CIAO BIMBA DOLLS: HANDMADE WALDORF DOLLS FOR CHILDREN
If you buy Baby London magazine you might have noticed adverts for sweet Ciao Bimba dolls in Liberty print clothing with girls wearing clothing to match their doll. One of the two creators of Ciao Bimba is Maria of mariasnaturetoys on Instagram, who is the artist and designer of Ciao Bimba Waldorf inspired dolls. Maria's own collectible dolls take a week each to make and sell within minutes of her listing one for a typical price of 690 euro. Her waiting list is long with many customers waiting months and months to buy one of her creations. Ciao Bimba dolls are the partnership between artist Maria and her customer, now her dear friend, Denitza. They are bringing their vision based on a Waldorf education that calls for natural toys to enliven a child’s imagination, to children everywhere at a more affordable price.
There are so many beautiful photos, here are a few:
Story time: are you sat comfortably?
Good night little one!
Time for another adventure...
To understand how this very personal story started, here it is explained in Maria and Denitza's own words.
Ciao Bimba Dolls: The Full Story
"Ciao Bimba is the story of a great friendship between a talented doll maker and her greatest fan.
Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful fairy named Maria Asenova who loved to venture into the world of imagination and just refused to grow up. She loved to help people so she pursued a degree in psychology, but fate had other plans for her. Her ever-consuming passion for art and natural dolls didn’t left her in peace until she decided to devote all her energy to it. She changed course, and that was truly a miracle! Each doll she created sprang to live and went out in to world in search of its own adventure. Her dolls made many people happy. After some time, Maria had a charming baby girl who inspired her to create more and more beauty. With each year mother and child grew together in the world of fantasy and play, and Maria became a better and better doll-making Fairy. Each one-of-a-kind doll she breadth life into stole someone’s heart.
One day Maria received a letter from a fan named Denitza Velasquez, who wanted to order many dolls for her baby girl. Maria explained that there was a long waiting list for her dolls, and Denitza was heartbroken. Every day she spent hours admiring pictures of Maria’s magical dolls and lamenting that she could not give her daughter such a doll. However, during her bachelor studies of Spanish and Liberal Arts, Denitza had acquired a great deal of patience! She continued writing to Maria asking for a spot until one beautiful day she managed to acquire a little hazelnut baby doll. She was absolutely delighted but not satisfied. There was some magic in Maria’s dolls that made her feel ever so greedy! She wanted to own more and more of Maria’s dolls.
By this time, Maria had grown a soft spot in her heart for her new fan, and even though she could not promise her a big doll yet, she continued writing letters and exchanging wonderful ideas. Denitza was so enchanted rediscovering the forgotten wonders of childhood through playing with her daughter and the dolls that she had a change of heart. She did not want to return to her grey office any more. She wanted to continue playing…she wanted to be part of the magical world of Maria.
After much contemplation, Denitza decided there was a reason she acquired a Masters of Entrepreneurship, and developed a bold idea. She wrote Maria a long, long letter proposing a partnership. Denitza wanted to make Maria’s colorful dolls more readily accessible to children around the world and not only to doll collectors. She convinced the fairy doll maker that they could live their dream together and make many more children happy!
Together they embarked on a new journey. Maria sought out a new team of little fairies to make special dolls that would touch children’s imagination and heart, and her biggest fan, Denitza, searched for the highest quality materials and a suitable location to house their new creative venture. And they worked happily ever after!"
Maria still makes her collectible dolls for adoring fans, but she now also designs dolls for Ciao Bimba, and with Denitza, has trained all the enthusiastic mothers and grandmothers in the workshop in Sofia, how to bring Ciao Bimba dolls to life for children.
What Is Special About Waldorf Style Dolls?
Waldorf dolls are based on the principles Waldorf education which highlights the value of natural toys to stimulate and enliven a child's imagination. The natural, safe, beautiful and soothing materials speak directly to the emotions and sensibilities of children. The simple fibres are warm and cuddly to hold and nourishing to a child's senses. Waldorf faces range from no facial features at all to intentionally simple, so that a child can imagine their doll to be happy or sad; laughing or crying; or, indeed the full range of human emotion.
They usually have simple embroidered eyes and a small neutral mouth so that the child can easily project its own emotions onto the doll. The warming sensation that comes as a result of wool stuffing and cotton knit skin affects the play of children by stimulating their creativity and shaping their sense of aesthetics.
Here's why Ciao Bimba's dolls are special:
The doll has a good weight and firmness to the limbs and a fairly hard head. Click on the first image to open the gallery of Mini Bambini Elisa who is 29cm.
Ciao Bimba dolls are made using natural materials for the doll itself. The clothing and doll fabrics are Liberty Art Fabrics, Hilco, Westfallenstoffe and Laib Yala. Polyester ribbons and trimmings are used for some of the clothing; however, they are always Oeko-Tex 100 Standard certified. The dolls are stitched with Guetermann Mara threads that are made from polyester to allow for flexibility of the jersey. Alongside fabric, their most important material is natural wool. They actually source the wool from local farmers who wash and card the wool themselves. They then send it to a lab to be tested for pesticides before using it to make the dolls.
The materials are sourced from Switzerland, Germany and UK. The skin for the dolls is a very high quality jersey fabric only made in Switzerland and it comes in various skin colours.
The Mini Bambini dolls wear Nicky velour fabric. The mohair and boucle wool for their wigs is from UK.
Why does it matter what exact materials are used? It matters to parents and grandparents to know that the doll that their child will cuddle up with at night is made from the finest natural materials. For those parents whose children have allergies, natural toys are especially important.
Waldorf style dolls are cuddly like teddies but instead resemble little people with whom a child can have a friendship.
There is nothing like the response of a young child when they first hold a Waldorf doll. This is where bonding begins.
Ciao Bimba Girl & Doll Matching Clothing
Ciao Bimba dolls come dressed in beautiful Liberty print clothing and many of the fabrics are also used for the girls' clothing, which is available in ages 2-7 years. There are sleeveless and long sleeve varieties for girls. Ciao Bimba believes "matching clothing enriches the connection between the child and the doll and helps develop a friendship for life".
Ciao Bimba Dolls Made For My Doll Best Friend
Spoilt for choice of beautiful dolls from the Ciao Bimba range I was interested to learn what their experiences had been of the popularity of the ranges when I met Denitza and Maria at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in Germany and again at Bubbles London.
The Ciao Bimba collection began earlier this year with their Waldorf inspired dolls in different sizes:
However, the Mini Bambinis and the Mini Ciao Bimba were felt to be the best sizes based on feedback. The Darling Ciao Bimba dolls will be introduced in the same size as the Mini Ciao Bimba and will be called Mini Darling. It differs from the Mini Ciao Bimba range in two ways: it has a needle felted face and weft hair, whereas the Mini Ciao Bimba has a traditional face and boucle yarn hair. (More to come on these topics).
We are stocking Mini Bambini, Mini Ciao Bimba; Mini Darling dolls and accessories; plus girls' clothing by request. We're very excited!
So many details go into each doll. Maria and Denitza watch children play with their Ciao Bimba dolls and it gives them ideas for how to adapt the designs to make them better. 'The result is that over time the dolls have become more and more detailed' explained Denitza. For example, the cute boots the dolls wear originally had ribbon laces but children lost the ends of the ribbons inside the boot eyelets. Wanting their dolls to be the best they could be the raw ends of the ribbons were replaced with shoelace aglets. This keeps the ribbon fibres from unravelling and their firmness and narrow end make it easier to hold and thread the shoelaces through the eyelets.
Indeed, I embarked on my very own wishlist when I was at Bubbles London. I spotted that the Mini Ciao Bimba dolls who wore plaits could not wear their hair loose too, so I asked for my versions to have loose hair plaited so that children can change the style if they want to. Oh, and our Rachel now has freckles!
Here's Rachel in the first photo how she was originally, and in the further photos with hair that can be styled. In the last photo she has freckles. She will be packed up in her attractive Ciao Bimba lilac box and sent to us. If you click on the first photo the gallery opens up.
I know you were looking at the hair, but did you see that tummy button? I know how much that would amuse a child! Which reminds me, I asked to photograph a bottom when I was at the fair:
It takes one person a minimum of 12 hours for a single Ciao Bimba Mini Darling to be made by hand and with details such as sculpted and painted bottoms and little outie tummy buttons, it's not hard to see why! The reason why the price of a Ciao Bimba doll cannot be less than it is, can be found in such beautiful details.
Talking of natural materials being good for the soul, here are a few of the many Ciao Bimba photos of their dolls surrounded by nature; just looking at these makes me feel inspired!
Click on the first photo to open the gallery.
And if that pleasure isn't enough....
Ciao Bimba dolls are stocked by My Doll Best Friend.
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