East of the Sun, West of the Moon… Flock Fairy Tales Magnetic Paper Doll

This magnetic paper doll set has the honor of being the least well known, I suspect, of the fairy tales I wanted to do, but it also happens to be my favorite fairytale, or at least one of my favorites.

East of the Sun, West of the Moon is a Norwegian tale which I like because the protagonist is not a princess and she largely saves her prince, rather than the other way around. I love the idea of the mythical castle that lies, “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” and when I was a child, I owned a lavishly illustrated edition. This posted ended up really long, so I put a break into it.

east-west-samplesThe story goes something like this:

One day, a white bear who offers the poor farmer a huge dowry for his lovely daughter. The daughter is reluctant, but eventually agrees. The bear takes her off to a fancy castle where she lives with him. At night, he takes off his bear form in order to come to her bed as a man, but she never sees him.

After a while, she gets homesick and the bear says she can go home as long as she agrees that she won’t speak with her mother alone. Of course, there wouldn’t be much of a story if she didn’t speak with her mother alone. Her mother, worried the Bear is really a troll, gives her daughter a candle so she can see what he looks like at night.

The daughter lights the candle, finds out he’s a hot prince, but spills three drops of the melted tallow on him. Waking up, he tells her that he has been cursed and now must go marry a hideous troll who lives in a castle East of the Sun, West of the Moon.

In the morning, the castle has vanished and the daughter sets out to get her man back.

She runs into three old women who give her a golden apple, a golden carding comb and a golden spinning wheel and lead her to the East Wind. The East wind confesses that he’s never been that far, but his brother the West Wind might have. Of course, the West Wind hasn’t, but the South Wind might have. Eventually, the North Wind reports that once he blew a single leaf there. If she really wants to go, than he will take her.

Of course, she does, so he does.

Once she gets there, she trades her apple first then her carding comb to see the Prince, but each time he’s drugged and can’t be woken. On the third night, after she’s traded away her golden spinning wheel, the Prince is not drugged, because he was warned by some other prisoners, and he tells her his cunning plan.

He will announce that he won’t marry anyone who cannot wash the tallow drops from his shirt as trolls, like the one he’s supposed to marry, can’t do it. So instead, he will call her in and she will be able to do it. This plan works. The trolls are so peeved that they burst and the Prince and the daughter, now a Princess, leave the castle East of the Sun, West of the Moon.

The magnetic paper doll’s clothing was all inspired by Bunads which trace their roots back to the 19th century romantic obsession with “folk dress” and these days there is actually a National Bunad Council in Norway that judges the authenticity of bunads, despite their somewhat shady historical roots. Anyway, there are some great photos of Bunad’s around and I had fun adapting them. There are over 125 outfit combinations in this set, though it’s a little short on bottoms. I think I might do some sort of page or two of “generic” fairy tale attire that could be mixed and matched into the existing sets… I’ll have to give that some thought.


Fairytale Flock: Starling in East of the Sun, West of the Moon
thumb-east-west-flock-doll thumb-east-west-flock-clothes
Starling Doll PDF Download East of the Sun, West of the Moon
Clothing Download


So far, I’ve done Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Rose Red and Snow White and now, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, but this is the last Flock Fairy Tale set I’ve got fully drawn. I don’t really know what I’m going to do next for them. Ideas from the audience?

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  1. I’d really love to see Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast or the Little Mermaid. I think those would be neat ones to do next.

  2. I love all the Hans Christian Andersen stories, particularly “Thumbelina.” One of my favorite stories is Anansi but I have no idea how you’d turn that into a paper doll. My special needs daughter says she “needs” paper dolls of The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas. My husband got into the discussion and said he’d play paper dolls with her if he had a set of The Three Bears.

    1. My sister’s favorite fairy tale was always the Little Mermaid. I have some personal problems with Pocahontas, so it probably won’t make it into paper doll form.

      As for the three bears, I’m not much of an animal artist, but stranger things have happened.

  3. This is one of my absolute favorite fairy tales (I watched the Polar Bear King movie as a child quite a bit… it’s a bit comical now, but then it was just amazing) and have read many retellings of it… this doll just makes me squeel with joy.

    Another obscure fairy tale I love is Allerleirauh (roughly translated from German to mean “All-Kinds-of-Fur”)… it’s got some great imagery in it. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allerleirauh)

    I also second the request for Beauty and the Beast… it’s my favorite of the more well known stories.

    1. Oh my gosh… I totally forgot how much I loved Allerleirauh. When I was a child, I had a book of that fairy tale, but it was called Princess Furball and they took out the incest bit (for obvious reasons). I haven’t thought of it for ages… I loved it when I was a child.

    1. I haven’t read East, though it does look like a good book. I’m going to have to re-read Thumblina, I think. I’ve rather forgotten nearly everything about it, except that there’s a sparrow and I think a mole maybe? I can’t recall.

  4. I’ve always liked the swan princess (although I believe that it is technically a ballet)
    Hansel and Gretel
    Princess and the Pea
    Andrew Lang is a good author for old children’s tales

    1. Cinderella certainly seems popular and I can imagine that it wouldn’t be hard to draw… I’m not sure what I would do for the Princess and the Pea. I’d have to think about that one.

  5. I love this fairy tale! And count me for one more Allerleirauh vote. I also always liked the one with the princess with 7 brothers that get enchanted and turn into swans. To save them she has to make nettle shirts and not speak until she has finished…and all sorts of other fairy tale hijinks ensue.

    1. I actually seriously considered doing the Swan Maiden (it’s one of my favorites, too), but I couldn’t seem to get a design that worked, so it feel onto the back burner.

  6. Any plans on doing any of the flock in black and white?

    My favorite fairy tale is Falada, which would require a boy flock member and a horse, so I don’t expect that one too soon.

  7. I would really like to see Cinderella. Or Creel from Dragon Slippers….. (P.S. Dragon Slippers is by Jessica Day George) 😀

  8. This story is almost the Ancient Greek myth of Phyche and Eros, right down to he tallow drips. However in that story Phyche was a princess more beautiful than Aphrodite, who got jealous and sent her son(? It depends on the version of the myth you read) to make the poor girl fall I love with some hideous trollish guy. Instead Eros falls in love with her and takes her to a palace. The candle tallow stuff happens, Eros accidentally lets Aphrodite know, and the goddess gets super angry. She sends Phyche on three impossible quests that are miraculously completd, and, long story short, Phyche lives out her days happily married to Eros. Amazing how stories spread from culture to culture, isn’t it.

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