Why Needle Felted Dolls range from Pricy to Affordable

laura lee burch needle felting
Goldilocks and the three bears

Lately I’ve been making fairy tale dolls, I first started making the dolls with pipe cleaner armatures then progresses to a bigger doll with a needle felted head and body with only pipe cleaner arms and legs. The pipe cleaner dolls (the basic pipe cleaner doll tutorial can be seen here: http://www.lauraleeburch.com/blog/2011/09/beddy-bye-dolls-tutorial-2/  are small and just the right size for small children to play with and they can be made in a reasonable amount of time (half an hour each), making them much cheaper to make and sell. The larger, more detailed dolls take a lot more time (about an hour each to needle felt, plus a half an hour to an hour more if they’re clothed). I think the larger dolls are cuter, but more expensive due to the amount of time it takes to needle felt, then sew the clothes for each one. I love these two types of pipe cleaner dolls because you can’t break them, they’re bendable, soft and made from natural materials (wool is bacterial and fire resistant!)

needle felting dolls
Goldilocks

The larger needle felted dolls have many more details such as glass doll eyes, styled hair and more intricate, sewn clothes. I make the patterns for the doll clothes; I usually end up making a sample piece of clothing first which I make alterations to, then I revise the pattern, cut out the pieces, then sew the doll’s costume. I make the dolls first because I love the needle felting process and I save the sewing for later (when the mood hits me to sew).

Pipe cleaner dolls
Goldilocks & the Three Bears-Pipe Cleaner version

As I first started to make human style animal dolls (The three bears and the three little pigs for example), I struggled with the decision of whether to dress the animals or not. A friend of mine who worked in a Hallmark shop for years once told me that clothed teddy bears that had clothing or costumes sold better than non-clothed teddy bears, so I took that as a piece of important advice from someone who observed teddy bear sales because she used this information to place the bear orders for her very successful Hallmark store. This meant that if the urge to sew doll clothes didn’t come to me as my little animals stood there naked, I’d need to “just do it” and sew some clothes for the dolls. I like to sew, but only when I feel like it, just like cooking. I’ve left the smaller, pipe cleaner dolls unclothed (except Goldilocks of course) so that their price point stays low. I have quite a few more fairy tale dolls finished, just waiting for clothes! Back to work….

 

 

The Princess & the Pea, Needle Felted Fairytales

laura lee burch needle felting
The princess and the pea, needle felting and sewing fairytales

I’m glad that my in-laws didn’t put me through any weird “quality tests” when they first met me (as the princess’ mother did when she put the pea between the mattresses of the princess- in-question!)

Laura Lee Burch needle felting
She can’t sleep because there are vegetables in her bed!

The princess is one of the needle felted pipe cleaner dolls I’ve been making. I made her dress from part of a beautifully, hand crafted tea towel (I bought it at an antique store in Greenfield, Indiana). The little mattresses are actually very tiny pillows that I sewed from cotton, the pea is needle felted and I made the bed from cardboard, duct tape, felt and dowel rods. The bedposts are needle felted with dowel rods inside to keep them sturdy. The bed came out pretty well, all the dimensions came from measuring the mattresses. It’s pretty strong, although I wouldn’t want a small child to try to sit on it, the way I often see small children trying to use miniature things!   

lauraleeburch needle felting
Is she or is she not a princess?

I like the mixture of sewing and needle felting in this project, the many different pieces of cotton fabrics in the matressess and bed coverings give the piece an interesting look, something visually busier than what results from the solid colors of felted pieces. 

laura lee burch needle felting
Happy princess and her pea.

The first thing my girls did when they saw the princess in her bed was to look for the pea. With small children, I think that a simple game of hide and seek with the pea could be fun.

needle felted pipe cleaner doll
Needle felted, cotton pipe cleaner doll

Bon Voyage Helene

childhood friends
friends at the beach

Yesterday was Emili’s last day to play with her best friend Helene; Helene and her family are moving back to France. The girl friends from their school class spent a poingant day with Helene at the beach.

fun at the beach
making childhood memories

The girls were very busy building sand castles and  laughing and splashing one another!

ouch, jelly fish
jellatenous globs of jelly fish

We found jelly fish washed up on the beach; these are very small compared to previous years.

dolls
Forget me not

As a going away present for Helene and Emili, I needle felted two dolls, one for each girl. Emili the girl received Helene the doll and Helene the girl received Emili the doll.

Helene and Emili dolls
Needle felted Helen and Emili dolls

 Helene and Emili have been in school together since the first grade; I am still friends with my best friend from the first grade!

needle felted dolls
needle felted friends

We all tried to be brave and not cry, but Emili and Helene’s last parting hug broke me. We now have a great reason to travel to France!

Paper Clay Sculpted Animal Dolls

sculpting paper clay
Mama Bunny and her three babies

A few years ago I was into sculpting with paper clay. I love the hands-on, work of getting dirty; I missed this type of art when I was only designing on the computer (now I do both). This mama rabbit is a bank; you can put money into her through a slot in the back of her neck.  

bunny bank
She's a bank.

One theme that I see in my work is that of utility; the sculpture is also a bank. It isn’t my style to sculpt a rabbit just for the beauty of a rabbit, so I make the art functional. As time has passed, I’ve started to make art for the sake of art (progress I think). 

paper clay sculpture
Mama rabbit bank, back view

 I put the three bunny babies into the mama’s apron, maybe I was sculpting myself with three little girls.

baby bunnies
Three baby bunnies

Each little bunny is sculpted from paper clay and painted with acrylics, like the mama. They sit in their mama’s apron, living the life of Riley!

rabbit jewelry
Carrot necklace

Mama Bunny is decked out in a paper clay sculpted, carrot necklace and a handmade, cotton dress and apron with Portuguese lace. After I made the Mama Bunny and babies, I made more animal dolls. First I made Mr. Rabbit; his head is sculpted from paper clay, but his body is made from cotton and painted with acrylics. 

paper clay sculpted Mr. Rabbit
Classically dress Mr. Rabbit

Mr. Rabbit is wearing a wool jacket, plaid wool pants, a white cotton shirt with brown antique buttons; a brown velvet bow-tie finishes off his elegant ensemble. I’m sure Mr. Rabbit has a smoking jacket in his closet at home.

carrot kercheif
Mr. Rabbit wears a carrot kercheif

Because I have a fetish for ducks (I collect duck nick-nacks), I made Mrs. Duck.

duck doll
Mrs. Duck

Mrs. Duck has a paper clay sculpted head and a cloth body. Her head and body are both painted with acrylic paints. Mrs. Duck is wearing an antique doll dress and a handmade bonnet; she’s the picture of pretty for spring!

spring bonnet
Mrs. Duck wears a spring bonnet of handmade roses.

I think Mrs. Duck has the personality of Sandra Dee or Doris Day; she’s the duck next door with a sweet, chirpy personality!

Mrs. Duck
Mrs. Duck, the duck next door.

Flower Friends, Waldorf Dolls

Flower kids, wood and felt dolls

 The symbolism of flowers started in ancient times, usually linked to a religion or religious deities. Nature and Flowers were seen as a reflection of the divine in the Renaissance and Victorian times. Due to the social rules of Victorian era, feelings and expressing one’s self were frowned upon, so flowers were given emotional meanings and symbolismand were used to express one’s self in an accepted way. Expression with flowers evolved into a very complex language in Victorian times, the practice spawned books about the subject, for example Kate Greenaway’s Language of Flowers (1884) and the language of flowers is still practiced today. Flowers became adornments, decorative motifs, girls’ names and special gifts. Today, flowers are present in all the major events in our lives, birth, marriage, holidays, graduation, illness and death. 

rose girl
rose girl detail

 Flowers have been the subject matter for great artistic master pieces like Van Gogh’s Sunflowers series and Monet’s Waterlilies and inspiration for great poetry, for example: Wadsworth’s Wandered Lonely as a Cloud and William Blake’s Ah! Sunflower. 

Daisy girl

 Buying and Selling flowers have a world wide market, whole gardens are devoted to flowers, they are used in teas, some are used as spices, hops flowers are used to flavor beer and dandelion flowers are made into wine. 

Morning Glory girl

  Fun Flower Facts: 

  • The rose is the best known symbol of beauty and love.
  • Tulip bulbs can be used in stead of onions for cooking.
  • California is the source for 60% of all U.S.A. grown  fresh cut flowers.
  • The Titan Arum is the world largest and smelliest flower.

  

Buttercup kid