LAYTON — Using all-natural materials and a whole lot of imagination, Sara Curtis creates dolls with oodles of personality.
The 39-year-old mother of four began making by hand what she calls “Waldorf-inspired” dolls about two and a half years ago.
“They are fashioned after Steiner/Waldorf, which is a whole philosophy of how children should be educated ... The dolls are 100 percent natural,” Curtis said.
“The philosophy suggests that children learn better when everything around them is natural.”
The philosophy also focuses on practical and artistic learning with an emphasis on imagination.
However, Curtis stipulates that her dolls are “Waldorf-inspired,” as true Waldorf dolls lack facial expressions, and she prefers dolls with personality.
“I am not a philosopher. I just like the toys,” she said.
While Waldorf dolls have a significant online following, only five or six people in Utah make them, Curtis said.
She has sold more than 100 of her dolls through Etsy.com, a website that helps artists market their goods. Her Etsy shop, LolliPoppyDolls, has customers from across the globe.
“I have dolls in all parts of the world — Australia, Sweden, pretty much everywhere,” she said.
Most dolls, which are 10 to 16 inches tall, take her about 25 hours to complete and sell online for about $200.
She uses all-natural materials to make her dolls. When she hasn’t been able to find the needed materials locally, she has searched across the globe.
She has purchased fabrics and materials from as close to home as Layton and as far away as the Netherlands.
Curtis said she designs a pattern for a doll and invents a personality for it as she sews.
“Personalities come out as I create them. Some are really sweet; some are little stinkers. Maybe that’s just my process of making them — how much trouble they give me,” she said with a laugh.
The personalities become part of her sales process as she describes each doll in her Etsy store.
“I really like creating personalities for them,” Curtis said.
She pointed out a red-haired little boy doll wearing dressy overalls with a T-shirt and tennis shoes.
“As I was sewing him, I was thinking, ‘I want him to be like this little rebellious guy whose mom made him put on his Easter clothes, but he wanted to wear his tennis shoes and his skater shirt.’ I think silly things like that.”
Curtis pointed out another doll wearing a fancy dress with what she calls “funky” red rain boots.
Curtis adds characteristics — rosy cheeks, freckles, dimples, chubby cheeks and belly buttons — that make each doll unique.
The skin for her dolls is made from cotton tricot, a material specially fabricated for making dolls. Curtis buys several different colors of fabrics to make the dolls distinctive.
For the stuffing, she uses wool purchased from a Pennsylvania farm.
“What’s neat about wool is that it takes on the warmth and smell of a child, so it becomes a thing of comfort,” Curtis said.
She stuffs the dolls very tightly because wool compresses over the years. As they are played with, the dolls become more flexible and soft.
Wool yarn, which can range widely in color and texture, is used for the dolls’ hair.
Many of Curtis’ dolls have brightly colored, curly hair. Some of the hair for the baby dolls is crocheted with mohair, a type of wool yarn that has fibrous strands.
Making the dolls is a hobby that Curtis said she really enjoys, with the added benefit of extra income.
She said she has made all of her children their own doll and enjoys the creations so much she has even saved a few of her favorites for herself.