Friday, November 21, 2008

Sweet Little Jane

The Etsy community is filled with talented artists and crafters selling beautiful and unique pretend play items that help preserve the magic of childhood. This post is part of my weekly writing series, "Imagination at Play". Stay tuned for more every Friday!

Mix one part overstocked shelves and two parts over-commercialized licensed characters and you have a recipe for overwhelmed parents. Yes, the Christmas shopping season is already here, despite the fact that we haven't yet celebrated Thanksgiving. So what's a parent to do when faced with a sensory assault by an army of noise-and-lights toys?

Head on over to Etsy shop bluebirdblessings and breathe a sigh of relief. 

No licensed characters. No overly made-up plastic dolls. Just a whole bunch of adorable little guys and girls waiting for a home.

Every Sock Buddy and Jane Doll is made with love and care by shop owner Danielle who transforms ordinary socks and fabric into a child's best friend. "I love watching a sock or plain fabric turn into a doll with personality," she said. "It is such a good feeling to know that my dolls are brightening a child’s day and hopefully helping to settle them down at night even. How does it get better than that?"

Danielle got her start on Etsy after her daughter was born. Like many parents of young children, she was concerned about the many toy recalls that were happening a few years ago. But instead of simply buying other "safe" commercially made toys, she took a step back and really thought about what she wanted from a toy. "Obviously you want safety and entertainment, but it also made me see that simple play created learning," she explained. "It's usually not the 'bells and whistles' toys that keep a child's attention. We all laugh at the fact that the box is usually what they like most about a gift, but really why is that? I think it's because it leaves room for imagination that sets no limits on what a 'box' can be."

Take one look at Danielle's Sock Buddies and Jane Dolls and you'll agree: simple is definitely better. The sweet little faces and chubby bodies of the Sock Buddies are perfect for young children still learning how to care for their "babies". The Jane Dolls, with their hand embroidered faces and felt Mary Jane shoes, will be a cherished best friend for an older girl. Jane, of course, loves tea parties, grand adventures or anything else your little girl is interested in.

Ultimately, Danielle has one wish for each of her Jane Dolls and Sock Buddies when they are sent to their new homes: that they bring endless hours of play to the children who love them, and perhaps even a little bit of soothing when it's time to wind down for bed at night. 

Danielle knows that her dolls are also there to help parents teach their children how to interact with others. "Relationship skills start at home, but I do believe dolls really open the door for teaching about relationships and caring for others," she said. "You can see how your child perceives you when they play with their own 'baby'. My daughter loves her dolls and I love to watch her with them. It's neat to see her mimic what I do with her."

I encourage you to check out bluebirdblessings this Christmas season. Perhaps your little one will find a "baby" to love and cherish, a doll that will be passed down from one generation to the next.


  1. oh so cute and much better than those overstocked commercialized dolls, of course.

  2. aww those are so cute! I always loved the "ragdoll" and cloth dolls that people hand make!