"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."
"'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."
"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."
"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."
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.
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.