Roots & Wings Studio

Jen Staples

Encouraging imagination. Inviting creative and open ended play.

Let's go back in time a bit...

So in the busyness of summer, this little guy didn’t get the attention he deserves. I didn’t write a post about him when he was done; I was just so excited to get him off to his new home with a super excited little boy that I did a photo shoot and sent him on his way.



I mentioned in the last post about him here that I was going to let his new caretaker name him, and so he is called “Baby Ari"




As requested, he has a spunky colorful tie dyed jumper and some matching knitted booties! There have been some additions to his outfit since he went home, including a cape ;)



He loves to roll around free in the grass whenever he gets a chance, especially in the sun warmed clover. He is so mellow and content to just observe his surroundings; the way the leaves move in the wind, the honey bees drinking nectar from the blossom, the birds flying high in the sky above his head…so quietly he watches. I wish I had a picture to share of the next time I saw Ari; lovingly tied on with a colorful scarf and being carried by his sweet boy, who absolutely would not have Ari untied from his back. I am just so happy that he has a home where he is loved and played with, and so grateful for the smiles and joy he brings. Dolls are so wonderful for children.



Thank you for reading 😃

Lots of Love,
Jen

Willow

Willow is the name she picked. For a while I thought she was going to leave for her forever home without a name, but on the day she was to leave she finally told me.



It’s a fitting name for her for several reasons...her love of the outdoors; and her long, slender, yet strong limbs. She reaches for the sky, just as the tree will stretch towards the warmth of the sun, and still remain grounded with roots deep in the ground.



Good luck pulling her inside, because she is a free-spirited child with ideas of her own. She can often be found climbing to the top of the tallest object nearby, rolling around in the soft grass and smelling the flowers, or playing hide and seek.



She believes that she can be invisible, especially when in the nude! If she does decide to wear clothes, they must be bright and have flowers, of course!



She did give me a bit of trouble, but I’m going to chalk that up to her strong will and desire to have more of my attention. My summer was a bit of a whirlwind, and she gave me quite a challenge in the middle of it. We persevered through and came out stronger with a fresh perspective :)



I am always so excited to see who emerges from the bits of wool I start with. When it is time to add the fabric and the face, that’s when the magic happens. Suddenly this doll has a personality and a story.



Willow is now happily watching the sunsets from her new home with her new family that loves her. I’m am grateful for the gift of another creation from my hands; this work that feeds my soul.



Thank you for reading!

Lots of love,
Jen

This one is mischievious...

This little dolly has been a bit mischievous; she is making me work for it for sure! Taking me much longer than expected to finish, I guess she just wanted to spend more time with me. After all, isn’t that what happens at times when our children want our attention? Maybe she is mirroring the challenges that I am currently overcoming in my life... the ups and downs, the ebb and flow. Some parts of the process were easy, and others had me sitting on it for days trying to figure out the next move. It can be hard to imagine that making dolls is such a process and a journey…and it is.

I am really loving who she is becoming.



She can’t quite decide whether or not she wants eyebrows yet, but they would look something like this:



Quite cute don’t you think? Stay tuned for more of this little one.

Thank you for reading,
Jen

Dolls are not just for girls!

I know this really wonderful little boy who is going to be so excited to snuggle this new doll, and I can hardly wait to give it to him! I am also so very thrilled that I am making a doll for a little boy, because dolls are not just for girls. Yes! Boys should have dolls too! Have you ever felt your heart melt when you see a loving father adoring and nurturing his baby? His toddler? Even his grown children? Boys grow up (too fast) and some choose to become fathers. My husband had a baby doll when he was little; my son has a doll; and I think it’s beautiful.

Dolls are such a great way for children, girls and boys alike, to play and imitate what mom and dad do; to nuture, imagine, create. Dolls are an open ended toy, and they are very therapeutic for little ones. A child’s work is to play, and a doll is an invaluable tool.





I have watched this happy boy nurture and rock this unfinished baby doll wrapped in a scarf as if it were already complete. Then trusting me to take good care of his baby, he willingly gave it back to me to finish with that smile on his face I so adore.





I'm going to leave it up to sweet Galileo to name his new lovey, I know he'll pick a great name. I have really enjoyed making this custom doll. We still have a bit of work to go. How exciting to see it start to come together!





The smile on a child’s face when I hand them their new doll is what makes this work so worth it. Thanks for reading 😃

Love, Jen

My Shop has Moved!

Hello all! Hope you are well on this lovely day. I just wanted to let you all know that my shop has moved over here: RootsWingsStudio. You can now find my wool lovies in my new store. The other store platform just wasn’t working out for me, so I switched to Etsy.

Have a wonderful day!

Who will they become?

In the last post I shared about how I make the doll heads. When I start a new doll I often wonder: “Who will they become?" As the pieces start to come together I get a feel for how to shape the eyes, type and color of hair, what clothes to make, what colors to use…I usually don’t know ahead of time unless it has been specifically requested. It’s a really fun creative process for me.



Who will they become? You saw these two in the last post when they were still in their bare wool form.


One of these lovies is a custom doll for a dear friend 😃 The other will be looking for her forever home within the next month. I’m pretty excited to see what unfolds! Thanks for reading.

Curious?

Curious about what my dolls look like underneath and how I make them look like that? Wonder no more….

People often ask me how I make my dolls, and the answer depends on how detailed they are.
The next question I often get asked is what is the going rate to buy a doll like this. We’ll get to that in a minute.

It all starts with wool, rolled firmly into a ball sightly larger than I want the finished head. It must be firm, so the head retains shape.



Then the ball of wool is inserted into cotton gauze, similar to a sock ( in fact the first time I did this it was a sock, I didn’t have all the fancy supplies) and it gets tied firmly around the neck and then down the “muff" or “spine,"which is essential to a sturdy head.



Next the head gets tied at the eye line and chin line with string and sewed in place at the sides to give the face a form (sorry I missed taking a pic of that...). Depending on the look I am going for, I may stop here, like Adeline here, a more traditional and simple Waldorf style doll (standard round face). Or I may add a cute little nose. If I want to make an art doll, with more detailed features, this is where the fun begins…and the hours.

When I make an art doll, the facial features are created using needle felting. If you are not familiar with this technique, it’s actually really cool. Wool is a bit sticky, as in it sticks to itself, and it likes to felt (ever accidentally wash and dry your favorite wool sweater? Or hat, as in my case? Better save that one for your kid’s dolls now!). Needle felting is achieved using special felting needles that have little barbs on them, causing the wool to felt down to itself. So essentially, I repeatedly add wool where I want it and poke away with the needles until I get the shape and hardness that I want. It takes many hours of attention and love to do. When it is finished it is really firm…think softball. It takes more wool and time than you think! For this reason, art dolls take much longer than simpler Waldorf inspired dolls.



Once I am happy with the head/face I have created, I then add the skin colored fabric, which is pulled very tight to show all of the facial features. With a standard round face doll, eyes and mouth are added with embroidery thread (or sometimes just eyes). The same goes for the art dolls, except the thread used on the face is placed specifically to enhance the wool features I added underneath, so it takes a bit more planning and care; where you sculpt with the thread really changes the way the face looks. It’s really an awesome process to see the face emerge. After this the cheeks are blushed with a beeswax crayon, and maybe I add freckles.

So that’s how the doll heads are created. As you can guess, the process has many steps and takes hours to do.


These are two faces ready for skin fabric, one a bit simpler, the other more detailed. It may be hard to imagine what it will look like at this point, but it will be pretty cute I promise :) I can see it.

As for the price, some people are surprised at my answer. When I first discovered Waldorf dolls and Natural Fiber Art Dolls, I fell in love. I wanted to make a doll for my daughter, so I started researching and set to work. I discovered it takes lots of time, love, attention, and skill to make a cloth doll in this way. These dolls are also made with high quality natural materials, no synthetics, and it takes a pound to a pound and a half of wool to stuff one doll of average size! Then add in clothes, hair, etc. It takes me weeks to make an art doll start to finish (part time hours, with homeschooling and all.)

I really, really love doing this. I never imagined I would call myself a doll maker. I appreciate you so much for being here and reading along on my journey. Thank you.

Sweet Adeline

Oh, sweet Adeline…she is so shy but very determined to have her way. On this beautiful sunny morning she dressed herself in her favorite spring dress, but she is so reluctant to let go of that chunky scarf. “It still gets chilly!" she exclaims.



I tried to tell her that it really was warm outside, but she layered it on anyway. It didn’t take long for her to start undressing once we went out for our walk in the sun to see what new plants are popping up.



Then she tried the other side of her dress, because it’s reversible and so much fun! Before long she was completely naked…it seems this is the way with Adeline, she is either completely bundled or refuses to wear clothes at all.





If you catch her singing or dancing, just look from the corner of your eye, or pretend you don’t hear her, for if you pay to much attention she will get quiet and give you that coy smile, then run off and hide or start doing something else.





I have really had so much fun with Adeline, she was a joy to create and create clothes for. She will always be very dear to my heart as the first of my original 8" Peanut pattern. As reluctant as I am, I know that it is time for her to find her forever home.

Adeline is a Waldorf inspired, natural fiber doll. She is made with high quality cotton interlock fabric and stuffed with clean carded wool. Her hair is wild brushable mohair in red brown, eyes are embroidered dark green with cotton embroidery thread, and cheeks are blushed with beeswax crayon.

She comes wearing her favorite reversible spring dress with lace trim along the bottom, as well as that chunky scarf she refuses to pack away with the winter clothes. (Squirrel not included.) She will need up to 2 business days to be lovingly and carefully packed.

Adeline is available in my store RootsWingsStudio Hope to see you there! Thank you for reading!




A new pattern

I’m really excited to introduce a new pattern! I have been wanting to make a smaller doll pattern lately, and I wanted it to be a bit more simple.

This doll has a very simple face, much closer to a Waldorf style doll. Making this doll was really a lot of fun for me, there is something so sweet in her face and simplicity. Don’t get me wrong, I love the needle felted face of the art dolls, but to have a sweet round face so open to interpretation is a refreshing change at the moment. It is also nice to have a new little doll completed in a matter of days instead of weeks, so it keeps me a little more balanced.



I’m so excited to introduce the 8" Peanut! This one has gone through a few names already, and hasn’t quite settled on one yet… She is also waiting not so patiently for her wardrobe to be complete. Please excuse the poor photo quality, I snapped a quick one with my phone, the next ones will be better!

She will be available in my hyena cart shop soon so stay tuned! I will be making a few more of these in the near future to post in my shop as well, maybe some little boys perhaps?

Arden-A Natural Fiber Art Doll ready to play

He is complete!

Arden is a natural fiber art doll ready to play. He loves the outdoors and is ready for spring to arrive. He dreams of playing in the dirt and catching crayfish in the creek. He can be quiet or boisterous, depending on his mood of the day, but is always thoughtful in his actions. His charming smile and freckles will warm the heart- he is so excited to find a forever home.



Arden is made using quality natural materials, with many hours of loving care and attention to detail. His skin is premium quality cotton interlock, and he is stuffed with clean and carded wool. His face is carefully shaped with needle felting, eyes embroidered with brown thread, and cheeks blushed with beeswax crayon. He has cute freckles added along his nose and cheeks with a freckle pen. Arden's fluffy fine hair was knitted with wild brushable mohair.

He comes wearing his outfit seen in the picture, made by me-his green long sleeve shirt, denim pants, hand knitted cowl, and hand knitted boots.


Crafted in my smoke free, pet friendly home studio, Arden is intended for an older child or adult collector and is not suitable for young children.


Arden was made using a Cutest Creations pattern.

To welcome him into your home, visit my shop here: Arden-A Natural Fiber Art Doll