A few years ago I found this lovely pattern over at Wee Wonderfuls. If you aren't already familiar with Hillary Lang and her blog be sure to click over. Her dolls are amazing and luckily for all of us she has made some of her patterns available for purchase.
The Olive and Archie pattern links to a book she made with her dolls. Seeing her sample inspired me to want to make the ultimate personalized book for my daughters. As a kid my mom had sent off from cereal box for a personalized book for my brother and I. It was a sesame street story that they typed your name in as a character. I thought that was so cool at 4.
With more modern technology and the help of sites like Shutterfly, I knew I could make a great gift for my daughters for Christmas. I made dolls using the Olive and Archie pattern and customized them to look like each of my daughters and their cousins. My father-in-law had just finished up a massive renovation of a cabin along a river and so it became the setting for an adventure story. I made the four dolls and a ton of extra items because I'm like that, and then I spent part of Thanksgiving weekend at the cabin taking pictures.
Here are a few shots from the book:
And because I'm me, I couldn't quite stop there. My eldest daughter loved the zoo. We went several times a month. She was fascinated by the visits. So I decided to make a book just for the girls of a world travel adventure set at the Memphis zoo. The first day I could, I took my youngest daughter to the zoo in a stroller (she was just over a year) and the dolls and the props to the zoo. Thankfully it was a miserable day and there was practically no one at the zoo. My courage would have failed. The stroller had a flat tire and I couldn't keep my hands warm but I spent most of the school day dragging the stroller from animal to animal taking photos. The best moment was after spending several minutes carefully arranging the dolls and binoculars, looking up into a monkey inclosure to see a keeper in the cage, paused in their cleaning efforts, laughing hysterically at me. I smiled, and waved, and took my pictures, and went on to the next spot.
The dolls and books were a hit. Each Christmas since, new books have been made. I even made a doll for the 16 year old neice who wasn't in the first round and her own special book because you are never too old for a book about you. The dolls have been on almost every vacation. They have sledded and skied and biked and read and gone to school.
They are looking rather shabby these days but they are still loved and played with often. Next year's book might require a new set of dolls. Martha's hair is almost gone in back and her bald spot shows up in photos.
Each January I think what will the new book be and I think I'll be good and plan ahead. This past year I wanted to incorporate the girls artwork into the book and it took me a while to decide how, and then even longer, to find the time to execute the work. Grace had drawn some super hero girls and written description of their powers and Martha is obsessed with unicorns. With these as my starting point I made their Christmas book and got it finished to the printer with just a few days to spare for on time delivery. Thank you UPS! This last book I'll share in its entirety. Thanks for reading through this ridiculously long post. Sometimes you just have to share.
And now you know why it takes me a month or more to post new work or write a new post because I just might be playing with dolls or some other crazy involved project ostensibly for my kids.