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Natural Kids

Natural Kids: August 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Interview with Beneath the Rowan Tree

Today's interview is with the NaturalKids team member, Beneath the Rowan Tree. Rowan's lovely silks and toys are all hand dyed and hand painted and she has a wonderful eye for color. Come meet her....

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when did you get started with arts and crafts?
I always felt like the ugly duckling in my family! Thank goodness my grandmother was naturally crafty and saw the spark in me~ this forged a deep relationship between us and strong connection in a family of non-crafty types.
I have always loved to make things with my hands and to give them to others. Over the years I taught myself numerous crafts: knitting, cross stitching, sewing, scrapbooking and quilting to name a few.
With quilting my love of color and texture really began to blossom. For me the best part about quilting was wandering through the fabric store without a plan, just heaping on bolts of fabric until a vision emerged.
After my daughter was born, I dove into dyeing and painting clothing out of frustration about clothing available for kids. It turns out I *could* paint~ which was a real shock! Dyeing satisfies the need for color and adds the element of surprise and chaos which keeps me centered and reminds me that beauty emerges when we don't try to control every outcome!
Most recently, drawn by the gorgeous colors and textures of fibers, I began needle felting and I am hooked~ it just resonates with me and draws together all of the satisfying and challenging aspects of craft and has pushed me along towards seeing myself as an artist.

What is the main thing you make and sell in your store? What else do you make and/or sell?
My core product has been my hand dyed and painted clothing for babies and toddlers, although with the holidays approaching and my mercurial interests, I am working much more on my natural toy offerings: wood, wool and lots of silk.

Who if anyone has been instrumental in helping you hone your craft?
I tend to be self-taught and a real grazer~ gathering tidbits of information here and there and generally running off half informed to work it out myself. I appreciate the needle felting forums and community for direction, challenge and inspiration.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere, my child, the skies (every skyline calls out for a flat felted landscape these days!), the seasons. I try to remain open (and keep notes). Since my crafting business is my 'sideline' to my full time vocation/ work I allow myself the freedom to follow my whims and do what I like.

What are your favorite materials?
Wool and silk. So pretty, so versatile, so dyeable!

What advice would you give to beginners in your main craft?
If you are dyeing, use quality chemicals, practice safety precautions, keep a clean work space and dye everything and anything you can to learn about color and fabric and results. Expect surprises. Be bold. You can always re-dye something, until you hit black, and then you bleach! Just kidding!

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

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thursday Treasuries

So much hard work goes into these beautiful treasuries... let's celebrate them and all the wonderful items we are showing off (go click and comment)!!

The Singing Bird is giving us a little taste of fall with Orange like a Pumpkin Pie...

In a beautiful treasury showcasing a mixture of different teams, Brendaml features some lovely items for all of our Nature Babies...

Orit celebrates Needle Felt Wool Art in her beautiful mixed team treasury...

We have a Peter Pan obsession going on at my house, so little love blue is tempting you in to this world as well... come on there are mermaids... and pirates!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Waldorf Wednesday is Back! Or why Boys need dolls!

It's been a while since we had our Wednesday blog entry. From what I understand the original idea was to talk about Waldorf education, natural toys, and living a natural lifestyle. I will try to keep that in mind as I ramble on about my views and perspective of life as a German immigrant in the US. I have lived here for about 12 years now. Scary. I cannot believe it has been this long. But please, forgive occasional spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and a little bit of an accent bleeding through at times. I am still very much German at heart...

The subject I want to talk about today is: Why do boys need dolls?

It is really important to me, and I want to tell a little anecdote to explain why that is. A few of years ago I had a rather strange encounter. I believe it was on a sunny fall day when I took the kids to the park to play at the playground. As usual when I go out, I had one of my projects with me. I am always crocheting, sewing, or have something with me to keep my fingers busy. As I sat there on a park bench a young woman approached me. People are always curious when they see an artist at work. So of course, I end up telling them that I make dolls. The young woman had her 4-year-old son with her. As we got to talking she sighed and told me about her dilemma. A couple of weeks ago a toy catalogue had arrived in the mail, and her son saw a dollhouse in it. Now whenever she asked him what he wanted for Christmas he'd say: I want that cool dollhouse from the catalogue. To which I responded: So, why don't you get him a dollhouse? She said her husband would have an absolute fit. He thinks boys should play with trucks and "manly" toys and that "Dolls are for girls"!

I was totally stunned and maybe even annoyed. After taking a moment I told her that her husband was so wrong. That there was no reason why her son should not have a dollhouse to play with. Role play with dolls is very important for children. Why would we assign boys to play with inanimate objects such as cars, trucks, and building blocks only? Maybe we throw in an occasional plastic soldier or a plastic superhero. But why not give them a soft cuddly baby? Or a doll family? Some day this little boy will be a dad, have a family, and a real house. I told her to ignore her husband and get the boy the dollhouse anyway!

I get so frustrated when I hear such stories. Often I hear boys, big and small, talk derisively about the "Pink Aisle" in the stores and dolls being "for girls" only.

I think this world would be a much better place if we gave boys dolls and allowed them grow up in a more loving and nurturing environment. Both boys and girls need to learn how to nurture and cuddle a doll because some day they will be a parent. I feel sad for this dad in my story who did not want to give his son the gift he so much desired. It made me wonder how he grew up...

Foto by JustynRebecca, a dear etsy customer of mine

I really wish more people bought dolls for their sons. I always keep one or two boy dolls in my store. Sadly they sit around the "virtual store shelf" much longer than the girl dolls...Sprinkled throughout the text please find some examples of sweet dolls that have found a loving home - nurtured by a boy who will, no doubt, become a great dad!

The boy doll below was made my dear friend and fellow doll artisan Rebecca. Steve is still available if you are looking for a cool boy doll to give to a boy you love.

Steve, a boy doll with spunk, available at Toys From Nature

Take Care! And see you next Wednesday!

Ulla, the German Dollmaker

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday Treasuries

Welcome to the Tuesday Treasuries! Lots to click and explore, so let's get cracking!

BeneathTheRowanTree has something ever so Soft to share...

TheSingingBird shows us lovely items in the Family of Blues and Greens.

WHAT?! This is some BIG NEWS!!!!!!! from WoolComesAlive (and Mosey!)!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Mini Monday: German Dolls

OK, I know we have already featured Ulla--I am not senile! But I wanted to give her another moment in the spotlight because she is a new blog author! Ulla will be writing (along with another co-author--her Mini Monday comes next week) the Waldorf Wednesday feature. Look for her first post on Wednesday--Why Boys Need Dolls!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thursday Treasuries

Two more lovely treasuries from the NaturalKids team! Click and enjoy!

Nuskie made this treasury just because It just felt natural.

TheSingingBird wants to know What will you be for Halloween?

Thursday Treasuries compiled by FaerieRebecca


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesday Treasuries

A cornucopia of NaturalKids goodness awaits you this fine Tuesday morning...

First, from TheSingingBird, enjoy this collection of Itty bitty pocket treasures.

Next, Winsomehollow wants you to see all of the lovelies she found Fluttering from the autumn tree.

Oh my goodness! Haddy2Dogs has found something strange. There's a gnome in my tub! she exclaims.

AuntBoosBabies has found the sweetest items from natural kids to offer in her treasury.

Keeping on the gnome theme, freedomRainbow wants to welcome us to her gnometown.

FreedomRainbow also brings us this collection of goodies in her own Natty Kids stylee!

Lastly (but not leastly), Winsomehollow shares some beauties that are gentle for the young.

Tuesday Treasuries compiled by FaerieRebecca

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mini Monday: freedomRainbow!

You cannot miss freedomRainbow! Whether she is creating the most amazing dolls in her shop, creating new hats and designs in her other one shop, or hanging around bringing joy and light to our forums, she is a presence with which to be reckoned! Learn more about this dynamic artisan...

My name is Sarah and I live in Portland with my husband and two children who are 12 and 2. My spiritual sojourning and my family are the joys of my heart and i am so blessed to be at home with my kids to watch the magic happen as they grow. Thanks for supporting that!

I am really into the idea that by putting Rainbow Reiki, Spiritual Energy, Love, Devotion to the Divine, and Protective Prayer into every stitch of my sweet dolls and animules, I am transferring that Beautiful Stuff into the hearts of those who claim them as their own. Making these dolls is a very wonderful way for me to engage myself in creative and artistic endeavors while trying to spread peace and love.

I'm really into yoga of all sorts, reiki, gardening, vegetarianism, mantras playing with my kids, and LOVE. I have a background in fine arts, especially ceramic sculpture, which i majored in at Lewis and Clark college, along with Biology.

Enjoy your week in the sun, freedom :)

MiniMonday by FaerieRebecca

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Whole World In Their Hands

A friend recently gave Eva, my four-year-old, a gift from Toys-R-Us. I felt bad returning it because it was given with love. But I have made a concerted effort to have only natural toys in Eva's room that I either make myself or purchase from natural toymakers, like those made by Etsy's Naturalkids Team members. But these were plastic items from China. I just didn't want them in my home, and Eva didn't mind my exchanging them. But what would I find in the mega toy store?

What hit me first as I entered the door, was the smell of plastic off gassing. It was palpable and made my throat dry. How fast could I get in and out? I wondered. I asked the cashier, who automatically handed me a plastic card with my refund money on it, where the natural or wooden toys were. She shrugged ever so politely and offered that I look around. I took a tour of what seemed like a hostile faraway planet full of scary things. Dolls named Bratz, avengers of evil with guns that could obliterate a creature instantly and remorselessly. Palm sized computer games, infant toys that never stopped making noise, plastic junk food for pretend play, all packaged in plastic...Ok, if you've been reading my posts, you know where I'm going with this...Yes, there were bikes and carseats, but otherwise, it was a store 98% filled with "toys" that over stimulated, promoted a culture of fierce competition or violence, applauded unhealthy eating, and were in and of themselves toxic on one level or another, and polluting.

As the wonderful "Earth Ball" creation above by Cozycottagecreations, depicts, our children have the whole world in their hands. By choosing to fill those hands with natural, handmade toys and other items, a true reverence for our planet can begin and with the open ended nature of these toys, perhaps the imaginations of our children will be free enough to help them survive and revive the planet we have handed them.

Below is a discussion of some natural options for parents looking to choose more natural items for their children. All photos are courtesy of my fellow toy maker/artists from
Etsy's Naturalkids Team.

This sweet lamb by
Woolies , and

Little Love Blue's adorable elephant are hand made from pure wool, while
Mosey's "Henny Penny" is made from upcycled wool.

These toys don't light u
p, but what they offer children is a tactile sense of safety, warmth, goodness, with a gentle appreciation of the natural world.

Who or what will the child discover behind Beneaththerowantree's harvest fairy door?

Perhaps this little pixie:
forest elf with bird suggests a mischievous and humorous aspect to the mysteries of the natural world without cynicism. A child may interpret her expression as an impish, irresistible invitation to play... or will they just sit and chat together?

Perhaps she lives here. Or does the mouse rule this needlefelted domicile by Chimera? How sturdy, this wool home is; how beautifully crafted, and what a connection in makes to the nature world from which its materials came.

Instead of supplying and fast-triggered arson of weapons to save the world, Faerierebecca's autumn nature table set is motionless, a simple gesture of sharing some of nature's harvest. Is it an acorn, a leaf? The child can decide that, and the identity of this lovely needle felted creature. She has no moniker created by marketing companies, only an open face.

Wonderwull's "Peace Angel" replaces the mechanical or computerized warriors against evil, with a quiet icon for peace. What hope she inspires in her silence. Out of that stillness, perhaps the small voice could still be heard.

What magical stories from the child's own imagination could be written in the pages of Whimsomehollow's felt book with moveable pieces?

Perhaps they are stories the child will retell to his or her "baby" while lulling it to sleep in Bellawinter's beautiful handmade, upcycled sling.

Whimsicalmom offers children an alternative to mass-produced art supplies. Together with her children, she created these "Sprite Scribblers-Vibrant Earth" upcycled, non toxic crayons in surprising color combinations, sure to ignite the imaginations of little ones as they draw a world they'd like to inhabit.

When children are provided with open-ended toys, from nature about nature, their imaginations grow, life skills are born and honed...who knows what they'll create? Unwaveringfaith's 12-year-old son crafted this: Fairy furniture; A gift back to the natural world.

Freedomrainbow's shop provides lots of natural "reike" dolls for children, while her sister shop, Rainbowlotusnaturals offers parents choices which literally surround children in natural goodness and the opportunity make creative decisions. In her own words, this "cloak is a dress, sweater, jacket, and poncho all in one! All natural and recycled, it is so healthy for your little pixie and the planet she is from!"

In the morning or after a long day of play, Truevineherbs bath soap surrounds children with nature in a different way, cleaning their little, growing bodies with natural, safe and gentle soaps, like this one, made from natural ingredients from the earth.

What lovely alternatives to the megabranded megadistributed products. These are all items your children can breathe around and breathe life into.

After an hour of wandering the aisles of Toys-R-Us, searching for something I could bring home that supported my values, I finally found a little wooden train set, which Eva was thrilled to have. But I hope to never have to step foot in another one of these chain stores again. I looked at the other parents roaming around, trying to buy toys that would do right by their children, but unwittingly purchasing toys which would pollute their homes, the planet when they are thrown away and potentially the very minds of their children. I am fortunate to know there are natural alternatives to the products found there and the messages they convey. I am blessed with the ability to create the lovely wool items which I both give my daughter and provide to others through my shop (,) as well as have the variety and high level of craftmenship available to me through shops I referenced here, as well as other
Naturalkids Team shops. Now, perhaps, there will be a growing number of parents who will know they have natural alternatives and share this information with their friends.

All of the
Naturalkids Team artisans strive to create toys, clothing, soaps and other items for children that are good for this generation and generations to come, because when these things go back to the earth, they are simply returning to the natural world from which they were made.

We do have options. Let's keep the world we place in the hands of our children natural, healthy, lovely and fun, just like the world we strive to live in.

Thank you for reading. 'Til next time!

Rebecca Varon-Remstein

Thursday Treasuries

So many treasuries--and all the time you want to enjoy them!

Clicking through Chimera's terrific treasury is More fun than jumping in leaves!"

There are some gorgeous m mu mush mushrooms in this sweet treasury from Ayalonet (aka Nishale!)

Nishale was on a roll, also offering us things to cherish.

Orit wants us all to see what exactly a Waldorf [Steiner] doll is.

TheSingingBird offers us a look at The Fine Art of Needlefelting.

LittleLoveBlue shocked us all--I'm in my birthday suit!

Click and give them some love before the treasuries expire--or your favorite item is bought :)


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tuesday Treasuries

It's Tuesday, and that means it's time to see what treasures our NaturalKids team curators have found for their collections!

Orit shows off the funkier side of the naturalKids team by showing us incredibly...... things that she likes.

Nishale invites to to experience Story Time with these lovely items:

TheSingingBird brings us Pinks and Blues to soothe...

And, because Birdie just can't help herself, she has another lovely treasury in SweetPumpkinCitrusOrangePeach!!!

Click and enjoy!