What a lovely time I had there, meeting so many doll enthusiasts, some of whom were just there to improve their skills, to help them make dolls for their children and friends, some who hoped to sell in the future and some selling already. Everybody there with the same desire, there to learn. All of us hoping to improve our skills and learn how to make better dolls. I was surprised and delighted to be recognised by some from my videos from the MAL run by Astrid and people who already knew of Honey Pot Dolls.

 

It was a delight to be surrounded by likeminded souls, all there for the love of dolls, and creating, sitting with a group of ladies all intent on sewing, or crocheting or the like is truly something else. I felt so lucky to have been able to be part of this wonderful occasion, described by one of the ladies as a Doll Woodstock.

So what did I do, well my first workshop was a 10 inch doll, an ambitious task for Maureen Broeder to teach 7 students all her art and tricks in just 3 sessions, we didn’t finish our doll, but we learnt lots and Maureen very kindly videoed other bits for us to be able to see at home. I was fairly close to finishing and got to ask questions of her at other sessions. She was so helpful and now I have this little sweetheart. Maureen’s dolls are Poppenliefde.

That took up Friday and Saturday morning, so Saturday afternoon, my next session was preparing suri alpaca and making it into wefts. Now this was a lovely class, to start we sat outside but in the shade. Have I mentioned yet how hot it was in the Netherlands for this particular week, I think the highest was 37 degrees on Tuesday, I barely ventured out of the shade that day.

I was told that it was unusual weather, and it’s usually more akin to England but with less rain, but I have to say I am not sure about that, cause it sure was hot.

Also, on Saturday was the textile market and such treasures, from liberty prints to kits, to wool to everything else you could hope for. But I was very good, to be honest going over had kinda pushed the bank a tad, not broken just cracking. So, I couldn’t indulge in the market, but I did buy a little treat for teddy, as it was his perfect size and he has been with me since the beginning almost. I think he was pleased although now a little cushion is required too, best get sewing.

On Saturday afternoon I had weft making. The lovely  Dorota Strzebonska, from mumanddot, showed us cleaning and preparing and then a few different techniques for making the weft. I have to say having just learnt about wefts and how authentic it can make a dolls hair appear, I was delighted with this class. I would say my first attempts were a little clumsy, but Dorota gave us plenty of spare to take home and practice with. I really look forward to making a doll with this wonderful hair

Then came Sunday and shoe making, this was another fabulous class. Daria Gosset had selected the sweetest material for us, in our kits. She taught us about resizing as all doll’s feet vary in size, width and breadth can vary a lot depending on stuffing techniques and the like, and we made our shoes. I only managed to finish one foot, but the second was almost there. I also had enough spare material from my kit to make a smaller pair for the 10 inch doll I had made; hand sewn during the week when I was hiding in the shade. Don’t they look sweet? Daria makes Petit Gosset dolls.

Sunday afternoon I was with Agnieszka Nowak, Lalinda Dolls. This lady is a joy. She is so giving with her knowledge, as where all the tutors, but we sat outside, in the shade and learnt all about free embroidery and babies’ heads. I had taken a head with me to practice on, (one I now know is way too soft, that’s another thing until getting there, actually being able to hold these wonderful dolls that until now I had only seen on the internet. I had no idea how they should actually feel. What an eye opener). But back to hair embroidery by Agnieszka, as the last session of the weekend it was perfect, it was chilled and relaxed and such fun, but don’t get me wrong, I still learnt loads. Long hair, short hair, curly hair, tuffs of hair all sorts of techniques for making dolls hair look like it should to resemble babies and children. I am really looking forward to putting this class into practice.

In between the 2 weekends of workshops I was lucky enough to be able to tour around the area a little, although the temperature was in the mid 30’s most of the time which I have to say is a little high for me and I did hide in the shade as much as possible. Tuesday was so hot I didn’t move from the brilliant Aire I found by Lelystad with a beach next to the marina. A really lovely so I spent 2 days there, it’s a fabulous area with a lot to see especially if you like boats.

It was my first visit to the Netherlands and I have to say I am now quite in love with the country, admittedly I only saw the middle and lower areas. It is quite beautiful, with lush forests and open plains, waterways crossing all over the place, some modern towns all neat and red brick and some older quaint places with beautiful architecture lining canals with sweet little bridges over and cycle paths everywhere.

I had a couple of hair-raising moments, this being the first time I had driven the motorhome for so long and on the other side of the road to boot. But overall, I managed very well, I would say. There had been lots of worry on the faces of people when they found out I was on my own, and a very nice Danish lady wanted to make sure I was going to be ok when a storm hit, in case I was scared and need to go over to their camper for company. I spent the time sewing though and looking at the rain and lighting through the window, quite exciting really.  Although the hail was incredibly loud and the thunder so close sometimes I found myself ducking.

Another time I found myself driving (the wrong way I think) through Utrect bus station. I was trying to find parking that wasn’t height restricted. I’m not sure how I managed to get in there as I thought I had just done a u-turn and was retracing my way, but no, and after a little bit of panicking and some confused looking bus drivers shaking their heads at me, I made it out again, dashed over a one-way road quick and found real traffic again and parking place down a side street. On the whole though, I have to say the roads are very easy to use and nicely laid out.

 

Friday and I had returned to Elspet for the last part of my time at the seminar. A real treat making a baby doll will Agnieszka, this was such a fun class, and a fabulous set of people to be sat learning with. We where very dedicated returning to do more after dinner and starting early in the morning. As before though to much for the session and he was finished on the way home. Then it was time for me to very sadly say my good byes, with lots of hugs and kisses.

Coming back, we (me and everyone on the ferry) left a wonderful lively place where it looked like it was going to be a very nice day, sunny and just right for a Sunday on the beach, (there were a lot of people already on the beach as we sailed past it) and entered a world of fog for 7 hours and I felt like I might be entering the film The Fog. It was a little unnerving, but as you can tell since you are reading this it was all ok we did reach the other shore, and I managed to write a blog (this one), embroider some hair on a baby, he didn’t cry much, unlike all the other babies on board, and needle felt a new head for my next doll, you may be glad to know this one will be available for purchase, the others made while on the wonderful seminar, however, will be staying with me, forever….. Sorry I looked up and got sucked in to the horror film again. This fog is amazingly dense….

Oh and in case you were wondering how should these Waldorf Dolls feel? well firm, much firmer than I have been making them,

I already make my art dolls fairly firm, but it hadn’t occurred to me that Waldorf should be the same, now don’t get me wrong at this point, all dolls can be made all ways, but as explained to me if a child took a doll to bed for years, sleeping  on it, squashing it, if it wasn’t very firm it would eventually be a different shape with  squashed head, but the firmer the better the shape would hold, and equally when applying the head skin fabric the firmer the needle felting underneath the easier it is to keep those sweet features you have spent so long felting.  I am so looking forward to making dolls back home again, with all this new skills and knowledge.

Bye for now, Ally

links to the social media of the tutors I had and mention above, there where many more: