But they're so expensive.....

Ah yes, every handcrafter's favorite refrain.

Does it surprise you that I sound a little snarky?  It shouldn't.  Remember, I work with teenagers in my day job.  Snark is my daily tone.  It should, instead, surprise you that I make dolls.  Lord knows it surprises the bejeebers out of my students!

So, why do these little dolls cost so much money?  Well, two reasons.  Supplies and Michelle-hours.  That's right.  Quality supplies cost money.  The wool I use on my mermaids' hair is hand dyed and often hand spun.  The fabulous Rachel  at ontheround.com is an artist who deserves to be paid for her work - and that cost has to get recouped.  And, because hand-crafters are a supportive lot, she sometimes sends me bits and pieces of yarn to play with.  She's earned my loyalty - even though there are other fiber artists out there whose work isn't as as costly.  Then, there's Michelle hours.  While I was on vacation, I clocked some time in.  A bunting baby, start to finish, is 2 hours.  Add a little bit of bang under its hood, and it's another half hour.  Dolls with complicated wigs can take me up to 8 hours.

Now, I don't sit down and do a doll at a time.  I don't know a crafter out there who doesn't do things in blocks.  Cutting dresses.  Cutting out bodies.  Running all same-skin-tone  body parts up on the machine at a time.  Sewing all the feet.  Stuffing heads.  Doing eyes.  It's an assembly line of sorts - which is ironic, really, given that these are handmade dolls.  BUT from time to time, an idea strikes, and the assembly line goes away.

That happened yesterday.  Rachel sent me some yarn that just HAD to become hair.  And not just any hair, but fairy hair.  Friends, I've never made a fairy doll in my life.  I'm experimenting with a new wig technique for a mop of curls.  I'm trying to figure out how to do wings with some felt - and maybe some sparkly beading?  Maybe some glitter glue?  How do I adapt a vest pattern to put the wings on the inside?  Do I make it a permanent part of the doll, or do I make them part of a vest?   What about a skirt?  Felt pants?  WHAT???

This is what's happening in my head right now.  The fairy doll is partially assembled.  But the other questions - they're Michelle-hours.  The failed experiments on scrap that the teacher in me calls "opportunities for growth"?  The manipulations of patterns to try a modified design?  The hours in faculty meetings when I'm actually sewing doll feet?  (My boss understands I don't sit well without disrupting other kids...)  I have to add these up too.

So why are they so expensive?  Because giving you my best work, and a part of my heart, is what I do every time I make a doll for your special someone.

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I could not have said it myself – I only wish I could knit in work meetings, but sadly I don’t think my boss would ‘get it’


Very good article. People seem shocked that we want to compensated for time and materials. I see, you’ll give $10 for this pair of socks?? I paid $25 for the yarn so…no I don’t think so.???

Marie Dinkler

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