Thursday, July 9, 2015

On My Soapbox-My Personal Opinion

My blog is about hand sewing techniques and the historic one
of a kind early American cloth doll.  These early dolls are
extraordinary examples of the creativity, skill and imagination
of the everyday ordinary American woman that "made do" with
 the materials at hand to make a doll for their child to play with.
 These dolls reflect the times, fashion and environment these 
women were familiar with & are a window into time.  Very
 often these dolls were the only doll a woman would ever make, thus
the primitive look to these individual dolls. Women of all color made
 these amazing dolls. While many children enjoyed the fine store
bought china doll, most children from the isolated, poorer sections
 of America had to "make-do" with home made dolls. These finely
 crafted dolls are a part of our rich diverse American culture.  I am
very proud of the work I create. I take great pains to create dolls that
 give credence to the original makers and our early American history. 
To see some wonderful examples of these early dolls:
(There are 4 videos to this collection you can find them all here)

I love Etsy, I've purchased many doll making supplies
 there, vintage and antique ribbons, buttons, even the mohair
for my stuffed animals comes from Etsy.
I have been considering opening an Etsy shop as an outlet
for selling my dollies.  It's the premier place for selling your
 hand crafted items.  After reviewing their policy on
 banned items I have discovered some of my dolls would
not be allowed for sale there.  New versions of certain
items connected to sensitive events in history are not
allowed.  In this particular instance, I am referring to
  the mammy doll.  This is America, companies have the
 right to make policies and run their businesses in any fashion
they choose, I respect that.  I love the American way.
 Etsy's a very successful company.
Carry on Etsy!
I don't consider my reproduction dolls as "mammy" 
dolls in a derogatory way.  Mammy is a child's
 term for referring to "one's mother."  Did little children
use that word in a hateful way?
  Most of the wonderful historic black cloth dolls
 do have a common thread; they have a particular style of
clothing and familiar look about them.  The same goes
 for the prairie or homesteader cloth dolls. All the early
one of a kind cloth dolls were made by ordinary women
with skill and love for a child to play with. I find it sad that
dolls fashioned in this way are considered offensive &
could arbitrarily be relegated to a category of hate but, that
 seems to be the way the wind is blowing.

As an American and an artist, it greatly concerns me when
 an American company bases policy on current social trends
 rather than facts and legality.  Don't American companies
prosper because of our American freedoms?  When is it
okay to squelch artistic freedom, ideas, or the written word.
Where does it stop?

Instead of opening a shop, I sent Etsy this e-mail.  It
pained me to do so, as I will have to look long and hard
 to find the right supplies for my dolls.  I don't think
Etsy will notice, I'm a teeny tiny drop in their monetary
bucket but, as an American I feel compelled to
speak my mind.

Hopefully, I still have the right to my opinion.

It has come to my attention that "new" versions of certain items connected to sensitive events in history are prohibited on Etsy. I was considering opening a shop, but after reviewing your policy I have decided not to do so. I am a historical cloth doll maker and on occasion I make historical reproductions of black American dolls. My dolls are reproductions of famous black dolls, mostly from the Hatch Collection. I take great care to make fine examples of the these fabulous historic black dolls. I am greatly concerned about living in a country where we are afraid we might offend someone. This is another example of political correctness gone amuck. What has happened to "If something offends you.....don't buy it, don't watch it, don't read it??"  It's called choice.
A generation which ignores history has no past: and no future.
- Lazarus Long, from the works of Robert Heinlein
A society or government that squelches creativity, ideas or silences dissent is not a democracy. Etsy is bowing to the current winds. If you continue policies such as this, be careful what you wish for. A day may come when you are at the receiving end. I have removed Etsy from my favorites, please eliminate me from your site.
Sherri Farley Make Do Dolls

Hate comes from ignorance and fear
not ladies sittin' in their craft rooms, makin'
innocent dollies, tryin' to earn a livin' or a
few coins for their pocketbook.
I find the notion frighteningly Orwellian.
As a country we have a complex history,
 some of it is rather shameful, but it's who
 we are as Americans.  Ignoring "bits" of history
 won't change it nor will it allow us to grow
 as a society.

George Santayana, philosopher, essayist, poet 
and novelist once said.
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."



  1. Amen! I am glad to know you stand up for what you believe in. And I totally agree with you.

    1. Thank you Sandra for your supporting comment.

  2. Great letter Sherri, and I am so proud that you spoke up on such an important issue that I was not aware of regarding their policy on Black Folk Art dolls..

    1. Thank you Judy, I appreciate your support. It's a controversial subject.

  3. Did you get a reply from Etsy? I'm very conflicted, because I get a lot of business through Etsy, but some of their policies leave me wondering.........I thought their ruling on black cloth dolls was more about the disparaging "golliwog" variety, though.

    1. It's a shame Etsy doesn't engage more with their sellers - they really are shooting themselves in the foot! We ignore history at our peril and sanitising it to make it more palatable to the sensibilities of a few is just plain wrong, in my opinion. Anyway, I'm finding that I am able to sell more directly from posting about the work on my blog and Facebook......I'm sure you'll find the same.
      Etsy used to be so good, but it is rapidly becoming something many of its' sellers would rather not be associated with. Good luck Sherri! Your dolls will speak for themselves.

    2. Thank you Susan, I am overwhelmed with this support from my fellow doll makers!!

    3. I will refer you to this site:

  4. Now isn't this just sooo sad! Good for you for standing up for what you believe; more of us should do the same. I'm sure your sweet olls will sell without Etsy. You go girl!!!

    1. Thank you, I know this is a very controversial subject to many. I appreciate the support!

  5. I have never really looked into selling on etsy, but I can tell every one that black dolls are not the only things coming under the "not allowed" list. Ebay has banned the selling of the confederate flag. I agree that it is sad that such beautiful black dolls should be looked on with resentment by anyone. I don't know any one who doesn't love black dolls. I just made some Civil war soldier dolls for my brother in law, and wouldn't be surprised if these might not be welcome on some selling sites, but as you say, it is history. You told Etsy how you felt and you are so right in all you said. When one opportunity goes away, another usually opens up. We have to make what appeals to us and knowing you and how talented and sweet and that you make your dolls according to how they were made in old times, no one could not love them or have any objections to any of your dolls. I know from personal experience how grand your little dolls are.

    1. Thank you Martha you are always so kind and supportive.

  6. Sherri have looked into the I have noticed a lot of artist are now using this site. I my self have been fed up with etsy and there polices.

    1. Thank you for the information. Their motto--We Believe In The Artist!

  7. Martha is so right..."When one opportunity goes away, another usually opens up." They (Etsy) just might drive us to a better place! All I have to say is, Yay for Make-Do Dolls and the history behind each one!

  8. Thank you, the support of doll makers means more than I can say!

  9. Times are changing and not all of it for the best. Wonderful letter! Don't let any site dictate what you should or should not make. Your dolls are beautiful and not meant to be disrespectful.

  10. I guess i am rather confused about Etsy policies. If primitive black dolls are banned..why are several current listings for Primitive black mammy types and various versions? I've never viewed your dolls as offensive to black people. I admire your attention to details. In most cases your dolls are sewn at a much higher quality than what I can see in the photos of actual antique cloth dolls. Your right...If someone doesn't like something they dont have to buy it. There a customer for just about anything these days. Keep up the fabulous work on your dolls Sherri! The right buyer will be blessed to add them to their collections.

  11. I want to thank you for your supportive comment. Literally, I was brought to tears. You have lifted my soul more than you can ever imagine. Did you read my my post today? I really can't comment on their policies. So, I guess you will have to e-mail Etsy for further clarification. Good luck, I'm still confused! I will also refer you to the Stitch Fiddler site. you can see her latest post. She is a fine doll maker, I happened to see her post the same day I was reading Etsy's shop policies. It's very shocking to discover that the dolls I make can arbitrarily be relegated to a category of hate with no respect for the history, cultural value and the fine skill of the makers of these amazing dolls. Never have I made a doll with the intention of denigrating any individual or group. I don't know a single doll maker that does. I have no desire to be part of company that insinuates I or any other doll maker create something hateful. I will continue to made black dolls, I am very proud of the work I do. Recreating a historic doll like one from the Hatch Collection is hard work so I don't make many! I will just putter along here in the cabin offering them for sale on my site. Again, hearing from such a "talented" doll maker who respects the work I do has meant the world to me. I thank you for speaking up too!

  12. Sherri, I want to THANK-YOU for the support you have chosen to give me along with those who have supported you and your beautiful historical reproduction Hatch Dolls you make.

    As you know, I have made African American Dolls. I've enjoyed the pleasure of selling these dolls on Etsy until recently when one of my African American Dolls listed on Etsy was deactivated due to Etsy's new banned item policy. They made the determination that the doll was a new version of the "Mammy" doll.

    I'm glad that you wrote Etsy and a fabulous letter it was! I agree with you whole heartedly and believe as an artist that these limitations are based on current social trends rather than facts and legality.

    I am considering leaving Etsy due to these new policies of banned items. At first I thought I will never make these dolls again, and then I thought that's exactly what this is all about...controlling an artist on what should and should not be made as not to offend. I've never made one doll with the intention of offending anyone. But what about all the African American dolls I sold? They were well loved by the buyers. Several of my dolls were custom orders.

    I plan to make African American Historical Dolls and will sale them on my own web or blogger.


    Bethann Scott

    1. Your most welcome Bethann. I am proud to stand by my fellow doll makers in defense of freedom of creative expression!! Hate comes from ignorance and fear not ladies sitting in their craft rooms making little innocent dollies. It's creepy and Orwellian.

  13. Thumbs up to everyone for standing up for what they believe. Sherri, the love and talent you put into your dolls, black or white, would bring a tear to any girl to own one. We, as a society, have to make our stand against the wrongs "politically correct". I, too, agree with Martha - another opportunity will open up. Chins high and be proud. We can make a difference by standing together. Love you Sherri.

  14. I can always count on you to have my back Cinders!


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