Thursday, January 12, 2012
Anna of Calyxa Doll Creations shares with us her insperation for desgin and what it is like creating for American Girl Dolls dispite living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating disease that effects more then one million Americans.
The cause of CFS is not yet known. Current research is exploring the possibility that people with CFS may have a dysfunction of the immune and central nervous systems. Living with his disease makes every day tasks that much more difficult. Anna of Calyxa doll creations lives with CFS every day, she has found renewed spirit and enthusiasm for creating beautiful items for American Girl doll collectors and doll lovers alike.
Calyxa Doll Creations is" the boutique for the well-dressed American Girl doll and other 18-inch dolls".
The name "Calyxa" comes from the little town in northern Sweden where Anna was born (Kalix). "A part of my heart will always be there. And since my heart is definitely in making and designing AG doll clothes and shoes, naming the shop after my home town felt right. Also, Sweden is known for its tradition of quality materials and workmanship. So the name Calyxa represents the care and attention to detail that I like to put into every item." says Anna
So how did you get started with sewing for 18-inch dolls?
A: "When I was 7 (1962) my Great-Aunt Vera bought me a bride doll. For several years she sewed clothing for the doll. She was an excellent seamstress and made elaborate outfits with all kinds of accessories: ball gowns with their matching underwear, purses, shoes, hats; delicate peignoirs; dresses with matching coats, slips, gloves. She even put hand-made handkerchiefs in the purses and often a coin. Later when I learned to sew, I started to appreciate the workmanship and detail. It was her example that “sewed” the seed of making doll-clothes in me.
I got hooked on American Girl dolls when we used to get the catalogs. My girls and I would drool and dream over the pictures. At that time there was no question of affording them, but all three of us admired them."
Q: I love the vintage look items you create, what is your favorite time period?
A:"Even as a girl when mini-skirts were what we wore, I loved the styles from the 40’s and early 50’s."
Q: Do you take requests?
"I’ve found that taking requests adds just that much more stress that it affects my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms. Also, it can take away the joy of creativity."
Q: How long did it take you to create a Kate Middleton style dress for 18-inch dolls?
" I don’t have a lot of experience with design so it was quite a challenge, especially getting the train and the veil to drape correctly. Meanwhile, I had to learn how to take pictures with a compact digital camera, how to set up a photo shoot, and how to post photos on-line, all things that I had never done before. Also, the CFS limits my brain’s and my body’s energy. Now that my excuses are out of the way….. I got the idea right after the wedding last year but didn’t have the dress posted on line until July. It didn’t take as long to finish the second one but by then the big royal wedding craze had had its day."
Q: How do you come up with your designs?
" Like I said in one of our conversations, I am obsessed with the whole doll clothes scene, so I’m always looking at things from that perspective. At malls, I have paper and pen to make sketches. At thrift shops some garment or material will prompt ideas. I love looking on-line at vintage sewing patterns. My grandchildren’s clothes provide inspiration. Greeting cards – I think, “Wow, that would make a cute applique motif!” I covet people’s purses for leather for doll shoes. And it goes on from there…… Unfortunately, the enthusiasm and idea part by far outweighs the energy and production part. But it is still all very fun. "
Q: Can you tell me a bit about what living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome it is like and how you cope? Do you find sewing for 18 inch dolls improves your quality of life?
"Sewing these clothes has definitely improved my quality of life. With CFS there were many things I had to give up, but I was able to START making doll clothes and even selling a few. My husband and my children are really happy about my hobby because they can tell mom is better now that she has this creative outlet. They have encouraged me in it and also teased me about my obsession. So if they can see it’s good for me, it must be.
With my CFS, there is some pain and general flu-like aches, but mostly I have the exhaustion part and the accompanying brain fog. I used to love going on long walks and I quit a part-time job I liked and many other things have changed. But I basically have a happy and serene life. Family, faith, friends, loving husband and many other things are wonderful in my life. And now I have this hobby that is exciting to me and helps me get out of bed when I’m lying there in the doldrums. Just like you, I found motivation from thinking about the dolls and their wardrobes.
Q:What can we expect to see in your shop/designs this year?
"I’ve been collecting 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s sewing patterns in my favorites and I plan to make doll clothes using them as inspiration. I also have a pattern that I designed from a darling dress one of my granddaughters used to wear. I call it the Kaylee dress. It is easy, cute, and versatile. I hope to make many variations of it and have a special Kaylee Dresses section in the shop. I will be working on photography skills as well."
Tell us more about your family...
"I have 5 children from ages 23 to 32. They are all married and have children. They all live in this area except for one daughter who married a Canadian and lives in Penticton, B.C. So we have made several trips to Canada. It’s so interesting to see the small differences in culture and I love the way the English language is spoken there. Also, it is such beautiful country in Penticton and elsewhere in B.C. I grew up mostly in Alaska so the scenery resonates with me."
Visit Anna's shop Calyxa doll creations today.
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