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Natural Kids

Natural Kids: January 2008

Thursday, January 31, 2008

reverence for childhood...

i have always felt, particularly since i have had children, a certain instinctual reverence for childhood.  it is a very important time. although young children are earthly beings, to a certain extent they are still cosmic beings...and as such, their entire bodies are as one great sensory organ. they are deeply affected by their surroundings. therefore, great care must be taken to create an environment that is nourishing to the senses and where beauty abounds.  providing imaginative and simple playthings for our children that are handcrafted from natural materials does just this. and in turn, allows them to experience a positive sensory connection and a healthy relationship with the living world around them.

here are a few beautiful and natural playthings from some of our amazing etsy artists...

yours in reverence,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Children's Cloth Picture Instructions - Great for a Child's Room Decoration

About the Author:  My name is Orit Dotan and I am a Waldorf handwork teacher and a doll artist in Israel.  One of my intentions as a Waldorf teacher is to be able to awaken the creative spirit, in which everyone (as human beings) have and to help them to be active and creative.

As the years pass by I have learned that less patterns and more imagination can help in reaching that goal.  These instructions I'm sharing here are trying to bring everyone to create their special picture of his inner soul life...their world of color and so on.

Please read all the instructions before you begin the project.

This project is to make a picture intended for children.  Try to imagine what you would like to bring to the children.  For example: the lion is the king of the animals, he is brave and courageous and can overcome many obstacles due to his courage.  Or think of what birds can represent and how a child can relate to a bird or other animal.

After you decide what is the subject you want to deal with you can start looking for  beautiful natural fabrics in a variety of textures for the background and other beautiful natural fabrics that have patterns on them like hearts, flowers, animals, etc.  Anything you see with your imagination!

If you can not find a template you want and you do not know to draw you can be inspired by  illustrated children books and use 100% wool felt to cut the form's shapes from.

Along the work things might change and this is the beauty in this work.

This is the picture I made and all my instructions are for this picture as an example to the method of working.  Your picture will be different, based on what you want to convey with the design.

Materials and tools:

Natural fabrics nice textures and forms, 100% wool felt a little bit bigger then the size of the picture you want to create, embroidery threads, white paper to illustrate the sketch, sketch paper to copy the different parts, pencil, eraser, scissors for paper, scissor for fabric, sewing pins, needle, glue stick

The stitches we use are: Buttonhole stitch [blanket stitch] ,Herringbone stitch [catch stitch] and Split stitch.


Draw the main idea for your picture on the paper.

Copy every part –part no. 1 is the background and it measures the same size as the picture, part no. 2  the part that you see here in the picture is the lowest part of the picture

Copy part #3 and leave the addition of the paper as you can see in the photo

Draw the figures on white paper and cut them out

Cut the pattern of the background [no.1] from the paper and then from the chosen fabric that you want to use for the background

Cut the felt a little bigger then the background and arrange them as shown in the photo

Do the same with pattern no. 2

Do the same with pattern no. 3

Lay the fabric that you cut as no. 2 on the background

Pick up the marginal and lay the fabric no. 3 as you see in the photo

This is what the surface of the picture looks like

And close-up, this is what the surface of the picture will look like after we will finish it

Lay down the paper forms [bunny and butterfly as example] on the chosen fabric, pin them to the fabric and cut them out

Choose fabrics with the printed forms.  I chose flowers.

And hearts.

Cut the chosen forms [in my case: flowers and hearts] leaving a little edge around the forms and arrange every thing on the surface

As you "see" the picture and if you are pleased, cut every form as it should look (cut edges), drawing lines on the main animal form if it is needed and stitch small stitches along the lines of the main form.

Now stitch or embroider the big sections -1+2+3 -to the felt surface.[ Herringbone stitch].  Next, arrange the little forms on the picture and attach the little forms with sewing pins and embroider or stitch them to the background. [ Split stitch]

Cut the edges of the picture with free hand, soft lines without corners, draw lines with pencil if it is needed.

Embroider blanket stitch [buttonhole stitch] around the edges of the pictures to create a frame.

Turn the picture and make loops for hanging the picture in this way: with double embroidery thread sew a line length 1.5" and on that line embroider Blanket stitch.  It is better to do 2 loops, one on each side, than one loop in the middle.

The finish loop looks like this:

Around the picture put glue stick.

The picture is ready!

Instructions provided by Orit Dotan of Orit Dotan Dolls.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Naturally Lovely Treasury!

Click here to shop!  Lovely treasury picked by truevinesoap.

Friday, January 18, 2008

have you been good and true?

a dear friend and woodworker i know wrote some years back this passage concerning the properties of wood:
"There has been much written about the soul of the tree, the mystical connection between a woodworker and his material, the religion of craft, etc. - so I won't attempt a clumsy repetition here. It is enough to say - wood is miraculous to me, and my greatest wish as a maker is to provide for others a profound sensory experience."

that paragraph has always rang true for me. last year my kidergarteners set about on a very important project. to make from pine their very own wooden swords. we cut the strips of pine and notched out the way for the hilt together and then all the children set about work at their own pace.
it was a task that started out as something the children could work on during free play and migrated even to outside time and even to story time(ever so quietly we work- we work).
we sanded our swords until "they were as soft as the skin beneath our chins" and the children worked delightfully at that prospect. you could tell much about a child by how and how often they worked on their swords. the will forces were particularly strong in some of the children and in others they took a much longer time and meticulously sanded each rough patch.
the next task was to rub them with beeswax until "they shined silken smooth". the smell of pine and beeswax warming in the hands of children is a wonder. you could just feel the living properties of the beeswax and wood creating such peace and pride in the work of the children.
at the end of the year our class parent came to help fasten the hilt to the sword, each child picked out a dragons tear (or marble) and we glued that to the place where the hilt and sword met.
we then gathered the children together for a "knighting ceremony".

"have you been wise and true?"
"have you heard the stars calling to you?"
"then here is your sword, use it for good and light and not for some silly quarrel or fight"

each child sat rapt with anticipation as miss sarah touched their new sword first to one shoulder and then to the next and i placed a golden crown on their heads. eachother child sat so still and reverent and waited until all 23 children had been knighted.
what a time with our swords we had then, a time i'm sure the children will carry with them always. i know i will.

check out these great resources for similar natural toys:
wooden play sword

dragon and knight

simple cape

rainbow silk cape

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

LOVE for Natural Kids

Take a look at this lovely treasury picked by The Singing Bird!  Plenty of time for these items to arrive by Valentine's Day.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

keeping our children warm...

i'll admit it.  i'm a huge 'children need to wear hats' advocate.  and unabashedly so.  young children need to wear hats!  my three year old, who was as bald as any baby can be, has been and is now...never without a hat if she is outside.  even into the spring (and that's pretty warm here in texas).  and most definitely in the fall and winter.  but when i look around, there just aren't enough hats to be seen.  so why the obsession with hats?  what interesting waldorf tradition do we have here?

young children do not have a fully developed sense for temperature (their own, or that around them) until they are around 7 years old (yet another hallmark of the seven year change).  until that time, they are dependent on us to dress them appropriately.  rudolf steiner, the founder of waldorf education and it's inherent philosophy, believed that one of the most critical gifts we can give our children is to make sure they are sufficiently warm.  in fact, the waldorf philosophy speaks in terms of a child's body needing to be warm enough to 'properly receive the soul'.  and since the majority of warmth leaves via the head (and this is especially true for younger children)...that means keeping their head covered.  

ideally, natural fibers should be they hold living properties and are comforting and soothing to the child. whether it be warm and cozy wool in the fall and winter, silk in the spring or cool cotton in the summer. many waldorf supporters feel that no child under one year should ever be without a hat, inside or out (a silk hat is probably the best during this first year as silk is sensitive to temperature needs, keeping the child warm but not too warm).  and up and through the second birthday, every child should have a hat on when outdoors (wool is naturally the warmest and best for outdoor activities).
so let's hear it for hats, and keeping our children's heads covered!

yours in warmth,

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year

I love the symbol of the nest. Representing the home, safety, warmth and comfort only a mother can provide.  A nest full of eggs can symbolize new ideas and opportunities and abundance.  
What a perfect symbol for a new year!  
This nest and felted eggs by mosey would delight an older child or would be lovely as decor on the wall or shelf of a nursery.