A Giveaway and a Conversation with Margaret Bloom

December 05, 2013

It was serendipity that I found Margaret's book.  I wasn't looking to buy a book on making peg dolls, but one look at the cover and I knew I would have to take it home.   While I love and appreciate Margaret's talent, what touched my heart was her encouragement of imaginative child play through her simple dolls. A quote from the book's foreword by Susan Perrow expresses this nicely,  "A refreshing discovery for the adult reader is that the peg dolls are calling out to us as well as to the children!  For those adults who feel they are drowning in the current 'consumer culture' that is so prevalent in our modern times, for those who feel overwhelmed by the excess stimulation of the technological world, this book offers a lifeboat through the very nature of its simplicity."  Amen to that.  

Margaret and I discovered we are near neighbors and met for coffee last week.  Please read below for my interview with Margaret and information about the sweet giveaway she is offering to my readers!

My conversation with Margaret:

1.  I love the simplicity of your dolls.   
Thank you!  There are a few reasons I try to keep my designs simple.  The first has to do with developing my own personal style. I adore the intricate designs created by a number of artists who also specialize in tiny doll-making and am amazed at the beauty of their work, but when creating my work, it’s important for me to cultivate my own sense of design.  There’s also the fact that I have two young children and so I have very little free time; when I am creating a toy or gift, I need the design to be simple, easy and quick to create.

The second reason I try to keep my designs simple has to do with keeping in mind the people who will enjoy my book.  Most of my readers are mamas of young children who also don’t have a lot of time and want something simple to create, plus many children also use my book to get ideas for their own designs.  I want the projects in my books to be approachable for anyone, and I also feel it’s important to allow room in my designs for personalization.  I tend to leave the gowns, cloaks and hats of my dolls unornamented, and I encourage anyone using my book to add painted designs to the bodies of their dolls or embroidery to the cloaks and hats.  There continues to be latitude for readers to add their own flourishes to my basic designs within my next book, too.

2.  So many toys currently marketed to children encourage the purchase of numerous accessories, while your dolls just need a tiny hand!
Yes! I am appalled when I see the words, “Collector’s Edition,” or “Collect the whole set!” on packaging for toys.  In my own observations, it seems that, once the focus shifts to acquiring and collecting toys, children lose interest in actually playing with them.  Toys are meant to be played with, not collected!

3.  Your handmade toys are not so precious that they cannot be played with by messy little children.  You encourage that don't you?
I do encourage that… there is an anecdote I shared in the introductory section of my first book which touches on this.  I sent a few little dolls to a friend in Australia, and her wee daughter Alice immediately took up one and named it “baby.” Alice played with the tiny doll for hours and when she was done playing, she tucked “baby” into her skirt pocket.  Later that day, the skirt went into the laundry and my friend was very apologetic about the resulting state of the little doll -- but I was happy knowing that one of my creations had been so appreciated and loved by Alice.

4.  Did you always make things?  As a child, were you crafty?  Did your parents encourage you to explore art?
I did love making things as a child.  We always had basic art supplies in the house – paper, pencils and markers; and, at an early age my mother gave me free access to her sewing supplies. 
My mother also enrolled me in classes such as ceramics, theater & dance, plus we visited museums, and attended theater productions, but I think, more important than all this was the fact that my parents set limits on how much television I watched.  Some of my friends were shocked that I had limits on watching television, but the limits gave me the opportunity to spend more time developing interests in other things.  The other really wonderful thing my parents did was to not over-schedule me -- this gave me time to lie around reading, drawing, sewing and playing imaginative games with my brother and my friends.

5.  What were your favorite toys as a child?
Is it any surprise that my favorite toys were books and tiny dolls?! 

6.  What is your education background?
I have an undergraduate degree in English Literature from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology.

7.  The photography in your book is beautiful, yet so simple.  Can you tell me a little about that?
My husband Paul has a BFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and, up until around 1996 he was working full time as a commercial photographer.  When he takes photos, he puts time and effort into the lighting, while I did most of the styling for the photos for the book.  I wanted the dolls to appear to inhabit their own tiny world and set up the photos as tableaux to reflect this.
Shooting the photos for the first book was somewhat stressful because we were on a tight deadline. The only time we were able to shoot was when our toddler was sleeping, but Paul lightened things up with his sense of humor.  My favorite moment was when the dolls were all set up to start a photo session.  Before taking the first shot, Paul would look at the dolls and say, “Okay now… everyone smile!”

8. Do you have any ideas for another book?
Yes! Right now, I’m in the home stretch on my second book – 8 more weeks of solid work before the manuscript, photos and artwork is due.  Then the exciting part really begins – I love getting emails every week with proofs of the layout for various sections of the book.

 I do already have an outline for a third book, but, when I jump ahead and start talking about the next book before the current one is finished, the head of Hawthorn Press is in the habit of politely reminding me, “We would like to get this book finished before we start talking about the next one.”

GIVEAWAY!  Margaret gave me this sweet angel to give away to one of my readers!  It's tiny and sweet and will arrive just in time to hang on your tree.  To enter, please be a follower of Knitionary and leave me a comment and let me know what you think of these little peg people!  Make sure I know how to get a hold of you if you win!  Yes, this is open to international readers of course!  Edited, 12/10, the giveaway winner has been chosen and contacted.  Congratulations Estella!

 Here are some great links for you.

Making Peg Dolls by Margaret Bloom
We Bloom Here blog, she has a give-away right now!
We Bloom Here on Facebook
My Mushroom Purse project from her book.

You might also like the blog Forest Fairy blog by Lenkda Vodicka Paredes.
Lenka has written a book by the same name, Forest Fairy Crafts
and she is currently co-hosting a give-away with Margaret. 

Next week I'll show you the simply elegant angel ornaments I made using clothespins,
peg dolls, tulle, eyelash yarn and vintage Christmas sheet music.
 All in gold and silver, inspired by Margaret's book.

Also, a post on my cowl in the new Rowan Fine Art Aran,
the finished Luna cardigan in Rowan Kidsilk Eclipse
and shopping for beads, buttons and trims in NYC.

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  1. I love Margaret's book and can't wait for others.Her toys and ideas are so sweet and creative.Thank you for the interview.I enjoyed reading about her.Your mushroom family turned out to be adorable.

  2. This is an adorable book, one I will add to my library. Such fun to make with my little grand baby!

  3. So adorable! I might have to make some!

  4. I would like to have the book. So cute. Rav Id. Sjordan

  5. So beautiful! We love making peg people.
    Andrea G ang_ihy@hotmail.com

  6. How gorgeous and cute is she lovely post. bubsiekins@hotmail.com

  7. These are so cute! I would love the angel for my tree.
    lindame dot rumsey at gmail dot com

  8. The book is great and so is Margaret's attitude. I love "toys are made to play with, not collect."


  9. Oh so sweet!

    tktl on Ravelry

  10. Kris, I'm personally not attracted to the little dolls, or any little dolls in fact, but man, that was a heck of an interview! Brought out great stuff about the artist/creator, a bit about her world view, and we got to know her and like her. Bill

  11. Oh my little girl would love these dolls! And what a great interview. Makers are the nicest people, I find.
    PS..I follow you in Bloglovin'


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