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More or less monthly posts about Transformative Healing Dolls
The "Myth" that there is a "Right" Way to Sew, or to do Anything that Matters...
the latest version-two sides-of the prototype flip doll I have been working on for the alter ego flip doll workshop, still in process: "Sin eater"/Guardian of the Sacred Garden
I have a fear of sewing machines (!) but still use them….
Even though I have sewn a lot of dolls, I still don’t feel confident with sewing and especially not with sewing machines. (Needle felting is my go-to medium but I have been branching out lately.) Once, during one of the workshops with the homeless women at N. Street Village in DC, while demonstrating some sewing technique or another, I managed to break the needle on not just one but two sewing machines! Luckily I had some extra needles and was able to replace both. Somehow sewing machines and I don’t really get along and yet I seem to manage anyway. One of my flip dolls, Facing Fears/Transforming Fears has a series of what I call “pods” that have to do with my various fears and one of them is of sewing machines!
Images above are of the Facing Fears/Transforming Fears flip doll in progress. You can see the "pods" in two of the images, including the "fear of sewing machine" one! The idea of this doll, by the way, was that on one side, the pods revealed some of my fears, and on the other side, the fears were transformed by the healing energy which came out of the fingertip of one of my inspirations, Louise Bougeois.
The myth of the “right” way to sew (or do anything that really matters)
Anyway, what’s my point here? My point is, if you are thinking of joining one or both of the healing doll workshops coming up at Halcyon in March or April, and you are concerned that you don’t know enough about sewing, you don’t have to worry. There isn’t really “right” way to sew. Or, well, maybe some fiber artists wouldn’t agree with this. Many textile artists can create all sorts of beautiful hand stitches or can sew perfectly with a machine and when I look at their work on Pinterest, I find it hard not to feel envious and inadequate. I struggle with making seams that are neat and edges that hold togehter without bulging. I end up hiding a lot under a beautiful surface, to be honest! What I have come to realize is that, in order to sew well enough to put together a doll, you don’t have to be perfect.
The freedom that comes from being a beginner
One of the best moments in the series of workshops at N Street village two years ago was watching one of the women who had never sewn before, go about creating her flip doll (see above). She was fearless. Instead of worrying about technique or the right way to do things, she just went ahead and stitched in the way that felt right to her and her doll was amazingly powerful and expressive. This was a revelation also to some of the volunteers from the Potomac Fiber Arts Association who were assisting with the workshops. There was a freedom in the approach of the women we were supposedly teaching, that many of us didn’t feel ourselves. They ended up teaching us many things, including this freedom in approaching how to sew.
journal image I created in one of Fonda Clark Haight's classes recently, which inspired the "sin eater/guardian of the sacred garden flip doll.
What really matters…
In the words of one of my new mentors, Fonda Clark Haight, who was talking about painting, but the same idea applies for sewing, “it doesn’t matter about technique. That can be learned. But what matters is (I’m paraphrasing here) authenticity and truth. As long as you are expressing your truth, your authentic voice, the rest can be learned.” And this of course can be translated to all areas of life as well. What really matters is your mindset and willingness to try rather than already knowing what to do. For the first workshop I am offering in March, we will be exploring our alter egos. What are those parts of ourselves that we don't usually see or want to reveal? In the past when I have offered this kind of workshop, participants have discovered all sorts of hidden strengths in themselves, through the medium of doll making. There is something about making a doll that reflects self truths back to us. I look forward to what participants will learn in this upcoming workshop and also to what I will learn from them. I always learn right along with you all.
Here’s the information again…
So that’s my little pep talk. Thanks for reading this far! If you are thinking of joining, either the Alter Ego Flip doll workshop on March 14 and 21, 10-3 or the Self Compassion Wrap doll workshop on Saturday, April 18 to Sunday, April 19. also 10-3, just come ready to express yourself and the rest will come. Not that you won’t learn techniques and approaches, but that you don’t need to know them ahead of time. We will be hand sewing in the flip doll workshop (but I may bring my sewing machine if I am feeling brave, in case you want to go a little quicker with some of the steps). And for the self compassion wrap doll workshop in April, there isn’t as much sewing involved as we will be wrapping fabric around sticks. Though if you want, you can get more complicated with stitching there too. I really hope you join us. I would love to have you there. I think there are a couple spots left in each of the workshops.
Also for more information and some answers to commonly asked questions, see the workshops page of my website.
By the way, there are lots of other cool workshops being offered at Halcyon if you go check out their website! That’s it for now.
Oh and here are some flip dolls I recently saw at an amazing event at the Library of Congress, in the Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lecture Series: "African American Dollmaking and Puppetry: Renegotiating Identity, Restoring Community." The talk which can be accessed on the website at the Library of Congress, was very moving and fascinating. I was glad to be able to meet and talk to many of the artists and to hear their stories during the lecture.
These two flip dolls are by exhibiting artists, Barbara Taylor Hunter and Imani Russell.
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I've been making dolls for about ten years now. I believe that dolls serve as representations and reminders of the best part of ourselves. I am excited to share with you here my learnings about new methods and techniques for doll making and healing. So glad you are here!