Sunday, March 22, 2015

500 Follower Instagram Giveaway

I love Instagram. I really think it is the best place for me to share photos of my Waldorf dolls and doll clothes. Sometimes I am kind of amazed when I search for artists and cannot find them on Instagram. Why would a famous photographer with gazillions of followers on Facebook choose not be on Instagram?

I think it's the best of all social media because you can connect at lightning speed via a single Image to people all over the planet. Like the photo from this post. It was taken by Lindsey Bonnice from Livesweetphotography. Her photos are the best! Her daughter is the cutest and I enjoy following her stream every day.

If you have a small business and are not on Instagram yet you should definitely join. It's the easiest and most fun way to share your work! I am learning new things every day. Like what hashtags to use and how to do a Giveaway. If you want to participate in this Giveaway please find me on Instagram.
One lucky person will get a $25 gift card to shop at my Etsy store.

The rules to enter in the drawing are very easy:

1.Become a follower
2.Like the photo
3.Regram the picture (that repost this cute photo). You must do all three!

I will draw a name on Tuesday and announce it on Instagram. Have fun!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Biting the Hand that Feeds Us

I know there is this saying about not "biting the hand that feeds you". But what if that hand doesn't feed you enough to survive? What if a creature is being downright starved to death? It's very sad for the animal in question. Selling handmade Waldorf dolls on Etsy, one feels a little bit like a starving exotic animal these days. Luckily, I don't solely rely on that income but I know there are some folks who do, and I feel very sad for them. You may wonder what do wild animals have in common with artists selling their crafts on Etsy? To understand my analogy you may want to read April Winchell's article from March 17th, 2015. As always April hits the nail on the head.

To get a break from work, school, and obsessing over my non-sales on Etsy, our family took a little trip to The Wild Animal Sanctuary located near Keenesburg, CO yesterday.

 What is it?

quoting from the brochure we were given:
"Take a walk on wild side as you stroll over 350 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves, and other large Carnivores on one of the longest and most unique elevated pedestrian walkways in the world. The Wild Animal Sanctuary, located 30 miles northeast of Denver, recently completed construction on its monumental "Mile into the Wild" walkway."

The young woman who gave us the intro to the facility told us that there are currently 400 animals living there. All of the animals at the facility have been rescued from situations where they were kept by people under the most deplorable conditions. One wonders what kind of person would keep an exotic animal chained up in their backyard? Or there was the story of animals living on the back of a pick-up or others living in small crates. It was hard listening to these stories of terrible abuse and suffering. How could people do these things to such beautiful creatures?

We walked above the fenced in areas where the animals live now. Usually they start out in smaller fenced in spaces and cages, that are more like what they are used to in their previous life. All of the animals were born in captivity so they don't know about hunting. It was kind of amusing to see herds of bunnies hopping around among the lions and tigers who couldn't care less about them. The rescued animals are circus animals, zoo animals, or many of them were held as pets. As the animals recover and grow acclimated they get moved to bigger habitats where they learn to live together in groups.

It took us about an hour and a half to walk the whole distance of the elevated walkway. We stopped many times to look, listen, and marvel at the beauty of what we saw. At one point the lions in one of the larger fenced in areas started calling to one another. I think there were 3 different prides living together in that particular enclosed area. One male started roaring and then another male lion responded to his call saying something back. Soon enough a third guy chimed in with a message to the others. And all of a sudden it was like a concert of lions their sounds reverberating around us. I have no words to describe that moment. Amazing and wonderful don't cut it. If you are ever in the vicinity or if you live in Colorado you  MUST visit The Wild Animal Sanctuary. I am not too fond of zoos and caged animals. But this place is different. It's a happy place. A peaceful place. And I find if kind of funny how all these wild animals have found paradise on the Prairie.

Maybe some day the handmade artists on Etsy will find a new home like those lions and tigers did. Dear Etsy, I am sorry if my blog post bites you, but you have not kept the promise from when I first joined the site, and I know a bunch of artists who would make a run for it if someone started a sanctuary for us.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


When I was a child my parents sent me to a Catholic Kindergarten in Germany. Kindergarten in Germany is not part of school. It is more like a daycare and similar to what Americans refer to as Pre-K. It is usually cheap and affordable for parents since it is mostly funded through the churches. My parents paid a nominal fee for us kids to attend an all day program. Kids could come and go during the day (8 am - 5 pm) for as many hours as parents needed care for their kids.

Now I loved going to Kindergarten. Since life was often tense in my folks' home, Kindergarten was a welcome escape. In the photo you can see my Kindergarten class from 1974. I wonder what happened to all of my little friends from those days.

We were taught to address all our teachers as "Tante" (aunts, since they were all women). I loved most of my Kindergarten aunties. They were loving and sweet and taught us many things. In the photos you can see some original work from my Kindergarten folder. Imagine that! I still got it after all those years - carrying it across continents...

Figure 21. Tischdecken - How to set a table

We learned our German ABCs, colors, numbers and pretty much the same stuff  kids in the US are taught in Preschool programs. But there was ONE thing I hated about my Kindergarten. There were two play areas. One area was equipped with dolls and referred to as the Puppenecke (in translation doll corner). Across from it was a cool play station with cars and train tracks. What really bothered me about Kindergarten was that whenever I wanted to play with the "boy toys" the aunts would tell me that it was reserved for the boys and that I must go over to the doll corner. Gender stereotypes suck. It's not the first time I have written on this subject.

Figure 4. At the candystore - Im Bonbonladen
It's kind of ironic that I grew up to be a doll maker despite these early childhood experiences that didn't exactly inspire me be very fond of dolls. I surely hope that education models have changed since my childhood days in Germany. I like to imagine that all boys get to play with dolls and all girls get to hang out in the train corner and race cars these days.

Looks like I grew up to be a big strong woman. Check out the shoulders in my self-portrait from when I was 6 years old! I still remember that striped sweater, blue skirt, and the high knee socks, of course.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Surprise Box

I was feeling kind of tired and defeated last week. After working so hard on redoing my listings on Etsy, taking new photos, listing more items, rewriting descriptions over and over again - still, no orders in sight. So I went to take a nap. Nothing wrong with a good mid-day napping session, right?

Then there was a knock on the door. It was a delivery guy with a big box. My first thought was that it must be a birthday present for my daughter since it was her birthday that day. But I was wrong. It was a box sent by one of my customers who lives in another country.

I was floored. Then I felt tears welling up. How did she know? Or was this just a coincidence that this package should arrive on such a day when I was feeling really down and out about my little business?

Besides a whole bunch of amazing candy, the box held this totally groovey doll bed complete with mattress, pillow, blanket, and box of doll bandages. The theme of the box was obviously CARE & LOVE, since the blanket and the box had matching Red Cross signs sewn and painted on them.

Right now, I want to take the little dolly band - aids and stick 'em on my doll business. It is obviously ailing and in a bad way, and I just don't know how to fix it. If this downward trend continues it may not be worth to have my Etsy shop any more and I may have to close it.

However I want all the people who have been a fan of my work to know that I am utterly grateful to them. Even if I have to quit my business I have enjoyed every minute of being able to share my work with the world. I have made the most wonderful friends through my doll business and I feel utterly humbled by the kindness I have received from this customer and many others who have supported my art since I opened my business in 2008.

Via this post I want to thank you all and especially, dear Jennifer and Claire, who put together this magical box. I have never met you in person but I will always remember your kindness and thoughtfulness!

Much Love,
xo ulla

Friday, March 13, 2015

Who Came First? The Chicken - Egg Question

Was it the Chicken or the Egg? I have been pondering the age old question this week. What do you think?

While pondering I came across this darling fabric in my stash and couldn't help but make the doll clothes you see in the pictures.  This cute set is listed in my Etsyshop now. I think it would make lovely filler for a child's Easter basket. I got out my felting needles and made a tiny chick to go in the pocket. It is very small though. Keep in mind that it is NOT MADE FOR LITTLE ONES who still put toys in their mouth. Also, don't lose the little chick. It would be a tragedy!

The kids are on springbreak. It will be a fun week. No rushing to school, no lunches to make, no activities and sports. No money for a vacation either. But who needs to go away when you have a great imagination?

Now what shall I sew next today?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Birthday Cakes...

Looks like I am on a roll here. Three days of blogging in a row... Oh boy!

Today is a a special day here. My baby girl is turning 14 years old. So I had to sing her the special German birthday song this morning. It is the song I woke up to whenever I had a birthday as a little girl in Germany. This is how it goes:

"Komm schnell herein. Komm’ schnell herein. Es ist Geburtstag heut’. sing 2x
Im Kreise sind wir alle, die ganze Kinderschar. Und wϋnschen dem Geburtstagskind viel Glϋck und auch Hurra! 

"Come in quickly! Come in quickly. There is a birthday today. We are all in a circle, the whole group of children. And we wish the birthday child lots of luck and Hurray!"

I have no idea where this song came from. But that's the sound we would wake up to as children on our birthday.

Except for that one year - when my parents forgot -  my 12th birthday. Can you imagine? I was quite upset with my mom. How could a mother forget her child's birthday?

But since then a lot of time has gone by. Being a parent myself, I have learned so much. How life can get so busy and you forget important things. Or you get so rushed that you mess up. Like my daughter's birthday cake I baked late last night. Did you know that German kids get their birthday cake first thing in the morning for breakfast? At least that's how it worked at my house.

Can you say NON-non-stick. The famous Rotweinkuchen (red wine cake) just wouldn't come out of the pan. A crumbling mess....

Luckily I was able to save it by sprinkling lots and lots of powdered sugar on top.

But who can blame my poor mother for forgetting a birthday. I have long since forgiven her. I don't know how she did it, with 5 kids and a full time job. Now I just wish she was here with me to celebrate my baby doll's birthday.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Photo Backdrops

I have been trying out new backgrounds for my photo shoots. The backgrounds that came with a light box I bought on eBay many years ago are losing their luster. The white one, especially, is on it's last leg. I also don't like how one can see every little piece of lint or fuzz on white. But I cannot bring myself to spend money on new equipment at the moment. So I thought why not use some of the beautiful fabric I own. The only problem with using fabric is that it gets wrinkly. I have to iron each piece before I can take pictures. I hate ironing.

In fact, I dislike it so much that I had an agreement with my husband when I married him I would never iron his shirts. I guess the ironing trauma stems from my childhood and years of watching my mother iron every single item that came out of the laundry - with the exception of socks maybe...Ugh. I am a good German. But not that generation German I suppose. I'd rather live with wrinkled fabric...

I think the photos I took yesterday look quite pretty. I am a huge fan of the bunny picture in particular...

I would really like to own some new wrinkle free backdrops. Like a sky with clouds pattern. Or maybe some rustic wood backdrop. I just cannot afford right now. Oh well, I have lots and lots of fabric...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Spring is coming...

I can feel it in the air. Spring is on the way. As much as I love spring,  I don't care much for the springing forward of the clock. It makes people grumpy. I read in the newspaper that it's actually not good for our health. Supposedly heart attacks go up by 21% with the changing of the clocks.  Are you a fan of daylight saving time?

Well my day started with a very grumpy teenager around here...A trying morning. But now everyone is gone and I am enjoying the peace of my little studio. When stressed out, creating new dolls is the best therapy.

I realized it's been a long time since I made a little felted leaf buddy. I found two little pre-cut felt leaves waiting in my basket. I must have cut them out a long time ago. So all I needed to do is transform them into little cozy beds for the dolls.

Then the peaceful work was interrupted again. Just one of those days. Teenage boy forgot something. Another trip to school to bring the forgotten items. Oh well.

It was good to come back and finish the little ones you see in the pictures. I'd say a very productive morning - against all odds.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Ides of March

It's not the 15th of the month yet. But if I wait any longer we will reach the Ides of March before the first post. March 6th and still no post on the blog. Hmm. Looks like my slacking off when it comes to blogging has continued into the new year. But who am I kidding? I have not gotten a comment in ages it appears. Why worry? Since I am mostly talking to myself here.

Dear Blog, I'll just use this opportunity take note of all the good things that happened recently. 

1. I still love substitute teaching, and I think I am getting better at it.

2. My doll sales on Etsy have been okay. Not outstanding, but I am definitely hanging in there and selling enough to justify keeping my shop open. I just wish Etsy would stop changing stuff. The category changes were frustrating. And then this morning there was a new thing. After spending hours fixing my tags and titles it appears that all of my listings have disappeared in Google Chrome and lost relevancy. What a joke...

3. Nothing to do with dolls but positive and fun to think about: Our boys High School Basketball team made it to the State Tournament this year. My son has been mostly sitting on the bench with a couple of minutes of playing time now and then but it's been wonderful to see all the kids grow and do so well. 

4. My daughter played Basketball in Middle School and they a had a great season, too. It's kind of weird how addicted us parents become to the adrenaline rush that sets in during those games no matter what.

5. I ordered my books for teaching German in the fall. I really love the new book, and I am working hard on some lesson plans. 

6. I revamped many of my listings and took some new photos of many items. Not sure that it helped with sales. But I am proud of my hard work and never giving up in the face of adversity. 

7. I had a wonderful lunch with a good friend this week. We had not seen each other in a very long time. If you have such a friend who you have not seen in a while, do call them and make time for them. It was the best balm for the soul!

8. I made a new gnome outfit for little Wilhelmina cutting into my precious Heather Ross gnomes fabric. That fabric always cheers me up. But now I cannot decide whether it looks better with the red toadstool bonnet or the rust red pointy hat with matching pointy hat elf baby in pocket. You tell me!

I would be so glad if you are reading and you left me a note. Maybe you want to tell me about something good that happened in your life!