The post-holiday weeks brought a little down time for two of my favorite things- reading and crafting! I’ve gotten many requests from Cedar Ring Circle members to do some book reviews, so I’ll start with a crafting one.
One crafting book I’ve loved since I set eyes on the cover is Magic Wool Fairies. When I was younger, I remember some of my happiest dreams involved running through fabric stores and just rolling around in bolts of beautiful fabric. Had I known what wool roving was then, I probably would have dreamed I was jumping on fluffy roving clouds. ;) Since I was introduced to wool roving crafts, first mentioned in foundational books like All Year Round (the book I’d start with first if you’re new to the wonderful world of Waldorf crafting) and seen in beautiful photos in the blogosphere, I was immediately drawn to working with wool… but was a little intimidated as to where to start. This book proved to be a great start for 3 dimensional needle felting because it offers a concrete result that still allows you to bring your own creativity and ideas to the project, easy to follow directions with lots of full color photos, and it’s really not that hard. Not to mention you get beautiful results as a beginner- always encouraging!
First attempt… A star fairy.
Second attempt… A Valentine fairy for our seasonal tree (yes, we have a tree in our house all year!). I decided to design a wool felt skirt for her so it would be easier to add embroidery, beads, or designs- gluing things to roving is not so easy.
Then on my 3rd attempt, I realized the wool felt skirt allowed the fairy to stand on her own. I am excited to be able to make stand up fairies and dolls for the nature table, and perhaps beyond that create dolls to represent seasons or the characters in some of our stories. I also see an angel mobile hung from a grapevine wreath for over the new baby’s bassinette, and more mobiles for our playroom in the future.
I made a series of video tutorials to show you how easy it is to make one… sorry there are so many clips, I tried to only video the important parts or it would have been 90 minutes long… these clips are all pretty short. It’s my first video tutorial attempt, so don’t mind fuzzy parts or my ceaseless chatter ;)
Clip One: Needle-Felting the Head
Clip Two: Needle Felting the Face and Upper Body
Clip Three: Adding Legs and Top of Dress (this one got cut off a bit early… I was about to say you can thin it out if the dress is too thick… just go on to the next one for a re-do of the dress-making step ;)
Clip Four: Finishing Legs
Clip Five: Adding skirt
Clip Six: Adding Hair
Clip Seven: Making a Braid
Clip Eight: Attaching Braid & Making Flowers
Clip Nine: Finishing Touches & Wings
Anne-Dorothe Grigaff’s Knitted Animals is a good book… the projects include a mother duck with small ducklings, bear, sheep and lamb, cats, dogs, squirrel, goose, hare, horse, chick, hens & cockerel, fox, pig and piglets, hedgehog, and pocket mouse. These are a wonderful alternative to wooden figures if cost is preventing you from collecting them, or you just prefer homemade to purchased.
I am really enjoying Creative Felt by Angelika Wolk-Gerche. It answers a lot of the questions I have about working with wool from start to finish; from different stages of the wool process, to how to start from scratch with greasy raw wool and easily clean and prepare it yourself and even some natural dye recipes. It walks you through a history of felting and gives you detailed instructions on wet felting flat sheets and dimensional forms. The main tool used in this wet felting process is a felting board. Projects include hats; jewelry; insoles (gonna try these!), slippers, and boots; hot water bottle cover; pouches and bags including for gift wrap; envelopes and book/journal covers; baby toys; dolls; and seasonal toys for every season (including felted easter eggs, veggies, the mushroom gnomes on the cover, an igloo with inuits and polar bears (I totally have to make them!); juggling balls; hand and finger puppets; and more.
Another fun and easy way to work with wool is illustrated with beautiful full color photographs in the classic book Magic Wool. Here you will find instructions and inspirations for creating pictures with wool. I have been longing to carve out some time and do one picture for each child’s room, and hang them from a stick/dowel and finger-knitted chain. Illustrations include pictures for Brier Rose, the Star Child, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White and Red Rose, Cinderella, St. Christopher, The Christmas Rose, Shepherd and Children playing, The Little Donkey, Saint Francis, and the flight to Eqypt… but you won’t be limited to just these, I know this book will just be the tip of the iceberg in inspiration for your own unique pictures. The book also includes a few instructions for figures and working with wool, although I find the figures are very “rustic” after having tried the Magic Wool Fairies and Creative Felt offers better instructions for preparing your wool. I do, however, love the ideas the authors offer here for setting up a playscape or landscape to tell a story with your wool figures. Wool felt makes a great base for the wool pictures.
And if you just can’t get enough of wool and felt and are ready to add more sewing into the mix, Making Flower Children by Sybille Adolphi might be the book for you. Now that I’m feeling comfortable with creating forms with wool, I am about to make that leap to sewing little cloth doll faces and cute felt outfits. Sybille gives you all the patterns you need for a wide variety of flower children, both boys and girls. For spring there are butterflies, a butterfly child (would go great with The Story of the Butterfly Children!), flowers and blossoms, ducks, caterpillar, strawberry childrem, dandelion child, daisy child, daffodil child, grass child, and forget-me-not child. For summer, you’ll find a bee child, wild rose child, marguerite child, sunflower child, rose child, ivy child, and star children. Autumn includes a gnome with spade, blue gnome, root gnome, gnome with lichen beard, moss gnomes, bindweed child, chestnut child, chinese lantern flower child, corn child, toadstool children, leaf child, and hazelnut boy. And last of all she offers instructions for winter- a snowman, sledder, skier, snowflake child, catkin children, and snowdrop child.
Modelling with beeswax and other pliable materials is also a wonderfully therapeutic form of crafting and is so useful for a child’s development. I love Arther Auer’s Learning About The World Through Modeling- it is truly a treasure trove of inspiration if you are a Waldorf homeschooler wanting to incorporate a rich modelling element, or a Waldorf-inspired parent wishing to bring enjoyable art into your child’s life whatever their age. I have fond memories of the times my parents would play with playdough or clay with me as a child, and my children are certain to gather round and join me when I work with modelling beeswax at the kitchen table. He covers materials and methods, and subjects that are taught in depth in the grades- from the simplest shapes for a younger child to fables, mythology, geometry, botany, and human anatomy.
In previous posts, I mentioned The Gnome Craft Book, A Felt Farm, Toymaking With Children and Magical Window Stars. These are all wonderful and a book review on Waldorf crafting just wouldn’t be complete without them! The Gnome Craft book has super easy gnomes- from whittled twigs to peg people- and advanced gnomes that teach you how to make poseable cloth “dollhouse doll” types of figures. A felt farm is a needle-felters’ wonder book that teaches you to make an entire farm- from buildings, to animals, to tiny dishes and props- all out of wool. The second half of the book is a story book using the finished creations as the “illustrations”. Toymaking with Children is really great because it gives you such a wide variety of projects including many simple wooden toys. Magical window stars teaches you to make those lovely decorative stars to cheer your space and decorate your window with tissue paper (kite paper can be used to, but I think many of the designs in this book are more suited to tissue paper).
I also purchased Feltcraft by Petra Berger. If you are most interested in sewing with wool felt, this book tends to feature more sewn wool felt items and has a lot of patterns. However, I think the books I already reviewed tend to have quite a few similar projects and patterns, so it would not be on my must-have list unless I really liked to sew wool felt and didn’t feel capable of coming up with my own simple patterns.
(Shared on Waldorf Wednesday Linkup Party hosted by the lovely Annette.)