Last summer when I was planning a sacred art practice for my Gaian Soul Retreat, I stumbled upon the idea of making Spirit Dolls. I’m not sure how the idea came to me, as I’ve never made one before. Through trial and error, I came up with the process I’m going to share with you in blog posts over the next seven days. I expect this to be only a guideline for you, as I know what can happen when creative energy runs wild! I’m sure you’ll improve on my technique, and come up with ideas of your own. The women at the retreat in September sure did! I was astounded at the beauty of the dolls they created, and how each one was unique to its creator. (You’ll see photos of the women making the dolls at the retreat in these posts.)
Step 1: Set Your Intention, Choose a Theme, Gather Your Supplies
Consider setting an intention for this doll. Self-love? Healing? Prosperity? To deepen your intuition? To mark the current season?
Think of a quality that you want to bring into your life.
This doll will hold that energy for you. As you make her, you will be meditating on your intention and listening for guidance.
You could also choose a theme for the doll that resonates with your intention. For example, you might want to honor the Crone, the Wise Old Woman, as the season of All Hallows approaches, and get in touch with your inner Wise Woman at the same time. You might want to honor one of your ancestors. Or perhaps you love the sea, and you want to make a doll that expresses how you feel about Mama Ocean. You might want the doll to embody the Full Moon (or the Dark or the New). Maybe you need a Wild Woman doll to shake a few things loose in your life! Or maybe you want to connect deeply with a specific Goddess, like Brigid, Kwan Yin, or Yemaya.
Then choose a color scheme that matches your theme or intention — blue, purple and green for mermaids; black, silver and white for a Wise Woman (perhaps with a splash of red and purple!)
Or — you can just let her develop organically, and choose fabrics and embellishments in an intuitive way, without making any conscious choices ahead of time. That might be the best way of all.
Then gather your supplies.
Gather a nice pile of sticks for the body, from 8″ to 18″ long. I gathered mostly cedar and alder sticks, because that’s what is easily available around my house. You can also gather seedpods, leaves, moss, herbs, stones, shells, feathers and anything that seems magical and might make its way into your doll.
If you don’t live in an area where sticks and other natural materials are readily available, make a material-gathering pilgrimage to a city or regional park. Make this adventure part of your creative process.
From your altar or jewelry box:
Odd pieces of old jewelry, charms from a charm bracelet, crystals, essential oils, anything you might want to incorporate into the doll.
From your own stash of craft supplies, a craft store or a garage sale:
Fabric, ribbon, yarn, twine, sisal, thread, beads, gemstones, buttons, silk or dried flowers, corn husks, etc.
You will also need cotton balls or cotton batting for the body; and Pearl-Ex powders and clear shoe polish (or metallic paints) for the face. If you decide to sculpt your own face out of Sculpey or Fimo, you’ll need those supplies, plus sculpting tools.
Scissors, needle & thread, glue gun, snipper for cutting sticks. Wet Ones are helpful after working with the Pearl-Ex and shoe polish.
I like to use the terra cotta faces I purchase from San Antonio artist Lyn Belisle in her Etsy shop, EarthShards. If she doesn’t have any in her shop when you look, be sure to email her and ask about them. Tell her I sent you. (Nope, not an affiliate link, I just love her stuff.)
As you can tell, Step 1 might take some time. You won’t necessarily be able to do all this in one day.
Have fun! Tomorrow we’ll decorate the face.