I am currently making three-dimensional figures that are doll-like in form. This first doll was conceived out of confusion, nervousness and uncertainty. I had a material I had never used before. I had found objects I wasn’t sure how to manipulate and incorporate. I had the beginnings of an idea. The first doll was made as a gift I never intended to keep. And she had me excited about the potential of the process; the process of making figures I had never seen but knew so well. I made another and then another, and somewhere along the way I started making myself.
The work of making oneself is on-going and is part of a tradition of “women’s work” that is integral to our feminine identity. We are the mender of clothes, the fixer of holes, the maker of the family. We nurture ourselves, our spouses and our children through craft and cooking. Sewing needles, seam rippers and scissors are some of our tools, but so are our bodies. These tools and our bodies are deeply intertwined, These sewing dolls reference that relationship. These dolls have purpose in their work - it is a life of small repairs.
These sewing dolls are skilled. They possess their own tools. Their tools are working tools. The dolls create, fix mistakes and shape the world. Mostly, these tools repair. The seam ripper takes apart weakened seams. The tracing wheel defines new parts. The needles knit pieces together. The sewing implements seamlessly grow as a part of their limbs. These limbs are attached to the body with hook and eye, and are interchangeable between figures. These dolls work. They are in process. The work and the process are not separate of them, but essential to them. Their instructions are visible in the sewing pattern paper that is their skin. Yet those directions are unclear and interrupted. The hand stitching references their seams and the holding together of their bodies. These dolls are measured and measuring. They are careful in their construction and revelations. They are tasked with fixing themselves, but have to do it by feel and intuition. Their process is my process; one of growth, evolution and restoration.