The dolls! The dolls!

Catherine and Elizabeth dolls
Catherine doll
Elizabeth doll
Catherine doll closeup
Elizabeth doll closeup
Catherine doll with book
Elizabeth doll with book

When we were getting ready to launch Catherine’s Pascha, it seemed like our little webstore would be awfully bare. Just one book, in hardcover and paperback. It’s a wonderful book, but it seemed like the store would be sad and lonely. It needed something in the store to keep it company.

But what?

Dolls, of course. Wouldn’t any child who loved the book love to have a Catherine doll or an Elizabeth doll? And it just happened that Charlotte knew a dollmaker, Danielle Wiegel. Danielle helped put her husband through seminary by creating beautiful handmade dolls, which she sold through her home-based business, Dandelion Dolls.

And to our delight, she agreed to create not just one but two Catherine dolls and two Elizabeth dolls. Her dolls are usually one-of-a-kind, but this once, she agreed to do two of each.

But could we put just two dolls in the store? What if twenty people wanted them?

While we were thinking that sort of question through, Danielle was beginning to pick out fabric and ribbon and yarn. The dolls had to look like the girls in the story, but they had to work as dolls.

Eventually we decided that the best use of the doll would be to auction them to support an Orthodox charity. We thought a big splashy on-line auction in late February 2015 would help launch the book and help raise money for FOCUS North America.

But the folks at FOCUS told us that they could raise more money with an in-person auction in late fall. That wouldn’t help us launch the book. But it would help them serve children in need.

While all that was going on, we had to figure out what to do about Elizabeth’s crutches and glasses. Danielle works in natural fibers. Natural fibers weren’t going to work for crutches and glasses. She found doll glasses that she could buy. But how to make the crutches? Charlotte contacted artisans and toymakers all over the country. Nobody, it seemed, could do what was needed.

She was about to give up on the idea, and reluctantly let Elizabeth go without crutches. Then she talked to Andrea Ward, an artisan who attended her parish in Tacoma. Charlotte felt like the child in the fairy tale who explored the whole world, only to discover that her treasure was waiting for her at home all along. Andrea borrowed one of Danielle’s dolls from a friend in our parish, and used that doll to ensure that her beautiful pink hand-made crutches were a perfect fit.

We reset the doll’s calendars. Danielle finished the designing and sewing. And then we needed photographs of the dolls. Natalia Drause, a photographer in South Bend, Indiana, did a photo shoot with the dolls.

The photos came to Charlotte in zip files, and the dolls came in a carefully packaged box. And then we waited.

In September, the dolls were shipped to the FOCUS office in Pittsburgh, along with four autographed pre-release copies of Catherine’s Pascha.

In October, the first pair of dolls was auctioned at a FOCUS fundraiser in Phoenix, Arizona. The second pair was auctioned in Pittsburgh. The dolls and books together netted about a thousand dollars for FOCUS!

May God grant the children who received the dolls, and the children who are served by FOCUS, much joy and many happy years!

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