Monday, June 16, 2014

Voodoo Dolls

I would like to thank Girl Scouts for making this Voodoo Doll possible. I'm not in any way implying that they encourage the practice of Voodoo or the making of Voodoo paraphernalia.  I take full responsibility for taking their idea and warping it for my own amusement. I guess I should also apologize to Voodoo for making it cutesy.  

The idea of I speak of is the Role Model Doll project in the aMuse journey books.  For that project dolls are made with pipe cleaner bodies and button heads, wrapped in yarn and decorated with scraps to emulate an admired role model. My brain immediately translated that to Voodoo doll, I can't help it.   
One of my Girl Scout moms created this awesome guy at last year’s craft party and I thought it would be way cooler than a button head.

The wooden beads had been donated to a previous craft party by another troop leader.

Finally I have to thank our troop, for testing my original design (in role model mode) and showing me where it needed improvement.

The following instructions work for both Voodoo and Role Model dolls. Alternatively you could do both, a sort of Jekyll and Hyde doll, by making two faces on opposite sides and just flipping the hair. 

To make these dolls you will need:

one 1 inch wooden bead
4 pipe cleaners
3 yds. yarn for hair
3.5 yds. twine for body
cloth scraps
fine or medium point permanent markers

How much yarn or twine will depend on its thickness, how long you want the hair or how tightly you wrap the body. The measurements above should give you enough wiggle room that you don't run out. The directions that follow will be given in arm lengths, because it's faster to measure that way and it doesn't have to be exact.  Just note I'm on the short side, so if you're 6' 2" to my 5' 4" not only can you reach stuff on the top shelf, but two arm lengths will give your doll fuller hair than mine. If kids are doing the measuring add on another arm length or two.  I think it's better to have too much than not enough, but it's not the end of the world if you have to add more, just make sure to glue the ends and wrap over them. 

If you use yarn instead of twine for the body, I would recommend using a heavy weight yarn.  When our troop made dolls we used average yarn to wrap the bodies, most of the girls didn't have the patience to wrap them enough to really fill them out, so we had some really skinny dolls. With twine it only takes a pass up and down each limb for a nice thickness.  If you use twine make sure you get the natural kind that hasn't been treated.  Treated twine has a very strong nasty chemical smell. 

Draw a face on your wooden bead and set aside.

Next cut about two arm lengths of yarn for medium length hair. I wrap it around my fingers, for longer hair or for little creatures with smaller hands make a looser wrap. You want about 18-20 loops, to fit snug in the bead.

Keeping the yarn looped together, slide it off and fold your pipe cleaner in half over the loop of yarn and give it a couple of tight twists. then gently twist it almost halfway down for the body and legs. 

Cut the loop at the point opposite your pipe cleaner. Place a dab of glue around the pipe cleaner right before the hair starts and pull the pipe cleaner through the bead just until the top of the pipe cleaner disappears and all you can see is yarn coming out.

At any time you can add a little glue to the back of the bead to keep the under layer of hair down permanently if you'd like.

Cut a 7 inch piece of pipe cleaner, leave a little space for a neck and wrap it around the body twice to make arms.

In my original version, I wrapped some scrap cloth around the body to give it a little more girth.  Later after making these with our troop, I decided it was best to reinforce the entire body.  These dolls got a lot of attention, but even though it was careful, loving attention, there were still a few injuries. The pipe cleaner shoulder joint is especially a weak point since the arms get posed a lot.  

To add a little extra strength, position a pipe cleaner along the side of the body.  Give it a slight bend in the armpit area so that there is an equal amount extending past the arm and the leg. 

Holding the pipe cleaner against the body wrap from the armpit down the body to the end of the leg.  Then wrap from the armpit to the end of the arm. Repeat on the other side. 

Then take three arms length of twine, plan on more if you are using regular yarn and start to wrap. 

Crisscross around the body, up the neck, back down and head on over to the arm. 

Notice with twine your wraps don't have to be right next to each other for this step, but if you are using yarn, you probably want to keep them closer together. When you get a quarter inch from the end, stop and fold the pipe cleaner over.

With our troop we had some arms start to unravel, so put a dab of glue on the fold, wrap over it and work your way back up the arm. This time place the wraps right next to each other to make it look nice. Cross over the body and wrap the other arm. If you used yarn I would make another pass up and down each arm to make them thicker.

Wrap down the body, down one leg, fold and glue, just like the arms and wrap back up the body.

Wrap back down the body and do the other leg.  Wrap back up the body, cut the twine towards the back, tuck the end in and glue. 

Here is a side by side comparison of the two bodies.  The girl on the left obviously does more pull-ups. 
Then dress your doll with scraps of cloth.  You can either glue them on or just tie them on with more yarn, ribbons or strips of cloth. I think gluing scraps of fabric in place for makeshift clothes is easier, but most of our girls wanted to be able to change outfits.

This glamorous attire is perfect for a night out at the St. Louis Cemetery and it's made out of a few odd scraps. 
Here are the girl's role model dolls.

This is the one I made for my mom, she loves purple, with the reinforced body style. On the subject of moms and dolls, my mother showed me how to make little dolls out of a hollyhocks like these when I was little. Now that I think about it they look a bit alienesque, but to a kid it's pure fairy magic to make dolls out of flower parts.

There is also an interesting read on voodoo dolls at Steampunk Opera.

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