Dolls of Worth

So, here it is, an idea I’ve been thinking about and playing with for some time, which I think can become something useful.

My biggest problem though is how to explain what’s in my mind… but here goes.

I think it started with these beaded brooches…

You can read about the beaded brooches here:

Then I made this image as part of my application to university to study for my masters in Art Psychotherapy…

And you can read about this image here:

The image was an attempt at art therapy during a difficult time. I’ve removed some of the picture, but around the edge I had written the things I struggled with at the time. My parents being ill, my difficult family situation, months of not sleeping, then sleeping too much. There was so much going on that it felt overwhelming, then added to that was the start of this blooming virus, not being able to visit my parents, dropping snacks off to mum in a care home and not getting to see her, and at the end not saying goodbye and a whole host of hurts that went along with months and months of struggle.

So I sat down and I wrote out everything I was struggling with. Then, when I had exhausted my list I sat and waited.

I thought about who I was as a woman and who I was as a child of God.

Then, inside the figure I wrote what came to mind. Even though I was going through one of the toughest times of my life I knew that God was with me, I’d prayed several times over the months that Jesus would wrap his arms around me, so I wrote that I was wrapped in safety and comfort.

As other thoughts (and songs) came to mind I wrote them down and it was a powerful experience reminding me that, even in the valley of the shadow of death, I have nothing to fear and I am not alone.

I wanted to take this idea of using a figure as a way of reminding women who they are in Christ to a new level and I’d been reading a book on healing through dolls. I decided I’d design a figure that could be decorated in the same way that the painting was and see how that would look.

So, a lot of sewing later I made a figure I was happy with and started testing out the dolls.

So, my first two tests.

Doll 1 on the left is Eve, I wanted to create a woman from the Bible, and I wanted to see how the dolls would work as a less therapeutic form. She’s painted using Inktense blocks, which works well, but can bleed a little. I’m still working on them both, currently embroidering leaves over the body. They also have arms, but I didn’t attach them so it would be easier to decorate the body.

The doll on the right was done after listening to someone talking about gratitude. She is painted with acrylic paint, which is less messy, but leaves the fabric with a tough feel and it’s a little hard to sew into afterwards. I beaded onto this doll, but stopped halfway across because the beads would hide the boat and birds image.

Ideally, I’d like to sell the blank dolls for people to design their own, and I’d like to send them with a booklet with instructions and some art pages to help get the creativity started.

And that’s where I’m at!

I’m actually surprised I explained it as well as I did, I’d be really interested in what people think of the idea.

Published by bettyvirago

Betty Virago is an award winning textile designer. Based in Yorkshire, England, and known for her Northern Folk dolls and the Quilts of Hope project.

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