"Carl Jung said 'The shadow is where the gold is.' The process of working on a flip doll in a community of doll-makers under the tutelage of Erika Cleveland was a wonderful way of accessing shadow parts of my personality, those parts of myself I have trouble acknowledging and seeing clearly.
The craft tutorials, lectures, book-making, visualizations, and group sharing all helped me manifest in form complexes that were latent in my mind. I was surprised and delighted by the doll I made and what ’she’ continues to teach me. Erika is gifted at guiding her students to the gold."
Joanne Delaplaine, (Befriending Our Shadow II)
"I was drawn to the Befriending Our Shadow class because the exploration promised spoke keenly to my soul. I wanted to learn more about embracing the shadow side and expressing the journey in a doll. I found the experience to be exhilarating, terrifying, gratifying, and fun.
This workshop series delivered on the stated goals, and more. Erika nurtured an environment of support, wisdom sharing, safe space, and creativity. We grew to trust one another with our fears, our ideas, our deep thoughts. I never made a doll before. I never imagined making a doll before this class. I focused on a lifelong personal challenge as my theme-the driving need to be in control. Even when I know it is a pipe dream, I still craved control at all times. Making my doll-deciding on images of both light and dark-forced me to think long and hard. To experience many different emotions and conclusions. In the end, the process helped me to find a modicum of peace and acceptance.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this workshop series. I looked forward to our weekly meetings. Our time together was a combination of practical tips, meditation, sharing, coaching one another, and enjoying the company of talented, strong women. Erika’s facilitation style is supportive, gentle, and inviting. She valued every one of us. She welcomed our creativity and celebrated our outcomes.
For someone considering this class, I offer the following:
Be prepared to delve into the shadow side. Embrace it, even if you are afraid, do it anyway. It is worth it. You will be in good company. There will be give and take, and you will be better for it.
Use Erika’s meditations as you ponder your own dark and light. They will focus you.
Do not be in a rush to finish your doll. She will grow as you grow. She will guide you.
Be open minded. Be true to yourself. And know that you are gathering with incredible women.
I recommend this workshop highly. It was wonderful. You will learn and explore, and so will your creative ideas and skills."
Angela Roberts, (Befriending Our Shadow I)
" I have taken Erika's 'Befriending Our Shadow' class twice, the second time at the 'basic' level. Erika is a wonderful teacher - delightful and real and a trusted "mirror" and witness throughout the process. Initially I was anxious going in, not sure what to expect and knowing that I have issues being vulnerable in group settings. I quickly relaxed after seeing how carefully Erika and the others were to keep the space dedicated to healing and support.
Erika set the tone for creating safety and connection between participants. The groups are kept small and intimate and provide a safe "container" to go deeper into scary places. I appreciated that she brought fresh material and insight to the second class so it still felt fresh.
I highly recommend this class. Having Erika holding the flashlight allowed me to go much deeper into exploring the dark."
Eileen McGarvey (Befriending Our Shadow I and II-basic level) instagram.com/e_mcgarvey
"My initial expectations were intentionally simple: to learn the craft (and maybe use what I learned to help me simplify the techniques I’m struggling with in making rod puppets with clients.) In retrospect, I know that was in part self-protective. I really wanted to explore my own current state of mind and I had a feeling that the class might encourage the deep dive I needed. The simple expectations were met and the more hidden expectations emerged and were met as well. The classes followed a path that was like a stairway down towards an internal place where the psyche and the soul met somehow. The surprise was that I envisioned the baby side of the doll by the second week and it was clear and unchanging. Really sweet, innocent, trusting, and lovable-/ the way we come into the world. The other side changed every week, And, it took the whole eight weeks to find a way to embody the mystery that always seems just beyond my understanding. The structure of the class and the progressively deepening emphases (readings, guided imagery, etc) were great guideposts on the trip inward.
I really liked having the eight weeks — same reason as above: 8 weeks allowed for a kind of journey to unfold. Although I did not read or do everything, I chose what was important to me, and I allowed the readings, imagery, and discussion to stimulate my thinking but also to just seep into my daily life and my dream life.
Only toward the end of the 8 weeks, I was comfortable enough with how to navigate FaceBook that I began to actually use it and liked reading the longer stories and being able to look at the images closely and at my own pace. I got used to the zoom much more quickly. For me, it was a great forum where there was a live attention to the art as well as lots of food for thought — about culture, history, aesthetics .... so Much!
About the practical technique part of the learning: The E-book was exceptionally helpful for the basics. As a novice, I returned to the “how to” sections again and again. Facebook was good for the way it allowed group members to give ideas and suggest solutions to roadblocks. The tone set by Erika and followed by the whole group was open and receptive toward everyone — and quite a few of us seemed to feel very safe and were able to share our struggles as well as our delight.
The whole making of the actual doll was new technical learning. A lot of the learning was actually a consolidation and reemergence of some very early principles of artmaking taught by my original art therapy mentor Edith Kramer. These principles kept reasserting themselves as touchstones: that art is characterized by “an inner consistency, evocative power, and the economy of means”, The art work that was my doll kept insisting that I draw on those characteristics— nothing, even the elaborations, was superfluous. the elaboration and consolidation of old learning put to a new use.
The connection with the others in the group was slow at first but that’s as it should be. Erika-you were so consistent in your receptivity and your encouragement!"
Barbara Sobol (Befriending Our Shadow II)
I mostly joined the class to exchange ideas, make a little doll friend, and to experience other people's perspectives and see how their stories translated into their doll. The biggest surprise I experienced was just how much peace the process and result brought me. It usually takes me a few months to totally unpack a new feeling or memory, but I processed through (or at least started the process for) a few rather large aspects of my life I either denied myself, or ignored entirely. It was a pretty raw experience that I couldn't quite put to words for a while...
I think the 8 weeks worked well; there was enough time to experiment, tweak, redesign things entirely, and take rest breaks without fear of a time crunch, while also short enough to not really allow for procrastination.
As far as the spiritual part of the course, it helped give a face to and a place to speak with the Shadow, which was new for me. I usually talk to my reflection, but even then, it's just my surface self I'm talking to, not necessarily a deeper aspect of myself. And with the technical part of the course, For the e-book specifically, the patterns were very accessible, regardless of skill level, and lent themselves perfectly to interpretation, additions, and alterations. A perfect seed of inspiration. For the FB group aspect, it was very helpful having things further explained to help refine ideas on how the construction process worked.
I don't think there was anything that didn't work (at least in my experience), it was quite interesting seeing the different construction methods people used to add details to their dolls, and the links to their How To's were very helpful. So, I think what worked the best was how we're taught the basic building blocks with the course material, then continued to teach each other from there. It's a structure that really creates a unique experience for every class.
This class was definitely an exercise in Happy Accidents, whether it was from working the parts I damaged into the doll’s narrative, or from the accidental success of putting parts together curiously to see how they looked. I learned a new way to play and how to get out of my own head! I felt connected to the others in the group, in the sense that we were all there to create and accept ourselves and our circumstances more. As far as the learning materials, they were full of great mind food! Being able to think of some of those topics wound up making some neat mental images.
Sam Margarette (Basic Level participant, Befriending Our Shadow II)
I wanted to learn how to make a flip doll and was curious about an alter ego/shadow. Before taking the class, I had no idea that there are so many aspects about our shadow and found them very interesting. I liked our intimate group which made it easier to remember who they are and their stories. I enjoyed the reflective/meditative aspects of the Zoom sessions. It helped me focus on the present. Reviewing the visualizations outside of class helped me see my thoughts from week to week and how they could be related to my shadow and discover topics to explore in the future. I used the e-book often to re-watch the video links to understand the specific techniques when creating my doll. I don't use FB very much but found watching the progress of other dolls helpful and interesting.
I grew both in self-awareness and in learning a new medium. I was surprised that Grabby became my dark side -- doing projects for organizations which has been a way of life for me since childhood. I realize now those projects need to come second to Grace, my light side of taking care of me so that I can care for and enjoy my time with family and friends. I love my shadow doll!
Debra Lee (Befriending Our Shadow, II) fiber artist, www.debramlee.com
I guess my expectation was to a) make a flip doll b) deal with a shadow issue. I was expecting to work on figuring out what my shadow issues were but somewhere before we started, I thought I had best come with something I wanted to work on. I have done classes with an art therapist before and have really enjoyed the format and was surprised and delighted to find a similar format that I was comfortable with. I enjoyed the format and visualizations and spirituality of the course and came to realize how much I missed doing these activities and with a group.
I have been amazed how both Erika and the other art therapist I knew have so much literary knowledge. I have healing knowledge but not as much or so thorough a knowledge of poetry and literature... I like the fairy tale sections and I ...got the most out of that. I really found the last visualization drew most everything together - or at least that is how it felt… Left me with a nice image. Oh, I am so very grateful to our group for being willing to share so deeply. It certainly came clear to me that I have not had life too badly at all.
I think Erika was very caring and supportive of each of us. She really heard what people were saying and responded in a supportive and helpful way. She put a great deal of work into this class and was well prepared. I found it rich and rewarding.
Kathie Morgan (Befriending Our Shadow II)
I am honestly not exactly sure what I expected from the class, but I enjoyed the process quite a bit. I think the surprises were the things that came up in my everyday symbols and the way the project had a life of its own.
The spiritual part of the work was transformational. I had recently started doing some other work in this same area, but through breathing and meditation. I enjoyed working through these issues in doll form, as it is a medium that I am very familiar with.
As far as the technical part of the course, I think everything was very well explained and easy to follow. I liked having additional links and resources as well. I was able to move through the course at my own pace. The participation of others (basic and zoom participants) was very helpful and encouraging. I enjoyed seeing everyone's work and learning about how they came to decisions and what they were learning personally.
I think it did help me with self-awareness in ways I wasn't even aware of at first. Living with my family during this Covid time has been stressful at times. When I started this class, I was fairly stressed, but working on the doll and doing the visualizations helped me realize the root of some of my stressors and allowed me to let go. There were incidents in my past that resurfaced that I hadn't thought about in years. I felt connected through being in the Facebook group and seeing how other people were working with their dolls and their processes.
As far as the learning covered each week, I like having material I can review in advance of the class and during. I also appreciated the links to other complimentary sites. I sometimes took off on a tangent, but I found them helpful in exploring where I was going with my dolls.
I really enjoyed the visualization exercises. I don't always "see" things during the exercises, but I found that usually that evening or the next I would work out or realize something in my dreams.
Sally Rose (Basic Level participant, Befriending Our Shadow II)
"'Befriending Our Shadow' with Erika Cleveland offers a unique and creative means to explore the process and construction of doll making. Initially, I was concerned that my limited sewing skills and lack of access to fabric supplies would slow me down. However, that was not the case. Instead, I was able to create my doll with a repurposed vintage linen napkin and a piece of worn out denim. I assembled my doll with a simple running stitch, back stitch and an assortment of decorative stitches for embellishments. This workshop appealed to me because I was experiencing a life changing event and was looking for a meaningful way to channel my creativity. The concept of my flip doll explored my youth and innocence on one side and, on the opposite side, wisdom, which I believe comes from age and experience. This idea seemed an appropriate way to stay in the present with my feelings and current situation as a full time caregiver. It also allowed me to address the loneliness of being physically separated from my husband, career and friends.
Erika also created this workshop with access to a weekly Zoom group check in, brief meditations, supportive prompts, e-book instructions and a Group Facebook page. I found the weekly group (check in) particularly meaningful. Our group was able to share thoughts in a safe environment, which sometimes explored difficult and often painful realities. I believe our weekly meeting opened our hearts to be present and accept these complex feelings along with the fragility we have all been experiencing, especially during these past few months. This workshop is not just about “making a doll”. Erika has carefully curated a multi layered approach to guide each participant along their own unique path to self-discovery. 'Befriending Our Shadow' has opened me to many new ideas and insights, and will continue to inform my creative process."
Gail Saour (Befriending Our Shadow I)
I found the spiritual growth part of the workshop to be transformational. My reason for doll making is a part of my spiritual growth so I appreciated the reflective, meditative and spiritual growth being a big part of the class.
This is just a beginning for my shadow work and I treasure the information Erika gave us in this class. I didn't read all the material each week and do all the exercises. I was concurrently doing several other classes where we were dealing with shadow, so mainly I worked on the doll making. I appreciate the amount of detail and content in the written material and look forward to using it as I go forward.
I enjoyed the class. It gave me the inspiration to do some deep work which I would not have done...at least not in this way.
Jeni Fiske (Befriending Our Shadow II)
Before I took this course, I knew nothing about the shadow. I knew I wanted to connect with a community of other women, some hand sewing time and work toward using my intuition to generate art. My expectations were met very nicely. Surprise - I enjoyed the guided meditations. almost all of them produced insight.
Some of my learnings were that I was able to sort out my "imposter syndrome ". I knew that I felt this way at times in my life, but I didn't know why. I wondered who to blame. Turns out, I did this to myself as an undergraduate. I think I internalized the masculine way of accumulating degrees to show competency. Women tend just to do something well. Later, when I was teaching undergrads, I felt like an imposter when I was grading homework. I had done this as a child. and now as an adult, it felt un-real. I even had a MFA, and I didn't feel like a teacher. Erika pointed out that as a child, I was playing. I realized that I had misinterpreted what was happening. I should have realized that It was actually the holy grail of a working adult. I was doing professional work that was in fact play for me. It's very satisfying to straighten out this memory and savor it for the transformative moment that it was. My experience of my group was that it was a wonderful, supportive, open group. Actually, it was quite amazing. It was very diverse and this added to the overall experience.
My thoughts about the learning materials each week was that I personally took a long time to latch on to an interpretation that worked for my doll. It wasn't until the fairy tales, and spells that I could translate it to my doll. I would encourage members not to panic about it. Perhaps start on the piece of the doll, and the details will be fast and easy when the inspiration hits.
Susan Sherwin (Befriending Our Shadow II)
"I signed up for the class because of my interest in Jung and shadow work that has influenced my own personal journey. The flip doll seemed like a great vessel for exploring some thoughts that had come up for me involving my role as a mental health professional -- how I am able to offer healing space for others, but struggle to give myself the same compassion. I wanted the doll to express both my capacity as a compassionate, gentle healer, as well as a critical, judgmental antagonist. The former was expressed through an earth mother type figure, while the latter to the form of a crone or a witch.
In the process of creating the doll, I found myself getting dizzy from the "flipping" aspect of the two-sided doll. I began to realize that this sides were so closely connected that they could not be views as opposites, as black or white. To explore the gray area, I added a face to the back of each doll -- a moon face that seemed to represent the hidden parts. The earth mother is not perfect and the crone is not evil. Their complexity gives them even more power strength. The "flaws" are what make the magic.
The process of making was a transformative experience in my inner journey. It opened up new paths to explore further and gave access to voices that needed to be heard. Doll making provides a unique opportunity to see, interact, and talk with a figure of your own making. I think we make the figure with whom we most need to have a conversation. As the doll begins to reveal it self - shifting, adapting, maybe becoming something totally new - the conversation also shifts and adapts to become the message that is most necessary to receive in that moment."
Kelly Jacobs (Befriending Our Shadow I)
"I have enjoyed sewing since I was in middle school. I make clothing, quilts and home decor and have loved making cloth dolls for almost 25 years. I have loved taking all sorts of doll making classes and to see how different all the finished dolls look. I believe each doll reflects their creator in some way.
When the pandemic hit, I found myself feeling the stress and anxiety of the time. I started looking for projects to do to fill my time and that used materials I already had on hand - and would help me focus on something else than my fears. When I read about Erika Cleveland’s Transformative Healing Dolls, I signed up for the class the same day.
I loved the idea of bringing the psyche into the doll, consciously and intentionally. As i thought about my flip doll I pictured putting all my negative thoughts and fears and anxiety into the Shadow side of the doll and then putting that all away, under the Light side of her. Perhaps I could face my fears and then put them away.
Erika began each class with a meditation - which I loved. Her sample dolls were inspiring….seeing all the different “pairings” of consciousnesses. The focus of the first few classes was on the Shadow side of our dolls. This was easy for me to envision. In fact, I had so many things to say for this side, I felt the need to make the doll bigger than the original pattern so that I could include it all. I put pictures and quotes on her dress. Her hair is yarn mixed with many of my negative thoughts and quotes, printed on fabric.
And then I turned to the Light side and found my vision was quite sparse. This troubled me. This was where I wanted to live, and I had little in the way of a vision for it. It took some time to understand that my Shadow side was full of negativity (imagine a hoarder’s house of stuff, all yucky stuff). My Light side was open and spacious, allowing for spontaneity. Part of my goal is to be okay with that much space and the unplanned moments. Just “being” - happy, joyful, curious, observant - requires much less baggage and lets in much more light. I created for her a garden, each flower being supported by those things I want to welcome more of into my life. Her hair is filled with supporting thoughts and quotes, allowing for my imperfections and my joy.
I found I loved the hand sewing - it let me think about what I was creating and my intentions for the doll; helping me to cement the ideas into my consciousness.
I really liked having live classes and being able to see others work, which inspired and impressed me. I was amazed by those who had never made a doll before. The dolls were all so astounding and so individual, such unique styles.
The live Zoom classes also gave me deadlines to complete my work, which was motivational. I can't tell you how many unfinished projects I have sitting in my sewing room! I also thought the readings, poetry and philosophy shared in the meetings were quite thought provoking."
Naomi Zow (Befriending Our Shadow I)
The process of being part of Erika’s “ Befriending Our Shadow “ course was extraordinary. I am a doll maker and I have made a number of dolls for therapeutic and healing purposes. I had confronted demons and made guardian dolls. However the difference with this course is that I confronted my shadow and befriended my demons within the one doll.
This is a surprisingly powerful experience as my personal demons which had been simmering for over 30 years were confronted and responded to in a healing way. This was particularly meaningful as previously I had made one doll that revealed a trauma, and then another doll to heal. Whilst revelation can be healing, real healing comes from befriending the pain, this enables dissipation of pain. The making of one doll...that is joined...is empowering, healing and transformational.
The course materials written and in video form were comprehensive and easy to follow. The Facebook group was a safe place where each person’s doll was revealed. It is a moving experience to see the dolls appear. I appreciated that there was flexibility that allowed me to develop my own doll pattern, which suited my needs more than the pattern that was offered.
I would recommend this course to anyone. Erika is knowledgable, compassionate and a wonderful facilitator. Be brave, be open, and you will be amazed at how empowering this course will be.
Helen Layfield (Befriending Our Shadow I)
The class was really meaningful and transformative for me. I’d seen some of Erika’s work and was impressed by the Flip Doll grant project that she did for a local Fiber Arts Guild. I’d been looking for additional ways to process a recent traumatic family event, and I figured I’d make an alter ego doll…. And I thought I’d use a pattern and follow instructions, because I’d never ever made a doll before, and I had really limited experience with any 3D work.
With Erika and my classmates’ support, I figured out something unique and true to myself and meaningful to me. The process of sharing with classmates was very powerful, and the work that they produced was amazing….so much more than making this journey by myself. The subject matter for these dolls was potentially very dangerous, and Erika did a great job of keeping me, and the others, from going off the rails. And now months later, I am still processing what happened in this class. It was very powerful and long-lasting.
H. B. (Befriending Our Shadow I)
"My expectation was that I would complete my doll - which I haven't done. However, even better, I have done much thinking and treasuring some of my past experiences - apparently in preparation for creating my doll or several dolls. Somehow, I have developed patience that this is an important part of the process and worthwhile...I am left with a contentment of enjoying this slow journey.
The eight-week time frame is good, and it seems that I will need an additional time frame of eight weeks. It surprised me that I enjoyed using Zoom. The group was great, in spite of my not taking part as much as much as some of the others...The guided visualizations were very good. It was helpful to be aware of the different perspectives of the participants."