“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk” Thomas A. Edison

By Haneen Ali. Haneen lives in London, UK

I love dolls. Give me a Barbie, Fulla or an American Girl Doll (notoriously known for their eye-watering prices) and I’ll be entertained for hours.

I currently have a collection of the above, including one historical American Girl Doll named Josefina Montoya. Now imagine how much will be on the lavishly-spending parents’ bill as they slump out of American Girl Place with tiny £25 doll jewellery boxes and £10 pairs of shoes. Matching pyjamas, tops, jackets, shoes for dolls and girls… But why not make them yourself?

In response to this question, a lot of girls will groan and grumble about how fiddly it is to make a jewellery box; how sewing takes up so much time. Why? The answer is that these girls do not have an imagination, probably from being given so many ‘branded’ items that they haven’t actually been given the chance to make their own.

Although it seems (no egotism intended) that I was born with creativity to some of my friends, I haven’t always been this creative girl. When I was younger, I had all the Barbie clothes, plastic food, beds etc. that I wanted. This was because I had never even tried sewing. What started my creative streak was, as well as watching videos by MyFroggyStuff (a woman who makes realistic items and rooms for her daughter’s dolls on a budget), being inspired by my family. My dad’s hobby is tinkering with his cars, and he can make car parts out of rubbery packaging and all sorts of other things. I don’t believe that creativity is a gift that can be passed down through blood, but I’m inspired by his imagination. Can you even imagine a spoiled child’s parents being inventive? I don’t know about you, but I think the two don’t fit together. After all, a lot of people’s role models are their parents. Wouldn’t you aspire to be like them?

Hence, I believe it requires an imagination to invent. I totally agree with Thomas Edison on that. But junk? It depends on what your dictionary says. Junk can mean numerous things. Bits of old cotton wool, scraps of tin foil, dead flies, pencil sharpenings, paper shreddings… useless things to everyone that need to be thrown away.

Junk can mean personal junk. Remember that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, e.g. compare me to a video game addict my age. I find DS and Play Station games useless and boring, so I could classify them as ‘junk in my eyes’. Similarly, this game lover probably thinks that sewing needles are just odd bits of metal and thread would be considered junk to them, perhaps fabric and maybe even dolls would seem like junk to them. What Thomas Edison’s light bulb was made from can seem like junk to lots of people.

When I’m making items for my dolls, junk plays an important role. My doll salon chair was made from half of a box from a phone (for the seat) and a toilet roll covered in paper and fabric for the seat support. I cut a straw to size and bent it at two points for a footrest and another for a foot pump. A black straw, a shoebox and a toilet roll- they can make something amazing, provided that you have a good imagination.

To conclude: I agree with Thomas Edison, taking into account that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

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