Why Make Dolls
Why Make Dolls with Barb
Here is what people say about Barb:
“I can trace the beginning of my own career as an artist back to the day I spent with Barb in 1994, where her intuition and creativity helped me see all the possibilities within me.”
“If you have the opportunity, read her site, she is a wealth of information and a kind, generous soul, who really helped me learn and love more about ME. ”
“Barb is a creative genius who goes out of her way to produce innovative, quality products. I cannot say enough about her skills and her work ethic! Her skills have helped countless people around the world.”
This is an incredibly special place that Barb has created to go deeply to and be held by those on a similar journey at the same time. It is amazing what can be done on the Internet! If you have found this group, you are meant to be here”.
Lisa F., Australia
“Barb is a fabulous teacher who loves to share her many years of experience making whimsical and soulful “dolls”. Her doll sculpting process is a form of creative expression that engages the psyche and brings healing and insight.”
Val Olson, Minneapolis
“She is not only unique, but compassionate, funny and knows exactly how to make learning about yourself a fun experience!”
“Her work is archetypal and inspiring as artwork for meditation and reflection too.”
“The workshops I took with her were life transforming.”
“She is great at encouraging others to trust and believe in themselves.”
“Her work is accessible, BEAUTIFUL and surprises viewers with their opening up and healing their own selves.
"I have always been in awe of your talent and vision. During my times of low energy and self-doubt I remember the images of your dolls, smiled, and felt strengthened. Your spirit has touched me in so many ways."
The Gifts of Making Dolls
What Dollmakers & Others Say about Why Make Art and Healing Dolls
Dolls recreate the self and the ideal self or “other”.
Dolls are sympathetic medicine – the sympathy of all things connects all humans throughout history. (Jung)
Dolls are “archetypes that connects the living to the past by a bridge of emotions, innate mental tendencies, to explain the inner and outer self.” (Jung)
A doll is a transitional object that his helpful in defense against anxiety. (Winnicott)
The creative process involved in making art is healing and life-enhancing.
“The doll is always on the threshold of becoming.”
..and every emotion can be expressed in doll making.
Dolls represent how we view ourselves from all aspects: emotional, psychological, environmental, and spiritual. Through doll-making processes, the artist intuitively responds to the emerging image, changing, playing and dialoging with it.
A doll can be an embodiment of self and parts of self. Dolls are powerful archetypal figures created from a person’s symbolic psyche.
Tend to carry childhood dreams and memories
Are objects of the creative imagination
Dolls are like seeds in that they contain all the processes – rational, imaginative, conscious, and unconscious, that, in the beginning, is the basic experience of play. (Adapted from Cassandra Light)
Vehicles for making the invisible visible, and therefore easier to change.
Can be vessels/containers that hold a concept, a belief, a struggle
Gives a human form to what is inside a person
Embody ancestors, our tribes, dreams and illustrate the myths and stories about personal archetypes
Rich in symbolism that can be applied to doll
Personifies emotions and in the making allows for the worthying through feelings.
Creating doll directly affects the automatic nervous system which controls body functions and the immune system.
Allows for awareness of human qualities
Expresses the issues of a human quality which
Humans have a natural inclination to make images. Dolls manifestation of this propensity expressed in three-dimensional form.
Have a universal appeal – Humans tend to respond to dolls as they do to the representation of the human form in any other media.
We tend see ourselves in the doll
Represents an aspect of the human condition
Way to study human qualities, feelings, activities and shapes
All dollmakers project themselves into and onto the doll
“A way to see who you are.” Elinor peace bailey
Can be used to free a person’s personality.
A doll can communicate an image that engages individuals in a very deep and personal way; a harmony of sensations that awakens emotions and opens the heart to memories and imagination. When there is something universal in the character portrayed, it creates an invitation for the viewers to become part of something that is larger than themselves. It can be a criticism of the world as it is or a vision of the world as it might be. An artist can portray things we’ve never seen or things that existed in the past…stretching the observer to see things in a different way.
elinor peace bailey in MOTHER PLAYS WITH DOLLS
The doll is a rich subject for me because of its possibilities for including my other loves: drawing, painting, “sculptural doodling,” and “elegant encrusting.” By adding guided meditation and creating a supportive community with my students, the magic is passed on to all.
Dollmaking is a comforting as well as sophisticated endeavor; the drawing, cutting-out, sewing, stuffing, and draping use both repetition and invention. The excitement of making a doll calls forth a spiritual connection as never-before-made object is realized.
For children – Boys and girls can delight in being able to make their own meaningful toys and learn the fun of sewing and gain self-esteem.
– Not-yet-artists gain confidence as s/he learn to access their own inner creativity.
– Established artists discover a rich vehicle to contain many levels of meaning and receive an invaluable mentoring experience.
– Individual dollmaking as an adjunct to therapy find a nonverbal means of accessing meaning. Healing occurs as the dolls take form and inform their makers.
– Men and boys share in the fun of sewing and of breaking out of sexist role confinement.
– I am a doll activist, making dolls as a way to contribute to making peace in the world. My work invites others to come and catch the fear and join the party.
More from elinor
Well I have been addressing this question for about thirty years.
First of all, I refer to Judy Chicago who says that art is on a continuum the more the artist expresses herself or himself the more the object can be referred to as art. A discussion of good art and bad art is irrelevant until the piece is judged against some stated criteria. I define a doll as the personification of material and material is anything that you can see. If you, the artist, say it’s a doll then that is what it is. One of the dearest freedoms in doll making is the absence of set rules. Therefore I reject that a work of art, a doll if you will, cannot be a toy. The fear that the form may be trivialized by association with the female or childhood is offensive to me, since neither the feminine nor the child is innately trivial. The doll form is a tool. It does work. It instructs, contains the sacred, represents the deep desire of the body to recreate itself, expresses every level of emotion from anger to love, pain to joy, and it embellishes space. I would not knowingly limit the form and take from it, its power.
elinor peace bailey
The doll existed for thousands of years before the first child took possession of it. According to Max Boehn, author of scholarly works on dolls and puppets. Archaeology shows that human figurines used to invoke good fortune, fertility, and health date back 25,000 years.
Recently the definition of what a doll is has been scrutinized by western doll artists and collectors, whose criteria are based only on aesthetic appeal. But others understand that a doll should not only follow the rules and concepts for what is pleasing to the eye, but that it should also have the ability to cure, to place curses, to instruct, and even to protect.
Through teaching others and with my own experiences in growth and change, I’ve come more and more to believe in the healing potential of doll making. Since writing has always been as important for me as visual art, the two combine in my books and classes. Dolls hold such wonderful and varied opportunities for image-making that can be explored by people of all backgrounds and levels of expertise. The feelings and concepts are sometimes easier to access when words are not necessary.
We need this connection with three-dimensional, more or less human-like creations. I am not sure if it is all about childhood…it could be the need to create our own personal model of the world, to surround ourselves with some characters we could enjoy.
My work is all narrative and loosely autobiographical. There is no greater form of communicating human emotions and soul than through the figure.
Reina Mia Brill
There’s no great mystery or deep meaning to what I do. I sculpt dolls for the pure joy of creating and having fun. In return they have taken me on this blissful journey meeting other doll artists, organizations, events and people whom I would not have had the opportunity to meet. I can appreciate my dolls for that gift they continue to give me.
“Creating a doll is like looking in the mirror and peeling an onion. Much is revealed in the unfolding layers. It is a personal journey that touches the universal experience. Along with tears, I have a flavorful soup!”