Waldorf Dolls Making University: part 1: Stuffing Waldorf Dolls

Waldorf dolls in the making, post Stuffing, at Louie Bebe's Studio

 

I made my first Waldorf doll using a shimmery pair of stockings.

For stuffing that first Waldorf doll, I cold-heatedly ruined one of my favorite pillows;  an impulsive, brutal act I shall regret forever. I have not had a good night’s sleep ever since.That is how desperate I was to start. Luckily, I did not have to ruin any more bedding after that first passionate incident, because nowadays, there are numerous on-line Doll Making Supplies Shops, and all one has to do is choose.

Many Waldorf Doll Making Supplies stores offer a large array of wonderful Doll Making Tools and Supplies, at reasonable prices, and offer international shipping, which comes in very, very handy when you live in remote, God-forsaken places, as I do.

Just kidding.

However, when you are inexperienced and new in the business, having too many options can be quite daunting.  Which is why, I believe, I receive a lot of pleads for help, in every media possible: Facebook messages, email, secret notes in bottles, etc., and since I am a compassionate human being, I always respond at length.

This trait of mine has proven to be very time consuming, and if you know me, you know that Time, capital T and all, is something I do not have in abundance.

So in order to save time, and as a service to new doll makers, I have decided to share some of my wisdom (don’t laugh,) with you all, and write a Doll Making Series.

Everything you wanted to know about Waldorf Doll Making, kind of a thing.

The first and second parts will discuss Doll Making supplies, how to choose them, and how to use them, and introduce a few of  the Waldorf Supplies stores.

The third part will discuss Tools, or the ones I am familiar with and use, break and lose.

The fourth and fifth parts, (Oh, aren’t we ambitious!)  will discuss a few tricks of the trade and introduce a few Waldorf Doll Making techniques. I think it will be a kind of a Tutorial, but we’ll see when we get to that particular bridge, metaphorically speaking, of course.

You see, the good thing about doll making is that it does not require crossing any bridges in person. Quite the contrary. It allows one to indulge in cups of warm tea, or coffee, comfortable attire and background music, in the comfort of ones’ own cozy home.

So where were we.

Ah, yes.

Waldorf Doll Making Supplies

OhSoFelting wool batting

Wool Batting from Oh SO Felting

 

Stuffing

The first thing you would need to make a Waldorf doll, is the stuffing. There are various stuffing options, and each doll maker swears by their favorite. So, how do you choose your waldorf doll stuffing?

Stuffing is crucial because it will determine how the doll will look, and how it would feel to hold and cuddle.

When you use a smaller amount of  stuffing, the doll will look floppy and raggedy, (which is excellent if that is the look you want to create,) and when you stuff heavily, it may be a bit heavy for young children, but will make the doll ‘hold’ a lot longer and not lose its composure. An uneven stuffing will create a lumpy doll and if you stuff certain parts heavily, and other parts lightly, for instance, if you stuff the head heavily, while the body is floppy, the body will not hold the weight of the head, and the head will wiggle, for lack of a better word.

In other words, pay attention to the material you use to stuff your doll, and to the method you use to stuff your doll.

Let’s examine a few of the stuffing materials available.

 

Premium fiberfil

1. Polyester fill or Fiberfill

Polyester stuffing is a synthetic type of stuffing. In general, it is light weight and fluffy.It is a good material to use when you are just starting out, because it is more forgiving than other fillings, and when you squeeze it and twist it, it will bounce right back to its previous form.

Other advantages of polyester fillings:

It is cheaper than natural stuffing, and you need less of it, to stuff a doll,

It is non-allergenic, which is  major plus. Lastly, if a doll stuffed with poly-fill gets wet, it absorbs less water than a wool stuffed doll will, therefore, it will dry faster. Definitely a point to consider, since some children love bathing with their dolls.

Personally, I find the polyester stuffing unpleasant. I do not like the touch of it, and it feels too fluffy and light weight to me.  I like my dolls to have a ‘body,’ and a certain weight, and polyester stuffing does not achieve these goals.

Fiberfill, or poly-fill, can be found at your local craft stores, or online.  [Walmart, Jo-Ann’s, Amazon ]Poly fill pellets walmart
2. Poly Pellets  

Poly Pellets are little polypropylene beads with smooth edges. They are very flexible, and therefore can help in shaping the doll.  Also used to weigh dolls. Its’ alternative is glass beads, and they each have their advantages and disadvantages. In weighing a doll, I prefer glass beads, however, doll filled with glass stuffing beads or Poly pellets are not suitable for children, because there is a chocking hazard.

Purchase : Little oak dolls

 Eco Friendly Stuffing

BAMBOO fiber WoolFinchStudio Etsy shop

 

1. Bamboo

Apart from being sustainable, Bamboo has natural antibacterial and anti fangal properties. It is very soft, some even compare it to cashmere. However, Bamboo manufacturers sometimes use strong solvents and bleaches to achieve that glowing white color and that softness. Depending on the processes used to treat it, Bamboo can be a natural material, or a partly synthetic material. (Rayon.)

Purchase : WoolFinchStudio

 

Corn fibre toy filling innergreen

100% corn fiber filling from Innergreen

2. Corn Fiber Filling: made from renewable corn fiber.

It is hypoallergenic and washable.  Can be purchased from Innergreenfabricandart.

 

Organic-buckwheat-hulls from Cushy Touch

Organic Buckwheat Hulls

 

3. Buckwheat Hulls : This is a great filling for your bunting or star dolls. They just have a wonderful feel. I used them often when I started making Waldorf dolls. However, they seem to attract mice and other animals, so I would not recommend. They can be purchased online from Cushy Touch

Kapok fiber from the Olive Sparrow

Kapok Fiber from The Olive Sparrow

 

4. Kapok Fiber: 

Kapok (Ceiba pentandra) The word kapok refers both to the tree and to the fiber it produces, which is also known as silk cotton or Java cotton. The hair-like fibers that surround the kapok seeds are best used as a stuffing, where they have several advantages over more commonly used materials.

 

 

Wool batt
Natural Wool batting

 

Wool Batting:  

Wool is soft and resilient. It is sustainable, naturally flame resistant, has a wonderful feel, stuffs perfectly and firmly if needed, unlike polyester filling. Wool is washable, although not in a washing machine, mind you. It  is just wonderfully soft and there is no comparison, for me, to other stuffing materials. When you hold a doll that is stuffed with wool, it slowly warms up to your touch, and feels almost alive. Personally, I always opt for natural materials, since they feel much nicer, even if they can be costly.

Disadvantages:

  • Some people are sensitive to wool.
  • It takes much longer to dry than poly fill, and does not dry up as nice as poly-fill does. This is a major point, when making dolls for children, since some children love bathing their dollies.
  • Surprisingly, it is harder to find.
  • Clean, carded wool costs more than other fillers.

However, after experimenting with quite a few stuffing materials over the years, I would have to say natural wool is my absolute favorite stuffing.

To conclude, stuffing a doll is a one of the hardest stages in creating a doll, and in a way it is part of your signature as a doll maker. A well stuffed doll will hold its composure even after years of use. I suggest you play with different types of stuffing, until you decide what works best for you and your Waldorf dolls.

Either way, what ever you do, do not forget to enjoy the process.

 

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Weird things always happen here. Things like website data involuntary deletion. And, although it may seem devastating at first, there is a silver lining.

Starting over can be lovely. Right?

So please, bear with me as I try to rebuild, redesign and resurface from the dark archives of my mind.

Meanwhile, you can still find me here:

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louiebebe@gmail.com