Tabula Rasa Rainbow Rag Dolls

One of my current preoccupations is an art project I’ll be co-teaching to a class of children. I’ve been in a flurry to sew some twenty-odd blank dolls, which the kids will use to channel their self-expression. I have a few techniques to show them, about painting and collaging on fabric and a no-sew option for hair. The project serves to encourage kids to make their own toys, instead of begging their parents for plastic, factory-made, unpersonalized and ethically vacant commercial ones. The project was especially keeping girls in mind, whose options for store-bought dolls are really bleak… I recently conducted a small study on a local Target toy aisle and found all the Disney Princess & Fairy, Barbie, Bratz, and Dora to be uninspiring. Disney’s dolls were especially backwards in promoting traditional female gender ideals.

I’ve always had a fascination with dolls, though. I’m especially inspired by folk doll traditions, when mothers made their daughters personalized dolls from scraps… wooden spoon dolls, handkerchief dolls, and topsy turvy dolls are my favorites. In this project, I’m channeling the classic rag doll. After I finished the dolls, I was full of affection for them as my own rainbow of cloth babies. I was compelled to stuff each doll’s pocket with an ID number. I’m planning to put up a little webpage with a registry for the dolls, which would be great if it could include a gallery of the finished creations. Stay tuned for a follow up post about how the project goes…

Dolls on my table

The blank dolls, which were all sewn and stuffed in one day!