Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Making friends - Tiny Friends, that is. Pocket Dolls.

When I was small, I loved tiny toys.  the kind that would fit in your palm or pocket and when Kiddles were the big thing, I craved one with every fibre of my being.  My neighbour had a whole collection.  My best friend up the street had a few, but I only wanted one.  Just one.  And when one was finally mine, the sheer delight of it eclipsed everything else... and at this distance I cannot recall who gave it to me.  It was most likely my Godmother, since she was one of the few people who would ask what I wanted for my birthday and who bought me something new.  In our large family, most toys and clothes were handed down.  I had two regular sized dolls, both passed on from a friend who no longer wanted them.  Two!?  How could one properly love and play with TWO dolls, much less give them away!? I felt vaguely guilty at how fiercely I loved one when the other was tumbled upside-down among the bedclothes or blocks, and wondered if the dolls themselves minded.  I thought they might.

So when dollmaking crept in to my imagination as an adult, it was always with the idea of something tiny.  Something you could slip into a pocket, take along in a car, and where if you had three or four of them, they could all be played with at once, a whole adventure of dolls.  (I'm pretty sure if you look it up, you will find that is the term for a gathering of more than one doll.)

I began with one.  A prototype.  Loved all 3 1/2 inches of her, from her touseled blue hair and smudged nose to her tiny unformed turned-in toes.  And she was so special a little thing that I put her safely by until I could make her a friend.  My children have learned to dread it when I say I have put something they ask for in "a safe place". It means they may not see that thing again for a good, long while.  And so it is with Doll One.  Onesie is safely snoozing somewhere.  Snug and secret.  So I made Twosie.  She had no hair.  I simply could not decide what colour her hair should be.  But she had a wide, sunny smile and a bright yellow dress to match.  She seemed so HAPPY I had made her.  And although she stood beaming at me under my lamp, watching me work for a long while, eventually she must have gone off to find her friend, because she disappeared.  I know one day while turning out a drawer or unfolding tissue from around some precious thing in a box, I will find the two of them making up stories, telling dollie secrets and enjoying themselves wonderfully together.

But I was still without dolls.

And I had a craft show to attend.

So I sat down with fabric and my weensy template and drew out a whole dozen dollies of different colours.  And I stitched, stuffed, painted and stitched some more.  I took three along on the drive to the craft show, stitching their hair on the highway between Toronto and Kingston as the early sun barely cleared the dashboard, and four more the week later, who came downtown with me to an artisanal store here in Toronto where others like me have brought work together to be sold.

And again, I have no dolls.

So I'm stitching again.  Making Tiny Friends to send out into the world in their little matchbox beds to make friends and make magic in quiet hours and hushed corners - or possibly get up to zany tricks and antics in circuses they cause to happen around them.  I wish I knew.

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