This Saturday, I'm happy to welcome Kathryn of Buddha Hill, an Etsy shop chock-full of beautiful handmade dolls and critters. Kathryn recently answered the following questions from me.
Me: Your dolls are so gorgeous! And each one is unique, even. What inspired you to begin crafting dolls and other felt lovelies?
Kathryn: Thank you, Meryl. My five daughters and I have a Waldorf School background and share a rampant amount of creativity and industriousness.
I live in the country and just have to walk out into the outdoors to see the sweet silliness of our pet rabbits, some seriously funny chicken antics, deer families, and a great blue heron family. We call our little woods the Magic Woods and weave stories about the gnomes and fairies who live there into our family story. Since handwork has always been part of my life, it was easy to imagine making a family of forest folk to inhabit those woods.
And I love the rhythm of punching hundreds of tiny stitches into wool felt and seeing embroidered animal faces take shape. Of translating what I see in nature and my imagination into woodsy dolls that someone can hold and love and use as characters in their own stories.
Me: Tell us a bit about where you collect the materials you use to make your dolls.
Kathryn: Well, I am lucky to live near Austin so I can cruise the thrift shops for wool clothing and cashmere sweaters. Customers bring me clothing to cut up.
My wool felt is sourced online from a few favorite shops. (Magic Cabin and A Child’s Dream Come True being my favorites.) I just love sewing with high quality wool felt.
For the wool stuffing I pick up the phone and talk to a really nice Amish woman in Pennsylvania who sends me bales of the most amazing soft wool from local farms.
Some of my hand dyed plaid wools come from the Etsy shop Quilting Acres. Deep, lush colors that make perfect gathering bags.
Me: But let's not neglect the "Woodland Animals". I love the way the Forest Cats seem to be winking at me. Do you have a favorite creature?
Kathryn: Those silly cats are winking at you! Very friendly cats.
Mrs. Mouse always cracks me up. She is so serious and proper. Perhaps a bit disapproving of the silly cats and foxes and gnomes she shares space with. Her bonnet is always settled on her head just so, like she is on her way to have tea with the other Mrs. Mouses. I am trying to fashion her a basket with a lattice top pie in it. I can spend way too much time figuring out little bits like this!
Me: With the holidays coming up, are there any special or new projects in the works at Buddha Hill?
Kathryn: I am working quite hard at completing batches of dolls and critters for my big holiday shows in Austin and stocking my Etsy shop. There are baskets of woolly arms and legs and ears everywhere. Thread in my hair most likely, wool bits under the furniture.
I have a new Fox Ear Forest Doll that all of my children already want and a pensive Chilly Rabbit who wears a cashmere sweater. There are always new woodland folk popping into my imagination. I have a really great job!
Kathryn has generously agreed to give away the winner's choice of either a Gingerkat or a Woodland Owl. To win, go visit Buddha Hill, and then come back and leave a comment about your favorite creature or doll. Because of the holiday next week, I'll pick a winner on Tuesday!