Published: 23rd March 2021
For over a decade, this Hyderabadi teacher has been perfecting the art of knitting Waldorf dolls
Paushyam offers dolls and these are not just any factory-produced ones. These Waldorf dolls are handmade with love by a veteran teacher who has been poring over them for years and years now
The dolls from the house of Paushyam have a look and feel like no other. Crocheted, with skin tones that are much more relatable than the plastic-y dolls out in the market, these dolls have proportions that are in line with a child's. More than anything else, they are made of cotton threads. Overall, they're easy on the hands and easy on the eyes. These Waldorf dolls are expertly and painstakingly made by Hemangi Ghosh, a former teacher and an advocate of Waldorf education. For the uninitiated, Waldorf education revolves around the idea of developing a student in an artistic and practical way. Something that the 51-year-old has been a proponent of since she passed out of Sir J J School of Art in Mumbai with a Fine Arts degree.
The dolls she makes | (Pic: Paushyam)
An affinity for art and crafts urged Ghosh to seek pathways of alternative education for her daughter back when they were based out of Mumbai. In this way, she became one of the founding parents of a Waldorf institute, Tridha. Her faith in Waldorf education grew and so did her skill in training teachers which she adapted to while working for the school. It's important to understand this aspect of her life because now that she is doing Paushyam full-time, this journey is what led to her strong belief in the Waldorf system of education. And that's why she has continued making these dolls since when she first started ten years ago. And now, they are centre stage in her life.
Ghosh with children | (Pic: Paushyam)
So, back to the dolls. "Today's children have no concept of rag dolls, all they know are plastic dolls. I don't manufacture Paushyam dolls, I birth them. And just like you can't decide the nature of a child, each of my dolls has a characteristic of their own," says Ghosh. Back when she started, there were no pure cotton yarns in India, she purchased her own cotton threads in bulk and dyed them herself in Indian colours, none of those European pastels. "I was using synthetic yarn earlier but it would make the child's palms sweat and the thread itself would become dirty. I spent years perfecting just the thread," she tells us. She might have taken years for the thread, but making the dolls is a time-consuming process too - she takes a month to make one!
More dolls | (Pic: Paushyam)
There are two problems Ghosh highlights for us, first is how even those in the Silicon Valley making gadgets as addictive as they can know the perils of these and the second is that parents ready to pay `2,000 for a meal won't pay the same for a doll. "But I am not here to compete with those who love gadgets. In fact, those who are glued to them will never value a doll in their hand. I have never been into marketing because I want people who value it to desire it," she says matter-of-factly. But looks like she has found her audience over the years because now she has adults buying these dolls for themselves. So that's all it boils down to, a soul connection with thoughtfully crafted dolls.
Cute one | (Pic: Paushyam)
Let's understand Waldorf education:
- Developed by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, it is also known as the Steiner education
- It is an integrated and holistic manner of learning through arts, performance art and other tools
- They believe education is all about cross-cultural, cross-age learning
- Ample time, consistent rhythms and a caring environment are key
For more on them, check out instagram.com/paushyam