Getting to create a little doll, from cloth and tufts of wool, is about as magical as it gets. Trust me.
I keep telling myself that doll making is as special as any other art form, that painting is unbelievably magical and so is sculpting. But, but…the fact that you are creating a three-dimensional object, who seems to be alive somehow, who has a personality and looks back at you, does imbue doll making with extra special qualities I believe.
Not only that, but the fact that you are using natural materials gives the whole thing a very honourable tint. Like, you are not producing much waste, anything you create comes from a renewable source more or less, and it can go back to the earth and not leave rubbish for decades.
It is very edifying for the soul and hands to touch these materials (linen, wool, natural yarns, beeswax, etc.) on such a regular basis.
I remember very clearly when I started using a sewing machine, and my first probes were using repurposed fabrics, mostly acrylics and polyesters, available for pennies at the thrift shops in the East Kootenays. Well, it wasn't enjoyable one bit, not just owing to the lack of knowledge but to the fabrics I was working with.
Then, Providence sends my dear friend Tracy who introduces me to the crème de la crème in cloth: hemp, linen, silk, all in fabulous blends she was working with. Well, I never went back. No more dull scissors, polyester fuzz everywhere. Here was the wholesome feel of raw linen, hemp knit and luxurious dupioni silk.
But I have strayed my friends. Pardon this little trip down memory lane. We were talking about how creating dolls is so special, but they go up a ten-fold level when you use natural materials for their creation. It's a bit like the materials shine, they have life left in them, they speak for themselves and they show time and very much the hand of the creator.
This little girl up here is called Robin. She has been the object of my late affection and much crying has happened while making her. Not because she deserved tears, but because the reason I am creating her breaks my heart to pieces.
Robin has been made to allow a mother to spend her last months on this Earth playing dolls with her daughter. They already have quite a beautiful collection of dolls that have made those horrible sick days much bearable. Robin will soon be joining the gang, and hopefully bringing love, not tears.
If doll making was only about creating toys, or dolls, or objets d'art, it wouldn't be half the fun it is for me. If it was only the means to earn a living, I would have changed gears a long time ago. If it was just about expressing myself, letting my creativity fly and putting my skills to the test every single time, I would have gotten bored by now, as demanding as this craft is. But no, doll making means so much more to me. Aside all the above reasons, it is not just a medium for my soul's expression, it is a path of connection. To others, and very importantly: to my authentic self.
These ideas have been inside me for a long time, but Robin has brought them to the surface very plainly. Almost painfully. Actually, quite painfully. I wanted to honour the intention of her mother while creating her, but somehow my heart was telling me that this is not just why I was making her. There was more to this doll, and it was to look deeply at my own life and take notice.
Notice of the blessings and the path. Of the many hindrances, most self-imposed. Of the vast amount of life given, and squandered away browsing with my fingers. Of the enormous amount of will it takes me to create a doll. Of those kind souls around me, always cheering.
Robin has allowed me to take account of my life, and I am so deeply grateful she came at this very point in time. The pain of her creation has been a bit transformative, I feel new and moist soil under my bare feet.
While we go about dressing her and promptly sending her to her family, I am always whispering: thank you.
I will leave you with this beautiful quote, I hope you enjoy it.
Something in me vibrates to a dusky, dreamy smell of dying moons and shadows. - Zelda Fitzgerald.