Holley Morgenstern of Sparrow & Berry is carrying on a family tradition of making dolls. Her designs are modern and whimsical, giving a fun spin to heirloom dolls. The critters, faces and even the materials she uses vary wildly, and each doll has its own personality and is one of a kind.
HM: My name is Holley Morgenstern and I am the face behind Sparrow & Berry. I make handmade modern heirloom cloth dolls. There are several categories of doll makers, I fall into the soft sculpture category and would also fall under fiber art.
My work is made primarily of cotton, linen and wool. I do use some synthetic fibers for the shaggy/furry, more traditional stuffed animal type dolls. I frequently use bits of vintage trim, fabric, buttons and upcycled components as well.
I am a third generation doll maker/artisan, so it has always been a part of my life. My grandmother has been making dolls for most of her life and had a very successful business making the Little House on the Prairie family (the Ingalls) for the Walnut Grove museum in Southern Minnesota. I always knew I wanted to make dolls and played with various styles over the years. I made an owl doll as a gift for a friend’s new baby about nine years ago and that was the start of my business!
I have been making things in one form or another my whole life, I grew up in a very creative family and have dabbled in a lot of mediums. I have been working/collecting fabric for as long as I can remember. Fabric and fiber have always been my favorite. They are readily available and endlessly inspiring. Fabric itself is very beautiful, there are many very talented designers printing fabric and sewing has definitely seen a resurgence as a hobby for many!
Creating dolls to a high quality and standard knowing they can be passed to the next generation is part of what I love most. Making heirlooms for people, to help them celebrate special events in their lives is a wonderful thing! I still have many of the dolls my grandmother and mother made for me and I love being able to have those with me. There is nothing better than seeing children’s faces light up when they spot my display at a show. That will never get old!
I feel that most of the people that see my work understand that there is a lot of time and care put into them and appreciate them as works of art. A lot of people may be surprised to know that there are many adult collectors who purchase dolls and they make up a great deal of my business. There are those who will just see it as a toy and not understand the price. People are so conditioned to buying cheaply produced goods at big box stores that I think they can be shocked seeing something priced to accurately reflect the amount of time it takes to create the final product. Luckily Duluth is a great place to be an artist/maker, there really is a lot of support and appreciation for handmade goods!
The best place to find me is at Second Saturday Marketplace. I belong to a women’s art collective called Nice Girls of the North and I am there with my full range of dolls every month! I do the occasional pop-up or local show and I had a thriving Etsy busy for years but due to the increase of local shows and many not-so-great changes on their end, I haven’t had anything in my shop for more than a year, however I can still be contacted there. You can frequently find a very small sampling of my work at Duluth Folk School, Bailey Builds & Friends and Makers Mercantile.
This is what my next few months look like!
Nov. 14: Second Saturday Marketplace (4731 Gladstone St. In Lakeside Duluth) 10-3
Nov. 28: Small business Saturday holiday pop-up at Bailey Builds
Dec. 5: Nice Girls of the North @ Second Saturday Marketplace – special Holiday Marketplace
Dec. 12: Second Saturday Marketplace 10-3
Silver Creek Co.: Friday night countdown to Christmas online sale, evening of November 20th.
My Instagram & Facebook will keep you up to date with my upcoming shows and pics! You can also contact me through my Etsy page or my business email.
I am trying to create enough stock for the busy holiday season. My past few shows have been very successful and people are starting their holiday shopping earlier than ever so my stock is moving quickly. The challenge is I do everything myself and at the end of the day I can only sew so much!
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