Silver RavenWolf

Author Blog — The Crow at the Crossroads

The Making of Silver’s Dolls and the BeBoodle Story

It began with the desire to make one doll.  I found myself intrigued with the concept of primitive dolls — the muslin, the painting, the grunging, the freedom to design the clothes — and the delight of making them magickal by adding charms, sigils, and spells inside the bodies so that these dolls would be haunted in a purely positive way.  My version of the Voodoo Doll.  As I worked on my first doll stories began popping in my head.  I kept seeing this little old lady (I suppose that would be me) in a car filled with these primitive dolls.  Some hanging out the window.  One swinging from a moon roof.

And the dolls are talking.

To each other and the lady driving.  She’s frustrated because she’s trying to keep her mind on the road and the sound of twenty yapping dolls twists her concentration into horrendous knots.  She is going to a show, by the way.  The first one she’s ever been to.  There, she plans to sell her dolls.  She’s nervous.  What if she doesn’t sell any?  She had to pay a vender fee — the last money she had in her savings account.  Like everyone these days, she’s worried about her future and how she will cover her bills.  These dolls aren’t exactly the normal type.  They don’t have pretty blonde ringlets and liquid, cornflower blue eyes.  They are primitive, powerful, and unique.  At this point the racket in the car is getting out of hand.  One doll is slugging another.  Two are climbing from the front seat to the back seat and to the front seat again repeatedly.  One doll is singing Ninety Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall and she’s worried that he broke into her liquor cabinet before she left.  If customers smell booze, they won’t buy.

No one can hear the dolls, of course, except our little old lady who is driving the car.

And then a police cruiser appears over the crest of the hill behind them.  All the dolls turn and start screaming about the approaching police vehicle.  As the officer pulls the old lady over, one doll yells, “Shut-Up!  Be Quiet!  It’s the Po-Po!”

That is exactly how the Beboodle stories began.  With this vision of the screaming dolls and the little old lady.

“So Big!” Honey, the doll pictured, now lives happily in England.

So…how do I really make them?

My first three dolls were from patterns I purchased over the internet.  After finishing these dolls, I decided that I wanted to create designs of my own.  I was already creating designs and posting them here on the blog for other projects (a cat, spirit dolls, mojo bags) so the step to actually creating the doll with the patterns as a reference wasn’t too big of a leap.  From the primitive Mammy dolls came the idea for the BeBoodles.  Yes, I made mistakes, like spending hours making a vest that should have taken me forty minutes — but, part of the joy was in the creation process.  I drew many patterns on graph paper until I created exactly what I wanted.

Once I finished the patterns, I transferred the pieces of the dolls to muslin, sewed them together and stuffed them.  I learned to double stitch the seams so they could take the strain of primitive-style stuffing, which is tightly packed using small pieces.  This style takes several hours just to stuff one doll — but, its worth it.  I also learned to sculpt fingers, toes, lips, and noses using a doll needle and embroidery thread.  This type of needle art gives each doll its own, unique look.  The BeBoodles don’t have sculpted fingers and toes as I was looking for a less time consuming doll that could be completed faster.  A BeBoodle takes approximately two full days to complete.  Sometimes more depending upon the theme of the doll.

BeBoodles are made from muslin, cotton or poly stuffing, poly pellets or kitty litter, and cotton thread.

Sculpting with needle and thread before painting and grunging gives each doll a distinct personality. This is one of my early dolls, before I began making the BeBoodles.

I, by no means, consider myself a seamstress.  I have basic skills and my only real adventure into sewing was years ago when…for a time…I made unique Halloween costumes for my children or the occasional summer clothing.  What I’m trying to say is that if you really like something but think you don’t have a creative bone in your body — think again.  The art of creativity isn’t in the fingers — it is a combination of the will to try and the patience to work through it — telling yourself that mistakes are okay, the world will not blow up if you get it wrong, and keep going.

I sew the back of the doll last because here is where the focused magick begins.  Each doll, like the dolls in the BeBoodle stories, contains a combination of herbs, perhaps charms or trinkets, and a spell paper dressed with Kyphi Oil (an Egyptian oil, when if made correctly, contains a high number of ingredients).  The items in the doll are created to make him or her “come alive” in a magickal sense.  Once sewn closed and the facial features created, the doll is painted using acrylic paints and allowed to dry in the sun.

Painted and unpainted BeBoodles.

When completely dry, I sand the doll with sandpaper, then I paint the doll again using a coffee, vanilla, cinnamon mixture.  If I’ve used kitty litter to weight the bottom, the doll can go in the oven for about 20 minutes at 180 degrees.  If I have used plastic pellets, the doll is placed in the sun to dry once more.  When dry, she or he is sanded again.

The magick for each doll is performed at the best possible time available, which isn’t the same for each doll.  I look at the moon phase, the sign the moon is in and other heavenly movements.  When I feel the time is right, it is placed in a ritual circle and often empowered over a bonfire.  In the story, the BeBoodles are put in large pickle jars (I have those) which are buried in the ground for three days (a Braucherei technique for gathering power).  The pictures below show both the type of jar and the jar inserted in a very large flower pot filled with dirt from many places (Molly Pitcher’s grave being one of them).

Bet you thought I really didn’t do this, huh?

BeBoodle preparing for its empowering sleep.

Once the doll is sanded, the eyes are painted with acrylic paints.  I draw them freehand and take my time.  I spend an hour just one the eyes — sometimes two.  Then, I affix the hair either by sewing it in or by needle felting (or both).  Sometimes I add a full head of hair, other times not so much.  Normally, I use natural wool, straight from the animal, purchased on Etsy or Ebay.

I seal the eyes and mouth with acrylic polymer liquid sealer.  Then add embellishments such as the bells, jewelry, buttons, etc.

The Molly Pitcher Doll

When I first began creating the dolls, I finished the doll first, then made the clothes.  I found, though, that I prefer making the clothing first, and then putting together the doll.  I started with clothing consisting of the basic dress, bloomers, apron and headpiece or scarf.  With each doll I began changing patterns, particularly the apron.  I even made a pinafore for one doll (that took me forever), and a vest for another.

BeBoodle with pinafore. That apron took me forever to create!

Shopping excursions for BeBoodles are half the fun.  I choose material, jewelry and any other items I want to add to the theme of the BeBoodle.  For example, I took a special trip to a local restaurant store to pick up a metal pitcher for my Molly Pitcher BeBoodle.  I’ve made other trips, too, to find just the right embellishment for a particular doll.

What I didn’t expect in my journey of doll making, was the interest and involvement of my family.  From my husband to my children and my in-law children, ideas flowed and helping hands stuffed and shaped bodies, arms, and legs.  My daughter-in-law, Samantha goes on trips with me to take pictures.  In fact, I rarely shop alone for the BeBoodles.  There are often two or more people cruising a store looking for that “special something” for a particular doll.  There are many times, these days, where I will completely finish the clothing, lay it out on the table, and then sew the doll together, thinking of the chosen colors, the theme, and any particular embellishments I would like to add.  My youngest daughter sometimes paints the remarkable shoes on the dolls.

And why the bells?  Two reasons that collided.  While writing the first BeBoodle story I wanted to add something odd…unusual…about the doll.  I thought back to my childhood when my grandmother gave me a cloth doll with many jingle bells.  I loved the bells — disliked the doll (I hate clowns).  The bells, then, are one part delightful memory, and one part fiction.  They certainly do make the dolls unique!

My first male BeBoodle riding a lion statue.

I’ve also done one or two special requests.  For example, in the beginning, my dolls were only female; but, one lady in Texas asked if I could make a male BeBoodle for her grandson.  Right now, I have another male BeBoodle in the pickle jar for a customer in Florida.   As I create the dolls, the BeBoodle story evolves in my head.  Sometimes I will go for weeks, waiting for the right experience or thought to show me the direction of the story.  Other times I know right away just “how it will go down!”.

This BeBoodle is creatively thinking!

I can honestly say that the BeBoodles saved me in a way that nothing else could.  Some of you know that for the past five years I’ve been taking care of a family member with dementia.  Although the first two years were more of a series of adjustments to my lifestyle, the last three years flowed into a horrendous nightmare.  Rather than bore you with the trials and tribulations of home caring for a family member, let me move on to how these dolls helped me keep my sanity.  Because I could carry them with me, put them down, and mindlessly stitch on a whim, their creative process fit well into the environment of care giver.  Their story in my mind kept my thoughts off the harsh reality of my daily tasks and allowed me to live in an interesting world in which evil does not survive…for long.

My family member passed away in May and I’m still adjusting to the freedom of living just for me (okay, so I live for my kids and my husband, too, but they are grown and I don’t have to spoon feed them, or worry what they are wearing or whatever).  My BeBoodle fantasy stalled a bit as I recovered and took care of business.  My family, however, did not let the BeBoodles go and continued to encourage their existence!

How much of the story is real…and how much is fiction?  Obviously, I did not kill Marlene’s brother nor did I send Mrs. Witherspoon to her demise when my daughter-in-law and I went to the graveyard to count out the steps (really) and navigate the terrain in the story.  Much of the magick that you have read and will read, however, is real.  No, none of my BeBoodles have climbed out of a watery grave to save the day…but…

it would be nice, wouldn’t it, if they could really make bad people go away.

Can you have a real BeBoodle?  Yes, you can.  I sell them on Etsy at http://www.crowcrossroads.etsy.com

Because the dolls are not mass produced, you may only see one or two a month.  Or, you can reserve a doll by choosing  the open reserve listing.  Having a doll made just for you is a little more expensive.  You will be asked whether you wish a male or female doll, and you can choose from four themes:  Country, Jungle, Patriotic, or Halloween/Skulls.  I also ask for your favorite colors (after all, it will be your doll).  I warn you, it can take up to a month or more to complete your doll.

Don’t want a doll?  That’s okay!  Here’s hoping you enjoy the continuing installments of my BeBoodle stories!

May you find inspiration as I have.

25 thoughts on “The Making of Silver’s Dolls and the BeBoodle Story

  1. Sarah Ham on said:

    Thanks for sharing your work and story. I know I love my Spirit Doll :-) Thank you!

    • Pegi on said:

      I had NO idea you were making dolls!!! Thanks for the inspiration and saying it’s okay to goof up, I have a dolly I am supposed to do gather stitches on and I screwed it up and now she’s sitting there, NAKED!!! But I will try again!! I think your dollys are wonderful and hopefully I’ll have one of my own , someday!!! I’ve loved your books forever!!! I’m glad you’re on the planet at the same time I am!!! Teeheeeeehaaahaaaaa!!!!!!!

  2. Libby on said:

    I make and sell dolls myself, but honestly, your’s are amazing. Love the story of the old lady with her car full of dolls.

  3. They are wondrous, as is your life’s story. Keep on stitchin’…sending you wondrous Robin Egg’s Blue energies!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story!! I look forward to seeing more pictures of them as they are born and hope to order one soon. Blessings!!

  5. Clara Martin on said:

    I am the most honor owner of three dolls and I cherish each one of them.
    They come to lend their magick to me and my family. They sit in an area were they are easily addressed with greetings and salutations be everyone who see them. You might say three is excessive, I say you cannot possibly surround your self with too much positive magick.
    Love and Brightest Blessings, Lady ArabellaStar (the Texas lady, LOL!)

  6. Annmarie on said:

    It is a very healthy way to get through a horrendous phase of your life. I hope you are not finding the readjustment too hard.
    They do say it takes a broken heart to write a great song, well you didn’t need a heartbreak to write another great story, you did it because it is who you are, and bless you for being such a supercool gal even in your dark time.
    You know we had a big party weekend here in Britain for the Queens Diamond Jubilee recently, her official title is ‘Her Majesty’
    Well I think you Silver, are due a title of your own. So, I dub thee ‘Your Grooviness, Queen of BeBoodles and Witchery’
    Long live the Queen I say!

  7. dana wasson-trevino on said:

    i really like these dolls and today i am starting my own..wish me luck..

  8. Elena on said:

    Oh how I love these dolls. I mentioned before with some of your crafts that I shared the ideas with my craft group..Did you ever think of teaching a beboodle making class? Somewhere between you and Harrisburg..Oh I would pay to be a part of that class. I think your dolls are just fabulous and I would love to make one under your guidance. I have always loved dolls since I was a little girl and I still love them. There is something so magical in the eyes of your dollies and I would love to have one.. Maybe when I get back to work I will order my very own.. Till then I will keep admiring the ones you have created, and I will continue to read the installments on your story. I can’t wait till the new installment comes around.

    Blessings,
    Elena

  9. Kit on said:

    Looking forward to the next chapter of the story and I loved the tale of the car of yammering dolls. Just like taking a road trip with a bunch of kids. I’m surprised there wasn’t one going “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” You are awesome Silver.

  10. Kaaz on said:

    Lovely & Spellbinding

  11. Kit on said:

    Will there be more of the Beboodle story when the Challenge is over? I really miss reading it.

  12. Phoenix Angel Goddess (Pamela Sue) on said:

    I miss reading the Beboodle doll stories too …. I love my Beboodle doll , she is so pretty , Silver, thank you so much ……. huggles xx <3

  13. The Beboodles are truly inspired, but what moves me even more is your experience as a care giver. Perhaps some of us here belong to, or are about to join, The Bodhisattva Marine Corps. That you could keep your self intact and conjure empowered fun, like the Beboodles, is truly an inspiration. IMHO, to provide dignity, security, love, reassurance and opportunities for joy, during this stage of life, is the greatest magic/art that exists. Thank you for your example of how to do this with grace. oxoxo

    • Thank you, Lisa! I had to do it again this year — this time with my dog. I was actually able to handle his illness better because of my prior experience with my father — and when the time came, I was able to cast the circle, open the West Gate, and send him home with peace. Unlike most situations with people, an animal can’t tell you what hurts, so you are guessing a lot. My father’s dementia was much the same way. With that experience behind me, I was better able to care for the dog for the three months prior to his death. And — the dog’s illness pushed me to offer the Granny Magick course that I always wanted to teach. It isn’t that you don’t grieve — the passing of my dog broke my heart — but, if you can channel that energy into something productive, everyone benefits.

  14. cindycox65 on said:

    This is the first time I have ever read the whole story! I dunno why, I follow all your stuff !?! Anyway, loved it, and your dolls are amazing! Beautiful! Thank you for sharing❤
    Cindy G.

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