Morgantown crafter creates handmade dolls just like her Nonnie did.
I wish I weren’t writing this piece. Because before it was written, my grandmother was still alive, and Buxy Baby handmade dolls weren’t even a thing. I lost my grandmother in April during the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Her passing wasn’t unexpected—she had aged and was making frequent visits to the hospital for deteriorating health issues. It seemed like we were getting updates on my Nonnie’s condition multiple times a day during March. “Nonnie’s back in the hospital,” or “They’re keeping her for observation,” and, “Keep Nonnie in your thoughts,” my dad’s texts would say.
On the morning of April 3, we got her final update. Because of the health and safety measures in place for COVID-19, we didn’t get to say goodbye. We could not give her a proper burial. Family and friends could not gather to celebrate her life. We couldn’t even console my grieving grandfather. The best we could do was stand outside his car—6 feet away, one window partially opened, masks on—and watch him weep while he clutched his favorite picture of himself and my grandmother. It was heartbreaking and tragic, and the entire spring was agonizing.
My Nonnie was a crafter. I was privileged to play with handmade toys and dress-up clothes she made for me and my sister. She hemmed my pants—I only made it to 5 feet 1 inch. She even made a beautiful, pink, sparkly formal dress for me in the 8th grade. I remember picking out the pattern and selecting materials during a special outing to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. When I watched her sew, I was amazed, thinking, ‘How does she keep the stitches so straight?’ Years later, with a lot of trial and error, I figured it out.
I used to love playing with the dolls Nonnie made for me, so much so that my mom must’ve recognized it and kept them safe among our belongings, even between moves. In thinking of Nonnie, the memories of playing with those dolls kept repeating over and over. I don’t take those signs lightly, so I called my mom and asked her to pull the dolls out of storage so I could spend some time with them. They were in perfect condition and just as I remembered.
Sewing has become a spiritual practice for me. It’s comforting and fun. It helps me cope with stress. I guess you could say it’s helped me get through really sad days, too. Yes, I spent most of April 2020 at my sewing machine. And during that time, I created my own version of Nonnie’s handmade doll and loved it so much that I decided to focus my business around it.
Buxy Baby handmade dolls are a celebration of my grandmother’s life. Nonnie lives through each doll I make. When your little one plays with Buxy Baby, I hope he or she can feel the love and joy I experienced as a little girl when I received a special gift from my grandmother. Check out Buxy Baby dolls here, or follow the brand on social media @buxybaby.
posted on July 30, 2020
photographed by Melissa Rosic Photography