Recovery Doll

Art Doll Detail
Art Doll Detail
Recovery Hand and Heart

I got to deliver my latest commission to my friend Mary yesterday.  She liked the pose of the Survivor Doll, but she wanted something more in line with her own story, a story of recovery — so this is Recovery.  Mary is a skilled needleworker.  I imagined her covering herself, protecting herself with her own craft.  Arts and crafts are a major part of how we save ourselves and how we recreate ourselves.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to make this doll and think about how hard it is to re-invent ourselves.  But in that struggle, there is so much beauty.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

She is a cloth doll over a wire armature.  Her hair is made from lamb and alpaca wool and silver thread.  Her dress is hand knitted from a linen, silk and rayon blend yarn.

The object in her hand is a symbol of the vision it takes to imagine a better life for oneself. I was lucky to find a silver origami crane charm as a focal point for her.  Her heart is symbolized by a smooth red glass fragment secured with silver wire and a locked locket.  She protects her heart and moves forward.

If you are interested in commissioning an art or medicine doll, please contact me.

Work of Heart in Progres Day Five – whew!

Things went well today and I got her finished!

I finished the base last night.  I really love it when it gets to this stage and I can stop being careful and constructive.  I can start really being creative, draping fabrics, letting seams show and adding found objects.

wire for the vine
wrapping the wire in fabric

Okay, I got the wire wrapped and used embroidery thread to secure it and then I really got into it and stopped taking pictures.  I added hand painted fabric leaves.  I repeated the motif of the butterfly heart and added a butterfly broach I found at a thrift shop.    I sewed and tacked down things.  I used big visible stitches and thought about how much it helped me, as a young girl, when kind people helped me stitch together the various parts of my broken life.  The kindness people did for me kept me from despair and helped me blossom.  I hope that sense of repair and renewal comes through in this piece — Spring From The Heart.

Spring from the Heart
Growth starts in the heart
The base
Heart side
spring from the side
growth close-up

I took the following photo on my husband’s dresser.  It’s the last thing I see every night when I go to sleep.  Do you think my dreams influenced this piece?

among the plants
Joy and her Art Doll

Tomorrow off she goes from Portland to Memphis to be part of the 19th Annual Works of Heart Art Auction on February 12th.  I miss her already!  For more information on the auction please follow this link:

A New Work of Heart In Progress

Each year, the Memphis Child Advocacy Center has a wonderful Valentine’s  fundraiser called “Works of Heart.”  It’s a juried show and each artist is given a wooden heart to turn into an original work of art.  It’s pretty cool because these works are made specifically for the show.  You can’t get much more unique than that.  And generally, since it’s an auction, you get to buy great art for a great price.  I love that it happens at Valentine’s Day.  It’s a great way to honor love.

The Memphis Child Advocacy Center is dear to my heart, since I grew up in a fractured family in Memphis and witnessed many of the harsh realities children face in our society.   The MCAC has helped heal many children’s hearts and minds.  They keep child safety at the forefront of Memphis political and cultural dialog.   I lived most of my life in Memphis, so while I love my home in Portland, Oregon, Memphis owns a large piece of my heart.

Here’s the MCAC mission statement:

“Helping victims become children again. That’s why we’re here.

The mission of the Memphis Child Advocacy Center is to serve children who are victims of sexual and severe physical abuse through prevention, education and intervention.

Our vision is a community where children are safe, families are strong and victims become children again.”

I love that – they do a great job.  One of the charming and insightful things they do is give each child who comes through the center a new teddy bear.  A soft, touchable gift — a toy that lets them know they are loved and valued by the community.


I’ve been fortunate enough to donate art work to this event several times.  Here are two of my past Works of Heart.

Warrior Girl

It’s been several years since I’ve been able to contribute, but this year, I’m in.  I just started this new piece.  I have this great wood pattern print fabric.  I may make the doll’s heart from this lovely silk butterfly brocade.  I have some ideas of spring and renewal being rooted in the heart.  I’ve been pondering these things during the past chaotic month of moving, holidays and other art deadlines.

I have the week-end dedicated to this piece.  I have made some plans but I’ll be letting the piece speak to me as I work on it.  It will be all hand-stitched and crafted from an original design.  I thought I’d post the beginnings and make some regular posts on its progress over the next few days.

Wooden heart, wood fabric & perhaps heart material
Rooted heart sketch

For more information on the 19th Annual Works of Heart Auction, please follow this link.  You can also explore the website for more information on the Memphis Child Advocacy Center.

And do something nice for a child this Valentine’s day!


I love when I get my cloth dolls to this point and they are a form of potential.  I like to sit with them for a while and try to make see what is unique in their gesture.  Each doll comes out slightly different because they are hand stitched — the heads have a different angle and shaping, the limbs hang differently.  I can’t wait to see what happens when I start to paint features and add hair.