I had 7 doll commissions to complete for the holidays this year (8 if you count Hanna, which I do). I didn't begin any until I'd completed my wee ones' Halloween costumes (which was a bit of a trauma in and of itself as my old serger died in the middle of making them). So, it amounted to a little more than one doll a week from November to mid-December. That was a lot. It was really too much. The stress level around here while I was down to the wire on them was amazingly high. But I completed each and every one of them, and they all made it to their respective destinations in time. Whew!
Willow, now at home with Emily's little girl. (Emily created the most wonderful clothing for these fairy babies, an offer she made to save me time, and I think they turned out even better for it. Look at them here.)
Morgan, now at home with Emily's little boy. (I called him Morgan because it means "sea".) (Again, that's snow falling on his head, not some mysterious dander.)
I could not have completed them without the help of my own mama, my best friend Rebecca, or my husband, who all stuffed and sewed with me. (Yes, even my husband sewed. He attached arms to bodies.) My mom even helped with the boys' sweaters. Thank goodness for a crafty mama and best friend and a willing husband! (I really should acknowledge my youngest sister who also helped with stuffing and childcare.) Still, most of the handwork was done by me, and I don't think my fingertips will ever be the same. ;) I don't think I'll ever be the same.
Faolan (pronounced "faylan"), now at home in Massachusetts with a blog reader and friend! This is my favorite doll I've ever made and I really didn't want to part with him. Sigh.
Colin, now at home with his big brother Faolan. His hair was very intense to do, but turned out just how I'd hoped.
I learned a lot of lessons through this project. The first was not to take on a bunch of commissions without having planned to do so in the first place. I had never planned to sell my dolls for this holiday season, but when people began inquiring about them after seeing Graham, I just started saying yes, without really thinking about it. The other really important thing that I came away with (lots of other little lessons about time management and speaking up for what my work is worth and so on in between) was that if I'm going to do this, if I'm going to be a doll maker, I need to make dolls in advance. Just as I have time, a head and body here and there. People can still request hair and eye colors (and skin color, too!), but at least I'd have the bulk of the work done. I will probably make clothes in advance, too, and then offer a choice between colors of what I have in stock, rather than leaving it really open ended for people to choose. I have a pretty decent (not big) stash, but I still ended up having to run out and buy fabric & yarn for doll clothes more than once, which I think could have been avoided.
Mandy. At first I wasn't so sure about doing freckles on a doll, but she actually turned out to be my favorite girl doll of the entire batch. She lives with Deanna's family now.
This is Rachel, and I know this isn't her face, but I love this shot of her hair, a style I'd never tried before, and I think it really captures something special about this doll. You can see her face here. She's at home with her big sister Mandy.
And finally, sweet Sally. My mom just couldn't get over Sally's sweet face. She's a bit more petite than the other dolls in this bunch, and is so perfectly adorable. She's with her sisters Mandy and Rachel at Deanna's house.
(As always, there are many more views of these dolls here.)
Anyway, I am so glad that I did this. I am so glad that my work has received such a warm reception and that this little batch of dolls have all gone to such good homes and are being loved by so many children. Despite the stress, I'd say that it was all worth it in the end. And now I know what to do differently in the future!
Oh, and wishing you all many happy returns (wait, what does that even mean?!) ... a very, very happy 2008. ;)