– According to the Waldorf school, for example, the table should be made of solid wood – inside it should be the same as outside. This is also what is expected of a human being – what you manifest on the outside comes from your inside, there is no room for duplicity – says Agnieszka Nowak, an artist who makes dolls full time for 10 years. His works can be admired on the lalinda.pl website.
The price of real Waldorf dolls starts at 900 PLN, but usually you have to spend more than a thousand zlotys. Someone may say that’s too much for a rag toy. But is that too much for a work of art by a real artist? And are you sure Waldorf dolls can be treated like ordinary toys. We will return to financial matters at the end of the article.
– You should know that Waldorf dolls are over 100 years old. They are made of natural materials. There was no plastic when they were created. Everything was made from what nature gave, and this tradition has continued in the case of dolls. We continue to use sheep’s fleece, which has miraculous properties, including absorbing odors and warming, after all it is wool.
Małgorzata is a woman over 60, artist and illustrator. At some point, she felt she wanted to go beyond page and paper and let her creativity run free. And then she found works, among others, by Agnieszka Nowak. It turned out that some of the most beautiful dolls are made in Poland.
– I discovered the technique on the Internet. I wanted to do something for my own pleasure and I was looking for a character to inspire me. Then I discovered that there are different types of dolls and it is not a random combination of rags and wool, but a well thought out technique. We made dolls for their daughters. It’s already fascinating. As for Lalinda, in the mass of sought-after photos, I couldn’t take my eyes off the faces sculpted by Ms. Agnieszka. I couldn’t believe such modeling could be made out of matter, so I started looking for instructions on YouTube. But even the most accurate translations did not bring the result – says Małgorzata.
– It seemed that sewing the body together, making a head and clothes – it was easy. And nothing comes out. That’s why I signed up for the course and that’s where I discovered what magic was. Special material, sewn hair, wool fleece inside, needlepoint, body proportions, eye spacing – everything has its canon and nothing is accidental. That’s what surprised me – nothing by chance, but a thoughtful, precise and calculated recipe for a doll.
The technique of sewing Waldorf dolls is very complicated, especially for those with sculpted faces. These are hours spent drilling and hardening the wool, and assembling elements with precision.
– Dolls are fascinating in two ways: one is the head and the other is a body – explains Małgorzata – Each face is different and unique with its individual characteristics, which makes it a living creature. The body is soft and naturally bends like a human in the right directions, which also animates it. Even for an intermediate person, familiar with sewing techniques, it is difficult and sewing requires a lot of patience and precision. A separate entity is the head with deliberately interwoven special threads that create facial expressions. And the other being a small body with buttoned handles inside. The most difficult thing is to shape the face, because the character of the character we create depends on it.
Agnieszka Nowak points out that even the best training is not enough. You need the right imagination, practice and… all the other useful skills. You must sew 100 dolls to pass this 101.
– I have been sewing dolls for 10 years, and many people have studied with me, few of them continue to sew. Firstly because you have to find a lot of patience. Doll sewing is a necessity to learn skills in several trades. Not only do you have to be a doll maker, but also doll clothes. You have to learn to be a tailor, shoemaker, hatter. It’s a challenge. Craftsmanship cannot be learned theoretically, you have to be ready to make mistakes. No matter how good the teacher, the hands have to learn on their own – says Agnieszka Nowak.
“According to the Waldorf principle, the delicacy of dolls is very important. The child must be attentive when playing. If we want mindful adults, we must teach mindfulness to children. If a child is to grow up to be a creative person, creativity should be allowed from an early age – explains Agnieszka de Lalinda.
– A child who prepares everything, in a certain form, has no place to create. That’s why in Waldorf kindergartens there are boards, fabrics and supports that children can create. If they start as children, they will be adults.
This principle translates into play and is part of what Waldorf dolls offer us.
– If children start thinking about what they are playing, they will focus with the same attention on tasks as adults. Children learn to care for Waldorf dolls. If it’s a rag doll, you know you can’t throw it down the drain because it can’t be washed as easily as it is plastic. If we give toys that do not require care, a child will not have to show it and will behave in the same way as an adult. He will learn that you don’t have to take care of the items and it will stay – if they break or are damaged, they are immediately thrown away, you don’t try to fix them, you don’t have to take so many care . In the past, there were so few and so precious things that it was natural to take care of them.
– I heard someone used a doll as an abdominal pad. When the baby falls asleep snuggled up against her toy, she keeps him warm.
Although we do not realize it on a daily basis, perfumes sometimes act better on our memory than on our sight. They activate the subconscious, recall memories. When we reach ourselves with the smell, for example, of the stairs leading to grandmother’s apartment, the characteristic smell of the blanket with which our mother covered us to sleep in childhood, our brain immediately takes us at this place and at this time. Agnieszka Nowak stresses the importance of the smell of Waldorf dolls.
– Sheep’s wool absorbs odors. On vacation, my five-year-old son said to me one day: Mom, the only thing I miss is the smell of our bed. It is possible that we adults are not so sensitive to it, especially since many smells in our environment are artificial – perfumes, air fresheners, chemicals. Small children, on the other hand, are connected with all their senses and this smell is really important to them.
– In the Waldorf kindergarten, which my son attended, ladies washed the dolls during the summer holidays or a longer break so that the toys had time to soak up the smell of the nursery. And here is the answer why the same materials are still used to make a traditional doll.
– I was sewing a doll on the advice of a psychologist for a child who had trouble separating from his mother. The doll, which smelled like home, lived up to expectations. The child, who spent the first two years of his life in hospital when he entered kindergarten, could not bear being left alone outside the house. The psychologist suggested his mother buy a Waldorf doll, and in fact, it was this safe space that, while feeling familiar, made the toddler feel safe.
– If someone comes to me to buy such a doll as a gift for the first anniversary, I generally advise against this idea. I believe that my works are intended for children at least 3 years old and above, when the doll goes to a child who will really be able to handle it independently. And right now I’m sewing for a person who came back years later to buy a doll for a more mature child, for her fourth birthday. And it’s very pleasant.
– There are also children who do not play with dolls – Agnieszka Nowak points out that she does not want to create a certain fiction that every child will throw other toys at once for hairspray – If someone close to you buys such a doll as a gift, only he knows that it was custom-made and that it cost so much. It’s only special for that person. I know that many adults pursue their own desire, not that of a child. However, there are children who become very attached to their dolls. As elders, for example, they write me letters and ask me for new sets of clothes. And then I know that these dolls are alive.
– Sometimes people come back to me to tell me what the doll has changed in their lives. For example, the child became more independent, had “his child” and had to take care of him. Suddenly, it was easier to eat, to fall asleep.
Małgorzata exhibited some of her dolls at a fair for children’s goods, where she sold her own posters – each visitor took one of the princesses or an angel in her hands, was delighted, asked the price. .. and tidied up as delicately as possible, learning that they cost several hundred zlotys. I don’t regret not selling them, just wanted to check the market. The dolls remained in the family – the granddaughter takes care of them, avoiding the mud – Małgorzata laughs. – Although there are cheaper counterparts on the market, it should be remembered that the price of a real Waldorf doll corresponds to the highest quality materials, often imported from abroad, hours of work on a figure, injured fingers, and a piece of the author’s heart sewn inside a precision-stitched body.
– Few people make dolls because it takes so much time, but there is another important factor – these dolls also need to be sold. Creative people rarely have the nature of salespeople. The need to assess your own work, especially if it is a toy for a child, is difficult – emphasizes Agnieszka Nowak.
Ordinary or unusual toys then? Anyone who wonders about this should look into the big embroidered eyes and judge if the child sees something more in those eyes. A friend, a confidant of secrets, a memory of a beautiful childhood. And its smell.