Ballerina Doll

This doll was made in response to @calluna’s prompt in the Challenge Chain:
Next up: Take the American Folklife Center’s Archive Challenge. You’ll explore the visual and/or audio Archives online, find inspiration, and create! Whether visual arts, performing arts, traditional craft/skill, writing, a research project, or something altogether different, incorporate something you find from one of the online collections. If music (especially hip-hop) is of interest, may I recommend playing with the new Citizen DJ site, which is in beta mode, pulls audio from the above collections, and is really stinkin’ awesome.
She is based on a photo from the archive. The photo was of ballerina Bronislava Nijinska, who played the Hummingbird Princess in the 1921 production of the ballet “The Sleeping Princess”. (Another source says the ballet was “The Sleeping Fairy”.)

She’s felt with crocheted hair, leather shoes, metal crown and antennae, and stamped cotton dress.

I’m not sure why she had antennae, but she did, so the doll does, as well.

I’m not sure if I’m allowed to paste the photo in here for reference… @calluna, would it be allowed to do that?

Incidentally, the archive is astounding! It has, for example, an annotated copy of Lewis Carroll’s personal scrapbook.

Thanks, @calluna!

Edited for inaccuracies and mis-spellings.


She’s awesome. I like how you’ve combined multiple crafting methods to make her.


You (obviously) had me at hummingbird princess. The anennae are cute! My favorite part are the teensy hummingbirds on the skirt. Nice job!


Are the shoes leather?
I love the antennae!

Maybe you could post the URL of the original picture


So awesome! You’re definitely allowed to share the original!


I can’t find the URL… I kinda went down a rabbit hole and wandered around in there until I got lost! But here’s a screenshot of it.

If @calluna can help with the link, I’ll delete the screenshot.

Oh! And yes, the shoes are leather, @steiconi. I had a large piece of pink leather in stash.


Ooooooh, even better with the photo!

Here’s a link to another source for the picture, in case you need to remove your screenshot.


This is so gorgeous! I am completely blown away!


wow…what a cool way to get into a project…that picture as your inspiration is amazing!

Love that you captured the details and the spirit…


I just started sewing felt so I have an even greater appreciation for this than I would have a while ago. This is incredible and absolutely beautiful! I love all the techniques and attention to detail that you added.

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Found the citation and original (digitized) image:

Photograph of Bronislava Nijinska as the Humming Bird Princess in The Sleeping Princess, Florence Van Damm. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

Her bio from that page:

Bronislava Nijinska (Bronislava Fominichna Nizhinskaia; born 8 January 1891 [27 December 1890] in Minsk, Russia; died 21 February 1972 in Pacific Palisades, California) was a dancer, teacher, and a significant artist in the development of twentieth-century ballet choreography. Nijinska studied ballet at the school of the Maryinsky Theater of Saint Petersburg, along with her celebrity brother, Vaslav Nijinsky. She was a dancer in the Ballets Russes de Serge Diaghilev where she created a number of roles in ballets by Michel Fokine and Nijinsky. Many of Nijinska’s most significant works were commissioned by Serge Diaghilev for his Ballets Russes, and include Le Renard (1922); Le Mariage d’Aurore (1922); Les Noces (1923); Le Train Blue (1924); and Les Biches (1924). In 1925, Nijinska began her own company, Théâtre Chorégraphique.

More of her collection at the Library of Congress:


This is gorgeous! I love all of the details that you included, and I agree that the variety of media and craft techniques just makes it that much more special. How big is it? If it’s on the small side, I am hugely impressed with your tiny crochet stitches for the hair. Even if it’s bigger, I’m still impressed :slight_smile:

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Thanks! She’s 10 inches tall, not counting her crown and antennae. The crochet stitches in her hair are pretty tiny! I used a 1.3 mm hook and #30 thread.

She’s got wires in her arms so you can pose them. Her legs, on the other hand, intentionally dangle very freely. I’m thinking I may hang her from a vent so that she twirls in the breeze.

I think @calluna should do a Library of Congress Folklife Archives swap in the next round of swaps… there’s all kinds of crazy inspiration in there! By the way, it’s quite possible I wandered out of the “correct” archives for my inspiration photo. Like I said, I got engrossed in it and got kind of lost!


That would be awesome!

You have NO IDEA how much joy that would bring to a bunch of Library of Congress librarians and curators! One of the priorities of the institution is to “throw open the treasure chest” so that everyone can find something in the collections they connect with. And part of that is exploring new and creative ways to use and interact with the collections.
(Quick clarification about common misconceptions: 1. the Library of Congress is for everyone, not just the U.S. Congress. 2. It has WAY more than books. 3. The collections are international in scope. 4. Backlogs and rights restrictions mean a lot of stuff can’t be viewed online yet, but even so there’s still enough available on the website to keep anyone busy for years.)


Thanks for sharing all the information about the photo and the library’s archives. I’ll be a swap cheerleader in the next round!

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Congrats! Your Ballerina Doll is one of this week’s featured projects. It is well deserved!


Thanks much!

Your ballerina doll is so sweet and well made!

Congrats on the feature!

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This is ART! All the methods and media and details they make!

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