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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.


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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