Friday, February 27, 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."

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