I Made this Doll for You

...Goldie got out her paints and carefully mixed a flesh color for the doll. She covered its face, neck, and ears, its arms and hands with the rosy tan paint, and then waited for it to dry.

As the day went on, Goldie ate buns and drank tea, and painted the doll's curls a glossy dark brown. She painted a white camisole and matching knickers on the doll's body, gray stockings on her legs and pretty black shoes on her feet. Then she painted a little gleaming black eye on either side of the doll's nose and finally, holding it firmly around the waist with one hand, Goldie smiled and smiled into the doll's eyes in the friendliest, sweetest way, and she painted a smile right back to herself on the little doll's face.

From Goldie the Dollmaker by M. B. Goffstein

In February, I started off my invitation to the wooden peg doll-exchange with the above quote from Goldie the Dollmaker by M.B. Goffstein. For me, this is a very special little book. It was originally published in 1969 and most recently reprinted around 1993. At the time of the 1993 reprint I was given a copy by my brother and another copy by my mother (this is how I end up with multiple copies of the same books on my shelves... I am given gifts by those who know & love me well.)
However, the quote at the top of this post is only half the story... 

A little more than half way through the book, Goldie enters a small shop which sells her dolls. It's a shop of treasures and Goldie spots a small Chinese lamp -- the most beautiful lamp she has ever seen. The lamp is painted with pictures of "A Chinese family... having a picnic by a little stream, beneath a lovely drooping tree. Two children... sailing flowers in the stream while an old man and woman in flowing robes sat on red chairs, watching..." She takes the lamp home with her and then regrets the expensive indulgence. In the middle of the night she has a dream:

She dreamed she felt a light tap on her shoulder.
"Please," said a warm, polite voice. "Please!"
"Yes?" said Goldie.
"That lamp you bought."
"I made it."
"Oh, it's beautiful!" said Goldie... "But who are you?"
"I made the lamp you bought today!"
"Oh," said Goldie, "Oh! I see." And she sat for a moment, smiling. "But you don't know me," she said suddenly.
"Yes I do. I made the lamp for you..."
Goldie laughed and laughed.
"You understand!" cried the voice.
"Yes," said Goldie. "That's the way I carve little wooden dolls and paint their clothes and faces on them."
Through this conversation, the author of the book gently describes how souls can connect through artwork, even if they've never met. This is what I love most about this book. And this is what I love most about the swaps or exchanges in which I've participated. I love making something for a person I don't know very well (or don't know at all.) I love sending my package off with a wish and prayer. I love imagining that, when my package is opened, the recipient will smile with the pleasure of knowing that this treasure was made just for them.


  1. A perfect smile on your wee doll. Perhaps I'll drop into the library and see if they have The house above the trees..what a novelty that would be!

  2. I am enchanted with your site. can you tell me what type of paint you use? I got watercolor paint for peg people but the white just seems to get soaked up in it...any tips? thanks!

  3. I love my watercolors, but for white I use Liquitex concentrated "Artist Color" acrylic (also, when I paint red toadstools, I use red acrylic paint.)

    Happy painting!


I know that word-verification makes it difficult to comment, and that, due to moderation, your comments seem to vanish into thin air once you've hit "submit," but your comments will appear after approval (really!) I read every comment and love hearing from you (truly!)