Play with Dolls for Writer’s Block

Pretty much everyone is faced with writer’s block sooner or later. It’s when you have to come up with a new idea and you just can’t force one out of yourself. An artist may be staring at an empty canvas. A composer at a blank sheet of staff paper.

a blank sheet of staff paper

a blank sheet of staff paper

Elinor Peace Bailey is a renowned doll maker, teacher, artist, poet and author. Twenty-four years ago she wrote a book  titled “Mother Plays With Dolls,” with the subtitle “…and finds an important key to unlocking creativity.”

Elinor Peace Bailey

Elinor Peace Bailey

The book was mostly about making dolls, but the insight on creativity (and getting past an ‘artistic block’) can be used by anyone.

It’s a pretty interesting idea. It goes like this:

  • We all have mental filters for looking at the world. We can look at the world through our ‘parent filter,’ or through our ‘child filter,’ or through our ‘adult filter,’ etc. As an example, as a boss at work, you probably do best when you think like a parent.
  • When we are faced with coming up with a brand new idea, we try to do it as an adult. “Think! we tell ourselves.”
  • But when we play with dolls, we pretty much all play like children.
  • And when we doll play, we are very imaginative. We make up scenarios and mental stories about our doll play. We get very creative!
  • So if you need to get creative, play with your dolls!
  • Once you start playing with your dolls, you’ll find it easier to play with words, or notes or ideas, and ‘voila!’ you’re past your ‘writer’s block.’
  • So ingenious!

Thanks, Elinor for the insight. I’m going to go unleash some creativity now. But first, I’m going to go play with my dolls. Bye.

Book Review – The Story of Holly and Ivy

The Story of Holly and Ivy book cover

The Story of Holly and Ivy, Written by Rumer Godden, Illustrated by Barbara Cooney


I don’t seriously believe that anyone is going to be reading my blog on Christmas Eve, but if you should be reading this post at some point in the future, It is my sincere wish that maybe, just a little bit, you will remember what your Christmas Eve was like. Warm, joyous, anticipatory – you didn’t open your gifts yet did you? Are you hoping for a new doll for Christmas? Are you perhaps giving someone a new doll?

The Story of Holly and Ivy is the perfect Christmas Doll book. It is a story about Christmas Wishes.

Ivy , the little Orphanage Girl wishing for a home for Christmas.

Holly, the last doll left in the Toy Shop at Christmas, wishing for a little girl to love her.

And Mr. & Mrs. Jones, a couple wishing for a child to love on Christmas.

First published in the Ladies’ Home Journal in 1957, Holly and Ivy are just as popular today over 50 years later. The story is heartwarming, the illustrations evocative, the ending is of course perfect and there is a doll as a main character.

The Story of Holly and Ivy is another book that belongs in a doll lover’s library; but it’s also a great children’s book with a timeless quality that has held up well. Your children and grandchildren may not be as big a doll lover as you are, but they will still love this perfect read-aloud book.

Princess Boy’s Dolls

A Princess Boy Doll

Our Jacob doll dressed as a girl

We think it’s OK for little girls to be Tomboys, and little boys to be Princess Boys.

As the child of doll store owners my daughter had her choice of thousands of dolls to play with. But as the fates would have it, my daughter was a tomboy and never really played with dolls. She loved her ‘Cowbear’ to sleep with, but her idea of a good time was to roam the woods and turn over logs looking for salamanders, or swing from tree to tree like Tarzan on the wild grape vines hanging from our trees. Doll play bored her to tears. So our daughter wore suitable ‘boy’s clothes’ to roam the woods in. Jeans and shirts. No one ever said a word.

Dressing her in boy’s clothes and letting her be a tomboy did not make her a boy, nor gay. She is now happily married, quite feminine and pretty, and there’s nothing ‘tomboyish’ about her.

So I find it hard to believe that letting a Princess boy wear pink and sparkly girl’s clothes and play with dolls is any different.

I have a friend to whom God gave a man’s body with a woman’s mind and soul inside. I met him when he was Michael, and wore men’s clothes, and watched over several years as she became Jackie and wore women’s clothes. I can assure you, it wasn’t the clothes that changed Michael to Jackie!

We sell boy’s dolls and girl’s dolls at The Pattycake Doll Company, and boy doll clothing and girl doll clothing as well. So I guess you could say we not only sell dolls for boys and girls, we also sell dolls for Tomboys and dolls for Princess boys. Because just like clothes and doll play won’t change the child inside, neither will the gender or clothes of the doll.

Barbie’s figure and other foolishness

Unless you’re living in a cave, you probably know that there are some people who think that Barbie’s ‘figure’ is damaging to a girl’s self-esteem.

I don’t think American five year olds think like that. But I’m not a psychologist, just a simple doll salesman.

My point is this: We sell 1000’s of dolls each year, and because little girls don’t have credit cards we know darn well that it’s adults who buy the dolls.

It is my firm and utter belief that when adults give a doll to a child they don’t ever say: “I hope you grow up to be just like this doll.”

I think what they say is: “Here’s a new doll for you to play with and love.”

Where I get stuck with the argument below is: ” The impossible physical proportions of the doll idolized as perfection by so many.” Who’s idolizing a Barbie doll as perfection? Five year old girls? I’ve seen some lady – in Europe I think – who is altering herself to look like Barbie. She’s pretty enough I guess, but I would hardly think that her doing that to herself is Barbie’s fault. 

And when Mattel makes a ‘Celebrity Barbie,’ like the Katie Perry or Nicki Minaj charity Barbies, does that mean little girls who idolize these singers are going to have messed up body images and self-esteem because of the impossible proportions of the dolls? (And from what I’ve seen of those two dolls, they don’t do their real life model’s assets justice either.)

Katie Perry and Nicki Minaj Charity Barbie Dolls

Katie Perry and Nicki Minaj Charity Barbie Dolls

As a doll store, in all our years selling thousands of Black, Biracial, Asian, and other Ethnic dolls, none of which have we ever presented as looking like a real person… not once has anybody returned a doll and said : “This is such an unrealistic representation of a real human body (ethnic hair style, skin tone, eye shape or whatever.) and it’s screwing up my kid’s mind.”

Just saying is all. My opinion.


Why we ‘name’ every doll we ship.

Stuffed Plush Big Bird

Stuffed Plush Big Bird

Do you know who Barbie is? Big Bird? How about Raggedy Ann? If you give a Barbie to your daughter, does she start calling her Luella?

Dolls need to have names; if they’re recognizable, they come with ready made names and your child will probably know what that name is.

But what about your generic baby dolls? This one came into our warehouse as “Anatomically Correct Caucasian Boy Doll.” We named him Jacob.

Baby Boy Doll

Baby Boy Doll

Every doll that the Pattycake Doll Company sells has a name.


Because it’s very hard for a child to attach and nurture and love an ‘object.’ Kids don’t generally name their spoons or their toothbrush. But kids do attach to and nurture their dolls. And to do that, the doll needs a name.

So to make your life, and your child’s life easier, we name the dolls that don’t already have a name.

Your child may change the doll’s name if she doesn’t like it; or it may become more simple like Baby, or Dolly, but we promise, if won’t ever become nameless like her spoon!

PS: If she has two dolls they will each have their own name!