Tuesday, April 27, 2010

PlayPals...........received well at Juniper Village!

"Making connections" to me means making a difference.............this is why I make my little dollies! No kidding, this is the icing on the cake! I spent a few hours with the Social Worker, Donna, and my dolls........ meeting some of the Juniper Village family and walked away with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart.

Look at these happy unions! Making dolls for me is about making a connection and by extension, making a difference. I think we did that today! All of the people you see here were very excited about receiving a doll. Each person made their doll choice thoughtfully and vowed to care for their doll with compassion and love. I jokingly said to one women, you can sleep with the dolls too................she replied with daggers in her eyes.........."no I won't, they are too special." I had an opportunity to speak with every person who wanted a doll and as I left the building everyone was holding tightly to their PlayPal with smiles on their faces.

Thank you Juniper Village for this amazing opportunity; me sharing my dolls with and you sharing your smiles and giggles with me!

Social Worker, Donna and Juniper Village Director, Jill Weinger suggested the dolls be smaller than larger. It makes perfect sense that the dolls for elders [in care centers] be smaller, to hold and cuddle. The larger dolls children use as companions in play therapy or the larger doll becomes an adult who the child sees as a relationship needing work. Children seem to be drawn to larger dolls more "their size"; the larger doll is like having a peer beside you and the smaller doll suggests care needed...............so size does matter! At least with these dolls.

Be thoughtful about your need for a doll and together we can work to determine the size of the doll for you, your clients, or your children.

Signing out..........have a peaceful day and enjoy what you do,
EC Hanson

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Happy Customer!

This is Dawn. She's a therapist who recently purchased the two dolls you see with her on the sofa. She gave me permission to show you this picture of her and the dolls and where they now live! Read what she has to say:

I have been meaning to send this and just haven't had a chance! This isn't a great picture, but I thought you might like to see where the dolls will be "living." I'm very excited about them, and it has been fun to see my clients reactions. Some have been a little standoffish from them because they are new, and others have been drawn instantly. Anyway, I love them and am thrilled at the ones I picked!
Thanks so much!"


Dawn, thanks so much for sending this shot and for allowing others to view it and to read your remarks. I hope you will send follow-up remarks as you get to know the dolls and your kids get to know the dolls as well!

For anyone who reads this and has some of my dolls for their own children or who use them in their therapy, please send me some feed back; how the dolls are used, are they loved, do they evoke stories, and how they fit into your lives!

Signing out,
EC Hanson

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Why Do They Cost So Much?"

This is a question I hear a lot. Here are the reasons and when you know the reasons you may ask, "Why don't you charge more?" I've said more than once, that it takes me 3 1/2 to 4 hours to make each doll. The materials per doll cost on average about $15 give or take a little, sometimes up to $20. I really make an effort to keep the cost down. I make each body part one at a time, put it all together; create the face, fingers, toes, hair, and personality. I live 30 miles out of town so getting supplies takes time. I am actually pretty good with time economy so I do lots of things on one trip; pick up the stuffing, the clothes, etc. Then I wash all the clothes since they are clothes that actual children have worn. The face and the hair take the most time, each process can take up to an hour. After creating all the limbs loosely, I work on the head. I create the actual face first so I can "get to know" each doll. That then, determines what he/she will be wearing. It is time to fine-tune the limbs so I work on one arm then the other, etc. until I am able to assemble all the parts and Voila........a dolly. It is then that I begin working on the hair do which can be quite challenging and much of the hair choice [as with any person] is determined by the personality or attitude! Which is why I chose the guy in the corner to represent the dolls for this conversation! Can you hear him explaining this to you? He cracks me up!

So..................there you have it. As an artist I know that I will never be paid realistically by time alone, but I love creating ........ so I do. What's really funny is.......I am really fast and I have been making them for so long that I have the time down to the bare bones. I like to keep each doll different with personality so the child or adult can choose the one that speaks to them. Big, small, it doesn't seem to matter unless the doll is life size, the adult life size:) That doll is more expensive -

One fact that I think is worth noting; the dolls last for a very long time. True enough, I use very good materials so the dolls are extremely sturdy. Cindy Caparosa Sniscak, Play Therapist and owner of The Beech Street Program has been using my dolls for 15 years. [You can read a quote from Cindy below.] I have made a few repairs on her dolls and they have taken some hard hits. In a play therapist's "playroom" the dolls take real beatings sometimes, literally! They last for years and they clean up very well. I use natural products so they are easy to touch and don't get snaggy:( I work with my hands all the time and if I can't touch it, I won't use it! I want these dolls to be hugged and allowed to be close to the body of children. I will not use fabric or thread that won't hold up under the stress of love or the torture of a child working out some trauma. Now for the dolls I use yarn that I can buy fairly inexpensively .......the reason for that is that children like to cut hair and tie it into knots so you should not worry if that happens. I can repair it very reasonably..............so far for the shipping and the materials, no labor charges.

Cindy Caparosa Sniscak has this to say, "Playpals have been staples in all of my playrooms and offices since their inception. Over the past 15 years, I have amassed a collection of different ages, skin tones, expressions, and outfits. They have been heavily used in both directive play therapy sessions as well as child centered sessions and offer our child clients opportunities for therapeutic work in many thematic areas. They have been used to work on nurturance, aggression, trauma, victim, perpetrator, good, evil, power, control, anxiety, loss and family and relationship themes. These dolls have been given roles such as perpetrator, robber, victim, jury, police officer, sibling, baby, parent and student. They are wonderful props that offer endless possibilities for creativity in children’s play. They are artistically made, durable and can be easily cleaned. You would be lucky to own one."

Thank you Cindy for those comments :) Cindy will be sending a picture of the dolls in her playroom and I will post that when the picture arrives!

Update on shipping: I just raised my shipping charges to cover the doll getting to most areas in a few days fully insured. I can actually ship two dolls in one box for the same money so that is a benefit for sure. Costs for shipping have gone up every where so I use USPS to ship. I will ship Mondays and Wednesdays. If you have a "doll emergency" please let me know. You can contact me through this sight by making a comment and leave me your contact information or you can go to my website: www.playpals.etsy.com and begin a conversation. That's all! EC Hanson

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Why Don't You Write a Story?

I've been creating dolls for about 20 years now; the first dolls for my kids before our move to Colorado, with the intention of my children having a companion on our long drive west. Considering all the dolls I've made [now 704] I've never created a story to go with a doll. People have asked me why I don't create a story or give each doll a name............mainly for the purpose of "advertising or kitschy drama" to generate a sale. I've given this idea a lot of thought. My reasons for not giving each doll a name are these: I believe that everyone who buys a doll or is given a doll has the right or the honor to name it. The doll's life or story should be created by the child or the adult who holds it. When that person squeezes the doll and gazes into the dolly's face, a story unfolds and a connection is formed...........on it's own without my assistance or direction.
See here on the right!

A connection such as this in the play therapists office is........the most important connection.......... each child creates a scenario that allows them to move through whatever trauma they need to move through.

In a child's arms in their own 'playrooms' that connection is also important; a bond, an attachment to someone else, a safe friend who doesn't judge, a buddy on a long trip, or a confidant to share their dreams, their secrets, and their woes.

Who am I to name a doll for you or to create a life for them before you arrive? With any luck, each doll that I create will have a personality that captures just the right person finding a home that is good for them.

I awoke with an idea today! Not an uncommon occurrence; what if you send me an outfit that was your favorite when your child was growing up; you tell me what color hair, eyes, and skin color and I create a doll just for you and your family! Of course, it will never be duplicated as with my other dolls. I have never been willing to make the same doll over and over; each doll is one of a kind! The most important element here is that you get to choose an outfit from the start. Just a thought.
Let me know what you think..........

One of the things that I really appreciate about these dolls is that generally, they are not so 'gender specific'. If you or your children like, you can put on clothes that will depict a boy or girl; put on a hair clip or a bow to identify as boy or a girl; you can add glasses and a necktie or a fancy skirt. What if the doll gets dirty? These dolls are very easy to clean up; if the fingers and toes get dirty or you get a smudge on his/her face, just use a cloth with light soap and water to clean up. If the whole doll is in need of a washing; put the wash cycle on gentle, place your little doll in a pillow case and pin or tie closed. While it tumbles and turns in the washing machine the hair is protected, the painted eyes will not come off, and the body comes out clean! If after time, you find the wear and tear on the "hair-do" is too much, I will make a repair! Let me know, we can speak about the how-to's to get repairs done. You can e-mail me or contact me through this site.

As you can see, no two dolls look alike.............that's the way I like it. Chances are I will continue creating dolls because I love making them. I think they have many purposes and they seem to make people happy. I know they make me happy! I hope to hear from you now and then.

Off to paint some umbrellas to keep the summer sun off your face! I will share the newly finished umbrellas next post!

Enjoy the day, Happy Easter!
EC Hanson