Friday, March 27, 2009

How long does it take to make a German Doll?

I get this question a lot. So I thought I should devote one of my blog entries to it.

Often people will ask me if there is a discount when they buy more than one of my dolls. Then I have to tell them that making a Waldorf style doll takes many hours of work. Most of the work is done by hand. If you know how to sew or have ever attempted the task of making a cloth doll from scratch you may know how hard it is, and how much labor goes into the production of a single doll.
Aside from the fact that the materials I use are high quality, hard to come buy, and mostly shipped to me from faraway places because I cannot buy them at the local store - the price of a Waldorf style doll is mostly explained through the many hours of labor that go into it. Here is a list of the many steps it takes to make a doll:

1. Washing every piece of fabric and materials that goes into the dolls, ironing: 1 hour
2. Tracing and cutting out the body from interlock fabric: 20 minutes
3. Making a shaped doll head : 40 minutes
4. Sewing and turning the body: 30 minutes
5. Stuffing the body: 45 minutes
6. Sewing on legs, arms, head: 1 hour
7. Embroidering the face, putting on blusher: 30 minutes
8. Making the hair/wig, sewing it to the head: 1 - 1.5 hours
9. Making the doll clothes: 1-1.5 hours
10. Putting on final touches: 30 minutes
Total: 8 hours

Of course each doll is different. Depending on the clothes and what hairstyle, the production time may vary. But when you look at my list, please understand that I cut no corners. Whether I make 1 or 10 dolls the labor remains the same. Maybe I can save a few minutes if I trace and cut 10 doll bodies and make a number of heads at once. My husband and children find it quite amusing whenever I am having a “ head making day.”
To turn out a high-quality German Doll I must put in at least 8 hours of labor per doll. It also takes time to order and search out materials. After a doll is finished it has to be put on my virtual “store shelf.’ Taking pictures and listing an item is one more step not included on my list. Getting it to the customer all wrapped up and pretty another…
So really when you consider all the hours of labor that go into one of my sweet dolls, my asking price does not seem all that high any more. I have to pay myself at least minimum wage to continue…
Each doll is a little work of art. I enjoy the process of creating each little personality.
I tremendously enjoy being able to stay at home with my kids. I also like being my own boss, manager, advertising agent, photographer, shipper, wrapper, accountant, and and and….

It sure beats working at Walmart…

12 comments:

nuvonova said...

I think it's wonderful you have put this on your blog.. a lot of people really underestimate the time and effort gone into making things.

I can't believe each doll is 8 hrs, that's amazing.

I love the babydolls in your etsy avatar !

viltk said...

I think it's good that you pointed all your labour time out!
Give yourself a wage per hour, you deserve it. Great dolls!!!

germandolls said...

Thanks for your comments! I think many people on etsy don't really figure a wage. If they really thought about all the hours they put in they might ask more for their work. It makes me sad when I see people sell Waldorf Dolls for $50 and under. No way they are even making minimum wage...Yes, we must pay ourselves for our hard work.

Meikemuis said...

You're absolutely right, I think most people really have no idea of the amount of time that goes into creating a doll. 8 hours, minimum! And that's not even counting the creative process of figuring out which type of doll you'll be making next. And yes, too cheaply priced Waldorf dolls make me sad as well - because they also undermine our right to ask what we deserve as dollmakers. Yeah! :)

The Handmaden said...

I must say, you work faster than I do, it can take me twice as long to make a doll. I can't believe it when potential customers ask me if I can give them a better deal. Thanks for this post. Your dolls are beautiful by the way.

germandolls said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
germandolls said...

You are absolutely right, Meike. The time that does not show up on my list is the time of the creative process in the head. To make a doll with personality you need lots of time. I cannot just crank one out like a machine...

I just tried to make a list of the physical process. The stitching and actual labor time.
When I first started making dolls it took me a lot longer, handmaden. But practice makes perfect - as they say.

Fröken Skicklig said...

I came to your blog though Jurga, one of your blog followers. I am making dolls, too, and I totally agree with you - it takes so many hours! And it depends so much on the size...

My dolls are about 30-55cm tall and for the biggest dolls (55cm) I have to work about three days to finish them.

Actually selling our dolls means already selling a gift since we never could get paid for the actual working hours and material costs.

And we should count in all the hours we need for inspiration, for walks through the woods, for looking on children´s faces, for an exhibition to get new ideas from...

Thank you for this post! And warm greetings from Berlin, Germany

Sara said...

People just don't realiez the time it takes to make a quality item. Your post is quite timely for me as I am making my son a doll for his birthday. I had forgotten how long it takes me to make a doll. I've only ever made a few dolls as it's not my usual craft.

Your work is lovely!

Sarahlcc♥ said...

You're very fast making the dolls in 8 hours, I'm quite sure it would take me quite a bit longer to make one!

Miranda said...

This is a great post Ulla, I put a link to it on my blog:)
http://modestmillie.blogspot.com/

germandolls said...

I can't believe I missed all those great comments. I feel honored by all the great comments and people who stopped by. Greetings back to Berlin. You know, I left part of my heart there when I left Berlin...