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Honour the Child

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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Tuesday, 10 February 2009
Every once in a while I get a comment left on Flickr or made elsewhere about how creepy it is that my felted people have no faces. At first I am a little offended, then I get a giggle (because it is kind of true in a someone-used-to-horror genre kind of way, I suppose) and then I let it go. Because I am happy with my faceless creations!

The 'blank' faces arise from the Waldorf tradition of leaving toys/ dolls with 'open' faces which allow the child to supply the expressions and emotions with their imagination. Which is a wonderful practice and extends both trust and possibility to the child, as well as the ability to more fully direct their own play.

As I have been doing more sculpture, including customs of families, I have become even more enamoured of the open faces.

First of all, I am terrified of making faces! Always have been, whether painting, drawing or felting.

I also know that there is no way that I can create a true likeness of a beloved child's face~ but that if I provide the physical shape, skin tone, hair and so on, the last piece, the mobile, amazing and unique face simply slips into place in eye of the beholder. A mother will render her child's face much more true in the mind's eye than I can do in wool and I love that. I think it is deeply appropriate.

In this way, even as I build my custom figures with their complete bodies (even if parts of this remain unseen!), I do not feel they are complete until they are beheld by the one called them into being~ to the casual observer, the face may be empty, but to the one who recognizes that shape, that tilt of the head and fall of the hair, the face is alive.

2 comments:

angela said...

I love your faceless faces and think it's amazing how much their tilt or look does give. I'm a needlefelt person sometimes too and I actually cannot not make a face--it's usually the nose that grabs me and I'm just lost from there. You're meant to make what you're meant to make. I love the Waldorf tradition too. All of it.

Helen + ilana = Hi said...

When I first brought my son to Waldorf I thought the dolls were...well ... creepy. But I listened to the teacher, made dolls and played with my boy. Less than a year later we were walking through a toy store and I saw a plastic grinning baby doll...... Creepy!! My eldest is about to graduate from Class 8 -- guess you know where I stand on Waldorf!

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