Monday, 9 November 2015

Spirit Dolls

I made my first spirit doll 9 years ago. I find stitching by hand fulfilling. there is something contemplative in the needle going though the cloth and the beads. And what I make seems to have a power of its own. While stitching a tarot card bag, I began to think of dolls and how they had a life of their own and I started researching spirit dolls and how they have helped people for thousands and thousands of years and in every culture. 

Dolls take shape from their creator's imaginations - fashioned from what they have at hand and they begin to take on a soul of their own. The Venus of Wilendorf, Venus of Dolni-Vestonicei and Venus of Les pugue are Neolithic spirit dolls and they still exude their power.

Over the centuries, dolls have brought comfort and joy, magick and laughter…and, yes, in some cases dolls straddled the line from delightful to creepy to downright scary. 

I began to research dolls. First I created some paper dolls to populate shadowbox pictures, but creating a wholly embroidered doll began to fascinate me and over the next year I created 6, culminating in an 18" Japanese Goddess. She was in a display box and traded to my friend Trea. Trea is a wonderful artist and she too was creating a series of Goddesses (hers are watercolour on paper.
Trea's portrait of me
We then decided at the next art show, we would each do a portrait piece for the other. Above is my portrait from Trea. Alas, my photos of the dolls I have made are on a computer back in Midway or I would post them for you.

When I started blogging, I blogged instead of embroidering and the dolls stopped, but I was so grateful for what my sister did for me last month, I had to create something special just for her. 

There are many layers of meaning I could go into, but they are all very personal to our growing up. The doll also carries our Mother and our middle sister as well. She also has a prayer for protection embroidered in the spiral on her back.

She is meant to be touched. Many people keep their spirit dolls beside their computer or in their bedroom, close to where they sleep. I am painting a special shadowbox for her and will post a picture of it on Facebook, or here when it is done. 
Thanks so much for all your kind words about this special piece. Your praise means a lot.

Happiness and Joy
Come into my Life
Away with anger,
Stress and Strife
I am happy, I am free
No more negativity.



  1. How interesting about spirit dolls! The one you made is just gorgeous...such intricacy. ~Island Cat Mom

  2. The spirit doll you made is beyond words - she is so beautiful and intricate.
    Our Mommy had know idea that the Venus of Willendorf was patterned after her.

  3. I like your spirit doll and I like the idea behind this dolls.... think we will need one too and maybe I can make me one.... although my diy-projects end not always as eggs-pected :O)

  4. I never liked dolls as a child, I used to give them to the dog and play with stuffed animals. This doll is absolutely beautiful though. You are so talented in so many areas.

  5. Love the spirit dolls...they are stunning.
    The Florida Furkids

  6. The Spirit Doll is beautiful. You have put so much work into her.

  7. The spirit doll you made for your sister is beautiful, Barb! I love the intricate details, and the (obvious) textures and colors. Thank you for sharing the background about dolls ... fascinating!

  8. What a beautiful spirit doll. You are very talented.

  9. Barb that is absolutely one of the most gorgeous dolls of any kind I've ever intricate in design and so deep in meaning. Like a beautifully painted picture with layers of color and love! You are so talented - and so is your friend Trea - that portrait of you she did is also beautiful.........I am familiar with spirit dolls but NOT in depth - I'm going to do some research though.....if I had ANY talent with a needle I'd do one of my own - I'm sure there's a lot of satisfaction in designing one - they are a SPECIAL thing indeed.

    Again, congratulations on getting to a "better" place in your are amazing.
    Love, Pam

  10. Your Spirit Doll is wonderful. I love the intricacy and depth. That she has special meaning and incorporates the female spirit of your family is wonderful! Your friend Trea's picture of you is gorgeous!

  11. Such a labor of love in the doll you made, OMC!!

  12. I don’t think I ever heard of spirit dolls but I really like that one. You are so talented and kind.


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