New Mouse Art Doll, “Mrs. Thistledown”

miniature mouse art doll in a small box

Mrs. Thistledown, my new anthropomorphic mouse art doll, is inspired by the works of Beatrix Potter.

I began work on Mrs. Thistledown while I was still in Seattle, before my big move to NYC. This past week, I finally finished up her last few details and was able to get her listed in my Etsy shop.

Mrs. Thistledown is a kind gentlemouse with a snug little home in the forest. On market days, she takes her basket to the Forest Faire for fresh toadstools and seeds.

 

 

Mrs. Thistledown is sculpted from Paperclay, with a stuffed cloth body.

Mrs. Thistledown is about six inches tall. She has a stuffed cloth body and head, hands, and little boots sculpted from Paperclay. She was painted with watercolors to give her the same gentle look of Beatrix Potter’s illustrations.

 

Mrs. Thistledown wears a tiny outfit inspired by the clothing of Victorian ladies.

Mrs. Thistledown’s Victorian dress is made from vintage ivy-print cotton, navy velvet, and lace trim. Though her dress is not removable, her little velvet cape and bonnet are! She carries a wicker basket filled with handmade Paperclay mushrooms and a tiny glass jar of seeds.

handmade box for a mouse art doll, top reads: "Mrs. Thistledown"

Mrs. Thistledown comes in her very own handmade box.

Mrs. Thistledown’s box is covered in butterfly-print paper. A black and gold frame surrounds her hand-written name on the lid. She fits snuggly inside – ready for her journey to her new home!

Mrs. Thistledown is available now in my Etsy shop.

The Free Folk is Reopening

date and promotional image of the free folk dolls' reopening

My Etsy shop is now open! Thank you to everyone who was patient throughout our move.

Since I’ve been away, The Free Folk has driven across the country from Seattle, WA, found an apartment in NYC, and moved in to our new place! Now, the flat-packed furniture has been put together, the best coffee shop in the neighborhood has been found, and my art supplies have been organized in their brand new space. It’s time for The Free Folk to reopen for business!

Starting today, my Etsy shop has reopened and will operate as normally. We hope to share some new projects with you soon!

My Etsy Shop Closes Tonight!

advertises a 20% off sale for the free folk, now through May 6th

Tonight, my Etsy shop will close for a period of several weeks to allow time for a cross-country move. If you’ve been thinking about making a purchase from my shop, today is the last day to do so until we reopen.

All items in my shop are currently 20% off, but that sale ends today! Keep an eye on this space or my Facebook page to be notified when my shop reopens, most likely in mid-late June.

Shop Closure and a 20% Off Sale

advertises a 20% off sale for the free folk, now through May 6th

I’m excited to announce that The Free Folk is making another big move – back to the East Coast, to live in NYC again! To accommodate such a big undertaking, my Etsy shop will be closed beginning the night of Monday, May 6th, with plans to reopen in mid June once we’re settled in our new home.

In the meantime, I will be running a 20% off sale in my shop, to clean out old stock in preparation for our move. Now through May 6th, you’ll receive 20% off any purchase above $10. I’m looking forward to reopening once I’m settled in my new space, and will see all of you then!

Shop the sale

The Making of Minerva: My Most Advanced Art Doll

paperclay art doll bust of historical doll

There’s a special project I’ve been working on for a long time but never shared with the world.

Though I began sewing Minerva’s outfits and testing patterns for her body over a year ago, it took me a long time to get everything just right. And once I had, it took me a while to then decide I’d be ok with letting them go! I spent so much time working on Minerva and using her as a model for her miniature dresses, that I now feel more of a bond with her than I have with most of my dolls. I’ve made up a whole string of stories about her pretend life, and when she goes to her new home I’ll miss her knowing smile!

hand stitched victorian doll dresses and handmade doll accessories

Minerva is the most advanced art doll I’ve ever created, with a sculpted head, hands, and feet, jointed cloth body, and three removable outfits and several accessories handcrafted just for her.

Minerva’s body is made of cotton flannel and stuffed with natural wool roving. It’s made from a pattern designed just for her, and has soft-jointed limbs. Her head, hands, and feet are sculpted from Paperclay and painted with watercolors, and her carefully styled curls are made from alpaca locks. I love Minerva’s strong eyebrows and knowing smile – I think she’s keeping a secret!

Minerva’s three outfits are inspired by Regency, Victorian, and Edwardian fashion.

 

Her Regency-inspired gown is hand stitched from porcelain blue floral print fabric, and trimmed with delicate lace and blue ribbons. There are three tiny pearl buttons in the back. Her straw hat is decorated with coordinating lace and fabric flowers. Muslin ribbons secure it under her chin.

 

Minerva’s Victorian brown silk dress has lace cuffs and velvet ribbon at the hem. Tiny pearl buttons adorn the cuffs and bodice.

art doll sculpted from paperclay, with historic costume of linen and lace dress and straw hat

antique linen doll dress with delicate hand stitching, lace, and pearl buttons

Her Edwardian linen and lace dress is my favorite of the three. It features delicate stitching, a lace collar, cuffs, waistband, and hem, and little pearl buttons. I spent almost a month putting this dress together, making sure each element was in proportion and properly antiqued.

tiny handmade doll stockings with roses and white victorian boots

Minerva also comes with cotton underclothes, two petticoats (one linen, one silk), and two pairs of stockings (one black, one pink with rosettes). Her purchased white boots have pearl buttons which can actually be done and undone.

Minerva’s handcrafted accessories contain clues to her backstory.

antique doll teacup and handmade pocket watch

Minerva’s pair of “blue willow” teacups were sculpted from Paperclay, painted with watercolors, and rimmed with gold gilt. Her tiny watch features actual gears and hands, and a watercolor portrait. The title of her miniature leather-bound book might be familiar to some! Minerva’s new owner will also receive a decorative card printed with pieces of her backstory and a tiny tale about her life.

Minerva is available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

Her clothing and accessories will be packed carefully in tissue paper and boxes for a safe journey to their new home!

My Travels through Tokyo, Part 3 – Ginza & the Imperial Palace Gardens

I spent the end of November and beginning of last December living in and exploring Tokyo. After my visit to Meiji-Jingu, another favorite place I visited in Japan was the Imperial Palace Gardens.

The Imperial Palace and Gardens are located in the heart of Tokyo’s luxury shopping district, Ginza.

Though I enjoyed observing the stylish people of Ginza, the tiny pockets of traditional Japan that we found on Ginza’s side streets were more exciting to me. We stumbled across the traditional plant shop (above) on our way back to the subway station, and spent several minutes looking at all of the clay pots and bonsai.

cute, traditional ryukan that looks like something from Ghibli's Totoro, sandwiched between skyscrapers in tokyo

The traditional ryukan that we came across on our way to the gardens (above) was probably the cutest and most unusual building I found in Tokyo. It was sandwiched between two high rise apartment buildings, and looked almost like something from Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro!

The Imperial Palace Gardens are so vast, we could have easily spent an entire day exploring them.

Tourists aren’t allowed inside the Imperial Palace itself except on special occasions, but its enormous gardens and the surrounding park are open to everyone. On the day we visited, we were pretty tired from walking around Tokyo, and ended up only seeing a small fraction of all there was to see.

While the gardens were still beautiful in November, I think they would have been more green and alive in spring or summer. However, there were some beautiful red maple trees, like those around the traditional teahouse (below).

traditional teahouse surrounded by red fall leaves in tokyo's imperial palace gardens

My favorite part of the gardens was the koi ponds and waterfalls.

pond with waterfalls and autumn trees in the imperial palace gardens in tokyo

Because the gardens are so popular and crowded, it was hard to get a good shot of the ponds. Tiers of tiny waterfalls cascaded playfully from one to another, forming a staircase of water. Little wooden bridges spanned chains of connecting round ponds, where koi fish disturbed the still water. In the distance we could see some great views of the city’s skyscrapers rising above the trees.

fall trees overlooking a small pond in tokyo's imperial palace gardens

The juxtaposition of the peaceful, ancient gardens and the surrounding bustling city made for a memorable experience.

Our walk through the gardens left us tired and hungry. At the gardens’ rest area we observed lots of Japanese couples opening bento, but we hadn’t come that prepared. Luckily, we found an awesome gyoza shop just steps from the gardens, and with its limited menu we were able to easily order in our few words of Japanese!

Views of Japan: My Travels through Tokyo, Part 2 – Meiji-Jingu

My favorite place that I visited during my and my husband’s time in Japan was Meiji-Jingu.

Meiji-Jingu is a Shinto shrine located in Harajuku, Tokyo. The shrine’s grounds are enormous, encompassing inner gardens, a teahouse, gravel paths, dozens of torii, and several large shrine buildings. There was so much to see – and everything was so beautiful – that we ended up spending most of a day there.

Meiji-Jingu’s inner gardens are vast and magical – like something out of a Japanese fairy tale.

Meiji-Jingu’s inner gardens are so quiet that you forget you’re in one of the busiest neighborhoods in Tokyo. Narrow paths wind through groves of carefully trained and curated trees, rolling grassy hills, and banks of flowers. A breeze shakes the trees, which, in November, were resplendent with autumn colors, sending dappled sunlight and spinning leaves dancing over the paths.

teahouse in the meiji-jingu shrine in tokyo, surrounded by autumn foliage

Nestled in one of the groves of trees is a traditional teahouse with a swooping roof. It was so dark under the trees that the teahouse’s lights were lit, twinkling through the leaves.

koi pond with waterlilies and fall foliage in the meiji-jingu inner gardens in tokyo

The heart of Meiji-Jingu’s gardens is its waterlily pond. The pond is unexpectedly large – more of a small lake. Its still surface is covered in waterlilies, like a painting by Monet. Beneath the waterlilies swim enormous koi.

pond filled with waterlilies and koi fish at the meiji-jingu shrine gardens in tokyo

The garden’s paths lead finally to a holy well on the outskirts of the garden, in a patch of dark, ancient forest. A stream runs from the well, irrigating the gardens and pouring finally into the pond. The magical peace and stillness that I felt at the well was like nothing I have experienced before.

The gravel paths leading to Meiji-Jingu’s shrine buildings are lined with torii and screens covered in wooden ema plaques.

There were ema plaques available for tourists to buy, to write their prayers on and hang with the others. My husband and I enjoyed reading over the plaques others had created.

By the time we reached the main shrine, the sun was beginning to set, bathing the wooden buildings in an orange and yellow glow.

golden autumn sunset in the meiji-jingu shinto shrine in tokyo

While exploring the shrine’s buildings, my husband and I were lucky enough to observe a Shinto wedding taking place at the shrine (below).

a shinto wedding party walks down the street through the meiji-jingu shrine in tokyo japan

If you’re visiting Tokyo, I can’t recommend Meiji-Jingu highly enough.

If you’re planning on visiting the inner gardens, there is a small charge to enter (5 yen apiece, I believe), but the money goes towards the gardens’ upkeep, and the experience is well worth the price.