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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Animal Lover Gifts (Cat and Chicken Lovers)!

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It’s no secret that I’m a cat lover. I’m an animal lover in general, but cats are my true loves. You may have seen the evidence in this post previously. I’m an out and proud, bone-fide, card carrying member of the Crazy Cat Lady Club. I’ve always loved cats, but it was this little addition to our family that pushed me over the edge into that crazy “I just want to talk about cats all day” mentality. She came into my life when I really needed to have someone to love and care for. As a completely deaf kitten, she needed an indoor home, time, patience and love to train her in alternative ways. We were the perfect fit for each other. We needed each other.

We’re the apple of each others eyes! Of course I love our other two cats too, but Pearl is constantly by my side (or on my lap!). She does’t even let my husband so much as stroke her. She’s my girl. I hate leaving her, and if I’m not at home, she sits on my side of the bed until I come back – pining for me while I’m gone!

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When we had her, the rescue shelter had already named her Pearl and it suited her perfectly. But we soon began calling her Pearl Bowie, due to her multicoloured eyes. I often sing “She’s got David Bowie Eyes,” to her to the tune of that Kim Carnes Bettie Davis Eyes song (wouldn’t you just love to be a fly on the way in our bonkers house?!). Mr T says it’s just as well she can’t hear me!

So imagine my reaction when I saw my IG friend Sharon of Daisy Lions was creating a “Bowie Cat” character! A Ziggy Stardust-inspired little white cat! I just had to have him when he was finished! A Bowie Cat for my own Bowie-eyed cat!

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Pearl gave it a good inspection on arrival and gave it a massive paws-up and a purr of approval!

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We both love it very much!

Being the good egg that she is, Sharon suggested a craft swap – so I created a personalised peg doll in return for the cat.

Sharon is an animal lover too. Her dog Daisy inspired the name of her business, and she spends her days dreaming up all sorts of cute and crazy animal characters that she brings to life through textiles and watercolour. Sharon described the clothes she’d love to see on her doll. However, I couldn’t resist adding a cheeky little extra character based on her beautiful little crazy chicks!

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Here she is all pyrographed and sanded before I set to colouring her:

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I loved the bright colours Sharon requested! So lovely to work with and really eye catching on the finished peg doll.

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Instagram can be such a wonderful community, and it was a pleasure to create a personalised peg doll for someone who has become such a supportive and lovely friend over the past few years through this particular form of social media.

You can see Sharon’s amazing creations and funky chicks, foxes, owls, bees and other colourful characters here in her beautiful Folksy Shop!

If you’re looking for a gift for an animal lover, Sharon and I would both love to help you out!

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Grandparents Day

Did you know that this Sunday, October 1st, is National Grandparents Day?  It was introduced by Age UK in 1990, to of course honour the wonderful Grannies and Granddads in our lives.

I know that my late Nanny and Grandpa played a huge part in my life growing up. Due to their creativity,  I feel they inspired much of my interest in arts and crafts when I was young. They were always working on their lovely garden, and my grandpa loved telling my about the correspondence art course he took when he was young. I remember him showing me how to use shading to make drawings look realistic. My grandmother always had a project on the go. From embroidery, crochet and knitting, to gem stone trees and paper quilling, she’d always have something creative on her lap, every day. Of course I always wanted a go and she was always happy to indulge me. Maybe without their inspiration, Pink Elephant Crafts and my little wooden peg dolls would not be here as a result today!

How do you honour your Grandparents and show them how much you love and appreciate them? AS can be seen here, Lots of my lovely customers are choosing to show them by giving them a gift as lovely and truly as unique as they are….. My peg dolls! 

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Grandparents Day Peg Dolls, granddad present, grandpa peg doll

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I’ve also previously written a blog post about this lovely Grandparents Peg Doll set that included the grandchildren too.

You can find out more about Age UK, GrandParents Day and support the excellent work they do on their website.

 Can I create some Grandparents Day Peg Dolls for that special couple who loved and inspired you growing up? As always, find out more about what the personalised peg doll process entails on our information page here.

In loving memory of my very own Nanny and Grandpa, who although I miss greatly continue to inspire me every day.

Grandparents Day

Cwtch ♥ Mawr

peg doll family

Meet the Peg Doll Family Maker – Part VI

Welcome to the final installment in our behind-the-scenes Meet the Peg Doll Maker series explaining more about how each beautiful peg doll family is made. The posts are inspired by the month long challenge that we took part in on Instagram, created by Joanne Hawker.

You’re joining us for day 26 – 31. For the previous days, please see the earlier posts in this series. Find them by clicking on the “Meet the Maker” tag in the Popular Tags cloud on the right of the page.

Day 26: Why I Do This

why i make peg dolls

It’s quite pertinent that today’s prompt falls on Mother’s Day. The life we’d dreamed and planned for is out of reach, so creating each peg doll family has become my daily purpose. My studio is my little sanctuary. Here I can shut out the world and focus on healing and rebuilding myself through my creativity 💕

Day 27: Goals

peg doll family with pugs

My overall goal is to keep bringing smiles to the faces of my customers! Just like this little peg doll family with the very special Boyo the pug did. He has only one eye and a permanently protruding tongue 💕

Whilst doing this, 3 of my mini goals for this year are:
1. Use more props in my photos to better showcase my products
2. Make “Wedding Wednesday” more of “a thing”. I’d like to give back to the IG community by promoting a weekly hashtag. A bit like Follow Friday, makers and suppliers of wedding goodies can share their work and network.
3. Exploring ways to create a small amount of “ready to ship stock” so that my lovely peg dolls are available to more people. It will be tricky though, as I feel the draw of my peg dolls is that they are NOT mass produced. Bespoke peg doll family orders are what I thrive on. I have some ideas but the balance needs to be worked out. I don’t want to compromise what I’ve built so far.

Day 28 : Organised

organising my peg dolls paperwork

I like to mostly keep organised digitally. I also colour code EVERYTHING!! I’ve got a nice old spreadsheet that tracks all my accounting, pricing and my order book. Mr T set it up to change colours depending where I am with each order which really helps me keep in top of things. I use Planner Plus app on my iPad to schedule and manage customers slots, promotions etc. Finally, my trusty notebook that I make my lists and jot my ideas down in. It also contains my Elevator Speech – have you got one? If not, as a creative maker you should! Xxx

Day 29 : Can’t live without

tea break essentials

I can’t live without tea. Tea, tea, TEA!. I just love a good cuppa! Any time, any place. I’m easy. To keep this tea-junky’s drug of choice on constant supply, Mr T bought me an iKettle. I can control  it from anywhere within our wifi range. I can switch it on from my studio and only come down from my work once it’s boiled.  Thus saving me precious munutes if standing around waiting 😂😂. It sends me a nice little text message to tell me it’s ready 😂.  All I need now is a butler to actually make the tea and bring it up to me, and my life will be complete 😉 I also can’t live without chocolate and sweets. My weight and teeth are not thankful for this 🙈 xxx

Day 30: Advice

thief of joy

 I think that this pretty art work by Deena Rutter for @modifyink sums up something that I tell myself both personally and professionally almost daily. It is so easy to see what others have, or do, and to get disheartened (or worse) when you begin to compare yourself to them. But when I snap out of it and become a bit more mindful of myself, my achievements and what we have, everything feels rosey again. It certainly isn’t easy at all…. it takes a lot of stepping back and sometimes cutting off from the outside world. I started by getting rid of my personal Facebook last Summer, and I haven’t looked back. Comparing yourself to others really does just make you miserable. Find joy in what you are, what you have, and the people around you that matter 💕

Day 31: Customers

peg doll customers

It’s the last day of March Meet the Maker today! 😢 Here are a few of my lovely lovely customers with their little peg doll twins 😊 I’m so grateful to be able to make things for such lovely people. I love making my peg dolls and think I would still be making them even if nobody bought them. But it’s so much nicer sharing that joy around by having customers who want to own them too!
I’ve really enjoyed taking part in Meet the Maker and have met some lovely new inspiring people to follow. I’ve also enjoyed learning more about those I already loved. Thank you @joannehawker for providing us with the challenge and daily prompts 😘😘😘 xxx

That rounds up the Meet the Peg Doll Maker series for this year! I hope you enjoyed the little look at what we do and how we create each peg doll family.

If you think we could make a wooden version of you and your loved ones, please drop us a line using the contact form!

Cwtch ♥ Mawr

peg doll family

Meet the Peg Doll Maker – Part V

Welcome to the penultimate post in our behind-the-scenes Meet the Peg Doll Maker series that explains more about how each beautiful peg doll family is made. The posts are inspired by the month long challenge that we took part in on Instagram, created by Joanne Hawker.

You’re joining us for day 20 – 25. For the previous days, please see the earlier posts in this series. They can be found by clicking on the “Meet the Maker” tag in the Popular Tags cloud on the right of the page.

day 20: Sketch books

peg doll family planning

Whilst I don’t tend to sketch my actual peg doll ideas, I’m a big list maker/visual planner. I’m also a bit of a pretty stationery hoarder. What is it about notebooks?! I love squared paper and found it perfect for mapping my fairaisle designs for the Christmas Jumper Birds I made last year. As well as physical notebooks, I also use my ipad to stay organised. My favourites include Paper and Planner Plus Xxx

day 21: Inspiration

peg doll family

My inspiration for my peg dolls is YOU GUYS and the fabulous photos you send me to work from! I always suggest that colourful and patterned clothing works best for each member of your peg doll family. Plus that means that it’s much more fun for me 😉. You rarely disappoint! 😍💕

Day 22: Close Up

peg doll lady in stripey top

Following on from yesterdays post, here’s a close up of a recent make. My customer didn’t have any clothing pictures to send me, so my brief was “mustard, navy and maybe some stripes”. Lush 💛💙

Day 23: Recent Make

peg doll wedding cake topper

This is a very recent make as it only got posted off to its forever home on Monday! I don’t usually show wedding toppers until after the couple’s big day. However this was a special commission for a baker to use on her cakes at Wedding Fairs, so I can share away. I am having a little play at using more props in my photos too. What do you think? Xxx

DAY 24: milestone

I was really unsure what to post for todays’ prompt. As I was thinking about I realised that, while it’s not a numerical milestone, it’s an achievement for me to actually be building the confidence to show and talk about what I do. So I decided to post this video I made last week to demonstrate that.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve been approached to exhibit at two different exciting upcoming events. One of which is one of the BIGGEST annual events in South Wales that draws people from all over the UK. Needless to say I was floored to be invited, but I think I have to turn it down. This is partly due to confidence, partly due to feeling we’re not big enough, and partly that the event, although massive, isn’t right for my peg doll family. I’m still mulling over the second opportunity though so watch this space! I believe in my pegdolls 100%…but my confidence in myself still has a way to go yet. I’m getting there bit by bit! 💕 xx

Day 25: Packaging

pretty packaging for every peg doll family

It’s always lovely to send off my pretty packages. 🎁 Each peg doll is individually wrapped in pink tissue, then all your peg doll family is wrapped together in stripey or spotted tissue, sealed with my branded sticker. They are placed into the stripey bag along with a business card and (new for 2017) a care card to help you or your recipient look after your investment. I usually work closely with my customers to make their dolls. As a result build a lovely rapport with them; so I always like to include a nice handwritten note to thank them for their custom. I feel it’s little touches like that which make buying handmade and bespoke such a special experience. It’s far better than mass-produced high street items. 💕

I hope you’re enjoying following along with this series of posts. The 6th and final installment will be along shortly.

Don’t forget, our order book is open if you would like your very own personalised peg doll family.
Just get in touch using the contact form.

Cwtch ♥ Mawr

peg doll family