WALDORF TOYS

July 1st, 2010 | Giveaway, Natural Toys, Photographs, Sarah's Silks, Waldorf Toys | Permalink | Comments (2)

I have been hard at work for the past month on the new and improved Bella Luna Toys website (which I can’t wait to show you!). Since I currently run Bella Luna Toys single-handedly, it has been taking nearly every waking moment to input all the new products, descriptions and photos into the new system. As a result, I’ve had very little time to write as much as I’d like on the blog. I do have two exciting Giveaways planned for the next two weeks in connection with two of my favorite bloggers, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, I thought I’d share with you this lovely image of a happy Bella Luna Toys customer, playing with her Silk Streamer from Sarah’s Silks, one of our bestsellling summer items. Thank you to Cindie Y for sharing this lovely image of her beautiful daughter!

Silk Streamer from Sarah's Silks

Do you have a photo of your child or children using playthings from Bella Luna Toys? Send it to support [at] bellalunatoys [dot] com for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate!

Add comment
  • Bookmark and Share
June 23rd, 2010 | Archives, Handmade Toy Alliance, Handmade Toys, Natural Toys, Toy Safety, Waldorf Toys, Wooden Toys | Permalink | Comments (9)

One year ago, I was ready to take a break from teaching. I felt a need to spend more time at home with my family (ever hear the expression “Waldorphans?” Those are the children of Waldorf teachers), and I was yearning for a way to put my knowledge and experience to work in a new way. I made the bold decision to resign from my position as a Waldorf early childhood teacher, not knowing what would come next.

It seems that no sooner had I made the decision than I learned that Bella Luna Toys was for sale. I had long been aware of Bella Luna Toys as a wonderful online resource for wooden, natural and handmade toys, inspired by Waldorf education. The idea of working from home, selling the kinds of toys I loved and believed in would be an ideal situation for me. I was excited by the possibilities of using the website, not only to sell beautiful and unique toys that would inspire creative play, but also to share my experience and knowledge.

Then I got cold feet. I learned about the recently passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which in its noble mission to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US, was written in such a limiting and restrictive way that it threatened to put many small toymakers in the U.S., Canada and Europe out of business. Since most of the suppliers of the toys sold by Bella Luna Toys are made by indvidual woodworkers, crafters and small businesses, I worried about whether I would be able to sell the kinds of toys I wanted to. I nearly abandoned my dream of becoming the new owner of Bella Luna Toys.

Before I raised the white flag, someone suggested I call Dan Marshall, founder of the Handmade Toy Alliance and owner of Peapods Natural Toys and Baby Care in St. Paul, Minnesota. I called the store and Dan picked up the phone. He spoke to me for a long time. I learned about the important work that the HTA is doing to amend the language of the current laws in order to allow small batch manufacturers of handmade toys to continue producing the heirloom, natural and handcrafted toys that we all believe in and love. Dan probably doesn’t remember our conversation, but he convinced me that this is a great business to be in, in spite of the challenges. Knowing that there were such committed, caring business owners like Dan and the other board members of the Handmade Toy Alliance gave me the courage to follow my heart and take a chance with Bella Luna Toys.

Dan Marshall, Handmade Toy Alliance

Dan Marshall, Founder, Handmade Toy Alliance

The week of June 21 is the first annual Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA) Blog Week and I am happy to be participating. Here is some further information on the history and mission of the HTA from their Website:

In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China and other developing countries violated the public’s trust. They were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small parts, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick. Almost every problem toy in 2007 was made in China.

The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August, 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number. All of these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational toy manufacturers to comply with. Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each toy have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and updating their molds to include batch labels.

For small American, Canadian, and European toy makers, however, the costs of mandatory testing, to the tune of up to $4,000 per toy, will likely drive them out of business. And the handful of larger toy makers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007. Toy makers won’t be the only ones impacted by the CPSIA, the thousands of US businesses who offer clothing, jewelry and other gifts for children –in essence– the entire children’s industry will be as well.

The authors of the CPSIA simply forgot to exclude the class of toys that have earned and kept the public’s trust. The result, unless the law is modified, is that handmade and small batch children’s products will no longer be legal in the US. The Handmade Toy Alliance represents these toy makers, manufacturers, importers and retailers. We actively lobby the House of Representatives and the Senate for CPSIA reform and also serve as a collective voice to the CPSC. Thriving small businesses are crucial to the financial health of our nation. Let’s amend the CPSIA so that all businesses large and small are able to comply and survive!

Handmade Toy Alliance

Bella Luna Toys is proud to be a business member of the Handmade Toy Alliance. Please become a fan of the HTA on Facebook, and visit their website at http://www.handmadetoyalliance.org to learn how you can support their work to keep handmade toys legal in the U.S.

Do you love handmade toys? Leave a comment here professing your love! Do you have a blog? Then please join me in spreading awareness of the Handmade Toy Alliance and add a post to support HTA’s first annual Blog Week!

Add comment
  • Bookmark and Share
June 20th, 2010 | Photographs, Waldorf Toys, Wooden Toys | Permalink | Comments (1)

I spent today with my friend Russell Kaye, a photographer, who was helping me take new photographs of some of the wooden toys from Bella Luna Toys. We especially had fun photographing these Branch Family gnomes. Aren’t they cute?

Branch Family Dolls from Tree Blocks

Branch Family from Tree Blocks

More to come. Stay tuned!

Add comment
  • Bookmark and Share
June 9th, 2010 | Play, Waldorf Dolls, Waldorf Toys | Permalink | Comments (15)

After writing my recent post on Waldorf dolls, I remembered a photograph I took at the New York Toy Fair last February. (Yes, those are dolls in the top photo!) Who, I wondered, would ever buy such a distressed looking baby doll for a child? It would be hard for even the most imaginative child in the world to imagine one of the dolls in the top photo being happy!

Realistic Baby Dolls

Now look at the doll in the photo below. I ask you: Which doll is more human?

There is a big difference, I find, between being lifelike and being human.

Add comment
  • Bookmark and Share
June 7th, 2010 | Waldorf Dolls, Waldorf Education, Waldorf Toys | Permalink | Comments (8)

A Waldorf doll may be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of “Waldorf toys.” I often receive inquiries about Waldorf dolls and how to choose one. Here, I share with you some of the common questions, and my responses.

Q: What exactly is a Waldorf doll?

A: A Waldorf doll is a type of doll used in Waldorf education. They are usually handmade of natural fibers, like wool and cotton, using traditional European dollmaking techniques. The facial features of a Waldorf doll are intentionally minimal (for example, two embroidered eyes, and a hint of a mouth) or they may have no facial features at all! This is to allow a child to develop his or her capacity for imagination and creativity. Without fixed facial features, a child can imagine the doll to have any expression. It is equally easy to imagine such a doll being happy or sad; crying or laughing—unlike a hard plastic doll, with a fixed, permanent expression.

Q: When is a good time to introduce a doll for the first time? Which dolls would you recommend for different ages?

A: One can introduce a doll to a baby during the first year! I always recommend a Blanket Doll as the perfect first doll for a baby, and up to the age of two. It’s a cross between a favorite “blankie” and a doll. Babies love to look at the human face, and this doll has a formed head covered with cotton knit skin and hand-sewn simple facial features. It has an unformed, soft flannel body, and simple hands and feet sewn into the four corners. The cotton flannel body is warm and soft, and nourishing to a baby’s developing senses. The hands and feet invite gumming and chewing, and the materials are safe and non-toxic.

A toddler at the age of two or three can more easily grasp the concept of “doll,” and at this age I recommend a Cuddle Doll. This type of Waldorf doll (which is also known as a “Bunting Doll”) is more huggable, and squeezable. The body is pillow-like and squishy, making it easy for a young child to hold and grasp. The knot at the end of this “baby’s” stocking cape invites gumming and mouthing, and like the Blanket Doll, is safe for doing so.

For a child age four or older, I recommend a beautiful and classic Waldorf Dress Up Doll. The “dress up” doll typically has skin made from cotton interlock knit fabric and wool stuffing. The trademark long hair  on the girl dolls is usually made of mohair or boucle, and can be braided. It has flexible arms and legs, allowing the doll to be dressed in different changes of clothing, and to assume natural postures.

It is between the ages of 4 and 6 when children really start to play imaginatively and out of imitation. This is the age when playing “house” usually begins, and children of this age love to dress and change clothes on these dolls, feeding them, having tea parties with them, and so forth. These dolls are ideal for a child who has developed the fine motor skills needed to button and change clothing. In doing so, children further develop these skills of manual dexterity.

Q: My daughter’s doll has some dirt stains on her face and body. Can you tell me how to safely wash a Waldorf doll?

A: Waldorf dolls are generally surface washable only. The best way to wash them is to gently spot clean with a mild soap (I like Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap, used very diluted in water) and a soft terrycloth rag. Allow the doll to air dry away from direct sunlight. Never, ever put a Waldorf doll in a washing machine or dryer!

I love hearing your questions! Have a question about Waldorf toys or Waldorf education? A perplexing parenting problem? Wondering about your child’s development? Leave your question here and I’ll do my best to answer in a future post.

Add comment
  • Bookmark and Share

children kids waldorf education families blogs child




Receive blog updates by e-mail
My Shop
waldorf wooden toys child development play imagination
My Book
waldorf wooden toys child development play imagination
Blog Archive
2014 (11)
August (2)
May (1)
April (3)
March (3)
2013 (23)
2012 (9)
2011 (11)
2010 (48)
Loving
Subscribe by e-mail
  • Subscribe2
Recommended Reading
Pinterest
Facebook Fans
Twitter Updates
children waldorf toys creative play