For me, it all started when a stranger walked into a craft shop…

I always thought the old saying about entering your second childhood was a load of nonsense. Now it has taken on a totally different meaning to me.

A few of years ago, I read about a study that carried out research into the things retired people were most happy doing.

The results suggested that many of us would benefit from thinking back to the type of things we liked to do at primary school age and taking up interests connected to those childhood hobbies.

I used to collect dolls from around the world. Often, people would give me old dolls in rather tatty clothes. So, I set about recreating their outfits. I got such satisfaction and sense of achievement from it.

Then, as I grew up, I carried on sewing and knitting when I had time, mainly making clothes for my two daughters – my living dolls, you might say!

My Journey Back in Time!

Towards the end of my working career, I wrote a children’s book. It was a labour of love bringing together all my experience as a teacher and nutrition consultant. TG and the Rainbow Warriors is a fantasy story with a nutritional theme that carries a thread of anti-bullying and building self-esteem.

As children’s health and education have always been dear to my heart, you can imagine I had naively high hopes about finding a publisher. But it wasn’t easy, so I got myself an editor and published it myself. Sadly, it had to be without illustrations, though it is a colourful book.

After selling the first print run, I reinvested in another. When half were sold, I had to make the decision of either paying for advertising or calling it a day. The remaining books went under the bed.

Then one day, a random event set off an amazing chain reaction. A stranger walked into my local craft shop asking the owner if they knew someone who could make an outfit for an antique doll. They recommended me.

I spent many a happy hour researching the subject, made the outfit and the lady was extremely pleased with the result.

The books I’d found on the topic had instructions on how to make cloth dolls, and that triggered a light-bulb moment – I thought, “you may not be able to draw – but you can sew!” This is when I remembered the article about retirement hobbies.

So, I decided to illustrate my book with dolls.

A Crafting Decathlon

I have spent the last two years making the dolls. This has included the dolls themselves, their clothes and many of their props.

The process has led me to discover worlds I didn’t know existed, ranging from dolls’ house miniatures to supplies from a taxidermist!

I attended a specialist cloth doll making course – and am now part of a Facebook community talking to other cloth doll making enthusiasts around the world.

In the last scene of my book, the characters have a banquet, so I had to learn how to make miniature food from polymer clay – it is great fun, but it took three days to make a pizza!!

Then, of course, we needed a banqueting table and throne for the Crystal Lady – so off I went again into the realms of sourcing acrylic and how to cut it and stick it together.

My most daunting task was painting the backdrops for the final photo shoot, because I really can’t draw. Once again, I was Googling away for copyright-free sketches of the things I needed.

I managed to copy them, make them my own and then paint them with acrylics – a book on How to Paint in Acrylics in one hand and a brush in the other.

We had the first photo shoot last week. The dolls and I had great fun, and we’re looking forward to the second one. The next backdrops will be mixed media on cloth background, painted then embroidered by hand and machine – another foray into the virtually unknown.

Your Past – Your Future?

I am all too aware that the odds of the book ever ‘getting’ out there in the way I dream of are extremely low. If I wasn’t having so much fun doing all these things, I wouldn’t be carrying on my mission to get the book published.

Whatever the future holds, I know I will still be exploring the crafting world for new things to try – just for the fun of it.

What did you love to do when you were 10? What hobbies do you indulge in now? Even if you don’t feel like rekindling a childhood hobby, there are bound to be others linked to it that you might like to research. Follow the thread and see where it leads. It would be really lovely to hear about interests and hobbies you have rediscovered and how they have enriched your life.

Let's Have a Conversation!