This is the last of the three healing dolls from Mai-Liis Peacock's online class from Joggles. For me it is the most special because of what I experienced during her construction. It's very personal, so I'll share the story at the end in case you'd prefer to skip it.
Mai-Liis patterned this doll form to accomodate a fabric image of the Virgin of Guadalupe as a means of teaching us the image transfer process. Since I happened to have that particular fabric, I simply fused it to a background of similar color, then planned the rest of the doll. I loved the idea of following up with a Hispanic theme using bright, jubilant colors, opulant texture, and ornamental detail just shy of overkill , yet preserving the reverence and dignity of a traditional style. Neither Catholic or Hispanic, I in no way wanted to create a mockery, but I realized religious festivals throughout Latin America are celebretory, an occasion like the Day of the Dead is an excellent example. Still I would need to select the recipient carefully.
Actually I'm gifting this doll to two persons. I will give it to a friend who recently and unexpectedly lost her daughter to cancer and who herself has since been diagnosed with lymphoma. It is my wish that she will someday pass the doll on to Hope, her granddaughter, the little girl adopted from Guatemala by the deceased. In the detail here you can see two of the charms I selected as milagros. The angel represents Hope's mother. I hope my friend will take comfort from the Blessed Mother's posture of prayer and loving expression.
Some additional notes on this upper portion of the doll. The crown or halo is comprised of 3 shell sequins stitched with seed beads. I embroidered the roses with 2 mm silk ribbon and scattered more seed beads among them and using another for the jewel at her collar. I stitched a chain with gold thread to "attach" the charms. These charms were pewter. I used some really old and dried out Treasure Gold on the angel. I realized my entire collection of Treasure Gold colors was dried up. When my attempts at microwaving didn't work, I contacted the company and was told a few drops of Xylene (on which the products are based and available at hardware stores) should soften it up. The hope charm didn't fare as well with the Treasure Gold, so I painted it with the same gold Lumiere I used to seal the edges of Our Lady's veil, a piece of silk chiffon hand dyed in an earlier experiment with an acid dye. I then varnished the charms. The raw edge at the end of the fused fabric bothered me , too abrupt a change. The tri-colored ric-rac seemed to do the trick.
An essential healing stone for this doll was an undrilled chunk of obsidian purportedly mined at the location of the incident from which the story of Apache Tears evolved and is reputed to be a powerful agent to ease grief. A pouch was needed to hold one the larger stones and others collected for their healing and protective benefits. Hung over the pouch (made from velvet ribbon and stitched closed with decorative embroidery) are four additional symbols I deem essential to healing and living: love, courage, balance and faith. I used a strand of beads to girdle the figure and frame the pouch.
I made the cloak from silk velvet and used bright confetti fringe. Although this is a doll that particularly addresses grief, I wanted the overall effect to be light, not somber, and hopefully bring a smile to the beholder. I used Stef Francis silk floss for the simple chain stitching and help blend the multicolor of the background fabric and the fringe. I debated a closure for the cape, but opted to use none. Instead I just tacked it together at the neckline and let it hang from the doll's neck.
A remarkable thing occurred as the doll (whom I began thinking of as La Senora) neared completion. I became aware that the grief I was holding since the death of my own daughter two years ago was lifted. I can now talk about her without tears, and today, the anniversary of her passing, I will visit her grave for the first time since the funeral. I know that once I knew the purpose of the doll I was happy when I worked on her. I thought a lot about the grieving process and hoped the comfort I was starting to feel would be played forward through the doll.
I should also mention that when I purified the stones for this doll, I cleansed a piece of the same obsidian for myself. It sat next to me the entire time I fashioned the doll.
Here are my three dolls together, ready to go to their new homes. The Diva looks like she's inviting everyone to love life and celebrate diversity. December 26, 2007