I Just Love The Victorian Era!

I have loved dolls, history, and the Victorian Era since I was little and can credit my grandmother for that. As a young girl she gave me a Godey’s Fashion print for August 1870 from my great, great Aunt Flossie. I was captivated by the dresses and became hooked. I just love to research everything and anything about the Victorian Era. Their history, their etiquette, their fashion, their hopes, their desires.... I also love to design my own Victorian dolls wearing those beautiful dresses. I hope you enjoy my Victorian Dolls, Victorian Traditions,The Victorian Era, and Me blog.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part X - Twig, Pine Cone, Willow and Nature Craft Dolls


Dolls can be made out of just about anything, like twigs, reeds, pine cones, rocks, etc. When supplies and funds are limited parents and children will use their imagination to create playthings out of just about anything that is available. Even pine needles.

According to the Nature Dolls chapter of The Complete Photo Guide To Doll Making book by Nancy Hoerner, Barbara Matthiessen, and Rick Petersen - Page 55, "Probably the most primitive dolls were made of twigs and a scrap of fabric or whatever was around."

The picture to the left is a twig doll from the Anatomy Of A Doll: The Fabric Sculptor's Handbook By Susanna Oroyan.  In the discussion under elemental forms we learn the following, "Almost every society and culture has a history of using elemental materials - commonly stone, wood, clay, wax, hide, or bone, depending on the location - to make dolls.....None of these forms require instructions or patterns because they are usually created by assembling an assortment of materials, moving them around, noting the suggested form, and combining the materials to accentuate the form."

"It is interesting to theorize which came first - the form or the idea for the form. Did the shape of the twig suggest the figure or a person, or did the maker decide on the person figure, pick up a handy twig, and make it?"

If you would to see or read more of this discussion please click here.

According to The Information Please Girls' Almanac By Alice Siegel - Page 146 and 147, "Most Pioneer dolls were small, between 3 and 10 inches high. A typical doll had a twig or pine cone body.  A child doll had a chestnut head; an adult doll had a hickory head. Acorns, pecans, and walnuts were also used to make these dolls. They were made by women and children who traveled to and settled in the wilderness that became the United States, before there were stores that sold dolls."

If you would like to see or read more of this article please click here.

In the Missouri School Journal, Volume 37 From 1920 under the dolls category we learn about twig dolls.  Here is what they had to say, "Twig dolls are grotesque.  Take a twig which can be trimmed so as to leave two brances for arms and two for legs.  The irregular shapes will suggest the type of costume, i.e. - an old man, a clown, a jolly fat boy, etc.  Cut head, hands and feet from paper making each double.  Glue together on the appropriate ends of the twig.  Make the clothes from either cloth or paper."

If you would like to see or read more of this article please click here.

On the Craftside Blog there is a blog post with the picture shown to the right of a faceless twig doll and a tutorial showing how to make one. The blog post is entitled, This tutorial on how to make a twig doll is from the new book The Complete Photo Guide to Doll Making and it is a review of The Complete Photo Guide to Doll Making book By Barbara Matthiessen, Nancy Hoerner, and Rick Petersen.

On the page is the following summary, "With hairs of roots and arms of twigs, this doll is simple enough for a child to make.  Transforming such crude materials into a plaything or art object hints at the many other wonders nature inspires.  You'll never look at twigs the same again."

If you would like to read her post please click here.  If you would like to preview this book please click here.

I found a lot of blog posts on nature crafts and one in particular describing how to make the twig dolls shown in the picture to the left. It is on the Dirt Don't Hurt blog by Karrie McAllister in a post entitled, "Twig Dolls."

Here's what Karrie had to say about her twig dolls, "Here's something we did a few weeks ago, and it was too cute not to share. Twig dolls! The photo kind of explains how to make them -- just find appropriately shaped twigs, tie them together with pipe cleaners, and add accessories depending on what you find outdoors. We made these fairly early in the spring, but I can imagine wildflower skirts, acorn hats, dandelion heads, etc.  A great nature/creativity craft!"

While doing the research on twig dolls I ran across a Lois Schklar: Thirty Years of Dolls .PDF which is about her twig, wood, and stick contemporary art pieces.  Most of her pieces have faces, but some are faceless. Whether they have faces or not they are incredible and well worth taking a look at. It really is quite amazing what can be created from twigs, wood, or sticks.  If you would like to read the .pdf and see pictures of her incredible pieces please click here.

Also, while doing the research on twig dolls I ran across a Barck Arts website by Lori Barck Haynes who is a crafts-person and fiber artist who has been making astonishing contemporary art twig dolls for over twenty years.  

Most of her pieces have faces, but some are faceless. Whether they have faces or not they are amazing and well worth taking a look at her gallery.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her (here) the creation of her first doll (here).   If you would like to see her creations please click here.

In the Kindergarten Review, Volume 22 - from 1911-1912 - Published by Milton Bradley Co., Springfield, MA there is a Mother's Department with a section on Garden Dolls and How To Make Them by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey.  

The article talks about all sorts of dolls that can be made from the garden and describes how to make them including poppy dolls, daisy babies, dolls made from cucumbers, dolls made from squash, an Irish potato doll, apple dolls, corncob doll, corn husk and prickly bur dolls.  Most of the vegetable dolls would have twig bodies and can be made with or without faces.

If you would like to read this section please click here.

On the Native American Technology and Art website there is a page on Instructions for Split Willow Dolls showing how to make the split willow dolls shown in the picture to the right.  

Under the Willow Toys and Figures page we learn the following, "Native Americans, thousands of years ago to the present, have made animal figures and representations of peoples out of split willow sticks. In the Great Basin and Grand Canyon areas of southwestern North America, willow figures of deer have been found that are thousands of years old. In more recent times, willow dolls have been made by Native Americans of the Great Lakes area. To the present day, Native Americans have continued to use the willow figures in creating contemporary art."

"In her early 1900's work with the Ojibway (Chippewa) people living on reservations in Minnesota, Densmore photographed and described a child's doll made from split willow. This elongated doll was made by a woman living at Grand Marais, on Lake Superior's north shore. The doll's head is made of checker-woven willow withes, that are bent around to form the doll's head. The core of doll's body, arms and legs consists of bundled grass or cornhusk that is simply wrapped with split willow branches. Densmore noticed, and the same is true for many other traditionally made dolls, that the features or details of the doll's face are not outlined. In contrast to the one-piece split willow deer, a dozen or more shorter pieces of split willow are used to make this Ojibway doll."

Stay tuned for The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part XI - Worry Dolls and Toothpick Dolls


Friday, February 27, 2015

The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part VIIII - Handkerchief and Pillowcase Dolls


During pioneer times when supplies and items were scarce mothers used whatever they had at hand to make dolls for their children.  This included handkerchiefs and pillowcases.

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts created a wonderful .PDF tutorial on making Folk Art dolls.  The .PDF includes an introduction into "Doll Making As A Folk Art Tradition" and tutorials on making 4 different types of Folk Art dolls.

Included in this tutorial is a section on Page 3 on How-To Make Pioneer Handkerchief Doll, like the doll in the picture to the right.

According to the .PDF, "During pioneer times (and at other times when supplies were scarce) dolls were made from handkerchiefs for little girls.  These handkerchief dolls were called "prayer dolls. They were carried to church and did not make noise if dropped.  Some mothers would put sugar cubes or candy in the head of the handkerchief doll for a youngster to suck on to keep the child quiet during the long church service.  Other names for the handkerchief doll are, "church doll", "church babies","pew doll", and "pew babies."

The Hankie Dolls page of the Folk Dolls chapter of The Complete Photo Guide To Doll Making book by Nancy Hoerner, Barbara Matthiessen, and Rick Petersen has a tutorial on making a faceless hankie doll on pages 82-85 that shows how easy it is to make a simple faceless hankie doll.

According to The Complete Photo Guide To Doll Making book  - Page82, "Hankie dolls were also called church dolls or pew dolls because they were first made for children to play with during church services.  The idea was that if the doll was dropped, it wouldn't make any noise."

"The dolls have been made in various ways and we will show you two different ways.  Similar dolls were made from lacy women's hankies and given to a newborn baby girl with the intention that she would later carry it as her bridal hankie."

According to the Wagontraindolls.com website early pioneers used unusable table cloths to make Pillowcase dolls, like the picture on the right for their children.

Here's what they had to say, "Pioneers settled in their log cabins during the long winter months when they were snowed in for weeks. During this time they did many chores to prepare for the upcoming year. When children became restless their mother would take the child’s pillow case and make a doll as this one is made. At bed time the mother would remove the ties from their doll and the pillow case went back on the pillow."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has an article on by Julie Fordham on how to make a handkerchief doll.  If you would like to read that how-to please click here.

The Historic Cold Spring Village Cape May County Living History Museum website has instructions for making the handkerchief doll, like the one shown in the picture to the left.

If you would like to see and read their Make A Handkerchief Doll instructions please click here.

Handkerchief dolls are easy to make and can be very pretty - especially when you are using dainty vintage handkerchiefs.  If you would like to learn how to make a handkerchief doll of your own from vintage handkerchiefs there is a wonderful video on YouTube for making a Vintage Hanky Church Doll by Maggie Weldon, like the doll in the picture to the right.

If you would like to view the Vintage Hanky Church Doll video please click here.

There is also a wonderful tutorial on the Wild and Precious Blog showing how to make a handkerchief doll. To see the handkerchief doll and read that blog post please click here.

Stay tuned for The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part X - Twig, Pine Cone, Willow and Nature Craft  Dolls

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part VIII - American Primitive, Prairie, Pioneer, Wagon Train, Appalachian and Folk Art Rag Dolls


In the book "Cloth Dolls From Ancient To Modern" by Linda Edward in Chapter 1 - Page 7 there is a wonderful illustration of a "faceless" 3rd century Roman rag doll made of linen, courtesy of Eric Edward, NVA.

In Chapter 3 - Page 20 of the "Cloth Dolls From Ancient To Modern" by Linda Edward there is a wonderful picture of a "faceless" Amish Doll from the late 20Th century and the Pennsylvania Dutch area.

If you'd like to read my "The Book Review Corner" blog review of "Cloth Dolls From Ancient To Modern please CLICK HERE.

According to Wikipedia.com, "A rag doll is a children's toy. It is a cloth figure, a doll traditionally home-made from (and stuffed with) spare scraps of material. They are one of the most ancient children's toys in existence; the British Museum has a Roman rag doll, found in a child's grave dating from the 1st-5th century AD.  " Amish dolls are a type of traditional American rag dolls which originated as children's toys among the Old Order Amish people. The best-known type have no facial features. Today, many rag dolls are commercially produced to simulate the features of the original home-made dolls, such as simple features, soft cloth bodies, and patchwork clothing."

The doll in the picture to the right is the Roman Rag Doll at The British Museum mentioned in the Wikipedia.com article. According to the museum it is a linen rag doll, filled with rags and papyrus, from the Roman, 1st-5th century AD, that was made in Egypt. If you would like to read more about this doll please click here.

As far as American rag dolls are concerned it doesn't matter if you call them primitive rag dolls, Appalachian dolls, prairie dolls, prayer dolls, wagon train dolls, or folk art dolls they're all basically cloth rag dolls and Americans have been making them since colonial times 1630 - 1762.

There are many different styles of primitive rag dolls.  Some are faceless, some have button eyes, some have hand embroidered or painted on simple faces, some have stitched fingers and toes, some have round heads while others have flat heads. Most are made from rags or scraps of cotton, calico or unbleached or stained muslin fabric and stuffed with fabric scraps, straw, or sawdust.

The Memorial Hall Museum Online has a wonderful American Centuries .... View From New England website where you can,  "Explore American history with hands-on activities, exhibits, lessons, historic documents and artifacts. "

Part of their online collection includes the Bangwell Putt Rag Doll  which is a faceless rag doll that was made for Clarissa Field of Northfield, Massachusetts in 1765.

Here's what the website had to say about this doll, "Clarissa Field of Northfield, Massachusetts, was born blind in 1765. This doll was made for her and she fancifully named it Bangwell Putt. Bangwell lacks facial features but her ten carefully constructed fingers suggest the importance of touch in Clarissa's world. Bangwell has a homespun body and is dressed in 18th century fashion, including corset. Clarissa kept Bangwell until she died in her eighties. Bangwell Putt is thought to be the oldest surviving rag doll in North America."

Wendy Lawton, who is a world class porcelain doll maker, made the  Clarissa Fields and Bangwell Putt doll, shown in the picture on the right in 2000. Her porcelain doll was named for the owner of the Bangwell Putt doll and she is holding the rage doll in her hand.

If you would like to see a picture of the actual Bangwell Putt Rag Doll, please click here.

On the Rubylane.com website I found the rag doll in the picture to the left.

The description is as follows:

This is a very early home and hand made rag doll. Completely hand-stitched and made of cotton material and stuffed with cotton batting. A wonderful example of an early primitive doll. It is in fairly clean condition with two small stains on the bottom and opposite side. Otherwise in very good overall condition. Stitching is tight and she would be perfect for any doll or child's setting. 4-3/4" H x 4" W at arms. Item ID: RL01428

On EBay.com I found the antique rag doll in the picture to the right. She has a rounded head and, according to the website, is thought to have been created between 1800 and 1899.

The description is as follows:

Original/Reproduction:Original
Size Type/Largest Dimension: 14" tall
Type: Antique Cloth Rag Doll
Region of Origin:US- Midwest
Material: Fabric
Date of Creation: 1800-1899
Style: Naive, Primitive

As far as the Appalachian rag dolls are concerned toys were scarce in the mountains so an Appalachian mother could make a rag doll from scraps of fabric as a way to provide her child with a toy to play with.

In Appalachian Toys and Games from A to Z By Linda Hager Pack is an A to Z book about Appalachian Toys.

On Page 27 - the R's we learn that, "A little girl's rag doll was carried, snuggled, rocked and loved throughout an entire childhood. Toys were scare in the mountains, and making a rag doll from scraps of fabric was one way an Appalachian mother could grant her daughter's wish for a rag doll......Normally the dolls weren't sewn, but rather scraps of material were rolled together and then tied to form legs, arms, and a body."

If you would like to read more of this article please click here.

If you would like to watch a video on YouTube by hope2fly0228 for making a Pioneer Girl Rag Doll please click here.

There was an article entitled, Local ladies bring back the art of pioneer doll-making  in the Perryville News Republican Monitor by Amanda Keefe about a group of women who meet at the Saxon Lutheran Memorial to make pioneer, or prairie dolls for the gift shop.

According to the article, "Dorene Grebing holds a piece of muslin firmly in her seasoned hands as she rips it into strips; the first stage of creating a rag doll, fashioned after those in the pioneer days...... The dolls are simple, made and bound by muslin strips, then given their own dress, apron and bonnet, and even a head of hair (made by all kinds of materials)."

On YouTube there is a two-part video series by Katie Waller showing you how to make the rag dolls shown in the picture to the right.  According to Katie, "This is an easy, torn fabric, no-sew rag doll that is fun to make, play with... and to give away! :)"

How To Make A Rag Doll - Part 1 video by Katie Waller

How To Make A Rag Doll - Part I1 video by Katie Waller

According to the Wagontraindolls.com website early pioneers used unusable table cloths to make Table Cover rag dolls, like the picture on the left for their children.

Here's what they had to say, "In the homes of our early pioneers many items were left on the supper table for their next meal. Grandmothers used the muslin from the table cover once it became stained and unusable to make dolls for their children. The aprons and bonnets were made from the scraps from the ragbag."

Stay tuned for The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part VIIII - Hankerchief and Pillowcase Dolls



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part VII - Goddess and Spirit Dolls


I have been wanting to create some "goddess dolls" also known as spirit dolls, healing dolls, or mixed media art dolls for awhile and posted about this in an article on my Linda's Blog entitled "My Goddess Doll Adventure So Far!"

I also did some research on them which I posted about in my article on my Linda's Blog entitled A Little Research Into The History Of The Goddess Doll, Spirit Doll, and Healing Doll.

What I discovered was that "goddess dolls" or spirit, healing, mixed media art dolls have also been associated with voodoo dolls, pagan rituals, and witchcraft. But, they all relate to "the goddess" and "goddess traditions."

Some "goddess dolls" have been used for good purposes and some used, well, not for good purposes. They have been seen in various cultures all over the world, and in various religions - in various different forms and mediums. It seems that they are as old as time itself and traditional in almost every culture.

Some of the "goddess dolls and spirit dolls" that I have seen are either faceless (which is fine with me) or have cloth faces, clay faces, have sun or moon faces, even beaded faces. Some of the face shapes are round or oval, some are square, and some are triangles. Some of the faces are made of clay, some of cloth and some are even made of beads.

Whatever the face is the dolls are meant to share your hopes, dreams, and listen to your fears. They provide comfort and solace in your time of need. They provide you with the strength you need to face the challengers in your life and empower you to succeed. To release your own "inner goddess." They are lovingly made and given out of heartfelt love from one human being to another. They offer nothing more than love, compassion, understanding, and peace.

In creating the goddess or spirit doll into a physical form you are allowing the spirit to work with you, help you, guide you, and bond with you.

If you would like to make a faceless spirit doll, like the one shown in the picture to the left, Silver RavenWolf, who has written over 21 books on witchcraft, Wicca, angels and magick has a How To Make A Spirit Doll — The Journey of Magickal Design tutorial on her Silver RavenWolf blog.

Silver RavenWolf used the same pattern with a little variation to create three goddess dolls: Mama Magick, Mama Fortune and Mama Transformation. Both Mama Magick and Mama Fortune - Mama Transformation is faceless.

According to Silver RavenWolf, "Mama Transformation has no face, as the face of transformation belongs to her eventual owner."

If you would like to see and read more of Silver RavenWolf's spirit tutorial please click here.

Crafting a Magical Life: Manifesting Your Heart's Desire Through Creative Projects by Carol Holaday published in 2009 by Findhorn Press, Scotland is a book about magic, creativity, and finding your own creative process through the powers of your mind.

According to Carol, "Whatever it is you want to create first begins with your thought. By investing your energy in your creation, you are giving life to your creation through a huge concentration of power born of that desire."

Also, according to Carol, "Goddess dolls were created primarily for magical purposes, to honor the energy of the Goddess and to serve as a repository for that energy."

In Chapter 11 Carol talks about her own Goddess doll adventures and provides instructions and a template for creating your own goddess doll, like the one shown in the picture to the left.

If you would like to read more about Carol's goddess doll adventures and her book please click here.

When talking about goddess dolls and spirit dolls you inevitably end up talking about poppets or voodoo dolls, as they are commonly known.  So, what exactly is a poppet?

The following is what Wikipedia.com has to say about Poppets: "In folk-magic and witchcraft, a poppet, also known as Poppits, Moppets, Mommets and Pippies is a doll made to represent a person, for casting spells on that person or to aid that person through magic. They are occasionally found lodged in chimneys. These dolls may be fashioned from such materials as a carved root, grain or corn shafts, a fruit, paper, wax, a potato, clay, branches, or cloth stuffed with herbs with "the intent that any actions performed upon the effigy will be transferred to the subject based on sympathetic magic. It was from these European dolls that the myth of Voodoo dolls arose. Poppets are also used as kitchen witch figures."

According to The Information Please Girls' Almanac By Alice Siegel - Page 147, "Poppets were hand made by New Englanders in the mid 19th Century. They were made of rags and hog bristles and stuffed with hair. They were owned by two eccentric women in Salem, MA who were later accused of being witches. Their dolls were used against them when they were tried and hung as witches."

Searching a little more on this subject I found the following on the Poppet - Salem Witch Trials article by Jone Johnson Lewis - Women's History Expert. A poppit or puppet was, "Cloth or rags knotted to resemble a person, and believed to represent an individual that a witch wanted to torment. Actions taken on the poppet, such as putting pins in it or setting it on fire or casting it into a river, were supposed to have effects on the person the poppet represented. "Poppet" was also used in general for knotted cloths representing human figures used by children for dolls in play."

"In the Salem witch trials, possession of poppets was considered evidence of witchcraft."

Well, according to Patti Wigington, who is a Paganism/Wicca expert, "A poppet is simply a doll. Although TV shows and movies typically show poppets as the stereotypical "voodoo doll," poppets have been around for a long time. " 

In her Poppets 101 - Introduction to Poppet Magic  article she also stated, "Remember, the poppet is a useful magical tool, and can be used in a variety of workings. Be sure to check out Sample Poppets for ideas on how to use one. Use it for healing, to banish harmful people from your life, to bring abundance your way -- the choices are practically limitless."

So, of course, I was intrigued as to how poppets could be beneficial. According to Patti they can be used to get a job you've applied for, to protect your family, to heal a sick person, and to bring love into your life - all good things.

Like Goddess dolls and spirit dolls Poppets can be made out of cloth, clay, wood, wax - just about any material. They can have faces or be "faceless."

So, I went looking for Poppets being used in a good way. I found a reference to a Poppet with a picture of a pilgrim girl and her "Poppet" doll, which had a drawn face. The picture was under the Colonial Games section on Page 14 of a .PDF from Sp.rpcs.org (Roland Park Country School - Private School in Baltimore, Maryland) about the Colonial Era - 1600-1776

The caption was, "Children had very few playthings. Sometimes their fathers carved toys from wood or their mothers made corn husk or apple dolls, called poppets." Surely, Pilgrim parents wouldn't give their children poppets to play with if they were evil.  Would they?

If you would like to see or read this .PDF please click here.

If you would like to learn how to make a poppet for healing please click here.

I also found the following Meet The Moppets section of the Art Dolls, Spirit Dolls - A Personal Journey Into Art & Magic article by Silvia Hartmann where she talks about a moppet she made.

I also found a Make A JuJu, Moppet, Poppet or Magic Doll Step By Step how-to on the Magic, Spells and potions website showing you how to make the moppet in the picture to the right.

If you would like to see and read that how-to please click here.

In my search for information on Poppets I also found out that a kitchen witch is a poppet or homemade doll resembling a witch or crone that is displayed in a kitchen as good luck in warding off evil spirits. It's considered good luck to give a family member or friend a kitchen witch. Ah, ha! Another good use of a poppet.

Years ago I used to hang a little kitchen witch with an old crone face who was riding a broom in my kitchen for good luck. I'm not sure what happened to her. She's probably in a box somewhere.

According to Wikipedia.com there is a debate as to where kitchen witches originated from.  Some think Norway, some say Germany, others say Tudor England, where concrete evidence is, "the will of one John Crudgington, of Newton, Worfield, Shropshire, dated 1599, divides...his belongings amongst his wife and three children, "except the cubbard in the halle the witche in the kytchyn which I gyve and bequeathe to Roger my sonne."

Today the kitchen witch is usually thought of as bringing good fortune to the kitchen and all the activities of the kitchen and food preparation.  With the kitchen witch doing her job evil spirits will not enter.

I found a How-To Make a Kitchen Witch post on the Book Of Mirrors blog by Witchfire showing how to make the faceless kitchen witch shown in the picture above and to the left. The kitchen witch was purchased by the blog author and is being used as a model in the How-To Make a Kitchen Witch post.

If you would like to read more of Witchfire's post please click here.

I also found a faceless Enchanting Corn Husk Kitchen Witch tutorial to make the faceless corn husk witch shown in the picture to the right by Liss on the Budget101.com website.

Jude Lally is an artist, teacher, and writer.   Her beautiful needle felted art dolls include beautiful "faceless" spiritual and goddess dolls (like the picture of Goddess Brighid shown in the picture to the left), as well as folk art dolls.

All of her beautiful art dolls are created as a reminder of and a way of integrating ancient spirituality with today's modern life.

According to Jude, "Doll making is an ancient tradition. Shaping the Divine feminine into a familiar form. My dolls are inspired by women on the threshold. One with a foot in this world and a foot in the otherworld. They are often faceless, which allows you to project your own story or maybe they hint at their origins. They are familiar with ancestors and spirits and the ways of magic."

"These dolls are made entirely from wool by a technique called needle felting in which I use a single barbed to mould a 3d shape in wool by thousands of repetitive hand actions by the needle."


Here's what Jude had to say about her folk art dolls, like those shown in the picture to the right.

"These folk art dolls were born of the threshold – not quite of this world or the other. Their pins remind us of the knots we weave around ourself, the magic we spin without even realizing! They are a focus for our intentions, wither they be to attract or shield – gathering what we need, protecting ourselves against unwanted energies, and helping us reflect it back to its source."

You can visit her Celtic Soul Craft - Ancient Wisdom For Modern Lives website here and see pictures of her beautiful art dolls in her Doll Gallery page here.

Stay tuned for The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part VIII - American Primitive, Prairie, Pioneer, Wagon Train, Appalachian and Folk Art Rag Dolls

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part VI - Japanese Sarubobo Dolls


In Japan "Sarubobo" dolls like the picture on the right from Wikipedia.com are human shaped "faceless" dolls, red in color and of various shapes and sizes.

They are traditionally made by Grandmothers for their grandchildren. It is thought that the sarubobo doll was originally made by grandmothers who wanted to entertain small children cooped up inside during heavy snow falls in the Hida region in the winter.

It is also thought that originally there wasn't enough money for the children of farmers to buy toys so the mothers made the dolls as a toy for their children to play with.

They are also given to daughters as good luck charms for a good marriage, easy delivery and healthy children, and a happy home.

They have no faces so the owner can imagine it and the "Sarubobo" can reflect the owner's feelings. When the owner is sad the doll is sad - when the owner is happy the doll is happy.  The doll can sympathize with the owners feelings.

There is an article on the Contented Traveler website about The Sarubobo or Faceless Dolls of Japan by Paula McInerney where she talks about first seeing the sarobobo dolls, like those shown in the picture to the left, on a visit to Takayama in the Gifa prefecture.

According to Paula, "These faceless dolls have a cultural and historical significance to the Japanese people of this area."

According to her article there are different colors for sarubobo dolls - each with a different significance:

The red sarubobo is for luck in marriage, fertility and childbirth. The blue sarubobo is for luck in work. The pink sarubobo is for luck in love. The green sarubobo is for luck in health. The yellow sarubobo is for luck in money. The black sarubobo is to remove bad luck.

The original sarubobo was a red faceless amulet, resembling a monkey which was supposed to bring good luck to the receiver.

According to Paula, "Traditionally it is believed that they were all red and faceless, so that the face of whomever you were thinking about could be attached to the faceless doll."

If you would like to make a sarubobo doll of your own there is a How to make Sarubobo plush tutorial on the Mairuru blog showing how to make the dolls in the picture on the right.

If you would like to see the sarubobo plush  tutorial please click here.

There is also a tutorial on the Projects By Jane blog showing how to make an adorable  Family Sarubobo Mother and Child like the one in the picture to the left.

According to Jane, " I learnt to make these babies from a book I borrowed from the library. It's called Quiltagami by Mary Jo Hiney. She sews sarubobos a little differently from the method I'm using here but the end result is the same."

If you would like to see the mother and child sarubobo tutorial please click here.

Stay tuned for The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part VII - Goddess and Spirit Dolls

Monday, February 23, 2015

The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part V - Russian Folk Rag Dolls


There are several "faceless" dolls in ancient Russian history. Most were made of fabric and cloth and were made rag dolls for children to play with. The dresses and costumes were always brightly colored and sometimes embroidered with various symbols. According to old Slavic superstition it was believed that if the doll remained faceless that the doll would be viewed as an inanimate object and therefore could not be possessed by evil spirits. Thus, the doll was deemed harmless and children could safely play with the doll without worry that harm might befall them.

In Russian peasant families young girls were encouraged to make dolls and play with them as teaching aides for being mothers. Plus, creating the dolls provided them with some of the sewing, knitting, and weaving skills they would need.

Also, in ancient Russian tradition a "faceless" bride and groom sewn together were given as a wedding gift with the hopes of preserving wealth and health to the newlywed's home.

On the Ecologia Youth Trust website you can see pictures of the faceless Prosperity Angels, faceless Swimmer Dolls, and faceless Traditional rag dolls the children of Kitezh Children’s Community in Russia make and sell with the proceeds going to help support the children of their community.

The Russia-IC.com website has a wonderful article on Traditional Russian Folk Dolls like the faceless amulet doll pictured to the right.

In Russia folk dolls played a big part in conveying sacred values and beliefs to new generations.  The folk dolls fell into three basic categories: amulet, playing, and ritual dolls.

Amulet dolls were faceless because in olden times they believed that the absence of a face showed that the doll was an inanimate thing and could not be accessed by evil spirits. The doll dresses were always clothed in bright-colors and embroidered with magic symbols.

If you would like to read more of the article about the various kinds of  Traditional Russian Folk dolls please click here.

On the Crafts For Kids Blog by Kalyani there is a wonderful How To Make Russian Dolls tutorial showing how to make the faceless rag doll shown in the picture to the left.

According to Kalyani, "Our ancestors gave such dolls to each other, wishing to be always young, charming and attractive. They were the guardians of youth and beauty!"

"Traditional rag-doll has no face, it is white, blank.  So evil spirits could not settle in these dolls. It is safe for children and can bring only joy, health and prosperity. Doll in ancient times was considered a talisman, it protected the owner or the house from harm and misfortune and evil spirits. It helped to heal, to find the husband, helped during travelling, birth. Each doll has its own value and it is incredibly important to do it with love, with clean and bright thoughts, with an open heart. It’s a miracle of rags, which, by the way, was not cut with a knife, just was torn with hands, without needles. And the doll was born with its own character and a great value."

Vera Yarilina is a gifted doll artist who makes a wide variety of different traditional faceless Russian folk rag dolls and crafts. Vera fell in love with Russian rag dolls after attending a workshop on traditional Russian crafts.

According to Vera, "I was working as a childhood psychologist, and when I happened to attend this workshop the wisdom, logic and beauty of the rag doll tradition inspired me," she says, "These doll designs have been part of our culture for centuries, and we still need them. Each doll has a story to tell. And each tradition can teach us something. You just need to listen."

For more information on Vera Yarilina please click here.

The faceless handmade doll shown in the picture to the right is one of the faceless dolls made by Vera Yarilina.  It's purpose is "for happiness."

According to Vera, "Mischievous little girl was found in diggings of ancient city of Rzhev in layer dated 10th century. It was made of flax. The main part of this doll is hair. The hair is the power and beauty of women. A braid is twisted up and helps to support the doll making it steady. It reminds women about their hidden energy and strength. "

If you would like  to read more about this doll please click here.

The faceless handmade doll shown in the picture to the left is one of the faceless dolls made by Vera Yarilina. It's purpose is "beauty."

According to Vera:, A bride made this doll before a wedding, using skills in embroidery, weaving, tatting and braiding. Skills of a future wife were apprised by the doll's clothes. The doll was placed at a tray with wedding round loaf, which was baked by the bride's mother. A complex composition was created on the tray: the center of the composition was a "Beauty" doll, the tray was decorated with ears of wheat and objects of fancywork made by the bride. After tasting a loaf and apprising skills of a bride guests left money on the tray and gifts for newlyweds. The doll was carefully stored after the wedding."

If you would like  to read more about this doll please click here.

The faceless handmade doll Desyatiruchka (ten-handed doll) shown in the picture to the right is one of the faceless dolls made by Vera Yarilina.

According to Vera, "Ten-handed doll is a ceremonial multihanded doll. This doll was a common gift for weddings or for young hostess wishing everything to be well. It was considered the doll to help a woman to do all the housework , needlework, weaving, sewing, embroidery, knitting. The doll was made of bast fiber or straw. The doll can be put in the place, where woman spends her time working."

If you would like  to read more about this doll please click here.

The faceless handmade couple shown in the picture to the left were made by Vera Yarilina and symbolize "together-forever."

According to Vera, "«Together- forever» is a symbol of love and family unity, a reminder that lovers do not have to look at each other, but in the same direction. This doll was presented to the newlyweds to help them realize that now they will go through life hand in hand and together will overcome all difficulties on its way."

If you would like to read more about this doll please click here. 

The faceless doll shown in the picture to the right was also made by Vera Yarilina. It's purpose is Seven-“I”s (Family).

According to Vera, "This doll is an embodiment of maternal love and care of every member of a family. The doll itself symbolizes unity of man and woman. A dense twisted column of cloth, birch bark and stick is the basis of this doll. It is dresses as a married woman, with six little children tied to it’s belt. And we get Seven-“I”s – a family – seven same “I”s, who need the same love and care from others. This doll was made as a symbol of motherhood and kept hidden away."

If you would like to read more about this doll please click here.

Vera makes many, many types of traditional faceless Russian folk rag dolls, all with their own story and purpose. If you would like to read more about Vera and see more of her faceless dolls please click here.

On the EXLinguo website there is a wonderful article entitled "The Traditional Russian Art of Rag Doll Making" by Exlinguo Novosibirsk.

The article is about a workshop and video of that workshop that students attended where they learned about the Russian tradition of faceless doll making and how to make the faceless Russian rag doll shown in the picture to the left.

If you would like to watch the video and learn more about Russian doll making and how to make this doll please click here.

On the Zapovedik website there is a wonderful page about the House of Crafts - Crafts Workshops - Russian Folk Doll.

The leader of Studio - Larisa Orlova and she teaches this workshop about the different kinds of faceless Russian rag dolls.

According to Larisa, "The doll was dressed, but her face was not painted. According to folk belief, a doll without a face was considered without animation and thus inaccessible to evil spirits and angry powers. Made this way, it was harmless for the child. That is why a faceless doll was a toy and, at the same time, a talisman.  The dolls had special meaning for adults. Even in the 20th century the doll kept its original looks and purpose: it assisted bountiful harvests, animal yield, lucky marriage and childbirth. The fact that children were making a lot of rag-dolls, predicted a new child for the family. However, if the dolls were treated carelessly, it forebode illness."

"The doll was supposed to ensure that many children were born, so dolls were  participants at the wedding ceremony. They were given to the bride to hold during the wedding feast and later given to the newly-wed as a present, as a wish for luck and lots of children. Even today we see wedding processions decorated with festive dolls, an echo of the ancient traditions associated to family longevity."

If you would like to read more about Larisa's workshop and Russian rag dolls please click here.


On the HM Handmade website there is a pictorial on making the Krupenichka shown in the picture to the left.

According to the website, "Krupenichka is guardian of fullness and richness in the house. "

The faceless doll was made and filled with grain poured from the new harvest. If the owners were hungry they could take the grain from the doll. If they didn't need to take the grain from the doll it was thanked and the grain was sown. When the new crop was harvested the doll was filled again. A thin or plum doll was indicative of the harshness of the winter.

Stay tuned for The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part VI - Japanese Sarubobo Dolls


Sunday, February 22, 2015

The History Of Handmade Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part IV - Dominican Republic Dolls


In the Dominican Republic ceramic "faceless" dolls (Limé Dolls or Nativity Figures) like those shown in the picture on the right from the GoDominicanRepublic.com website are handcrafted of clay or ceramic and dressed in bright, colorful traditional clothing.

These dolls were originally created in 1981 by Liliana Mera Limé and depict all different sorts of Dominican country life. Some hold flowers, some carry baskets on their heads, some carry pots, etc.

Legend has it that the dolls are "faceless" because the Dominicans are a very diverse and mixed population (i.e. 75) of the population is mixed of Spanish, French, Indian, and African heritage) and it's impossible to create a doll with a face representing all Dominican women as no one knows for sure what one would look like as the population is so mixed. So, the doll is "faceless" as a symbol of an all-inclusive culture and to remind everyone that differences in color and appearance are meaningless.

The Dominican Creations website has a page on Dominican Faceless Red Clay and Porcelanicron dolls like the one pictured on the left that are very popular with tourists and which they also sell on their website. They come in various sizes and colors and are sculptured from red clay or porcelanicron. They are handmade and hand painted by artisans from the town of Higuerito, Moca located in the Espaillat region of the Dominican Republic .

Another legend of the Dominican Republican is the "faceless" dolls are handcrafted of glazed terra cotta and represent women selling produce door to door. They were vendors for the various cities and towns and were called "Machantas" which means merchant. They are "faceless" to this day to represent all the housewives who bought their produce for years.

Stay tuned for The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part V - Russian Folk Rag Dolls




The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part III - Marafona Dolls of Portugal



Portugal has a history of faceless dolls, like those shown in the picture to the left, which are known as marafona dolls dressed in traditional outfits which are used as part of the Festival of the Crosses celebration in Monsanto, Portugal.

In the 2nd century B.C. the local population of Monsanto fought against the Roman occupation. When the villagers ability to resist was at the end and they were out of food they threw a cow with its stomach full of their provisions of wheat from the Castle of Monsanto ramparts to fool the Romans into thinking they still had supplies and could continue resisting the Roman occupation.  The trick worked and the Romans lifted their siege of Monsanto.

Stay tuned for The History Of Handmade Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part IV - Dominican Republic Dolls


Part 1 -  Corn Husk Dolls and Native American Indian Faceless Dolls

Part II - Amish Dolls

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part II - Amish Dolls


The Amish have strong religious beliefs which influence their daily lives. Their dress is plain and simple and so are the dolls they make for their children. According to the Amish tradition, the Bible says that you are not supposed to make anything that is in the image or likeness of a male or female. For that reason the dolls are "faceless" like those depicted in the picture of the "Amish Doll Patterns By Jan Steffy Mast" book to the left.

In some Amish homes even "faceless" dolls were forbidden. Instead of a doll the children were given a piece of wood wrapped in a blanket. Since very few toys were allowed in an Amish household, boys and girls both played with the dolls. Both boy and girl dolls were made.

If you were to examine an old Amish doll you might see 4 or 5 layers of cloth on the head or the body. If the doll became too dirty, ripped or worn then it was covered with a new piece of material.

On the Welcome To Lancaster County website you'll find traditional Amish dolls, like those shown in the picture to the right, sold in Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania.

According to their website, "These unique dolls tend to be rag dolls with the unusual characteristic being that they are not depicted with a face."

"It is not known for sure why these Amish toys are faceless. The most commonly accepted explanation is that the Amish religion prohibits Amish people from being photographed for fear that doing so would encourage vanity and other frowned upon behavior."

"The dolls are always depicted with traditional Amish clothing. Amish children never have the option of dressing their dolls in exotic and colorful dresses, outfits, and bathing suits as is common with mainstream children dolls such as Barbie."

"Likewise, depicting these traditional Amish crafts sans face, discourages individuality over the common good of the Amish community."

"Contrary to this theory that the Amish religion is the cause for the dolls to be faceless, there have been found Amish dolls with faces sewn on or drawn on. These dolls date as far back as the early 1900s. Although the origin of the faceless rag doll may never be known for sure, they remain today associated with the culture of the Amish people."

Most Amish women have been making dolls (faceless and with faces) for their children for generations. This tradition has become a cottage industry for the Amish community. The picture top and right is of a popular "faceless" Amish boy and girl doll.

Over 20 years ago I bought a similar set of "faceless" Amish dolls. My dolls had on burgundy and black outfits but, pretty much, looked like the picture. I would have included a picture of my two "faceless" Amish dolls in this article but I can't remember where they are right now. They're here somewhere.

According to the Amish Dolls page of Wikipedia.com, "Amish dolls are a type of rag doll and a popular form of American folk art, which originated as children's toys among the Old Order Amish people. While some Amish dolls have faces, the best-known ones do not to emphasize the fact that all are alike in the eyes of God."

I ran across several reasons for the Amish dolls being faceless. While no one knows for sure there are several explanations.

One is that a young Amish doll was given a doll by her teacher and when she brought that doll home her father replaced the dolls head with an old sock. He told her that "Only God can make people." Since then the dolls have been faceless.

The other version to this is that the doll with a face was given to a young Amish girl at Christmas. Her father became enraged and cut the dolls head off replacing it with a sock saying, "Only God can make people."

While most of the faceless Amish dolls are generally thought to look like those in the picture above to the left there is an earlier version of the Amish dolls that were designed and sold by Lizzie Lapp (1860–1932) of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Her dolls did not have hats or bonnets, had hourglass shapes to their body versus the are best recognized by the hourglass shape to their bodies, and, sometimes, mittens for hands.

Her dolls are very difficult to find. I was able to find the doll pictured to the right on the Garthoeffner Gallery website.

Following is the website description for this doll:

16” Tall, Circa 1910; by Lizzie Lapp, a well known Amish doll maker known for her dolls with mitten hands. This doll is one of those without the mitten hands but has the original dress, socks and upturned feet with original face. This doll came out of an old collection just two days ago where it had been for 40 years.