I wanted to report on the little Wish Fish I made for my friend who has Lupus. She was in pretty bad shape and spent over a month in the hospital. I don’t believe the fish itself had anything to do with her healing. It was her own determination and fate that saw her through, but the fish, commissioned by a mutual friend, gave her a feeling of love and inclusion. She knew we cared about her and wanted her to keep swimming with us in this mysterious ocean of life. She’s back at work now and her fish is at her desk!
I made my first Strongheart medicine doll a few years ago when my dear friend was having romantic trouble. I wanted to remind her that her heart was strong and would always be able to bounce back from whatever breaks it endured. I made it wild and whimsical but very durable with button feet and felt arms. She was enchanted by it, but when she was mad she was able to whack it or toss it across the room and have some catharsis.
Since then, I’ve made a series of them, following the same basic design, but each different as the hearts they are made to help. Here is the latest one I made for my young doll maker friend, from start to finish.
STRONG HEART STORY
Sometimes we all feel that our hearts are weak and easily broken. I believe the heart is strong and will always lead you back to a place of contentment and happiness. There is a bit of whimsy, wildness and adventure coursing through every human heart. So it’s only natural to sometimes get into situations that are uncomfortable and even painful.
This Strongheart Doll was made to remind you of the heart’s true nature. It’s a one of a kind unbreakable work of art – shake it up, squeeze it tight or throw it across the room. When you’re ready to hold it close again, it’ll be there for you – strong and happy and ready for the next adventure.
I stepped outside my usual perimeters to make this fish. It was a “medicine doll,” a gift commissioned by a friend for another friend who had been stricken with a devastating disease. They shared a bond around the Finding Nemo movie, and turned the “keep swimming” motto into “keep smiling.” This Fish was designed with her love of shiny and tactile things in mind, and also with ideas from folklore about fish who grant wishes. She is from Laos and fish mean good luck. She is having good luck in her fight against illness and is about ready to return to work after several months and some life changing events. All I know is that the loving and well thought out input from her friends allowed me to be playful and thoughtful about life and disease and transformation. And a little fish brightened her already radiant life.