What are Worry dolls? In Spanish they are called Muñecas quitapenas. Worry Dolls date back to Mayan traditions. You whisper your toubles to them and they are supposed to remove your anxieties, fears, and worries. These dolls are traditionally made in Guatemala and Peru and perhaps other countries as well. I have received them only from these two countries. They are often sold in sets in a cloth pouch or wooden box and can even be worn as jewelry as as wearable amulets.
Anyway, these are usually little, tiny, effigies made of paper, wood, or cloth and dresses in colorful hand woven fabrics. The doll above was my inspiration. She is a bit larger and more elaborate than most actual worry dolls but, I love her and was inspired to recreate her as a miniature worry doll.
Step 1: Condition your flesh clay.
I blended brown, white, red, and yellow to get the skin color I was going for.
Roll out a little head. about a 1/2 inch to 3/4 of an inch is a good size to work with.
Indent the head right across the middle to get her facial features going. A smooth and even paint brush or other tool handle will do a good job of this. Press down firm enough to change the shape of the head but don't completely smash it.
This is what your black face should look like.
Give the little googly a bitsy, button nose. About the size of a 1/2 grain of rice rolled into a ball should do.
Another grain of rice in red, orange, or burgundy for the pouty lips. gently roll the grain of rice into a tear drop shape. It is tiny and your strokes need to be very gentle.
Once you have a tear drop shape, "gently" press it into a flat-ish tear drop. You don't want it completely flat. The top should have some dimension and the bottom should be flat.
Use the back of your blade to create a heart shape out of the tear drop shape. You may also need to soften the bottom point of the heart shape that will now be the lower lip.
Place the heart on the face just below the nose. Be sure to center your "V" directly under the nose.
Roll out three balls of clay, two white and one black (again about the size of grains of rice) into balls. Cut the black ball into two equal size pieces and roll again. Place the white balls onto the face just above the nose line and an equal distance apart.
TIP: Lower on the face and wider set usually equates to a cuter, younger face. Not just for this face but faces in general. Think about puppies and babies. Their foreheads are usually 1/2 the size of their heads. You want your eyes to be right about the half way point.
Place the black iris' onto the whites. I like a flirty side glancing eye. It offers more character than a forward facing stare.
Eyebrows are optional for this project but, fun. Play around with them a bit they can add a lot of life and expression to your face.
OK, we are moving on to the body now. Roll a chunk of scrap clay into a log. You want your body to be about 2-3 heads high for this project. You can always cut it down so don't worry about it getting too tall.
Wardrobe: This garment, the Mayan Woman's Skirt, is called a refrajo or corte. The most common cortes are large. flat pieces of hand woven fabric, made into tube shapes and worn tightly wrapped around the hips and secured at the waist with a sash.
Cover your scrap clay with a colorful cane slice. Be sure to cut the edges of your cane at an angle. The beveled edges with fit together neatly, forming a clean seam. Gently roll the "dressed" log on the work surface or in your hands to smooth out the seam. Be patient and gentle!
Create a flat and stable bottom for your worry doll to be able to be free standing. Do this by neatly, and patiently tucking in the bottom of the dress and then pressing down onto your work surface.
With your thumb and index finger gently push the top of the body into a dome. Do not worry if the dress leaves some scrap clay exposed. This will be covered by the blouse later in the wardrobe process.
Your dress should look something like a very flamboyant bullet! Doesn't that sound like fun???
At this point you should send your girl or boy straight to wardrobe to try it on for size. What do you think? Does this make my butt look fat?
Notice the very large proportion of the head to body size. Not very realistic is it? Well, of course not silly! If I wanted real life I would be doing something other than playing with dolls, puppets, and play dough! Anyway.....reality is over rated and I happen to like big ole heads!
Ok, so big heads are good, if that's what you're into and now back to wardrobe..........
Condition a sheet of White clay, off-white to beige or tan is OK too. You'll want it to be quite thin. This was just a few numbers away from the thinnest setting on my Dream Machine (about a 5 or 6 on an Atlas).
Cut a slit about 1/2 lengthwise down your dress form.
Roll out a sausage of flesh clay about the diameter of your computer cord. Don't worry about length. You can adjust that later.
Place the arms in the slit created at the top of the dress. Make any adjustments to your arm length at this time. In order to keep your hands smooth remove clay length from the top of the arms.
Cut your white clay into a square. Fold it in half over your figure. I like my blouse to cover 1/2 of the body length. Trim any excess length and width. You want enough width to give the impression of sleeves. Do not worry about smoothing the seams out. This type of garment is called a Guatemalan Huipiles it is simply wrapped not sewn.
The weave, design, and embroidery on these garments can be very elaborate and is and the style of each huipil is indicative of the village it is from.
Decorate your huipil with floral or geometric stamps or cane slices. If you want to create a design of a specific village you can search through the different designs by village here.
Pierce the head with a needle tool or tooth pick. Pierce the body with a tooth pick or piece of a skewer.
Add a bit of liquid polymer to the neck area to give her a nice strong spine. Then put her head on her neck. Press down gently but firmly to create a solid bond.
Coat her hairline with a little liquid polymer. A lot goes a long way so use a brush and go lightly.
Add a strip of black or brown hair and use a blade to create a braid or other hair designs.
Add an optional head wrap or scarf.
Add props like a baby brother, a basket of fruit, flowers, or fabric, or even a bunch of really little worry dolls.
Here is a profile pic. Baby brother is just a head on a stick of clay covered in a blanket. His hair is black ink.
Her back side............. Does this make my butt look fat?
I hope that you had fun with this project whether you try to make one on your own or just came along for the ride.
If you do make any please send me a few pic's. Or at least give me credit for the inspiration! I'd love to see what you do with it. Have fun and enjoy!
Also, If you have enjoyed any part of this project or blog please share my link with a friend or two, or three!
Leave a comment and let me know you liked this!