Thursday, July 23, 2009

Crafty Thursday: Three Fairy Tales and a Saint with her Star Boy

It's evening as I write this, and I need to prepare for a storytelling gig tomorrow at the Children's Museum. Saturday I have a gig at Ravenna Third Place Books, and then next weekend, I have two birthday party gigs. I'm glad that the storytelling business is picking up again. Even with the economy the way it is, it's unpredictable. You may wonder how I have time to sew! Hint: it's the only work I successfully do while taking care of my daughter at the same time. She provides lots of opinions, and sometimes even gets the urge to try a little stitching. When that happens, I drop everything and work with her on simply getting used to pulling needle and thread in and out of the cloth.

I've started making more dolls based on folk and fairy tales. Currently in the shop is a Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty storytelling set that features Briar Rose as both a 15 year old and a baby:

About 10 minutes before I started this post, I listed Vasilissa's Doll:

If you are unfamiliar with the Russian fairytale of Vasilissa the Brave and her encounter with the terrifying Baba Yaga, please visit Sur La Lune to read the story. The little doll that Vasilissa's mother made for her before the mother's death is one of my two main inspirations for dollmaking. (The other is M.B. Goffstein's Goldie the Dollmaker.)

Yesterday, I spent a lot of time making a Snow White doll with a little felt box containing representations of the comb, the laces and the poisoned apple. The colors are based upon the dress Snow White wears when she flees through the forest in the Nancy Eckholm Burkert version. Lucia does not want this doll to go into the shop. She wants the doll for her own. I understand. (7/25 edit: She now has a Snow White doll made to her specifications, though she said, "The hair doesn't have much of a part." The doll is white and yellow with blue roses, pink wheat-ear stitching, and a pinch of dried lavender inside.)

Here is the Snow White doll with the felt box of storytelling props:

The Vasilissa and Snow White stories turn me inside out. It is one thing for the hero of a story to start out with parents who have died, but in both Vasilissa and Snow White, the reader gets to meet the mothers briefly and know of their love for their daughters before they die. Trina Schart Hyman's depiction of Snow White's mother in particular gets to me. In her face is so much expectation and longing for the baby she will never get to hold, and who will have such a hard life as a result of the mother's death. Fairy tales are often meant to be two-dimensional archetypes, but the details in these two stories are so rich with significance that I find the Disney version of the movie a little hard to take and hope that no one ever attempts a mainstream version of Vasilissa without consulting me first. (Ha!)

Let us end with light. While Santa Lucia Day is not until December 13, I plan to list this Santa Lucia doll with her accompanying Star Boy sometime in the next few days. (Edit: here is the listing.) May the person who goes looking for it actually find it. While the Swedish Santa Lucia is depicted as a blonde, the girls who dress as Santa Lucia for the procession have all kinds of hair colors. That's why my first Santa Lucia has brown hair:

If you are interested in looking at the listings of Snow White and Santa Lucia dolls when they become available, you are welcome to subscribe to the shop feed here.

P.S. Sometime in the past 24 hours, someone became the 100,000th visitor. Yay! I wish I'd had a screen-capture for that.


Lone Star Ma said...

Gorgeous! Wow! But none of us are going to buy Snow White now - Lucia might be sad!

Saints and Spinners said...

Thanks, LSM! Fear not, I have assured Lucia that I will make a Snow White doll especially for her. What she really wants is a dolly with lots of white and parted hair. I thought I would do a combination of Snow White and the Snow Maiden.

Kathleen said...

So, what is the significance of the Star Boy?

Saints and Spinners said...

Kathleen: In Swedish families, the Star Boys wear cone hats with stars on them and process with St. Lucia to sing and carry the trays of bread and hot coffee to the grownups. In my daughter's school, they do not have hats. Both girls and boys process down the halls, as do the teachers with wet cloths. To date, St. Lucia's crown has never set anything on fire, but it pays to be cautious.

There's a good chance my daughter will dress as Santa Lucia in 2nd grade as she's doing a third year of kindergarten. However, I've told her that it's not guaranteed, as someone older we do not yet know may be in her class. I hope she gets to be Santa Lucia, though.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

As always, I wish I could see you perform. Break a leg.

These dolls are BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL. And I love this whole post and your passion for it all. Everything.

Now I'm gonna find that Vasilissa tale. I REALLY have to purchase another library card for Nashville Public (I'm out of the county and have to pay); mine expired. They have waaaay more stories. I don't think I have that one here at home.

(Piper says, "I love those dolls," and she's ooh'ing and aah'ing a lot.)

adrienne said...

I have never heard of this Star Boy with the hot coffee and the bread. He sounds like a good sort of person to have around.

I'm glad to hear the storytelling and the doll-making is going well.

Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

Love love the Santa Lucia and Star Boy. I have one of each, and we look forward to December 13 and the puffy apple pancake the kids make for our breakfast (or dinner--mornings can be busy). But your other dolls are beuatiful, too--thank you for sharing the stories, traditional and personal, behind them.

KateW said...

I experience the same feeling about Disney. I mean, my students are so shocked when they find out that the original "Show White" did not include dwarfs with names and a dirty little house.
They will try "Vasilisa" eventually. Shudder.
I think it is interesting that my students tend to prefer the original tales far more than the Disney ones, once they have been introduced to them.
As usual, love the dolls. Must resist. Must resist.

Schelle said...

Adorable - as always :D Great work!!! Glad to hear the storytelling is picking up too :)

Lone Star Ma said...

On a related note, my older daughter got in trouble with relatives today when her response to their question of if she liked the (Disney) Little Mermaid included the words misogynistic and patriarchal and that she liked the original tale's more fitting ending.

mamakopp said...

You are amazing!

Saints and Spinners said...

Mamakopp: Aw, thanks!

LSM: My first reaction was "Rock on, LoneStarGirl." What made the movie work for me was the music. As far as I'm concerned, "Kiss the Girl" was the last great Disney-based music breakaway hit (though I was charmed against my will by the song and dance numbers of "Enchanted").

Schelle: Thanks! Your stitching on that blue-footed booby has inspired me anew.

KateW: I'm glad to hear it. For some reason, the changes to "Beauty and the Beast" didn't bother me as much as the changes to "Snow White". Perhaps it's because Beauty and the Beast is a gentle literary tale and I figured Disney would have to throw in something random to make it violent, but the fairy tale of "Snow White" is so grand and full of plot that an adaptation untrue to the original seems pointless.

Anamaria: Puffy apple pancakes? No one told me! I can do puffy apple pancakes far more easily than Lucia bread, which I've done only once. I'd really like to see what your Lucia and Star Boy dolls look like, if that's possible.

Adrienne: I think my husband is Star Boy.

Jules: I'm glad Piper likes the dolls! I really hope the CPSIA gets amended so that they can be for children under 12. ;) Let me know what you think of Vasilissa. I first learned about her in college, when I was shelving books and found Clarissa Pinkola Estes' Women Who Run With the Wolves in the returns pile. I felt so empowered just having the book on my cart. (As a page, I used to keep a stash of books I wanted to take home on the bottom of my bookcart. Understandably, my boss didn't want me running back to my cubby every time I found a book I wanted. As a result, I had to guard my stash from curious patrons.)

Jules at 7-Imp said...

Farida, my local library has Estes' book. I just put it on hold. Woot!

Charlotte said...

How lovely! I especially like Vasilissa's expression...

Someday can I come to your house and make dolls with you and Lucia? I want to play too!

Saints and Spinners said...

Jules: Yay!

Charlotte: Yes!

(Written right after my "too hot to think" post). By the way, as I write this, both Snow White and Santa Lucia have gone out to wonderful homes.