside. I remind my three girls of this often.
Peace Doves, fresco in Sintra, Portugal
Emili was born in a hospital in Tel Aviv (do not get me started on that experience). A religious man walked into my room (without knocking) and handed me a box. Inside the box was a gas mask for babies, basically a big plastic bag looking aparatus with a breathing device connected to it. I think it was because the gulf war was going on that I recieved this thoughtful gift, I’m not sure if they give out baby gas masks on a regular basis. We picked up our masks for the two older girls from a distribution center. A mask for children looks like a space suit rather that a mask like you always see in the movies. Lili was 6 and in the first grade, Elli was 3; the night before the war started we all had to test our masks to be sure they worked. Elli was too little to test her mask , but we put Lili’s on her and that is an image I will never forget. Everyone had to travel around with their masks once the war started; they have a shoulder strap attached to them. All the school children decorated their mask boxes. You could see everyone heading off to school in the morning with their backpacks and a decorated gas mask box hanging off their shoulders.
A customer at my store told me that the little boys in her son’s class at school were playing suicide bomber. “What do you mean?” I asked her. I couln’t imagine children playing such a game. She told me that they wrap something around their wastes (a rope or belt ) and they pretend to blow up.
Tel Aviv graphiti
We moved to Israel nine years ago and the intifada started two weeks later. There were many buses that were blown up during that time (to this day I have never taken a bus here and I forbid the girls from doing so). The sobering fact is that most people here need to take buses to get to work. A bus blew up about a mile from the kindergarten where Lili was. You could tell that something bad had happened because all of a sudden, you could here radios everywhere. Every store, school and house, turned on the radio and you could feel a tenseness in the people on the street. I asked someone what was going on. “They blew up a bus on Allenby Street” a lady told me. I hurried to Lili’s school, people were yelling in the street and helicopters were buzzing all over the area, looking for the bomber. I started to breath very heavily and a sound came from my throat; I new I was starting to panic and I tried to calm myself. Once I was inside the kindergarten, many of the children were crying. I took Lili’s hand to take her home and a woman yelled at me that we couldn’t leave. I thought this must be procedure, staying put after a bombing till everything had calmed down, so I just stood there with Lili. An Israeli mother yelled back, ‘we’re leaving! and everyone pushed past the guard at the gate. I went too and we went home.
Emili holding Doron’s hand
My children attend a French school in our neighborhood. The pupils are from all over the world and speak many languages. There are Catholics, Protestants, Jews and a few Muslims (usually from Egypt) at the school. It gives me hope that my girls will understand people from many different places, that they will learn to be respectful and sensitive to other religions and cultures and races.
Sometimes I need inspiration to be creative; something to give me creative energy. My children inspire me, beauty and good deeds are also inspirational to me. Visually, I can look at a magazine or a book, go to the flea market (one of my favorites!), to an antique store or go browsing in a fabric shop. Fabric shops provide many textures and colors, this gives me many ideas, sometimes after seeing a certain color or seeing something in a certain light, an idea will jump into my head. Light is a big inspirational element for me. I find myself stopping in my tracks to contemplate an object lit in artistic light; I take photographs of these things whenever I have my camera with me.