Hand-painted wee folk faces

Recently, I’ve felt an urge to paint doll faces on wooden beads. Not just a few, but lots and lots of them. Like stitching, I find the repetitive process calming. This compulsion, or meditation practice, depending on how you look at it, has led to a new offering in my Etsy Shop.

Many of you who’ve made fairies and other wee folk dolls from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk, mention how frustrating it can be to paint the dolls’ faces. Now, with the option of buying painted doll heads, you can relax and concentrate on the stitching and wrapping part.

Hand-painted wooden doll heads and acorn cap hats

It all started while tidying up my studio, when I found myself confronted by baskets brimming with acorn caps and bags full of wooden beads. I used to collect acorn caps by the thousands when my fairy kit business was going strong in the early 2000’s. It was always a rush every Fall to harvest enough of the right size and type to fit the different bead head sizes. Even though I stopped making kits years ago, I haven’t broken the habit of scanning the ground under oak trees and picking up acorn caps. Just because they could be the perfect size and shape to top off some little character. So, I figured that I’d paint wooden doll heads to sell along with the caps.

Some of you were introduced to my work through the kits, which I made for 10 years from 1998 – 2008. They were mostly available through catalogs and Waldorf School stores.

Bud & Ivy Kit

As I culled through piles of acorn caps, separating them by size and quality, I had flashbacks to the time of my life when every spare moment was devoted to designing, sourcing materials, mass-producing and marketing these kits. The memory gave me pause to think about what I was getting into.

So, before deciding to mass-produce painted heads again, I convinced myself that this time was different. I told myself that I’ll just paint heads until I don’t want to anymore or when the acorn caps are used up.

Wee Folk Studio Kits 1998 – 2008

Actually, designing and figuring out directions for the kits gave me the experience and ability to write my how-to book Felt Wee Folk. In the 17 years since the first edition came out, many of you’ve written to say how much pleasure you’ve gotten out of making these little dolls. You also mention how habit forming they can be, so maybe the book should come with a warning! I love seeing and hearing about how you’ve adapted the patterns to personalize your own wee worlds. It was always my intention to introduce projects that encouraged imaginative exploration and I’m happy that you are doing just that!

In addition to the Felt Wee Folk book, flower petal skirts & wings and wool fleece fairy hair, my Etsy shop now has hand-painted wooden doll heads for sale.

hand painted wooden doll heads and acorn cap hats

Wooden bead doll heads with hand-painted faces and fitted acorn cap hats are available in my Etsy shop. A range of skin tones are grouped together in different size assortments of 12mm, 14mm and 16mm beads.

I just restocked the shop with packs of flower petals, which you can watch me assemble in this time lapse video.

I’m also selling naturally dyed wool fleece fairy hair, which was left over from the kit making days.

Wool Fleece Fairy Hair

Blueberry Blossom Fairy was one of the most popular kits. She still lives on as a note card in my shop. I hope that you find these supplies useful. As for other wee folk necessities, such as wool felt, I recommend A Child’s Dream, which has a great selection.

Blueberry Blossom Fairy Note Card

To keep up with new posts, please subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be sold or shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram.

Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures – the first year

feltweefolknewcoverblogIt’s been almost a year since the new edition of Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures was released, so I thought I’d bring you up to date on what’s been happening. Besides feeling a bit guilty for contributing to the wee folk addiction problem, I’m very pleased with how the book has been received. There’s more than one report of innocent people getting hooked on wrapping pipe cleaners and stitching little felt outfits. From what I hear, they’re out of control and haven’t the will power to stop making wee folk dolls. I say, keep stitching,  because it helps calm the soul.

The book is now into its 2nd printing and sales have passed 9000 copies. Just imagine the wee folk population explosion! Printed copies or the e-book version have found their way to every corner of the world, helping make the book a C&T Publishing Top 10 Bestseller!

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Most books are purchased in craft and quilting shops and from online retailers. A big thanks to all of you who’ve ordered autographed copies from my Etsy Shop. Extras include a poster, note card and fairy skirts and wings. Besides all 50 states, I’ve sent copies to Australia, Canada, UK, France, Norway, Jordan, Israel, Taiwan, Brazil, Latvia, Japan, France and Russia.

poster - Felt Wee Folk

poster – Felt Wee Folk

poster - Felt Wee Folk

poster – Felt Wee Folk

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Hundreds of fairies have been dressed in faux flower skirts and wings purchased from my Etsy Shop.

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The Felt Wee Folk  book trailer has been viewed well over 10,000 times on YouTube, C&T and my Facebook Page.

People have found out about the book through social media (Facebook and Instagram), the blog tour and magazine articles.

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I like to think that lots of wee folk brides (and grooms) topped wedding cakes this past year.

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Rob and I spent some time playing outside with the wee folk in the bugle weed forest, which grew in our yard.

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Many of you made you made and set up your own nativity scene this past Christmas. I hope that Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures continues to be available for a good long while, so that more innocent people can get hooked on making wee folk!

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Nativity Scene photo shoot

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I know it’s rushing the season, but for those of you who celebrate Christmas, it’s time to get started on making a nativity scene, so that you have it ready to display during the holidays. This set is from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures, which has patterns and directions for making Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus, 3 Kings and a shepherd and his sheep.

In this post, I show what the scene looked like in my studio, before we took photos for the book.

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The nativity figures are fun to make and can be as simple or decorative as you want.  I especially enjoyed coming up with the costumes for the three kings. Their gifts are different beads that look liked containers.

nativity project from Felt Wee Folk
nativity project from Felt Wee Folk

For the photo shoot, I made the manger from curved pieces of driftwood, creating an arched structure. The back drop is a dark purple piece of felt with sewed on star sequins.

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Bayberry branches and dried foliage were the right scale for trees and brush. I used beach stones to fill gaps and build up the surrounding landscape. A pail full of beach sand covered the plywood base and the straw bedding was dried beach grass.

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The photo below is the one Rob and I chose for the book. We used a different photography method, which gives a more dramatic nighttime effect. We took the photo at night, in a completely dark room. During a long expose time of about 10 seconds, Rob “painted with light”, pointing and moving a small flash light around the areas he wanted lit up. We repeated that many times, until we had a good selection of photos from which to choose.

I’ve already heard from several enthusiastic people who are in the process of making or have competed a Nativity of their own. And I’m sure that each set of characters will be as unique as their maker!

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To keep up with new posts, please subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be sold or shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram

Wee Folk in the bugle weed forest

WoodlandFolkinBugleweedWMThe whole Woodland Folk family recently ventured out into the bugle weed forest for some fresh air. Ever since they had the excitement of posing for my new book, it’s been dismal for them, all cooped up inside. The wee folk couldn’t get enough of the natural surroundings!

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Many of you have made your own versions of these dolls by following the directions and patterns in Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures. I hope that you are having as much fun as I am! The book is available through your favorite book seller or from my Etsy Shop (autographed, with extra goodies).

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Wee Folk see themselves

BRIDESlookingfeltweefolknewcoverblogThe wee folk have been getting a kick out of seeing pictures of themselves on the pages of my new book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures! The brides, woodland and winter folk, and Mary and her lamb are tempted to walk back into their familiar scenes, but they have new separate lives now.

Supplies to make the wee folk dolls, including wool felt can be ordered from A Child’s Dream. I sell faux flowers to make fairies, as well as the book (with autograph and extra goodies) in my Etsy Shop.

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FELT the noun, not the verb

detail from “Pocketful of Posies”

I’m in love with wool felt! Aren’t you, too? Quite often, it’s my material of choice, along with embroidery thread. Once you use the wool variety, it’s hard to go back to handling the cheap acrylic type commonly found in craft stores. It’s like retiring your polyester pant suit in favor of cotton, wool or linen. Wool felt is seductive– it not only feels better, but has an integrity and durability not found in imitation fabrics. I primarily use wool felt that comes in sheets of different thicknesses.

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detail from
detail from “Pocketful of Posies”

People inquire about wool felt all the time, so I’ll address that right away. The cottage industry that made the plant dyed felt I used in the illustrations for Pocketful of Posies and My Bed no longer dyes felt.

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Pocketful of Posies 2010

Many online businesses sell wool felt, from garish commercially dyed colors to softer, plant dyed and “heather” shades. A Child’s Dream has a nice selection of  premium quality 100% wool felt. Sweet Emma Jean sells a less expensive rayon/wool blend. The Olive Sparrow in Toronto, Canada offers a wide selection of wool felt. Of course, 100% wool felt is pricey, but it is certainly worth it. The doll clothes pattern pieces from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk don’t require very much material, so a little can go a long way. If you want to try natural dying your own colors, take a look at this informative blog post from Willodell.

nativity project from Felt Wee Folk
nativity project from Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures
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Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures 2015

I want to clarify something — I use felt (noun) in my pieces. I do not make felt or do felting (verb). I don’t know why it bothers me, but my work is often described as “felted” when it is not. Felting has a rich history and has been around since ancient times. The verb to felt involves the manipulation and meshing of wool fleece fibers to form sheets of felt or 3-dimensional felted forms. Needle felting is immensely popular now-a-days, so I can see how the noun and verb are becoming interchangeable in some people’s minds. I’ve tried felting and think it’s fun, but find myself more interested in embroidering and decorating existing felt pieces.

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from Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures 2015

Many of you have said that embellishing and stitching together little outfits is your favorite part of making the dolls from Felt Wee Folk. Women of a certain age have fond memories of sewing felt clothing for their Troll dolls during their first invasion in the 60’s. The later version of wide eyed Troll dolls where much cuter and not as appealing, in my opinion. I can still remember sewing snaps on my Troll clothes and trying to figure out whether to make the stitches jump from hole to hole or go outside the snap. I decided that it doesn’t matter which is the “right” way and tried both. Decades later, I’m still figuring out new ways to make and clothe little dolls and my early experience with making Troll clothes may have been what spurred me into writing how-to books.

project from Felt Wee Folk - New Adventures
project from Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be sold or shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram.

Fairy skirts and wings

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Yeah, more fairies are coming into being! In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a surge in sales of fairy skirts and wings. So, I’ve been resupplying my Etsy Shop to keep up with the demand. The packages contain high quality faux flowers in varying colors that are the right size and shape to make petticoats and wings for 6 fairies. I have not found a source to buy single flower pieces, so just like everyone else, I buy flowers on stems and take them apart. I’m used to scouting them out, like I did during the years when I used to make fairy kits.

As I explain in my book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures, it’s best to use compound flowers that have multiple petals radiating from the center. Books purchased from my Etsy Shop include flowers to make 2 fairies, along with other goodies. Debbie, from A Child’s Dream let me know that many customers are coming to her shop for wool felt and there’s a lot of interest in their special  Felt Wee Folk Craft Basket of supplies. It’s so wonderful to know that people are using my book and making dolls!

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fairy making supplies

fairy making supplies

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Making the blog tour cart

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A few days before the BLOG TOUR began earlier this month, I decided that the wee folk needed a cart to ride in while they spread the word about my new book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures. Thank you to the wonderful participating bloggers who shared my wee world with their followers!

So, I spent an afternoon making this cart. I was almost giddy as I worked because the process was so fast compared to my stitching! First, I rummaged around my studio and found a driftwood board and a pair of old wooden spools that have been waiting to be useful for decades. I sawed off the spool ends to use as 4 wheels. I also found a bag full of metal bed spring parts I salvaged 20 years ago from a dump in Maine. A hack saw did the trick of cutting them in half. Then, I drilled holes in the wood and glued the metal pieces around the edge to make a guard rail.

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I glued wooden block axles underneath the drilled holes in the ends. I glued dowels in the holes, which stuck out far enough for the spool wheel to slip onto. I nailed a bead that was just a little bit larger than the spool hole to the end of the dowel. Thereby, making it possible for the wheels to go around. I screwed on a hinge to the front of the cart and added some other misc. metal parts to attach to the horse. The Swedish horse has been in my family for a long time and it was just the right size to pull the cart.BlogTour-1759

I then tied the top railing pieces in place with thread.

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And I made a Blog Tour sign with water-color paper and thread. Since there was (and still is) too much snow outside to find any straw, I covered the cart bed with pine needles that I’d collected last fall.

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The wee folk had signs, too. It was fun getting the colored pencils out!

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We set up the parade, with an old rug as a back drop and took pictures.

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And off they go! I am happy to say that the tour has been a great success and the book has been properly launched. The book trailer has been viewed thousands of times and Felt Wee Folk  – New Adventures has been holding steady as #1 in Toymaking on Amazon! I’ve been getting reports of sightings in bookstores and craft/quilt shops around the country. Quite a few autographed copies (with extra goodies) have sold through my Etsy Shop, too. It warms my heart to know that more wee folk and fairies are multiplying around the world!

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Blog Tour host Phoebe Wahl

feltweefolknewcoverblogPoday, I am pleased to have up and coming illustrator Phoebe Wahl join the Felt Wee Folk BLOG TOUR. The tour schedule is listed at the bottom of this post, with links to participating blogs. I invite you to follow along. There are reviews of my new book and opportunities to enter Give-aways for copies of Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures.

My regular followers may remember when Phoebe came to visit my studio in 2011, when she was a junior at the Rhode Island School of Design. I wrote a post about it here.

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1423278487124Many of you were so taken with Phoebe’s art that you started following her career, which has since blossomed in several directions. She works in collage and watercolor and also constructs the most beguiling fabric people and animals. She embraces themes of home and family, with a counter-culture and feminist twist that keeps her artwork from becoming conventionally cute. If you haven’t already seen her remarkable work, be prepared to fall in love!

Since graduating from RISD, Phoebe has kept up a busy schedule contributing to Taproot Magazine, which describes itself as “a quarterly magazine celebrating food, farm, family and craft through writing, photography and the arts, both fine and domestic.” And they will be featuring her work even more because she is their cover artist for 2015!

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She also sells cards, prints and other items printed with her artwork in her Etsy Shop.

I’m so glad to see that her first children’s book, Sonya’s Chickens (that she both wrote and illustrated) will be published this summer.

Please hop over to Phoebe Wahl’s blog to get a glimpse of her magical world! While you’re there, read her review of Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures and enter the Giveaway.

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Felt Wee Folk BLOG TOUR Schedule:

March 3 – Mary Corbet – Needle n’ Thread

March 6 – Mimi Kirchner – Doll 

March 10 – Margaret Bloom – We Bloom Here

March 12 – C&T Publishing’s Blog

March 13 – Kimara – Wee Folk Art

March 15 – Phoebe Wahl

Blog Tour: Wee Folk Art

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Today, I am pleased to have the wildly popular site, Wee Folk Art come along on the Felt Wee Folk BLOG TOUR! The tour schedule is listed at the bottom of this post, with links to participating blogs. I invite you to follow along. There are reviews of my new book and opportunities to enter Give-aways for copies of Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures.

It’s easy to mix up Wee Folk Art and my own  Wee Folk Studio. Besides the similarity in name and our shared interest in folksy handwork, we are 2 distinct entities, with different purposes.  My site is a personal platform to share my artwork and inspirations, whereas Wee Folk Art’s mission is to support and inspire families that want to bring art and craft into their lives in a natural way. And they have a huge following in this endeavor!

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The people behind Wee Folk Art, Kimara and Michelle combine their love of Wee Folk (children) with their love of Folk Art, creating a place to find patterns and tutorials for a whole slew of projects. They are a mother /daughter team who share their mutual love of crafting and the gentle art of homemaking. Most of their ideas and projects are focused on children, but they throw in crafts for the home, self or yummy recipes just to keep it interesting. 

portrait-wmwmThey write, “We both share a belief that less is often better, as long as the less has quality. We love working with natural materials, and are ever mindful of respecting our environment. We hope that is reflected in our crafts.”

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Wee Folk Art has a treasure trove of information, with lots of resources, tutorials and patterns to learn from. There is something for everyone, whether you are a parent, grandparent, home-school family, teacher or just a crafty, home-loving person.

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Wee Folk Art has been incredibly supportive of my artwork and books over the years and I am thrilled to have them on board for this tour! They are offering a book Give-away, along with the other tour participants below:

Felt Wee Folk BLOG TOUR Schedule:

March 3 – Mary Corbet – Needle n’ Thread

March 6 – Mimi Kirchner – Doll 

March 10 – Margaret Bloom – We Bloom Here

March 12 – C&T Publishing’s Blog

March 13 – Kimara – Wee Folk Art

March 15 – Phoebe Wahl

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