Tag Archives: carving wooden dolls

Carving a Comfort Doll from a Fallen Branch

Last week, our darling little dog died. He was 15 years old and we miss him terribly.

The day before he died, a branch fell from the huge Elm tree in front of our house. I love the tree and so I picked up the branch and moved it onto our lawn, thinking that I should probably carve something from it.

A couple of days after we came home from the Vet, without our dear boy in our arms, the impulse to pick up the branch and start carving grew stronger and stronger.

I had been feeling called to carve another 6 inch doll like one that had carved last fall, so I used her as a companion and guide:

I used the same branch for her arms:

And for her legs, but I got the first pair all wrong, so I made another pair from another scrap of wood.

Of course, it took me a few days to carve her and to allow the still wet wood to dry before I could paint her.

This allowed me to follow my inner prompts that were a gift from this little healing dolly and start work on carving a teddy bear. I have posted about him here: LINK

I was surprised that she wanted a very round head, but when I went to carve it down, she firmly told me to just sand it smooth and live with it. Okay…. it’s important to not try to push the doll where she does not want to go!

She let me know exactly what she wanted for her hair, leotard, leggings and boots:

I knitted her a dress that was totally wrong for her, but works beautifully on a different doll.

Then I tried a different dress that I had knitted for another little doll. Nope.

She wanted me to weave her a white skirt and shrug from yarn that my daughter in law spun.

So, I did….

Her name is Pollydolly and I have found the process of carving her (and the teddy bear that I will post about next) to be very soothing and healing.

Dollmaking is very much a healing art and no matter what form it takes, it’s good for the soul.

Grieving is a journey that is unique to each person who has to follow the path, and it’s important to do the things that help the grief be nurtured in a transformative way that becomes the root of compassion.

Carving dolls and bears and knitting and weaving are an important part of my way of healing.

In the next post about the Teddy Bear that Pollydolly told me to carve, I’ll show you where she is sitting now. LINK

If you are grieving, please know that you are not alone. There is so much to grieve right now, and we all have to find our way through it. Blessings on your journey!

With love! ❤

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Carved Wooden Vasilisa Dolls by Noreen Crone-Findlay

(UPDATE: Many of the dolls in this post have sold. To see which of the Vasilisa Comfort Dolls are available,

please go to LINK 1 and LINK 2)

To see the larger Vasilisa Comfort Dolls, please click on LINK

I have been carving wooden dolls non-stop for the past year.

I’ve been working on several series of dolls.

One of the series that has brought me great joy is my ‘Vasilisa Comfort Dolls’ group.

I call them this because of the Russian folktale, Vasilisa the Brave. Vasilisa’s mother knows that she is dying, so she makes her darling daughter a doll that embodies all the mother love in her heart.

The little doll acts as a guide and comfort for Vasilisa throughout the story.

My Vasilisa dolls are also an embodiment of love, and even though they look very simple, they are deeply heartfelt, contemplative, meditative and powerfully healing.

I have used all kinds of wood- some it is from old pianos that died and the wood was given to me, some of it is from trees that were pruned or felled because of old age, some is from old furniture or planks of upcycled wood in other forms. There is a very small amount of new bought wood, as I prefer to plant trees, rather than use them up. Upcycling soothes me.

I have separated the Vasilisa Dolls into different categories.

Many of them are meant to be held in the palm of your hand or carried in a pouch (carrying them in a pocket with coins, keys, pebbles etc is not recommended, but on their own in a pocket is fine).

The Vasilisa dolls are all about 2 1/2 inches tall.
Just perfect to be embraced in your hand…. and held to your heart!

Here are the ‘Square Body’ Vasilisa’s dolls

Some of them have cords, because they are necklaces.

Some have dear little wooden legs that turn them into lucets, so they can make cords.

Some of them have brass nail antennae that also allow them to be used as lucets.

Some of them have lucet cord arms that allow them to hug your finger, thumb or house plant.

Here are the ‘Heart Shape’ body Vasilisa dolls:

Here are the Round Shape Body Vasilisa Dolls:

The group of Vasilisa dolls in the photo below all have pins on their backs so they can be worn as brooches.

The group in the next photo are necklaces and I realize that some of these should have been in the Goddess photo, too, but, you know… keeping everything straight…..

The group in the photo below are all Lucets (and I’ll send a pdf on how to use them as well as links to 8 video tutorials on lucet cord making with these Vasilisa dolls)

These are the Finger Hugging Vasilisa Dolls:

These Vasilisa dolls are based on Goddess energy and inspired by Goddess imagery:

The Vasilisa dolls are great for storytelling…..

I couldn’t resist making one little Vasilisa Snowlady 🙂

They are for sale and range in price from $25 to $95 +shipping, just send me a message or note.

Not all of them are still available.

I am quite emotional about posting them, as they have been such a source of healing for me through the pandemic…. I hope that you can feel all the love in them, too. ❤

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Taking the Scenic Route with My Carving

When my husband and I talk about ‘taking the scenic route’, what we are really saying is:

“Well, that certainly didn’t go the way I expected it to, but we/I/it  ~’got there’~  in the end!”.

Several of my carvings did that this past week.

For instance, I was convinced that one particular little piece of  upcycled birch wood

(‘upcycled’ because it came from a tree that died and was cut down, but didn’t go to the landfill, and this piece didn’t go into the fire)

wanted to be a Panda bear Spoon Doll.

I drew a Panda bear with a heart.

I sat down and started carving.

A Panda bear…..

which, after several hours of carving, finally pointed out to me that,

really, all it wanted was for me to finally twig to the fact that it is a Kitten.

Sigh.   She made herself heard… eventually!

And, so, she became a Ginger Kitten with Mittens, Thank you very much.

Thank goodness there was just enough wood to make sure that she had a perfectly question mark shaped tail.

Now, every time I look at her and turn her over in my hand, where she fits so sweetly,

I feel very happy.

Another little carving – a Hug Sister Spoon Doll let me know that I had totally missed the boat on her face and hair.

I was puzzled and twitchy about what was going on with her.

The face that I had painted on her was just so NOT her!

I’m not going to post a pic of the ‘wrong’ face, because it was wrong.

I thought and thought about her, then had an ‘aha’ .

I  went to the studio did  something else entirely different than the ‘aha’ to give her the face she wanted.

Isn’t that often the way?

I did what felt right, though, and was thrilled that, indeed – it WAS right!

She finally looks like she is supposed to!

Yay!

I rushed off to show her to my husband

and did a little happy dance

and he joined me in the happy dance and

that made us both happy 🙂

(We are possibly the world’s WORST dancers, but that doesn’t stop us from doing little dances together in the kitchen

almost every day, and laughing and thanking goodness that no one can see us).

So, anyhow, this little Hug Sister Spoon Doll brought a little happiness into the world,

and that’s a good thing, I do believe.

And, the other day, I noticed that the ‘Kindness’ Spoon Doll had a problem.

I had written the words: ‘The Small Book of Kindness’ on her little book with permanent fine Sharpie,

and, oh, no! The walnut oil that I used to finish her had eaten the words…. they had faded from the cover of the book.

Eep.

So, with great trepidation, I used my wood burner to burn the words onto the cover, and was enormously relieved

that the whole thing didn’t explode or catch fire- what with all the coats of walnut oil soaked into her!

Unfortunately, it’s much messier than the  original words were. Sigh.

I also had been troubled by the heart looking more like a dagger than a kind and loving heart, so I re-carved it.

Now it’s softly rounded and kindly shaped heart. Whew. That’s better.

The Scenic Route.

Sometimes, it takes a few ‘goes’ to get to the place that feels just right.

Some people  think that getting it wrong is a disaster.

Nope.  It’s essential to be willing to take chances and see if something works.

If it doesn’t, then trying again

and again

until it does.

It’s a challenging and interesting path to follow, but it’s a good one.

Here’s to the Scenic Route!  It makes life so rich and interesting!

My week has been full of other ‘Scenic Route’ carving, but more about them, later.

Be well! Be safe, and be kind….

 

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Carving Spoon Dolls as a Way to Make Sense of the World

I have been pondering and mulling and thinking and feeling and questioning and reeling from world events.

To soothe and heal the stress and anguish that watching the unfolding of the dramas out in the world,

I have been using the power of metaphor and the physical process of carving my wooden spoon dolls.

to start to make sense of things, I felt like I needed to re-connect to nature.

Immersing myself in carving wood that has come from trees that lived and then died in our neighborhood is a powerful way of connecting to the energy of the earth, the stars, the rain, the sun, the snow….

I began last week’s carving with a Tree Spirit Spoon Doll…

As I was carving her, I realized that from now on, all the bowls of my spoon dolls need to be heart shaped-

They are invocations of Love.

Carving images of love and connection made me think a lot about sisterhood and how precious dear friends are.

These two little Sister Spoons were directly influenced by all the thousands of Comfort Bears that I have made over the years.

I wondered if I could combine the softness of lucet cord handspun (alpaca and wool) yarn with the solidity of wood to create

‘Comfort Sisters’.

The answer is, ‘Yes’…..

Our neighbors on both sides have babies and toddlers and I love watching them blossom.

I want them to grow up in a world that is in much better shape than it is now.

I want them to live in a world where people are kind!

So, this Spoon Doll is dedicated to the Little Ones, who deserve to have the Book of Kindness being a guidebook for everyone.

 

I was thinking about accountability and responsibility and the image of a very firm, loving, but ‘Listen Here!” Granny

who laid out a couple of really important rules and guidelines emerged.

 

As I was carving her, I loved the feeling of the gouge lifting petals of wood up,

and the feeling of ‘Yes-ness’ about working with a precious material that is a living thing- the lifestuff of trees.

 

Trees are ancient and don’t need rules the way people seem to….

Here are Granny’s Rules:

 

I have had so many powerful and wonderful conversations with friends and family this week about the healing power of making art.

That has been such a restorative thing for my soul.

I ended this week’s carving with thoughts about how we are all made of stardust,

and that we are part of a much greater cosmos than we can ever imagine, but we need to try to remember to imagine that,

and so much more….

So, I carved another Starbaby (with lovely Chokecherry wood)

as a reminder of our roots in Source energy,

and also as a reminder to myself of a dream that I had more than 35 years ago-

In the dream, the Northern Lights filled the sky, and

thousands of laughing, chortling, squealing with delight, Starbabies

slid and tumbled down to earth, bringing incredible joy and goodness with them.

May they continue to do so!

Here’s to Goodness! ❤

 

 

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I forgot to Mention that a few years ago I carved a new Tottie Tomato doll for my blog

Oh my goodness, how can I have forgotten to mention that the original Tottie Tomato doll that I made oh so many years ago had to retire because she wore out?

She’s living happily with friends in comfort and ease in my studio-

When it became clear that she was in tough shape, I set to work carving a new incarnation of Tottie Tomato. (See my About page for the story of how Tottie Tomato originated).

Original Tottie supervised my carving of New Tottie.

And the painting, and the finishing, and the jointing, then the crochet and tatting of Little Tottie’s new dress.

The smaller incarnation of Tottie Tomato is fine and fiesty and

Retired Tottie approves completely.

Tottie still goes off to the Story door-

and enjoys picnics there with friends –

She watches carefully while I create more friends for her….

and loves getting to know them…

Tottie Tomato is pleased that I have finally- FINALLY- given her a PROPER introduction and she sends you her hugs and love ❤

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Respite from world events in carving spoons with love

This difficult week that our world has gone through made me want to carve out images of love, delight, sweetness and joy.

And, so I did.

My son upcycled trees that had died and had to be cut down, and made me blanks for my carving.

A Manitoba Maple from the yard of the parents of friends has re-incarnated as a mermaid.

I could feel the Mermaid in the piece of Maple, and so I carved this Mermaid spoon.

I wanted her to look like the ocean carved her, even when it was me who did.

My son rescued the wood from a dead chokecherry tree and made me spoon carving blanks.

The chokecherry wood became heart and hand spoons, 2 sweet little sisters and a woman who dreamt of dancing with the moon….

The chokecherry wood is almost translucent while it’s being carved and takes lots of coats of oil and several days of resting after it’s carved to start changing color.

Heart and hand images are dear to my heart and I find it very healing to carve them.

The first one is a spoon that is like a magic wand, asking to be waved in the air to stir up common sense and loving, calling out to appreciative hearts, full of compassion and gratitude.

The chokecherry tree died awhile ago, but it’s heart lives on.

It really wanted to be another Heart and Hand, and this one called to me to add color by including beads.

The pebbles in the palm of the hand and the bowl of the heart are not attached.

They just jumped in because they wanted to be in the pictures.

A whole lot more heart and hand carved spoons are waiting in a pile of upcycled wood from trees that have died, but are living on as carved spoons!

Two darling little sisters called out to me and asked me to carve them as spoon dolls.

The first is a sweet bunny who is excellent at giving bunny/upcycled chokecherry tree hugs.

I carve the arms on my spoon dolls from sections of wood that I cut away while I am cutting out the rough outline with the scroll saw.

It’s important to me that I carve their arms from the exact same piece of wood that they are made from, and of course, I have to make the arms moveable.

All the better to deliver hugs when the world is needing so much love….

I am enchanted by these little wooden beings who reveal themselves to me as I carve them.

I am guided by what they want.

No, I am not bonkers,

I don’t hear voices 😀

but I do feel that I am guided by the spirit of the tree in asking me to do what it wants and to let it be what it needs to be.

Birds obviously must have loved the chokecherry tree that now lives on in my carvings.

I am sure of this,  because as I was carving the wood from the dead chokecherry tree,

a little bird asserted it’s claim to sit upon the head of the kitty who is clearly the sister of the hugging bunny.

The kitty is quite happy to listen to all the little bird has to say about sunshine and  wind and rain and other stories the chokecherry tree still whispers of it’s days of bloom in spring, berries in summer and autumn and cold roots in winter.

Sometimes, a piece takes me totally by surprise.

I thought that this was going to be one thing and it turned out to be something totally different!

At first, after many many hours of carving the chokecherry wood, I thought that I had completely failed and that the spoon doll who was fighting me was destined to become firewood.

I tried to give up and go to bed, but no way, she wasn’t having any of that!

I could feel the wood trying to get me to see what was supposed to be happening, and I was drawn in, hour after hour, carving and carving and carving until finally at 3 am, I had an ‘aha’ and felt like I had gotten to where I was supposed to go with this spoon doll.

I jumped out of bed the next day, after not enough sleep, and immersed myself in this spoon doll, but this time, knowing what she was asking for.

She wanted me to see that she was a dreamer, dancing with the moon on her head.

Perhaps the chokecherry tree had loved feeling the touch of moonlight on it’s branches?

The spoon doll made it clear to me that she wanted NO embellishment, only to be allowed to shimmer in the light of the moon.

Okay.

I did, however, allow a little pearl to sneak into the photos. The Moon Dancing Dreamer was fine about it. Gracious, in fact.

I am utterly captivated by the joy (and challenges) of carving ‘raw’ upcycled wood that might have ended up at the land fill or simply being burned as firewood.

It’s alchemy to listen to the wood and let it lead me in transforming it in ways that surprise and delight me.

I look forward to continuing this adventure!

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Carving a tiny wooden Gnome Doll

Sometimes, when you are carving a doll, you will start with one thought in mind.

But, there are times when it becomes clear that the doll wants to be something else entirely.

This just happened to me when I was carving a very small doll.

My grandson is five and he thinks babies are sublime, so he asked me to carve a baby doll.

I started…. I used a little doll that my mother owned long ago and far away in her childhood…

(Oh how I love this little doll!)

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.tottietalkscrafts.com

but soon, it became clear that it was a tiny Lady Gnome who wanted to be released from the wood….

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.tottietalkscrafts.com

And, there she is- among her friends, admiring the thimbles…

Her name is Bessie, or, just Bess, and this is how I carved her:

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Carving Wooden Dolls- My first homage to Hitty

Last August, I posted a brief introduction to my first homage to Hitty dolls. LINK

I have been carving and making wooden dolls since I was a very young girl, and it’s one of my passions, but hadn’t carved any homages to Hitty until I was utterly enchanted by the Quimper Hitty blog: LINK

The Quimper Hitty blog should come with a warning that it is utterly and completely addictive!

Such enchantment! Oh my!~!~

Thanks to the magical heart who creates the Quimper Hitties, I fell under their spell….

I really did mean to show how I carved my first Hitty, whose name is Tennie:

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.tottietalkscrafts.com

But, I got totally swept away by a combination of downsizing, moving and downsizing (after 21 years in a large house and barn and huge garage etc, downsizing to a wee house is intense!) and by the writing of my new book.

Well, this year has galloped past, and the book and photos and diagrams are now in the capable hands of the best editor ever, and I am able to take up all manner of things that I love…. like carving wooden dolls….

Here are a couple of pics that I snapped while I was carving  ‘Tennie Hitty’:

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.tottietalkscrafts.com

Here she is after I varnished her:

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.tottietalkscrafts.com

Of course, as soon as she was finished, she began to campaign for more companions….

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.tottietalkscrafts.com

She was sure that she heard a little wooden dolly voice calling out somewhere in the studio….

Actually…. so did I…..

🙂

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Teaching my young grandson how to carve a wooden doll

One of the joys of my life has always been doll making.

I have carved wooden dolls for as long as I remember, and I am now enjoying teaching my 5 year old grandson how to make wooden dolls, too.

I gave him a piece of wood, and had him draw a figure on it.

Then, I burned the lines he had drawn:

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.tottietalkscrafts.com

You can see to the right of his doll, a doll that his Mamma made when she was his age, and one that I am currently working on.

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.tottietalkscrafts.com

He chose some colors, and started adding them….

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.tottietalkscrafts.com

I cut her out with the bandsaw and he took her home, but wasn’t pleased that she had rough edges.

copyright Noreen Crone-Findlay http://www.tottietalkscrafts.com

So, the next day, I took some of my tools over so he could work on sanding her and finishing her.

He’s already immersed in the family culture of being a Maker!

I’ve been giving him lessons on how to use a hand saw in a Zen way, as he tends to approach tools with wild abandon, which is not something I encourage at all.

Gently, gently, is my motto….

Ah, the bliss of being a granny….

my heart sings!

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