Gorgeous Welsh Gifts that you’ll want to buy now (in a minute!)

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With Saint David’s day on the horizon, I thought I’d share with you some wonderful Welsh gifts from some fantastic Welsh small businesses that I adore.

Whether you’re looking for a treat for yourself or a gift for someone else, there will be something here that will tick your boxes. From ceramics to cakes, here are some of my favourite Welsh gifts for you and your home.

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This beautifully illustrated Welsh Map from Megan Tucker Illustration is a must-have for any Welsh person. Packed with fun-to-spot details, Wales’s most-loved landmarks are depicted in Megan’s instantly recognisable, unique style. Working from her home studio in South Wales, Megan creates gorgeous, stylish gifts and stationery in both English and Welsh using a mixture of traditional and digital illustration methods and techniques.

Emily Parkinson is a talented silversmith who creates bespoke silver jewellery in her pink shepherd hut on the Gower Peninsular – hence the business name One Little Hut. Her carefully crafted pieces from her Heart of The Gower collection are loved by any fans of this beautiful Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Pictured here are her Langland Bay (left) and Three Cliffs (right) hearts.

The Welsh sea-side town of Tenby is famous for it’s colourful harbour. Cag Rodwell has captured its quaint quirkiness beautifully in this fused-glass piece of art work. Cag, based in Crickhowell, creates a whole host of beautiful glass gifts from cocktail swizzle sticks to bunting swags, that are ready to buy from her website, as well as taking commissions for bespoke personalised pieces too.

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Skratch Studio is the trade name of ceramic artist Kate Russel. Based in the picturesque Welsh countryside town of Cowbridge, Kate uses the technique of sgraffito to create intricate patterns into her clay. Fusing traditional Welsh imagary with contemporary geometric patterns is Kate’s speciality, resulting in her instantly recognisable style. Whether you’re after a plaque, a bowl or a love spoon, Skratch Studio ceramics is a must-visit when you’re looking for that special gift.

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Of course, being a Welsh small business, it wouldn’t be right if Doli Dwt didn’t have a specific Welsh Gift in our repertoire!

After two years mulling over and refining my ideas, my Cwtch and Hiraeth Welsh Lady dolls were released in 2020. My goal was to marry a traditional welsh costume with a contemporary twist, and following research into the history and styles of the national dress, I settled on heart and bunting motifs. Due to popular demand, a third Welsh lady doll is on her way for Saint David’s Day 2021…..watch this space!

Daffodils are the infamous national flower of Wales, and whether you’re Welsh or not, nobody can deny the cheer that these sunny yellow blooms bring when they begin to appear in early Spring. As well as her traditional canvas paintings and prints, Gower Artist Annabel Dann creates a huge variety of hand-painted plaques and tags. This happy spring tag with its daffodil motif looks beautiful hung from the neck of this glass vase. A quick and easy way to add the perfect little nod to spring in your home decor!

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There’s no better feeling than a luxurious spot of pampering, especially with all we’ve had to endure over the past year. Little Bit Different is famous for their gorgeously-scented vegan soy candles, hand-poured in South Wales, however in addition to this, Vicky has developed an exquisite range of body washes and lotions. Available in “Cariad” and “Haf”, the elegant amber glass bottles really add a touch of lux to your bathroom. They’re available as a gift set (if you can bare to part with them), or individually if you want to treat yourself. Go on, you deserve it!

Of course, during (and after!) a pamper session, it’s vital that you are cosy and comfortable. Why not lay your head up on a beautiful, handmade Welsh blanket cushion from Millie’s Welsh Decor? This beautiful “Teulu” (Family) cushion would look perfect in any setting, blending with both traditional and modern interior design schemes. Shirley Price, the creative force behind the brand, creates a whole host of beautiful home items in English and Welsh. She works with traditional welsh blanket prints as seen here, as well as other stylish, modern, printed fabrics.

The Welshcake is, quite arguably, to Wales as the scone is to Devon. This traditional treat is cooked on a bakestone and eaten hot or cold. They make the perfect foodie gift which will be appreciated by anyone; they are dense and slightly sweet, so perfect any time of day with a cuppa! They’ve become increasingly popular here in place of canapes and favours at weddings, and Calon Lan Cakes (who created these fabulous Love Spoon welsh cakes – another traditional iconic Welsh symbol), have established themselves firmly as the go-to brand for amazing, physics-defying Welsh cake towers and wedding cakes.

And finally, how can we forget our four-legged friends?

With one newspaper reporting that us Brits spent a WHOPPING £162 million in 2020 on Christmas gifts for our canine companions, it’s only fair that they have a slice of the Welsh gifts action around Saint David’s day too! So why not treat them to one of these gorgeous felt daffodils for their collar from Crafty Jo Designs so that they can be the envy of all the furriends at the park on March the 1st!

And that concludes my round up of perfect Welsh gifts for Saint David’s Day, or any time of year you want to celebrate or share your love for this beautiful little part of the world.

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That Special Bond between Children and Pets

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.

One of my lovely customers recognised this special bond between her granddaughter and her dog, and having read my information about having custom peg dolls made, she got in touch.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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What Does Hiraeth Mean to Me?

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!

What does Hiraeth mean

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.

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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.

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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

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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…

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Personalised Teacher Gifts – Lockdown 2020

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!

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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.

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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!

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Another request for a teacher-rainbow combination also landed in my inbox around the same time.

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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.

Of course, it’s not the first time I’ve made some fantastic personalised Teacher gifts. You can read more about them (and get some ideas of what you might like) here. I even have some to which names can be added for you, “ready to post” in the shop .

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And finally….

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!

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Not Painted Peg Dolls – The magic behind my work

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.

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Once this is done, I am ready to sand back the doll to tidy the burned lines and prep the wood for colouring.

Colouring

This is the lengthiest part of making Doli Dwt peg dolls. It can take at least A 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!

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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!

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I hope you agree that they are an absolutely gorgeous family. They were a total pleasure to recreate in peg doll form!

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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.

If you’d love some for yourself, or someone you love, pop to this page for more information and guide prices. Then drop me a line using the contact form and we can chat about your ideas!

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