The book itself is a delight – chunky and square, full of bright and enchanting pictures of beautiful peg people, and inspiringly straightforward and gorgeously illustrated tutorials. But I think my favourite part is the very last chapter, entitled Tell Me a Story.
Here we are shown how to create peg characters to bring some of our best-loved fairy tales to life. There is a witch, a helpful woodsman, and I expect you can guess who these little pegs are…
[Photo is Margaret Bloom's own, shared with her permission.]
Very relevant to this lovely section of the book are a few sentences from the introduction, conveying an idea that is close to my heart.
“A distinctive aspect of Waldorf peg doll design is the custom of leaving the faces of dolls unpainted. The idea behind this is to offer children an opportunity to project features and emotions onto the dolls. This, in turn, may create further possibility for imaginative and emotional development” (Bloom, 2012:p10).
Most of the dolls featured in the book do in fact have faces but they are minimal and neutral, ready to reflect whatever is being imagined around them. This results in a wonderful open-endedness in the stories told to and by children using these beautiful creations, and I think it is a huge part of their magic.
I have the very good fortune to be in possession of four Margaret Bloom original peg dolls and even though I am between homes at the moment and have very little in the way of ‘stuff’ with me, these made it into one of my boxes of essential small things because they are so loved by young visitors. I thought I might share one of my favourite of the stories that have I have seen played out by these dolls.
The Nest Angels
A bluebird lay awake in her nest because it was a bit small for her and she couldn’t quite get comfortable. A nearby owl hooted loudly over and over again.
“This is hopeless,” she said to herself. “I’ll never be able to get to sleep!”
The stars shone very brightly, as they sometimes do. But when they began to shine even more brightly than the moon, the bluebird sat up in her nest. Something strange was happening.
Two stars came closer and closer to her nest and that was when the bluebird saw that they were not stars at all, but angels.
“We’ve come to show you your new nest,” they said. “It’s bigger and much more comfy than this little one.”
The bluebird was very pleased that the nest angels had come because she knew it would be much easier to sleep in a nest that was the right size. But she was also a bit sad, because the small nest had once been the perfect size and it had been her home for as long as she could remember.
The angels introduced her to the new owner of the little nest, a small forget-me-not fairy.
The fairy tested the nest shyly. Then she snuggled in. The angels sang a nest-warming song and the forget-me-not fairy began to look so cosy and sleepy that the bluebird couldn’t help singing along too.
When the fairy was asleep, the bluebird flew with the angels to a nearby tree where a bigger nest was waiting.
It didn’t feel much like home at first, but the angels sang another nest-warming song and the bluebird fluffed up her feathers and hopped in. Before long she began to feel it was the snuggest place she had ever known.
At last the owl became silent, but the moon was still shining as the bluebird fell asleep, safe in her new nest.
If you would like to follow Making Peg Dolls along its tour around the blogging world, here is the schedule:
February 5th: The Magic Onions
February 6th: The Toymaker
February 7th: Clean
February 8th: Anna Branford (hooray!)
February 11th: Red Bird Crafts
February 12th: Art is a Way
February 13th: Softearth’s World
February 14th: Chocolate Eyes
February 15th: Rhythm and Rhyme
February 18th: Wild Faerie Caps
February 19th: Sacred Dirt
In the meantime, Making Peg Dolls is available on Amazon here. If you are in the USA you can find it at Barnes & Noble here. But if you live a little bit closer to me, in Victoria, Australia, then to my great pride and delight you will soon find it in one of my favourite shops in all the world – Epoche.