Paper Dolls

by Mindy on May 15, 2012

Paper Doll

Back to our regularly scheduled workshops! To my pleasant surprise today, all of the people who missed the second week came back, and we had four new people, including one woman with a five week old baby. I commended her for coming–she’s definitely the newest mother we’ve ever had. She said she was really happy to have somewhere to go to work on something for herself. So the room was packed, and there was great energy. The sun was streaming in and people seemed to be in a really good mood. Lisa is charge of the next couple of workshops, so it was nice for me to be able to relax a little bit and let someone else run the show.

When I was trying to figure out what we would be doing over the eight weeks of the workshops, I had struggled for ways to bridge the ideas we would be exploring through the postcards with the photography I wanted to try later. What exactly would we be photographing? I think it was May who first brought up the idea of making paper dolls based on the myth of the good mother, and I loved it. After some research, I found lots of artists who make wonderfully inventive mixed-media dolls out of found objects, and I thought this could be a really fun project for people. Plus, some of the juxtapositions that people come up with might be interesting. And then they would be fun to photograph.

The only problem is that I’ve never made a doll. I love learning new skills in order to execute an idea, but in this case, the prospect was a bit overwhelming given that I’m taking care of a baby most of the time. Enter Lisa. I told her my idea, and she said that not only did she have experience with making dolls, but she had all of the materials. Plus, she would have fun hunting for more: she’s a consummate collector (I’m not, which is why I love photography—I don’t have to keep lots of stuff around, I just take photos of things).

So the doll making started today with paper doll prototypes, in which the women brainstormed physical manifestations of the ideal mother. For example, if they felt as if they should be able to take care of all of their child’s needs, they might make a doll with six arms (a familiar image of “the mother who can do it all”). Or maybe the doll has a gigantic lap, or huge eyes to keep an eye on everyone all the time. Next week, we’ll start building the three dimensional dolls out of wood, fabric, paper, paint, and lots of other materials.

There’s never enough time to do everything, and most people didn’t quite get to finish embellishing their paper dolls, but I think people are excited to start building the 3-D dolls. I’m really curious to see how they turn out.

If you were to make a doll of the ideal “good mother”, what would she look like?

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