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See My Thumbelina in the Autumn 2012 Issue of Prims

Over the winter I took part in a storybook doll making challenge with a great bunch of doll makers who are members of  MAIDA.  The majority of the challenge group submitted their dolls to  Prims magazine and I am honored to say that my Thumbelina and Horrible Mother Toad are pictured in the article about the  challenge.

Each and every doll created for the challenge is wonderful and it was a delight to see them come to life and chat about all the trials and tribulations that happen during the creative process.  The Autumn issue of Prims goes on sale September 1st.  If the article peeks your curiosity and you’d like to know more about the MAIDA Prims Storybook Challenge,  pop over and join MAIDA (it’s free) then settle down to read through all 123 (so far) pages of discussion :)!!!


Thumbelina is an original fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, first published by C. A. Reitzel on December 16, 1835 in Copenhagen, Denmark with “The Naughty Boy” and “The Traveling Companion” in the second installment of Fairy Tales Told for Children.

“One night as she lay in her cradle, a horrible toad hopped in through the window-one of the panes was broken. This big, ugly, slimy toad jumped right down on the table where Thumbelina was asleep under the red rose petal.

“Here’s a perfect wife for my son!” the toad exclaimed. She seized upon the walnut shell in which Thumbelina lay asleep, and hopped off with it, out the window and into the garden.”

My version of Thumbelina and the horrible mother toad that kidnapped her are both spun cotton figures.  I wanted my dolls to look as if the words of the story had come up off of the page and sprung to life.  My intent was to create dolls with the fragile feeling of an old book: monochromatic, papery, worn and aged.

To do this I made spun cotton figures with wire armatures that I dressed in gauze that I had printed with text from the story.  Because all fairy tales are known to have happened “once upon a time” I created 18th century clothing and accessories for my figures, even though the story was not published until 1835.  Thumbelina is wearing a cotton gauze chemise over a white crepe paper chemise.  She has silk ribbons tied in her hand dyed mohair hair.  Mother Toad is dressed in a lace cap with lappets and a cotton gauze neckerchief.

I achieved all of the coloring and shading on both figures with washes of tea and coffee.  Thumbelina’s features are done in pencil to capture the feeling of a three-dimensional book illustration.  Her walnut shell cradle is half of a German papier-mache candy container that I painted and then stained with walnut shell ink.  The bed linens are made from striped cotton “ticking”, lace, and gauze – plain for the pillowcases and story text printed for the sheets.

I also have an ad in the Autumn issue of Prims, look for it on page 141 🙂

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