As many of you know the run up to Christmas was pretty busy for me this year. I spent many wonderful hours making custom order dolls for people around the world. However all this doll making meant that I didn't have time to make any gifts for my own children for Christmas. I had really wanted to make Joa some play food to go with the play kitchen and accessories that the boys got for their birthdays last year. But I knew that I would be really pushing to get it made, so I thought that I would look in Etsy to find him some...at least that way it would still be homemade right? I found this wonderful shop and straight away Tori's work appealed to me. (The pictures are courtesy of Tori as I can't get a still photo of them at all, they are so played with :-) I 'liked' her work and went off to think about how we could afford to get a load of her play food. A few days later I had a message from Tori through Etsy thanking me for my interest and saying that she liked my dolls and was hoping to get one for her daughter in the new year. So I proposed a swap, like value for like...and she agreed. I was so delighted. She set to work straight away after helping me to choose the right food for our family. A few weeks later a wee box arrived in the mail with all this wonderful play food. I can't tell you how beautifully it is made, obviously with much love and care. I bought a little wicker shopping basket from the local market to keep it in and Joa was delighted to open it on Christmas Day.
If you are looking for felt play food here is where to go! Oh by the way, Tori is hosting a completely brilliant giveaway on her blog right now, do pop over and enter!
Anyway, back to the exchange, in return for all these (almost) edible goodies I made her daughter this doll:She is one of my favourites and I love her little outfits. Actually Tori sent me the fabrics. They were off cuts from special things and it was so cool be able to make them into doll clothes.This little dress is made of fabric that Tori used to make her daughter her first Birthday dress. It gave me a good idea about offering customers a lovely way to reuse special items of clothing. You know the ones: things your kids have grown out of but you just can't bear to part with them? How lovely would it be to have them up cycled into dolls clothes...I just need to figure out a way to offer this to my customers...any suggestions welcome.
I really loved doing this exchange. It gave me a way to 'afford' something that would normally be completely beyond our very tight budget. It also felt to right and good to be cutting out all middle men, the banks, pay pal, tax etc and just exchange one person's talents for another. This is certainly becoming more popular, there are local exchange groups setting up everywhere and my friend even pointed me in the direction of a craft exchange site (which I can't find the link for right now, but if I do I'll post it).
Exchange is something that I really am keen to do again. One reason for this is that I truly, from the bottom of my heart, believe that all children should be entitled to beautiful, quality play things. However, coming from a low income family, I know how difficult this is to do on a budget. Sometimes the gorgeous, handmade things just are not an option. This is why I try and keep my prices as low as possible, to make my dolls accessible to as many people as possible.
So, if you would like to own an Under Rainbows doll but the budget won't allow it please know that I am open to barter and exchange. In particular, I would love someone to knit me this, and we love wooden/ felt toys. Try me, the worst I can say is no (in a nice way).
Have you been part of an exchange like this before? I'd love to hear about it!