How can dollmaking help us to know our inner healer? I learned along time ago that the dolls I made were speaking to me, or were the voice of my bodymind. This showed up when the left hip jutted out in a doll right before having my left hip replaced....and I've seen this same thing happen with two other dollmakers.
The symbols you are drawn to put on your doll often relate to your body and areas that are bound up asking to be released. One student in a class was struggling with wrapping a large, 3 foot stick doll. She kept wrapping and the more she wrapped the more frustrated she felt. Once I encouraged her to unwrap the entire thing did she realize that her body did not want to be bound up it wanted to be unbound and released from her bindings....and after she unwrapped the doll she got what that was all about. So often the symbols or the actual process of making the doll don't speak to us or make sense until later on.
When I made a doll to heal my digestive tract I spent time studying the digestive process and learning the shapes of the organs and internal body parts involved and then put those symbols on the doll. This was as if I was saying to my body teach me about you and talk to me as I make art to symbolize you.
Do you have a story about how a doll you made was healing for you?
How can you play with the idea of allowing your body to speak to you through your dolls?
I believe that making these kinds of dolls can be healing and transformative....and sometimes I forget and then I make one..and remember.
Gaia Contemplating Her Earth Self
When I make healing dolls I create a container for my feelings. When I make a doll that express emotion I am being in-relationship WITH my feelings, my self and all my relations on the planet that are experiencing these feelings.
Why make healing dolls such as these?
1. To release the feeling from my bodymind.
2. To take a stand about something happening in the world that affects me deeply.
I have recently discovered the term Subtle Activism?
Subtle Activism is an activity of consciousness or spirit, such as prayer, meditation, or ecstatic dance, or art intended to support collective healing and social change. Subtle Activism grows from the idea that there are many effective ways – some newly emerging, many as old as humanity – to positively influence social change other than overt political action.
My dolls are my way of taking subtle action and be a creative activist. You can read more about it here http://gaiafield.net/what-is-subtle-activism/
I recently hosted a doll making class in my studio for six members of The National League of American Pen Women, www.nlapw.org. One of the those attending was Linda Davis, Minneapolis, MN, and she brought her doll Diosa de los Cinco Sentidos. This doll is the second of Linda's doll creations. Once I saw her I knew I needed to know the doll's story. Here is Linda's description.
The body of the doll was purposely divided into three different patterns of black and white. It represents neither black nor white but a blending. The two-color palette and the three-pattern change represent a shift in our way of thinking. Her hair is a mixture of colorful yarns, string, lace, whatever I had collected. It represents the wildness and abandon that is possible when we leave race behind. It also demonstrates texture.
The facial features were intentionally left off. My goal was for the viewers to put their face onto the doll, to examine what it means personally. Her body breaks the myth of the skinny perfect body syndrome. I used wire and paper clay to develop her arms/hands. The red beads (i.e., her shoes) represent Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz — to remind us that we always have the power within us. Around her neck she is adorned with beads and a medicine pouch that represents healing. Off her arm is her very own lyrica, the instrument that plays a sweet seductive melody. A basket of flowers and freshly baked loaf of bread lay nearby.
The number one question that people ask me about my dolls is, "Where did you get that face?" My dolls have threads of emotions running through them and so it makes sense to me that the face is expressing a feeling, as well as the body posture, even the colors that I use to decorate and costume her.
I did some research about dolls with no faces.
Most Amish rag dolls do not have faces and a few reasons why.
There was several more dolls mentioned in my research: Waldorf Dolls, Dominican Republic faceless dolls and Islamic dolls. There's not much about these dolls and if you are interested I am sure you would find the same website I did. It Seem to me that the dolls without faces, either found in the past or present, have a specific purpose, to be used as a plaything and model that helps the adults to socialize and shape the children into the beliefs and behaviors of specific culture.
Linda's doll invites you to put your face onto the doll and then to examine what it means for you.
I would love to hear what this doll might mean for you.
Find out more about Linda Davis here
Sharing from my forthcoming book
Doll shown was created by Barb Kobe
As I am working on the final pieces of my book The Transformative Art of Healing Dolls I thought I would share pieces of inspiration from the Medicine Doll online classes that may or may not be in the book. Here's a discussion about metaphor:
I hope you will share more of your story in the group about how you broke things down into smaller pieces in order to understand the whole.
K's response to you was helpful for me..."Sometimes it just makes so much sense to break things into its components and take it one step at a time. No rush. No worry."
There is so much to learn about our bodies, emotions, minds. I am notice how a re-education about food and exercise and the effects to our bodies is starting to show up on the media....I remember working in the computer lab at the high school and watching the health teacher and her her class as they were assigned to interact with health programs about the body. Most were quiet and deeply involved. There is so much to learn and I feel as if I am playing catch you after being raised in a system that taught me to treat doctors as the one's with all the answers and trust them before I trust myself.
I am drawn to experts in the fields of alternative medicine like Donna Eden, Lissa Rankin, Christine Northrup, and so many more. Most saying we are more than our bodies, and yet we live in these bodies and our bodies present with a language that comes through the body. When it comes to making healing dolls there's a part of the process that includes learning about the scientific studies that tell us about the part of ourselves that we are focusing our healing energies upon.
Yesterday I listened to a presentation by an artist who had received a Mn State Arts Grant to partner with her son and daughter-in-law, both Ph.D's studying different areas in the field of environment and evolution from a Darwinian perspective. Carolyn, the artist, talked about how they worked together. Her son and his wife, gave her a copy of a book that was Darwin's journals, which included drawings and mapping and very abstract notes and thoughts all put together. Carolyn loved the book and would engage in conversation with her partners about different terms used in their studies. She would listen to the words and turn them into metaphors for a life process. One small example is
Gradualism - The Darwinian belief that evolution takes place in innumerable small steps. She connected this to the creative process and as Kathryn so apply stated...."take it one step at a time." Her art was knitted and crocheted with things she found from nature --- pods, vines, sticks, etc.
So what is my point. I think we have an added advantage being dollmakers. We can take words that describe a symptom, research the details about the system and turn it into a metaphor.
...and then using our creative toolbox engage with this knowledge through art making that mirrors back to us a new relationship we can have with our bodies. ...and when done we share the story of our lessons and learning that encourages our group to made new connections for themselves, explore deeper and make their own metaphors and images. All so creatively scientific......