Welcome to Transformative Healing Dolls BLOG
More or less monthly posts about Transformative Healing Dolls
.Winter is here though it doesn't really feel like it in DC. It's been unusually warm here. I even saw forsythia and pussy willows this weekend! I've been doing some fun explorations in my studio lately. The image above is from a workshop I am taking called "The Down Deep" with the amazing Fonda Clark Haight. I highly recommend it. We are using a variety of techniques to tap into our deepest selves. This one came from a process of starting with an "ugly background" and finding images in it. Still exploring what this one is about though I'm calling it "Elven Fairy Solstice Ritual" for now. The Celtic symbol of the male elf's chest (which I added later, see left) has to do with the union of sky, earth and sea.
It's been fun getting back to painting and drawing and also fun to play around without the pressure of an end result. I've been posting about what is coming up on my Instagram page.
Some thoughts about transformation...
Recently I sold the last of the small versions of my Rhea: Shedding the Old doll. Greg Sandow wanted the doll as a holiday gift for his wife, Anne, who was retiring from a long-held position as classical music critic at the Washington Post. Greg reported that his wife found the doll to be inspirational during her time of transition and that she will be keeping it on her desk at home. Thank you to Greg and Anne for letting me share your story!
It turns out that making this doll was a pivotal experience for me as well. The larger version of this doll was one of the first dolls that I ever made. She was the doll that got me started with Transformative Healing Dolls. Fulfilling this request for the small Rhea doll got me thinking about the metaphor of shedding the old that this doll represents.
I was reading Buddhist healer and transformational speaker, Tara Brach's new book, Radical Compassion, that I mentioned in my last newsletter and she mentioned a wonderful story about shedding skin.
Here's the story, apparently a traditional story from Polynesia:
"In ancient times, a revered tribal leader went regularly to the river to shed her skin, each time returning to her village renewed and invigorated. But one day, things changed. Instead of floating away, her old skin got caught in a bit of driftwood. And when she returned home, her daughter ran away from her in fear, because this raw-skinned person no longer looked like her familiar self.
Finally, unable to comfort her daughter, the woman went back to the river, found her old skin, and put it back on. And from that time on, the story tells us, humans lost their power to rejuvenate, to live and love fully. They became mere mortals, entangled in fears of failure and the need to cover over their flaws." page 57, Radical Compassion.
I love this story! It reminds me to return to that place of newness whenever I can, instead of getting stuck in habits out of fear or just because of being used to a certain way of doing things. I guess that all of my dolls are about change in some way. Recently, the flip doll has become an important metaphor for me and I have a couple things to share about my recent adventures with flip dolls below.
Adventures with Flip dolls..
I'm offering another flip doll workshop at Halcyon in DC, this time about alter egos. This image is of the flip doll workshop last year that was about grandmothers and ancestors.
Upcoming flip doll workshop...Saturdays, March 14 and 21 at the Halcyon Center in DC. 10 to 3 pm each day. If you'd like to join us, you can sign up on the Halcyon site.
This is what I said about the workshop on the Halcyon website:
Alter Ego Flip Doll workshop. With their built in connection to one another, flip dolls are a perfect medium to explore our alter ego; the side of our personality that is usually hidden and can represent a hidden strength or a darker side of ourselves we may not be aware of. Participants will have the chance to represent the 'face' they present to the world and their alternative self in one doll. The workshop will start with a brief guided meditation and journaling before leaping into doll making.
This workshop promises to be a lot of fun and a chance for inner exploration through doll making. You don't have to know anything about doll making to come to the workshop-there will be lots of guidance and it's more about expressing yourself than making something perfect. If you came to the last one, this will build on what you did then.
Here's what some previous participants said about the flip doll workshop last year.
The beautifully expressive flip doll below is from the previous "Ancestors and Grandmothers" flip doll workshop and is by art therapist, Julie Wood Merchant. The doll in a blue dress is her maternal grandmother and the doll in the purple dress is her paternal grandmother. Kudos to Julie and thank you for letting me share this doll (which she finished at home, giving her time to add more details.)
And on another front, one of my flip dolls was recently accepted to an exhibit at a venue where I also showed last year, the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Art Center.
My doll, "Medusa and the Octopus" is going to be in a show called "SHE: An Expression of Womanhood," juried by Camy Clough, of the Smithsonian Museum of American History, from February 14th to September 27th. The reception is February 14th.
Here's what I said about the doll in my artist statement for the exhibit: "this two sided doll, in showing another side to the iconic Medusa figure, utilises her and the octopus as symbols of the source of woman's creativity. One on side "Medusa" swims free with the octopus at the bottom of the ocean. On the other side they sit drinking tea together. As women, we are boundless and free, yet at times we do like to sit and drink tea with an octopus."
The Annmarie Center is a wonderful place, located on Solomans Island and built on a beautiful wooded landscape. They even have a "Women's Walk,"...this lovely walk features a selection of bronze female figures intended as a celebration of the female form as well as an exploration of the experience of being female. From Gerhard Marcks' youthful Girl with Braids to Nelly Bar's shadow-like Standing Nude and Francisco Zuniga's grandmotherly Seated Woman, this evocative collection affords the opportunity to reflect upon significant women in your life. Benches along the walk allow for thoughtful contemplation." It's a beautiful place for a weekend excursion!
One last piece of inspiration on the theme of transformation. This poem was brought to my attention by one of my on-line friends and for me is a good reminder of the way transformation usually works in the real world.
You keep waiting for something to happen,
the thing that lifts you out of yourself,
catapults you into doing all the things you’ve put off
the great things you’re meant to do in your life,
but somehow never quite get to.
You keep waiting for the planets to shift
the new moon to bring news,
the universe to align, something to give.
Meanwhile, the pile of papers, the laundry, the dishes the job— it all stacks up while you keep hoping
for some miracle to blast down upon you,
scattering the piles to the winds.
Sometimes you lie in bed, terrified of your life.
Sometimes you laugh at the privilege of waking.
But all the while, life goes on in its messy way.
And then you turn forty. Or fifty. Or sixty…
and some part of you realizes you are not alone
and you find signs of this in the animal kingdom --
when a snake sheds its skin its eyes glaze over,
it slinks under a rock, not wanting to be touched,
and when caterpillar turns to butterfly
if the pupa is brushed, it will die --
and when the bird taps its beak hungrily against the egg
it’s because the thing is too small, too small,
and it needs to break out.
And midlife walks you into that wisdom
that this is what transformation looks like --
the mess of it, the tapping at the walls of your life,
the yearning and writhing and pushing,
until one day, one day
you emerge from the wreck
embracing both the immense dawn
and the dusk of the body,
just as you are.
- Leza Lowitz
So wonderful to be here and to have you all here too! I have lots of plans for the new year. New shows and hopefully more workshops. I look forward to sharing new developments with you here.
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!