Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Look What I Got In My Email

I just had to show all of you what I got in my email yesterday. I got a "You Make My Day Award" from Linda Utz of Needlefeltingfans.com and Needle Felting Fans blog for making her day with my e-greeting post containing an e-video, music, and still pictures of my "baby" - my cairn terrier and for the "The Comfort Doll Project" post.

Thanks, Linda. You made my day with your award.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pat Winter's "The Comfort Doll Project"

I think you know that I just love the worldwide Arts & Crafts community on the web and find that everyone is so kindhearted and willing to help if they can. Well, there is an exceptional woman amongst the artists and crafters that I want to tell you about.

Her name is Pat Winter. Her blog is Gatherings By Pat Winter. However, the reason why Pat is so wonderful has nothing to do with her enormous talent as an artist. Nor does it have to do with her website or blog.

It has to do with her heart and her desire to help comfort someone else through an experience she was all too familiar with. It is because she started a beautiful project to help comfort battered woman called "The Comfort Doll Project."

I asked Pat if she would be willing to answer some questions for me regarding "The Comfort Doll Project" and she so willingly agreed.

1) What is "The Comfort Doll Project?"

The Comfort Doll Project is a program for battered and abused women in shelter's to receive a handmade doll with an inspirational note attached in hopes she feels comfort in knowing she is not alone and can get through her situation. In July I sent out an open invitation for anyone wanting to make a small doll , under 6", to be collected by me and mailed off to women's shelter's for battered women who are seeking help to better their lives and may need a comforting wish.

2) Why did you start this? What was your motivation?

What got me started was when an online group I am in, Crazy Quilting International about charity project suggestions. I knew of no other handcrafted donations given to Women's Shelter's, so I decided that would be a wonderful place to give.

Believe it or not, I was motivated by a doll I purchased from an artist, Linda Feuge of New York. I felt such a thrill and comfort in that doll and was surprised by my reaction. Having been a an abusive relationship long ago, I felt this need to offer other abused women the same experience a doll can bring. Especially when given from the heart and intended for them.

3) Since the comfort doll project began in July 2007 how many dolls have been made and how many recipients have received them?

To date, I have received 178 comfort dolls. Jo has received 14 I believe. I have shipped out 172 dolls to fourteen Women's shelters. I ship one dozen at a time.

4) How many shelters have received the dolls and what countries are they in?

Fourteen Shelter's have received one dozen dolls except one, who received 4 extras because they currently had 16 women in house at that time and felt they each needed one. All but one dozen were donated within the US. The other dozen was collected and distributed to a shelter in New Zealand by my friend and volunteer, Jo Newsham who resides there. I eventually want to send to each country from which the dolls were made and donated from.

5) What has been the reaction from the recipients? Have you received any feedback?

When I phone the Shelter's, I ask the directors if I could get a return acknowledgement after they receive the dolls so I can share it with the donors and let them know where their doll went. I post these on the Comfort Doll Blog when they arrive.

Many wonderful letters have been received and some emails thanking us and letting us know they were such a big hit with the women. There is a shelter director who is collecting comments from the recipients and soon she will forward them to me to share. When I describe our project, the usual reaction is "What a wonderful and needful thing to do". I must admit, one letter about one of the recipients had me in tears. It touches their souls, as if they were a child receiving their first doll. That's what it's all about.

6) Do the dolls just go to battered women or do they also go to battered children?

The dolls are intended for women because of the message of encouragement attached written for a woman. Also most dolls are embellished with tiny objects and beads which could harm children . I would love to do both, but I decided to direct the dolls to the women because from my own past personal experience I know the feeling of being in a bad situation.How hopeless you feel when you think you are the only one and alone. I am hoping this shows the recipient, she is not alone.

7) How often do the dolls get distributed?

The moment I collect one dozen, and I have a confirmed shelter address, they are tagged, bagged, and mailed out, usually next day.

8) How many artists and crafters are involved with the project and what countries are they from?

It is amazing, so far I have received dolls from 54 artists many sending several at a time, and the number grows weekly with interested women emailing for info. I have collected dolls from Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, England and several from France, and from 21 states.

9) Do you have to be a crafter or an artist to create a doll?

Absolutely not. I am a crazy quilter, not a doll maker,but I have learned so much from other's work. Dolls of every material has been donated, including ones made from wine corks. I believe, if it is from the heart, it's art. No labels needed to participate in the Comfort Doll Project.

10) Do you have a favorite amongst all the dolls that have been made and distributed?

There is such a variety, I could not possibly pick a favorite. To hold each piece of work in my hand gives me the warm fuzzies. I know each is made from love and from the maker's heart. Our motto is, "Given from our hearts what we make from our hands".

11) What do you tell a recipient when you give her a doll?

I wish I was the one presenting the dolls,but I only get to speak to the Shelter Directors. I let them know for whom they are intended, and from whom they are created. I ship a letter stating our intent with each box. There is a need for comforting women who have been abused and battered, some take it better than other's, and those who are frightened more than most, will hopefully find comfort and inspiration in her doll.

12) What are your long range goals for "The Comfort Doll Project?"

I wish I could continue collecting enough dolls to send a dozen to each state, then the countries from which the donors are from, then start all over again.

13) If someone wants to participate what do they need to do?

They can read about the project on my blog or web site, or they can email me anytime.


14) If you're not an artist or crafter or someone who sews is there some other way to contribute to "The Comfort Doll Project?"

Of course. You may sponsor a shipment for $5.00. That covers most of the Priority mailing fee. You will get credit as a sponsor of that particular dozen sent. You may send an encouraging message in a sealed envelope which I will include in a shipment for a woman. You really don't have to sew or be a doll maker. I just received three beautiful dolls made by a cross stitcher. She completed her design and stuffed it adding fabric on the back. Like I said, mixed media artists used weaving, corks, crazy quilting, beading, it is all in what you can think up. I do have free doll pattern sites listed on my blog for reference.

15) Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?

My intentions in starting this project was to offer a venue for women to share their creations to comfort and show support of other women. It is not a fund raiser, I am not asking for money, and would only accept money with the intent of it going toward postage. The women who have participated have found it to be rewarding in many ways. Several women have started their own shelter donations within their states and countries. I have been told various other projects have grown from this idea. It is just awesome to see hearts open and share so freely. It truly does make the world a smaller place and much warmer to live in.

I am very proud of every donor, and so very grateful for each of them. Receiving joy in giving a part of ourselves to strangers is a wonderful gift we can give ourselves, and it continues to grow as this project shows. I want to thank every donor, and you as well, for showing your support for the Comfort Doll Project.

Pat Winter

Sunday, January 06, 2008

My Little Penguin

I got a darling surprise in the mail yesterday. Inside an envelope was the cutest little penguin pin from my friend Connie McBride Johnson. She made a group of penguins for the "Pay It Forward" exchange and sent this one to me as a special surprise. What a sweetheart she was to think of me. I was very pleasantly surprised with my penguin pin and I thank you for that Connie.

Right now he is perched atop my computer shelf and just smiling down at me. He seems very content up there. Hmmmmmm..... I wonder if the other "dollies" will notice him? I bet they will. Nothing gets by them. And, then, the clamoring will start.

"Why does he get to be in the study? None of us can be in the study!"

"Why can't we be in the study, too?"

"How come......"

Oh, boy! I can feel the headache starting, but I don't care. I just love my little penguin from Connie and no other "dollie" is going to remove him from his perch. I hope you all heard that!

Connie posted an article to her Clothmatters blog entitled "It's A Penguin Party" that has a picture of the 4 penguins she made. They are all just adorable.

Everytime I look at him sitting atop his perch I can't help but smile. What a wonderful gift. THANKS, again, Connie.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Why A "Gray Is Beautiful" Blog?

You might be wondering why I need yet another blog and why "Gray Is Beautiful?"

The answer to the first question is easy. For "The Blogging Queen" - WHY NOT!

The second question can be explained first by explaining why I created a "Gray Is Beautiful" series of dolls and doll patterns. In responding to a post in one of my favorite forums regarding hair I got to thinking about hair and aging.

Why is our society so focused on youth and being thin as a rail?

Why is aging so terrifying to everyone?

I don't know. We all age.

When I was young (and that was a long time ago - hey, be nice now) I was thin as a rail. In fact, I was so thin one of my friends used to tell me that if I turned sideways you wouldn't be able to see me or I'd blow over.

My mother was always fretting over how thin I was. I don't know why. She was as thin as a rail when she was younger (and that WAS a long, long time ago.)

However, she used to love to tell me that "Don't worry darling, it will catch up with you." I'd reply " No way!" She'd just laugh. I'm sure she was thinking (okay miss know-it-all).

Well, that was then, and now is now. Unfortunately, my mother was right. Boy do I hate admitting that!

So, the sad reality is that as you age Mother Nature has her own private way of saying "I gotcha!" Is it any surprise that she is named "MOTHER" nature?

In any event, here I am aging and gray. Anyways, I got to thinking, shouldn't we honor those of us from the baby boom generation (of which I am a member) who are aging so beautifully. After all, we have our own magazine "More" (which I love). Why shouldn't the dolls we grown-up girls still love look like us?

We should be PROUD of our age, PROUD of the way we look, PROUD to be GRAY. Shouldn't we?

Yes , we should.

So, I decided that I should design a new series of dolls called my "Gray is Beautiful Series" to honor all of us beautiful women. For all of us old, graying, baby boomer generation women I say "Gray is beautiful, too! Isn't it?"

Be careful now, everyone gets older. If you're not nice there will be a stampede of aging, graying, not rail thin, seniors on your doorstep tomorrow. The GRAYS are here to stay and we all are all DROP DEAD GORGEOUS.

You're probably saying, "Okay, we can understand the doll series, but why a blog?" Well, the "GRAYS" deserve their own platform and, better yet, demanded it. There is no way I'm going to say no to my "GRAYS!" If I tried they'd knock my head off and that would not be a pretty scene.

So, all you graying, baby boomer, senior out there get ready for the "Gray Is Beautiful" blog created by, written by, and directed by my "GRAYS!"