Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jess Brown heirloom dolls

Check out these details: the wonderful strange eyes, the 1920's hats, and most interesting, the fabric is dyed with persian black tea to get the variations in skin tone. Salvaged fabrics and corn fiber stuffing make for a very sustainable heirloom doll. Petaluma-based designer/artist/seamstress Jess Brown is responsible for all this goodness. From her website:
Jess has always been inspired by beautiful textiles. She began making dolls for her daughter, Stella 9 years ago using old cashmere sweaters and antique remnants. As committed flea market goers, they would search together for amazing antique pieces, trims, buttons and findings.This has now all come together as a small line of one of a kind and hand made rag dolls.

Each doll is hand dyed in persian black teas to create variations in skin tones. They are all made of cotton muslin and linen, and primarily recycled and antique fabrics and findings. Each doll is stuffed with a sustainable corn fiber stuffing.

There is something truly beautiful about a threadbare, worn, and well loved doll that has been created with the finest materials. Jess lives in Petaluma, California with her children Stella and Tiger and her husband Erio. She owns a small shop in town called maude with her good friend Stacy.

The dolls are available at boutiques all over the bay area, including local favorite Atomic Garden. For more photos of her work, check out her blog.

Images from Jess Brown. Thanks to Inhabitots/Cookie for the tip.


  1. I would be interested to know what kind of "corn fiber stuffing" she is using to make her dolls.
    I am making dolls and would love to use something more natural and sustainable than polyfil stuffing.

  2. Hi Jani-
    I don't know the details of the filling Jess uses, but there are lots of eco-friendlier options for plush fill. My personal favorite is a Martex product made from textile waste. I don't think they sell this at retail, but if you call them directly, you can probably get some samples to try out. It's a little chunkier (more rustic?) than polyfil, but it's a lot greener, too. Several toymakers (miYim, Under the Nile) are using organic cotton fill, and I even read about one using Kapok fiber, which is CRAZY soft. Good luck!


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