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Natural Kids

Natural Kids: June 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

Natural Kids Team PLAYTIME!

Here's a fantastic treasury curated by Woolcomesalive!

Mini Monday: MamaRoots

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

A bit about MamaRoots...
mamaroots- a mama based company rooted in providing in unique handmade products to support a natural journey in the childbearing years. My products are handmade by myself in my home. My inspiration comes from nature and storytelling with a strong Waldorf inspiration. The profits goes to supporting midwifery activism, and supporting my non-profit mama activism center called "the womb room".

My products are non-toxic and come from a smoke free home. Most of them are kid tested by my sons!

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Interview with Unwaveringfaith

Today's interview is with Jenn of the Etsy shop Unwaveringfaith, or Faith as we have nicknamed her in the ongoing team threads. Jenn has many unique and beautiful items in her shop, created with love by both Jenn and her children. I think you'll enjoy getting to know "Faith" !

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when did you get started with arts and crafts?

~My name is Jenn and I homeschool five of my six children. We mostly unschool, but we love to incorporate Waldorf and Charlotte Mason methods into our learning. I live in Tennessee on a beautiful piece of property and we spend most of our days outdoors, weather permitting.

I remember helping my aunt base paint the ceramics she sold at local craft shows years ago. And man, she was good! The best ceramics painter I have ever seen, to this day! I always enjoyed making crafts, but nothing major. My main joy in life was writing poems and short stories. If you had ever told me I'd be a fiber artist someday, I would've laughed!

I started making Waldorf dolls for my daughters and other family members a few years ago. Everyone loved them and said I should try to sell them. My first doll sold for $30 and I was so excited! Not long after, I started making the flower fairies and gnomes. Then I taught myself to knit. I dabble in a little of everything.
What is the main thing you make and sell in your store? What else do you make and/or sell?

~Whatever tickles my fancy! I guess I am mostly known for gnomes and flower fairies, although I really enjoy needle-felting and knitting. I make Waldorf dolls from time to time. There is nothing I won't try to do or learn. My shop is a little different than most of the others, in that it is all about family. It's not just my started out as just me, then became me and my mom. I really loved doing this with my mother for a time. We grew closer and collaborated on everything. She had a lot of great ideas and was very talented and in high demand with her original gourd homes. I miss her as part of the team. I really miss her gourds in my shop. What is there now is all that is left and I will probably never have more. It's very sad for me, but that time of my life is over now.

Now my husband, my son and my daughters all make things for the shop. We are diverse in our interests and talents, so we have a lot to offer, I think. My husband and son make wooden things. My husband is a very talented artist and paints wooden keepsake boxes. My daughters love to draw and make cards and paper goods for the shop. It's fun to to create and work together. I teach my children everything I know and enjoy helping them learn how to make new things.
Who if anyone has been instrumental in helping you hone your craft?

~No-one. I have never taken a class. I am self-taught in knitting (you should see how I hold needles, HA!) I taught myself needle-felting, I am sure I do that wrong too! I have never looked at a book. I have looked at Waldorf doll patterns to make them, but I always try to make them my own by tweaking the pattern or leaving something out. My girls got a book on pipe cleaner fairies for fun one year and I didn't like them, so I came up with a different fairy. I now use pipe cleaners under my needle-felted Strawberry dolls and sometimes make Bendy dolls in that way. But I prefer the flower fairies to be "dainty" and beautiful, not thick and bulky. They are very strong and stand up to lots of play, though, don't let their appearance fool you!

Where do you get your inspiration?

~You know the answer! My children, of course! They are so imaginative and amazing! We will sit and talk about things we enjoy, things we wonder about. We talk probably more than anyone I know! I throw ideas off them..."Hey, what about this....wouldn't this be cool...", etc. and they give feedback. If they like it, I'll try to make it. If it works out, I let them "test" see how it holds up to play, how it is to play with (fun or boring?), if they like it. Do they think it needs more work or is it good just as it is? Then I make the final product based on their opinions. They have a lot of mommy-made dolls and things because of this! :0)

What are your favorite materials?
~Wool, of course! I am very allergic to it, especially raw wool. I break out horribly with hives, itch all over and cough and wheeze. When I first began working with wool, I'd cough every night. I finally went to the doctor to find out what was wrong. (I wasn't correlating the two) They ran tons of tests, everything came back fine. I was in perfect health. But because I was coughing, I had quit working. After about a month of not working, the coughing fits had stopped, so I started working again. Guess what? Yep, the cough returned. I was determined not to let the allergy ruin my creativity and my business. I toughed it out. To this day, wool is my very favorite material and I will never put it down! And I am happy to report, the reaction is not as strong anymore. I can work with clean wool easily and do so almost every day.
What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?

~Never give up! When I first started out, my dolls did not bring in much money. I didn't care though because I enjoyed it so much. The gnomes I made did not sell at first, now I cannot keep them stocked. The more you work, the better your product becomes. Do not get discouraged. If your heart is in it, keep at it. It will shine through your product and people will know. I have a loyal customer base. I love what I do. I will never stop, no matter what! Even if I didn't sell a thing, I would do this for friends and family and continue my charity efforts (it brings me such joy) I have made things to take to local hospitals for sick kids (dolls and other things that can be played with easily in bed) and for newborns in the nursery (knit hats)

What advice would you give to beginners in your craft?

~Promote yourself as much as possible. I am only just beginning to realize how important this is. It gets your name and your product out there. People start wondering who you are, then they buy from you, then they tell others about you and then it spreads from there. If your products are nice, you'll get the same people again and again. This builds a loyal customer base. Also, ALWAYS be super polite, friendly in conversations, willing to fix any mistakes and willing to help your customers in any way possible. They *WILL* remember how they were treated, how quickly you shipped, the way the product was packaged, etc.
What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you?

Nature's Enchantment~Handmade Toys and Gifts

That is the only place where I sell.
I am a team member of the Natural Kids blog

I also have my own little blog...
Barefoot in Tennessee~The simple life ramblings of a homeschooling mom to six children

Thank you for this interview and for taking the time to read it! I feel honored.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How to Attract Fairies to Your Yard

Planting a whimsical fairy garden is a rapidly growing trend among adult gardeners and it's especially appealing to the wee gardeners. Fairy gardens may be grown in container gardens,window boxes or in a special area of your yard or garden.

The fairies adore ponds, shiny stones, gazing balls and the color green. Be sure to add these whimsies to your planted garden for extra Fairy attracting!

Here's a list of the plants and other items you will need:

The Flowers
Bluebells ~ British and Irish legends say that fairies are summoned to their midnight dances by ringing bluebells.
Carnations ~ Fairies take the colors of these flowers and radiate love.
Clover ~ Assists in finding love and wealth.
Cowslips ~ Distinguished by their abilbilty to find hidden fairy gold.
Daisies ~ Wearing a daisy chain will protect you against fairy pranks.
Foxglove ~ Fairy hats and gloves are made from foxglove. If you look closely you will see tiny spots on the Foxglove blossoms... These are fairy fingerprints.
Iris ~ Fairies of this flower appear in all colors of the rainbow and bring feelings of peace and hope.
Jasmine ~ The scent attracts fairies from all over the world. Even China!
Marigolds ~ To see fairies, pick a marigold, mix it with water and dab on eyelid. This trick also works with Shamrock.
Pansy ~ Fairies use this blossom for making love potions.
Primrose ~ If you put primroses on your doorstep, fairies will be able to enter and bless you while you sleep.
Pussywillow ~ The soft silk pods are used as pillows by all kinds of little spirits.
Tulips ~ The fairies use the as cradles for their babies.

Other Whimsies to Include
Rocks ~ Shiny stones like marble, quartz and agate attract fairies. Use them in borders or paths or just as little gifts for the Wee Folk.
Mirrors ~ Fairies love looking at their reflections. Gazing balls are perfect for this!
Acorns ~ The fairies love these to make hats. They also use them for dishes.

The Plants
Plants that help attract fairies are:
Basil ~ Serves as a protector of the garden.
Lavender ~ Wherever this plant is grown, there will be fairy activity. Fairies use it to scent their clothing.
Rosemary ~ Fairies use this herb to combat hatred. It has positive energy.
Sage ~ Fairies use it to slow the aging process.
Sweet Woodruff ~ The flowers reflect the light of the moon and illuminate fairy dances in the garden.
Thyme ~ Fairies are known to build their houses under thyme.

If you plant some of these you are sure to attract the Wee Folk to your own little part of the world. You will also be helping other wildlife too, such as butterflies, dragonflies, birds and ladybugs. We all know how much fairies love to ride upon dragonflies and butterflies ;) Most of all just have FUN! It's a great way to spend time with your children and get you both closer to Mother Earth :)

Rebecca Coleman is the owner of The Polka Dot Dragon and mom to one adorable pixie:)

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One More Tuesday Treasury!

Don't Cry Your Eyes Out--there's one more treasury today, this time from WoolComesAlive!


Tuesday Treasuries

We have two beautiful treasuries curated by members of the NaturalKids Team today and featuring many of our fine artisans. Please go and check them out!

Who can resist a bit of Animal Magnetism? We're betting you can't in this treasury curated by WinsomeHollow.

But if animals aren't your thing, maybe cuddling up with a good book will do. TheSingingBird has put together a terrific treasury featuring Storybooks and Fairytales.

Both of these treasuries expire on Thursday, so go view them before they're gone!


Monday, June 23, 2008

Mini Monday: Triple Play!

We've had three members hard at work this weekend putting together team treasuries, so it seems only fair to feature them in this morning's Mini Monday!

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Surprise Sunday Treasuries!

Oh, our curators have been hard at work showcasing our NaturalKids Team artists! There are four treasuries featuring the Team's beautiful work. Make sure you see them before they disappear!

First, we have Summer Lovin' curated by WinsomeHollow (formerly KatyDidCreate).

Next we have Once Upon a Rainbow's Bend... curated by TheSingingBird.

Next, LittleElfsToyshop offers A Natural Theme.

Fianlly, another collection from Birdie, featuring ...SofT and beautiful BlueS...

Enjoy these beautiful collections before they start to disappear tomorrow!

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Friday, June 20, 2008

From the Nature Table to the Heart

From urban dwelling to suburban sprawl with chemically manicured lawns, to digital media games, our children are losing touch with nature. And yet, from all we read about the plight of our environment, global warming, growing endangered species lists, probably the most important gift we can bestow on the next generation is an ability to think independently with an appreciation and understanding of nature. But how can this be achieved when one does live in an urban environment.

Waldorf Education seeks to address this on many levels, but for the scope and purpose of today's article, let's focus on the concept of the nature table. I will rely on images from my Natural Kids Team colleagues for examples.

A nature table is a place in the home dedicated to displaying items which come directly from nature or which represent natural world in a real or imaginary way. It is very common for the nature table to feature seasonal items, such as for our upcoming summer season.

The table can be set with a lovely playsilk, such as Tiedyediva's hand dyed "Fire" play silk.

The intense colors bring the warmth of the sun indoors, without increasing the energy bill!

The sight of these sweet upcycled birds from
Mosey's shop bring the sounds of summer alive, while putting recycling to practical use within the home.
Her resuse of materials reminds us indirectly about how precious raw materials are and how one thing can have a new life through transformation into something else, rather than thrown out.

Some freshly knitted strawberries from
Woolies bring the flavor of summer and fresh produce to the table...

Animals from the forest can be invited, such as
Woodmouse's hand painted wooden hedgehog featured at the top of the article.

How about including a little elf from Fairiesnest to represent mythical forest dwellers...and give him a place where he might live,
Haddy2dogs gives us a natural home which seems plucked right from the woods!

Add some furniture made by Unwaveringfaith.

Bring in more of summer with Singingbird's beautiful, soft sunflower kissed by bees...

A monarch fluttering over the table in my own Nushkiedesign Soul Mates tapestry unites more of the insect and fairy world.

Freedomrainbow's Gramma Manatee brings an endangered and very much loved sea creature into our consciousness.

With Mother Earth from Faerirebecca's shop looking on...

Germandolls' wee elf baby sleeping seems to bring the day to an end, with the sound sleep that comes from a day in the forest well played!

A nature table can contain one or several of these types of items along with leaves, shells, acorns anything you find from nature.
It can be a simple or more elaborate presentation. But the elements all of these examples hold in common are, they are natural, depict elements or residents of the natural world, and create a sense of calm and beauty and most of all, ignite the imagination. Each item brings nature right to the heart of the child through the window of the imagination and inspires love, respect and sense of guardianship for natural world.

Rebecca Varon Remstein

All pictures courtesy of the identified artisans of the NaturalKids Team.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday Treasures

The NaturalKids Team artisans have been working hard this week! Here are a few selections of what's new. You can find more by searching for "naturalkids team" at

Fun Confetti hat by UnwaveringFaith

Sophie and Jake by TheSingingBird

Set of four Naturalist Napkins by WeeBeaks

Bunny by OritDotanDolls

Paw Print doll outfit by FaerieRebecca

Timmy the boy kitty by LittleElfsToyshop

Waldorf style green elf by GermanDolls

Waldorf baby toy by FairiesNest

Mimi the blue kitty by Dayanra

Bougainvillea Fairy by Nushkie

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Originality within a style

There has been a great deal of discussion on our group message board this week about that sincerest form of flattery. While this seems to be endemic in any crafting community (there are threads on the Etsy forum all the time like this one, or this one, or this one. There are more, but I will stop now...), the issue is much harder to address is a Waldorf/natural toys crafting community. Isn't the point of making a Waldorf doll to, well, make a Waldorf doll?

A Waldorf doll has a unique history and a unique style. While the first retail Waldorf doll is credited to Käthe Kruse, many surmise that these dolls have been around since the late 19th/early 20th century. The dolls are called Waldorf dolls because of their deep connection to the Waldorf/Steiner educational philosophy.

You can make a doll for a child by folding up an old napkin, making two corners into legs, the other two corners into arms, a knot for the head, and painting eyes, nose and mouth with blots of ink. Or else you can buy the child what they call a ‘pretty’ doll, with real hair and painted cheeks. We need not dwell on the fact that the ‘pretty’ doll is of course hideous, and apt to spoil the healthy aesthetic sense for a lifetime. The main educational question is a different one.
If the child has before him the folded napkin, he has to fill in from his own imagination all that is needed to make it real and human. This work of the imagination moulds and builds the forms of the brain. The brain unfolds as the muscles of the hand unfold when they do the work for which they are fitted. Give the child the so-called ‘pretty’ doll, and the brain has nothing more to do. Instead of unfolding, it becomes stunted and dried up.
~~Rudolf Steiner, The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy

There are several key components to a Waldorf doll that all Waldorf doll makers include:
  • The doll is made from all-natural materials. This generally means cotton and wool, though, with the advent of newer natural materials, some dollmakers are using bamboo, silk, and other materials in their dolls.

  • A firm, molded head, generally made from wool and string.

  • Minimal to no facial features, allowing the child's imagination to fully engage in the emotional life of the doll.
Within these criteria, there is lots of room for similarity!

Summer Girl by Orit Dotan Dolls

Steve by FaerieRebecca

Arlo by MoonChild Studios

There's also lots of room for creativity and originality that spans far beyond what the originators of the Waldorf doll might have ever imagined!

Moranna by PrismKids

All of these dolls are definitely "Waldorf dolls," and while they all share those basic components described above, they are all undeniably different. Each creation carries a spark inside of it--a bit of the dollmaker herself. I have done workshops with beginning dollmakers and am always amazed at how different each doll looks at the end of the day. The participants are all working off of the same pattern--and in most cases are using pre-sewn bodies I provided!--but each and every doll looks different from the one next to it.

There is room for inspiration from other artisans within any crafting community. At its heart, it's the soul quality that the artisan brings to her creation that makes it truly unique and original.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday Treasury

Summer keeps rolling along with the NaturalKids Team! Our treasury queen, Birdie has created a lovely treasury featuring Orange, Pink n Peachykeen.

This treasury expires on Thursday, so go enjoy it while you can!


Friday, June 13, 2008

Interview with Wool Comes Alive

Today we bring you the first in a series of interviews with members of Etsy's NaturalKids Team. These will be posted to the blog every other Friday alternating with with features on creating a
natural playroom. Our introductory interview is with Jen of the shop Wool Comes Alive, known affectionately on the team threads as "Lively". Her beautiful shop is full of delightful needle felted characters full of whimsy and charm.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when did you get started with arts and crafts?

According to my family, I have had an artistic flair ever since I was in diapers. I grew up in a close Italian family in Brooklyn, NY and for every occasion I always made handmade cards or little treasures for my relatives. Many of them are still on display to this day! Aside from handmade holiday gifts, my primary art forms as an adult had been dance, puppetry, and storytelling, but I recently discovered fiber arts. I love working with wool and sculpting it into life! My passion for creating something you can hold in your hands is rekindled.

What is the main thing you make and sell in your store?

I create unique dolls, animals and accessories by sculpting wool with barbed needles. The technique is called needle felting and I discovered it just this past October (2007). I took one class at the local fiber shop and came home and made two more dolls that night, trying my own design for the second one. Then, I realized that I could make anything I could imagine if I had enough patience! My first animal was a weasel, and he is now the star of many Redwall reenactments played by my stepson. I have always loved wild animals, so it comes very naturally to me to sculpt them. I take out my field guides from my days as a teacher at a Nature Center and mimic the markings and proportions, letting the animal’s essence be conveyed through a simple Waldorf-inspired style. Plus, I like to be silly, hence my colorful sheep!

Who if anyone has been instrumental in helping you hone your craft?

The one class I took was at Ewetopia Fiber Shop in the small town I live near in rural Wisconsin. Kathryn Ashley owns this shop and vends and dyes beautiful wool, which nurtures my craft immensely. Diana Horan taught that class I took and has kindly encouraged me along the way as my unique style emerged. And of course, my loving husband is very supportive and enthusiastic of my work, even when I talk to my animals and dolls, cooing and telling them how cute they are as I make them.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I am inspired by the joys of life - loving connections between people and nature. Ideas for creations burst into my mind and I can’t possibly keep up with them! The wool really has a vitality as well, and it helps in the creation of each piece. Sometimes I think I am making a moon goddess doll, but she somehow conveys that she’s meant to be a jazz singer! I never argue with what the wool leads me to. I am also deeply inspired by the Waldorf tradition and the wonderful friends on the Natural Kids Etsy street team. The team brings so much joy, meaning, and energy to my work. Oh, and did I mention that I live on the farm where Magic Cabin Dolls started?!? That has to help somehow!

What are your favorite materials?

There is nothing like wool! I adore it! I also have a sewing machine and use it to make various functional things out of upcycled and remnant fabrics. I do still enjoy making and using polar fleece pillowcases during the cold WI winters too, but don’t tell anyone ;)

What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?

The best part of Etsy is the community! Find a team with folks you connect with and have fun! It makes those times in between sales shorter, plus more enjoyable! And super photos make all the difference!

What advice would you give to beginners in needle felting?

Don’t be shy to try something new. It is such forgiving technique and there is so much beautiful wool to choose from. Let your imagination soar! That is what I encourage in my students when I teach needle felting to children and adults at Ewetopia Fiber Shop. I just taught a class this morning making mermaids like the ones in my shop. The student’s mermaids were all so different, and each one was fantastic! I love teaching classes for that reason.

What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you?

My Etsy shop is called Wool Comes Alive at

I also vend at the occasional craft fair, including the Madison, WI Craftacular and the Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School Holiday Faire in Viroqua, WI. Some of my work is for sale at Ewetopia Fiber Shop, and I offer classes there regularly.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday Treasuries

The NaturalKids Team has two lovely collections featuring our artisans today. Please enjoy!

First, we offer Cooool Summer Bluezzz, curated by TheSingingBird to help you beat the heat.

Then Oritdotandolls offers you a bit of Heaven on Earth.

Please stop by these terrific collections!

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