I think I need to re-think how I think about dolls. I need to re-think what I think about dolls, what I think a doll “is”.
Now, I have an abundance of doll-making books, from Waldorf-style dolls to beaded art dolls. I have joined various online groups. I receive numerous newsletters and email updates. I peek at different blogs and websites at random. Plus, I do nothing but scour etsy.com for hours on end, especially when I am on calls, looking at everything and nothing in particular. Not to mention, I have run across divergent creatures called dolls in my anthropological studies as well.
When I think “doll”, I think a cuddly smaller version of a human infant. A squeezable toy to love and hug and sleep snuggled up against my chest, as I did when I was a child. But even some of my own doll creations cannot match that standard. My own unbeaded ‘Bobbsey Twin” dolls are roughly five inch tall teardrops. Black teardrops. They have no edifying marks to designate them as anything. Yet, unequivocally, to me they are dolls. Sofia, with whom I have slept, is a rectangle that has been rounded on one side and has a face first sewn and now glued on. Elannah is a knitted figure that has hair and little else. Yet, these dolls are still lovable. Elannah is my son’s special favourite when he’s here. It’s the hair and the soft squishy body. Or so he tells me.
I have been wanting a doll of my own. I have the pullip doll. I have the Frida doll the ex got me ages ago. I got the Alice doll for my birthday, even though it is smaller than I had thought it would be. I have the dolls I have made myself. None of it feels “right”. I go to etsy.com, searching for nothing in particular, and I find these art dolls that vibrate within me. I find a raven spirit doll that makes my heart soar. These are not the ten or twelve inch human-like figures. One is sticks and bits of leaf wrapped in twine with a jewel for a face. This is the doll that speaks to me. This is the doll from which I find myself unable to look away.
I have a tin full of little doll faces that I made from a mold and some clay. The same face I see on many of these dolls, blank shiny moon face, awaiting its paint and its beauty to be drawn on to its smooth surface. I often catch myself picking the tin up, flipping open the lid, and staring down at all those miniscule creations as they patiently smile in wait for their physical forms to be complete. Forms I may dream of, yet have not begun to plan to build.
It was the raven spirit doll that began to sing within me. This little five inch long bit of bracken and dust came to visit in my dreams, chanting and swaying, awakening something else within me. Before I pick up a beading needle to put to a doll again, I want to take classes, or get a dvd, or something. I need to be able to sit in front of someone and watch them do the beadwork before I will have enough confidence to try it on my own. Then maybe the Bobbsey twins on my altar will be more than dark spots of love doting mutely on me.
Any small rectangle of cloth, knotted on three ends constitutes a cunning child’s toy. Give me a little time and some decent glues and paints and watch what I can do. Any stick represents a doll. A few feathers and a stone or two and I can turn it into something even more magical.
I give myself permission to make dolls. I give myself permission to make dolls out of anything and everything my heart desires. I give myself permission to make these dolls for fun, for gifts, for friends, for loved ones. I give myself permission to sell these dolls. I give myself permission to throw them away, or to let the dog have them to chew, if I am not satisfied with them in any way.
I also give myself permission to incubate, to gather more information. I give myself permission to buy more doll-related books, whatever topic that may turn out to be (like mythology). I give myself permission to read and to study. I give myself permission to take classes, to go to seminars. I give myself permission to speak up, to speak out, and just to be.
I can be more than a toy-maker. I can be a Doll Creator. And that is what I want to be.
copyright 2009 TK Kietero
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