Welcome to Transformative Healing Dolls BLOG
“Encouraging Community Engagement and Vision”
The CRAVE grant and spotlight on Erika and Stacy’s featured fiber sculptures
Materialized Magic started back in March of 2015, when Stacy Cantrell and Erika Cleveland first received the grant that made this project possible. Stacy and Erika met at the art exhibition titled, In the Flesh 5, at the Torpedo Factory’s Target Gallery. They realized they shared a passion in creating large scale fiber figures with a mythical, magical theme and they decided to collaborate and work together in the future.
Erika and Stacy present their proposal for Materialized Magic at the CRAVE micro grant dinner at Convergence in March 2015
Stacy’s Crocheted Mermaid
Stacy’s work titled, “The Mermaid and the King”, was created in 2016 for Materialized Magic. “Every magical land needs a Mermaid!”, Stacy states. Mermaids exist in many world mythologies even though they may go by many different names such as sirens, shapeshifters, pearl weepers and spell singers. They are often intriguing and beautiful. Stacy has wanted to create a mermaid for a while and acquired special yarns to create her. She is entirely crocheted including her hair, eyes, tail, hands and even her lips! “The only item not crocheted is her eyelashes, which were purchased at my local neighborhood pharmacy from the makeup department”, she chuckles. Her companion, is actually King Poseidon, in the form of a winged seahorse. He has a silver crown to match his mane and wings.
Tumnus but not a Faun, Erika’s Needle Felted Large Scale Figure
“Tumnus, but not a Faun,” a sculptural needle felted large scale figure by Erika, was created over a period of three years, spanning the artist’s move from Connecticut to DC four years ago. The inspiration was a piece of Y shaped wood, which formed the legs. Then the belly was added and finally the top body and felted embellishments. Tumnus holds magic in a myriad of ways. His many symbols and healing images show that he is a healer as well as a bringer of magic. The infinity signs on his headdress and held in his hands symbolize timelessness, representing the ways in which time repeats itself and folds back upon itself, also the way in which action alternates with contemplation in a full and balanced life.
On his belly and chest are two trees, one in an upside down relationship to the other, symbolizing the seasons of nature and of life. On the trees are twelve balls of light-twelve being a number to symbolize the seasons. His cloak has images of another cycle, a cycle of healing created from collected tears. One one side of the cloak, the tears are collected. The pools along his collar show the way in which the tears are purified and on the other side of his cloak, the sick are healed from the purified tears. On the back of his cloak is an image of a figure from a previous doll created by Erika: Rhea, the Talisman doll. She too is a healer and represents the ways in which we shed outer skins of pain and discomfort as we go through the process of change.
However, in spite of all of this symbolism and meaning, Erika hopes that the viewer can have a relationship to Tumnus by just looking at his face and colorful costume, without having to know the specific meaning. She also likes to hear what viewers see in him.
Come see both of these and more large scale figures in the Materialized Magic exhibit, fully immersed in their various habitats, created by the community.
“Materialized Magic Spans the Generations”
From Jefferson Retirement Community to Upcycle Center for Creative Reuse and Recycling to the Arlington Arts Center
Stacy Cantrell shares her crocheted mermaid with a Jefferson Community resident-left
Elders bring crochet and knitting expertise to Materialized Magic
Materialized Magic, a community fiber exhibit, featured in the Jenkins Community Gallery, throughout the month of July, includes participants of all ages. Some, as young as 3 (assisted by a parent), and the eldest is 94 years young! At the Jefferson Retirement Community located in Arlington, participants crocheted and knitted squares of green, brown and beige yarn, to be sewn together in order to create moss and grass (green,) tree bark (brown,) and sand for the different habitats in the Materialized Magic environment.
Artist/curator, Stacy taught some of the Jefferson residents to crochet, while other already active crocheters and knitters were excited to participate in such an unusual project. This knitting group often knits and crochets for charity, making baby blankets, hats, lap throws and many other items for donations to local hospitals and veteran centers. We were honored that they welcomed us and gave us their time to contribute to our project.
In addition to the crocheters and knitters, some of the residents were willing to try out the much newer medium of needle felting. Ruth, a former anthropologist, needle felted a woodland gnome. Erika taught Ruth how to felt and in turn, was treated to wonderful life stories told by Ruth, an unofficial “mayor” of her residential community. Ruth told stories of her adventures as an anthropologist and more recently, of her initiatives within the Jefferson community, such as creating a theatrical production involving 75 residents in singing and dancing a story based on their lives. As she spoke, other residents came in to watch her and to join in the story telling.
Jefferson’s activity director, Anne Jacobs made it possible for Erika and Stacy to bring Materialized Magic to the Jefferson knitting group. Anne has also arranged for a special shuttle for the participants to attend the opening of Materialized Magic on June 25th. Come to the opening and meet these wonderful seniors who contributed such a valuable part of the project and warmed our hearts with new friendships.
The youngest participants
On the other spectrum of the life cycle, young participants in Materialized Magic learned to felt, crochet and knit at the Upcycle Center for Creative Reuse in Alexandria. (Children also attended Materialized Magic with their parents at the Torpedo Factory and also at the Arlington Arts Center.)
Exuberant and open to new ventures, children at UpCycle learned quickly to needle felt, as taught by Erika. Needing only a beginning set of instructions, children went on to create felted mushrooms, rocks, fairy creatures and animals, using their abundant creativity. Some children learned to crochet and knit with Stacy and other regular participants of the Materialized Magic project.
UpCycle, with its own series of workshops for children and their parents, has a mission to encourage recycling and the use of recycled materials. Upcycle provided their space free to Materialized Magic and was a source for some of the materials used in the project, such as foam pads used in needle felting.
Entire families came to Materialized Magic meet-ups at UpCycle. Older children learned to felt, knit and crochet while their younger siblings would watch from their mother’s laps and even participate with a supervised stab or two of the needle into the felted creations unfolding before their eyes.
The Arlington Arts Center was also a hotspot where children joined the project with the preparations and habitat construction in a special room off of the exhibit space. During this phase of the meet-ups, final preparations were underway and portions of already completed elements of the habitats filled the workshop tables.
Imagination abounded with the creation of pigs with wings, more woodland fairy creatures and colorful mosses were added to already felted or crocheted rocks.
Elena Hocker (age 9) shows her needle felted pig with wings at the Arlington Arts Center
Materialized Magic : Mythical Creatures in a Yarn-Artistry Habitat
Exhibition at the Arlington Arts Center-Jenkins Community Gallery, June 25-July 31
Opening June 25, 6-9 pm.
“Healing Power of Yarn and Wool”
Spotlight on Materialized Magic participant, Amy.
Amy with Magnolia, the daughter of another Materialized Magic participant.
Brave, resourceful, creative, Amy is one of the regular participants in Materialized Magic, a community fiber arts exhibition, which is in the final stages of completion to open at the Arlington Arts Center on June 25th. Amy, who became wheelchair bound around 5 years ago due to a debilitating and painful nerve injury, nonetheless participates actively in Materialized Magic. “These fiber art events are important to me because it got me involved in a positive and creative community and has encouraged me to get back into art,” Amy explains. Amy and her mom Margaret got involved in previous yarn bombs through the invitation of a friend who knew it was right up her alley. Since then, Amy and Margaret have been involved in community fiber activities organized by artist/curator, Stacy Cantrell, whose work will be showcased in this exhibit along with co-artist/curator Erika Cleveland.
Amy, already an accomplished crocheter, became more involved in needle felting during this project. In addition to the mediums of knitting and crochet used in typical yarn-bombs, one of the differences of the Materialized Magic project is that it also includes sculptural needle felting. Needle felting is a method of using a barbed needle to interlock colored strands of wool together to create a dense surface. Amy created an adorable needle felted family of gnomes. She has been assisting Erika Cleveland in teaching others to needle felt during the meet ups.
Open to the community at large, one of the missions of the Materialized Magic project has been to teach crochet, knitting and needle felting to as many people as possible for free. During the duration of this project, over 20 meet-ups in six different locations were held. During these meet-ups, over 50 people have been taught how to needle felt, knit or crochet. Materialized Magic is funded by a CRAVE (Creating resources for artistic vision and engagement) grant sponsored by the Torpedo Factory and Convergence. This grant has allowed us to provide free materials for participants to take home and continue to make pieces for the project. Materialized Magic is a gallery transforming project with a habitat that will include woodland, water and desert elements, all constructed out of fiber.
Amy comes to these meet ups with her mom, Margaret, because they are fun and social but more than that, she finds healing for her body and soul. An example of this healing is the needle felted wheelchair bound mermaid that Amy’s mother, Margaret, created for her, a sort of portrait made out of love for her daughter. Amy taught her mother how to needle felt. Like Amy, the needle felted mermaid sports colorful hair and requires the use of a wheelchair because it is difficult for her to navigate on land. This mermaid will become part of the exhibit, along with the family of gnomes, mushrooms and crocheted puffy clouds that Amy has created. Come and see Amy’s work along with many other wonderful creations for the exhibition!
I've been making dolls for about five years now. I believe that dolls serve as representations and reminders of the best part of ourselves. I am exited to share with you here my learnings about new methods and techniques for doll making and healing. So glad you are here!