A Dollhouse with Lessons for Living on the Earth

Ger, or yurt, dollhouse from above – 4 feet in diameter!

This project grew out of weaving little dolls, weaving and crocheting shawls for them, and creating rugs and kilim-style weavings.

I love yurts, and my fascination with the central Asian ger inspired me to make this yurt as a dollhouse for my granddaughter.

Then I realized this is about living in harmony with the earth. The ger is a truly indigenous home conceived and created from the elements available in the steppe landscape. The winter wind moves around it, never blowing it down. The horses and sheep all contribute. The small saplings by the rare streams provide the latticework walls, rafters, and the roof ring: a renewable resource. No timbers, no bricks, no plywood, no metal – it’s portable, as it needs to be. The sheep provide the wool for the walls and roof. The wool is rolled up in a large old felt mat, wrapped around a log, and the horses pull it behind tied to ropes, like a giant rolling pin, until it’s felted hard and strong. Plants and different breeds of sheep provide the colors. Tradition provides the designs.

Not being on the Mongolian steppes, I took apart bamboo placemats to make the latticework walls. The circle at the top is a small oaken hoop used on wooden sailboats to bind the sail to the mast. I taught a felting class for children, and as they did their own projects, they also wanted to decorate my yurt wall, so they added flowers all the way around.

The dollhouse yurt or ger, with roof and door. Flowers on the walls were felted by children in a felting class. Outside are horses, a rabbit, goose, and two little birds to greet visitors.

Of course it didn’t stop there! My granddaughter and I peopled it with all the things a dollhouse needs: a family, animals (crocheted, knit, carved), friends and neighbors, a table with little dishes, and lots of decorations. The doily was crocheted by one of my fiber-artist ancestors from the 1800’s. Guli perons, beaded medallions, are a favorite. Grandmother wears a knit shawl, and watches grandfather, who is sleeping (he’s made of beach stones). A bronze Buddha sits on a little chest. A container made of dried orange peel is the “tuffet” for two little birds who greet visitors, and a tiny chime is the doorbell.

Storytelling around the fire. Father (with the staff), daughter in the red hat next to the dog, and the mother in blue with her baby in a purple cradle. Handmade felted dolls, and carved wooden dolls, including dog. On the far side of the table auntie in a red peaked cap holds children in her lap.
Grandmother and grandfather – grandfather is the streaked stone with a white head (for white hair). He’s resting in this picture.
Dollhouse yurt rosettes
Guli perons, small rosettes or medallions.
Tea party in dollhouse yurt
The table is laid for a tea party on the steppe.
view of dollhouse yurt with rafters and flowers on wall
view of the wall and some of the folks inside. You can see the rafters and the hand-fashioned collapsible grid for the wall, just like a real ger!
dollhouse yurt horses
These horses are free to run around as much as they want. After all, there are no fences on the steppes!
basket, greeters, and chime
Little birds greet visitors, and the little chime lets the people inside know someone is at the door.

The rug underneath it all was woven on my four harness LeClerc loom.

In my book, The Art of Weaving a Life, the last line is this, about the connections made while weaving on the EarthLoom:

“It is a deep-rooted bond in the heart that can change the way we define our neighborhood.”