Crafting Naturally for Children: A Review of Making Waldorf Dolls

Waldorf DollsEven if you’re not a proponent of Steiner education (that anthroposophy business is pretty out there, in my opinion), you have to admit that those Waldorf folks make themselves a darn good doll.

Handmade, high-quality, and constructed of completely natural components, the Waldorf doll is the gold standard of a child’s creative toy. but if you’ve ever thought about bestowing one upon your own children, you know that they are priced to match that standard.

It’s money well spent, certainly, but there’s no reason that a reasonably crafty individual such as yourself has to shell out for a Waldorf doll. In Making Waldorf Dolls, author Maricristin Sealey lays out step-by-step instructions for sewing several types of Waldorf dolls. Here’s my take on her book:

Sealey’s tutorials are certainly doable, but this book is a little older and you won’t find the level of instruction that you’ll get from modern how-to craft books. Modern books often include photos, pull-out computer-illustrated pattern pieces, and very detailed step-by-steps. Making Waldorf Dolls has hand-drawn illustrations done in black ink only, hand-drawn pattern pieces that LOOK hand-drawn (and don’t always look symmetrical), and in a few isolated places, the instructions lose me completely.

But crafters, especially more experienced crafters, are used to working through these kinds of difficulties. If you’ve ever crafted something just by looking at the illustrations in a Japanese craft book because you couldn’t read the words, or sewn from a vintage pattern that assumed a far greater skill set possessed by the home sewer of those days, or even modernized a kitschy project that you saw in some old craft book that you got at the thrift store, then you understand why the few problems with Making Waldorf Dolls are not by any means deal-breakers.

The best thing about the book is its specificity. If you want to make a Waldorf doll, a real Waldorf doll, then THIS is how you do it. Some of the instructions, such as the construction of an inner head, are things that you probably couldn’t figure out on your own, and some of the materials are just obscure enough (bandage gauze?) that you probably wouldn’t have thought of them on your own. Some components you can play with. For the Waldorf pocket dolls in the illustration above, I used old T-shirts, stash pom-poms, and stash yarn in lieu of the pricier materials the book suggests. If you want to make a real, live, old-school Waldorf doll, then go check out Magic Cabin for that bandage gauze and I’ll see you at the next craft fair, in line with me at the booth that sells sheep fleece by the pound.

2 thoughts on “Crafting Naturally for Children: A Review of Making Waldorf Dolls”

  1. I liked your Waldorf doll craft.
    My daughter went to a Waldorf elementary school all the way through until high school and there was no mention of anthroposophy. That’s a pretty old school concept, Waldorf schools have come a log way and are fabulous education for children. They arrive as self motivated, polite and strong teenagers.
    Don’t give Waldorf a bum rap, it’s a very valid education form, especially given the emphasis on consumerism targeting kids now!

    1. It’s not giving Waldorf education a bum rap to say that anthroposophy is a component of it–that’s just telling the truth. Just as with any educational movement, individual schools can choose to adhere strictly or loosely to various components of the form. Some schools may not promote anthroposophy in their curriculum, but I assure you that many schools do, and it’s a fine practice, but yes, it IS a little out there.

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