There’s just something so special about the bond between children and pets. It’s beautiful to witness, and I’m sure many of us can think back to many a childhood hour spent in the company with our four-legged best friends of our youth.
I loved the sassiness of the little girl that I felt from her photos! Her fabulous outfit was to consist of denim dungarees, a stripey tee, leggings and trainers. I want to dress like this kid when I’m a grown up! With her hair in that classic “half up, half down” style, I loved every second of recreating her spirit in tiny wooden doll form.
I love creating stripey clothes on my peg dolls. It take a bit of a patience and very stead hand, but I find it very therapeutic. It always gives a striking result too! I hope stripes don’t go out of fashion!
And the dog was a pretty cool canine too, sporting a pretty little floral bandana! The bandana fabric was blue, dotted with little pink roses with yellow leaves. So very pretty indeed.
Is there a cool kid and his cat, or a little person and their parrot or a friend and their fish that you’d like immortalised forever?!
My peg dolls are ornaments, not toys, they make a perfect record of this unique and special bond between children and pets, serving as a beautiful memory of their friendship in years to come. Drop me a line using the contact form, and we can chat about your ideas!
It’s so exciting to finally release my Hiraeth and Cwtch Welsh Doll peg ladies! Of course, there’s more about them at the end of this post! But knowing that lots of my customers aren’t Welsh, I thought I will talk about what Hiraeth is, and what does Hiraeth mean to me!
Hiraeth is the welsh word for a deep longing or wistfulness for days gone by, for your homeland. For a place from your past that may have disappeared and can’t be returned to. It is felt deep in your heart and soul. It’s a small word that encompasses so much nostalgia and deep feeling!
It’s something that even I must admit I didn’t really understand until recently. Owing to my Dad’s job, I had the privilege of growing up to my mid teens in a special, historic location. With it’s red brick and grey window frames, our little bungalow almost looks fashionable again! We had no neighbours, 12 square miles of woodland to play in (including a beautiful waterfall) as well as 14 acres of gorgeous maintained gardens to ride our bikes around all weekend. Childhood bliss! The site was previously a mansion belonging to a prestigious Victorian family who were pioneers in botany and photography. The observatory from were they took some of the first photographs of the moon still stands there today. I loved where we lived, and appreciated both the beauty and the heritage of the site.
Above: My sister and I, in traditional Welsh Costume, outside our childhood home.
But times change… Local council boundaries were redrawn, the offices that my father was caretaker of on the site eventually became disused, and we moved. The site remained unused for years, until a housing developer eventually bought the land. They bulldozed the offices and built houses there – not without controversy.
Of course, in the process my old home of 15 years was razed to the ground. The place where I grew up. Where I passed many of life’s important early milestones. And where I still enjoyed visiting for a walk every so often. A place that held such a huge part of my heart, that my soul felt forever attached to. Gone forever.
I genuinely felt a loss, and a longing to be able to go back to how it was years ago.
This is the essence of Hiraeth.
I recently “plucked up the courage” to go and drive through the new houses. The observatory has been kept owing to it’s historical importance. But otherwise I found it hard to orientate myself and work out where things (including my old home) once were. It was highly emotional and took everything I had not to be moved to tears!
So…this is what Hiraeth means to me, and why it led to me creating a hiraeth gift! I’d had a plan for Welsh Dolls for over three years, but this recent experience made me think about how it would be lovely to create something that would be the perfect way of sharing a piece of Wales with someone who is perhaps further afield from their native soil.
Both the Hiraeth and Cwtch gifts are packed with lots of well-researched details.
The Hiraeth Welsh Lady Doll is wearing a more modern traditional Welsh Costume, with many details heralding from the 20th century. She has a black skirt underneath a heavy, full length, red gown, which historically would have been made of flannel woven in a local Welsh wool mill. Her neat, white blouse has balloon cuffs.
Her black and white checked apron is almost full length, and would have protected her gown from dirt.
She wears a pretty red cotton shawl printed with daffodils; something that would have been reserved for special occasions. As with all of my peg dolls, the details are running all around the doll; here’s a closer 360° view:
I also have another Welsh lady available.
Proudly holding her bunting, my Cwtch Welsh Doll is the perfect way of showing a special someone just how much you care about them, as Cwtch is the Welsh word for hug. There is nothing warmer and more comforting than a great big Welsh cwtch!
The Cwtch Welsh Lady Doll is wearing a traditional Welsh Costume. She is has a black and red checked bedgown, which historically would have been made of flannel woven in a local Welsh wool mill. Underneath this she has a red woollen skirt and white blouse.
Her fringed shawl is grey – a typical colour for a traditional Welsh shawl of this style, however I gave her a more modern polka-dot pattern to give my design a fresh edge. On her head she is wearing a cockle-style Welsh hat, with a lace-edged mob cap gently peeping out from underneath. These hats were traditionally woven from straw, but are now usually made from felt.
The black and red checked gown and cockle shape hat were predominantly worn by the women of Swansea and the surrounding Valleys.
Here she is in all her glory:
Both of these lovely welsh dolls are available in limited stock in my shop
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Hiraeth, and about the lovely place where I grew up….
Lot’s of love from this now-grown-up Little Welsh Girl…
June and July always bring a flurry of orders for personalised teacher gifts. However with all that lock down has been bringing, and schools closed since March, I didn’t expect there to be much call for teacher gifts this year. So I was pleasantly surprised to receive a few orders for them despite this.
It’s lovely (particularly as an ex-teacher myself), to see that people have still recognised the hard work that teachers have been putting in behind the scenes over the past few months, despite the huge decrease in face-to-face interaction with their pupils.
One of the loveliest and most unusual gift requests was for a head teacher, from one of her staff! The thoughtful teacher was so grateful for all the support and strength the Head had offered all of her staff during such an unprecedented and difficult time.
She needed something uniquely special showing her thanks, and marking what was the head teachers first year in her role. A year she would not forget! She felt that one of my Doli Dwt peg dolls would fit the bill perfectly!
With 2020 being unforgettable for so many reasons, I was asked if I could add a Rainbow to the design. It’s become a symbol of hope during the pandemic, and a representation of thanks to all of our key workers.
My lovely customer and I decided that it would be fitting to include this symbol on the doll. I added it to the back, along with the date.
A special little request was for her lanyard to be depicted on the peg doll. She’s never without it! Of course I was only to happy to oblige. Instead of the usual ID credentials on the pass, I added a little heart. This represents the love, respect and thanks the staff have for their boss!
Another request for a teacher-rainbow combination also landed in my inbox around the same time.
This peg doll was to feature a lovely personal message from the pupil. How delightful are these words?!
The sweet message took up all the available space on the back. So, I added the requested rainbow as a small logo on the front of the school polo shirt instead.
It worked really well as a small nod to all the ups and downs 2020 brought to school life.
The thought of keeping your children occupied through the long Summer holiday (on top of the three months children have already been home) might be a bit stressful! Did you know I have a Pinterest board full of ideas for kids of all ages, from crafts to games they can build themselves, and outdoor activities and snack ideas? Have a look below, you might find something new to keep them busy!
You might look at my peg dolls wondering why they’re a bit more expensive than others you are seeing online.
Every single peg doll that passes across my table goes through a labour-intensive process. Firstly, I draw the designs in pencil straight on to the doll. This can take a few hours on each one until the features and details are just right.
When I’m happy, it’s time for burning my drawings into the wood using the art of pyrography. This is the technique of using a red hot tool to permanently scorch the line work into the dolls. This can be lengthy depending on the complexity of detail.
When I first began in early 2015 I was the only peg doll artist in the UK (and as far as I’m aware in Europe) to use pyrography to create peg dolls.
Once this is done, I am ready to sand back the doll to tidy the burned lines and prep the wood for colouring.
This is the lengthiest part of making Doli Dwt peg dolls. It can take at leastA WHOLE DAY to colour one 9cm (adult) peg doll, and about a week to colour a whole family. This is because they are not just painted peg dolls. My go-to medium is coloured pencils. Again when it comes to creating peg dolls this is an unusual technique, as most are painted.
If you can imagine sitting down with a colouring book, it takes much longer to colour a section of the image with pencil than if you were to lay down a wash of paint. It’s the same with peg dolls. It takes a lot longer to lay down colour on them with pencil than painting them. However, I just love the beautiful effect pencils create on wood grain and the fact that it makes my dolls unique and instantly recognisable.
That’s not to say that I never use paint in my work. My mission is always to create the best representation of your loved ones’ outfits, and if a combination of pencil with acrylic or watercolour paint is what will give the desired effect then that’s what I will of course use.
You might enjoy taking a peep of this hyper-lapse video of me colouring a part of a peg doll to see what it involves!
There are lots of other videos of my processes, including wood burning, on my YouTube channel.
This recent commission for a beautiful peg doll family portrait highlights how each order comes together.
I’d already worked for this lovely customer in the past, creating cake toppers for her wedding. I was absolutely delighted when she emailed asking for an updated set to represent their growing family!
As always, the process starts by working from photos to draw the peg dolls. These ones have some really special details in the shape of the children’s favourite toys, so they took a while until I was happy that they were just right!
Then I burn the whole family with the pyrography tool – sounds painful doesn’t it?! But I can assure you nobody is hurt in the making of my peg dolls. Except maybe the odd burn to my own fingers!
The fun really begins when I start to colour the clothes! This commission had some really exciting/challenging details to add. First up was this tiny floral hedgehog. When scaled down to fit the doll, it is smaller than my thumbnail!
Here are the finished two children with their cuddly toys. Lots of detail is packed into the tiny 6cm peg dolls! Spot the tiny monkey-face socks!
Mum’s dress is exceptionally beautiful! As with most pretty dresses, it had to be created in stages, sealing bright colours as I go so that the high-pigmentation of the pencils aren’t carried across to other areas while I work.
Dad’s shirt is not short of detail either!
Together they make a fab peg doll couple!
I hope you agree that they are an absolutely gorgeous family. They were a total pleasure to recreate in peg doll form!
Hopefully, this has helped illustrate that my Doli Dwt dolls are so much more than painted peg dolls. They are beautiful, detailed heirlooms that will be displayed and treasured for years to come.
Vintage wedding inspiration is still very much sought after, both with bride and grooms currently having to postpone their special days until 2021 due to the current COVID crisis and those planning further ahead. So I thought I’d take the time to share one of my favourite commissions that were part of an incredible vintage wedding a couple of years ago.
As I’m sure you can imagine from the picture above, I was so excited when Lauren sent me pictures of her dress and her husband-to-be’s suit! I couldn’t wait to get started on them. They looked super on their cake on their big day!
Firstly, I drew out the details onto the wooden dolls, before woodburning the linework to make it permenant.
Lauren’s vintage wedding dress was gorgeous. I loved working on all the tiny details, which called for the use of the tiniest brush. My favourite brush to use for tiny details is one that I’ve plucked almost all the hairs from to make it as thin as possible! It’s now even thinner than in this picture!
The delicate polkadot netting around the top of the dress and sleeves was so fun to recreate. I love me a polkadot and this was no exception. I also tried to capture the layers and folds in the fabric around the upper bodice. The navy waistband really makes a gorgeous impact.
The wedding flowers were also totally gorgeous. The bride’s bouquet was a lovely, loose arrangement which is quickly becoming one of my favourite looks to be asked to draw.
The groom was also a bit gorgeous!
I can’t tell you how much I loved creating his amazing boater jacket. I love it when I get to create something totally different. The stripes were labour-intensive but very much worth the effort!
Lauren kindly shared some beautiful images of their wedding day with me. I love seeing my wooden cake toppers in action!
Aside from their amazing outfits, how much vintage wedding inspiration is in these photos?! All those gorgeous details – the lace doily under the cake, the cut crystal glass holding the cottage garden flowers and the classic macarons. Beautiful.
Whether you’ve had to put your wedding plans on hold, or have a date set for the next couple of years, if I can help create a unique wedding cake topper for you that you can treasure forever, take a look at our Wedding Cake Toppers page here, and get in touch!