The traditional Waldorf/Steiner doll has minimal detail in body and face, partly so that the doll can have whatever emotion the child wants the doll to have and partly because the less detail there is the easier it is for a parent or carer or child to make a doll.
Many Waldorf doll makers in very recent times have chosen to add more and more detail to their dolls taking them to a different place, many of these dolls appeal more to adults than to children, they are often too finished for a child's imagination to take flight but can touch a special place in the heart of grown up children who recognise something of themselves or their own children in these more detailed dolls. These dolls are becoming known as natural fiber art dolls.
But that is not my path, I choose the way that speaks more to my heart. Let me explain.
Minimalism for me in my work is as much about knowing what to leave out as what to put in. Years ago when I first left work to try to become a doll maker I was reading and researching about simplicity and I came across the tenets of the Quaker religion: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship. Even though I am not a particularly religious person I thought these ideas were a good basis for living a decent life and simplicity was a big part of the attraction. The idea of minimalism, of elegant simplicity, of not adding more than is needed, of not taking more than your share, of really trying to get to the essence of what I am creating is just so important to me. And so even though I have sometimes flirted with making things more complicated it has been more to extend a skill set rather than move away from what I know is my essential voice.
Minimalism in other areas such as interior design and architecture and life style is aimed quite squarely at adults, it is about paring down, removing excess. Simplicity doesn't mean an object is meant for a child, it is more about good design. Minimalism or elegant simplicity in my work is aimed quite squarely at expressing who I am, where I am from, how I came to be who I am. It is my creative tool really with no specific intended market, my way of expressing my deep love of the world of the child that lives within us. That's what one of my dolls can be, a place to reconnect with the dreams, joy and perhaps sadness of our little vulnerable optimistic child selves.
For me simplicity of design doesn't mean something that is simple to make, it means an elegance of design where something is ideally suited to its purpose, nothing more is needed, nothing can be taken away. It means making something that truly expresses who I am, a love of detail and distaste for excess. The further I go on this journey the easier it is to give myself permission to just be me and know that that is enough. It's simple really.