My eight-year-old daughter is not normally very excited about crafts and she tends to be impatient, so I was amazed and delighted by our success with this craft.
We made Brigid dolls today--two of them because she decided to set up her own altar and wanted to make her own doll all by her self. The craft held her interest for several hours and came out really beautiful.
1. We took a square of white cloth and put a solid ball of cotton in the middle of it. You can use anything from crumpled paper to cloth scraps to a Styrofoam craft ball. You can also use a white paper handkerchief in place of a white cloth for a quick but less durable doll.
2. We then gathered the corners of the cloth and tied a red or gold string under the ball to form a kind of neck. We cut slits every few inches in the cloth, almost up to but not quite reaching the neck.
3. Then we rolled up another smaller rectangle of cloth and tied it at the ends to form arms. This we inserted under the neck through the slits, so that the arms protrude on both sides. (I also inserted a little extra cloth in min for breasts but my daughter didn't. You can see the difference in the photos below.
4. Then we inserted some dried lavender stalks from the bottom in place of legs. This makes the doll smell wonderful. You can substitute many different herbs or stalks of grain. Really anything symbolizing your last-year's harvest is symbolically appropriate.
5. We tied a second string around the middle under the arms, This serves as a waist and holds the herb stalks in place.
6. Now it was time to decorate the doll. First we put on hair. We loosely sewed embroidery floss into the head, letting each stitch dangle for several inches. This was by far the most difficult and time-consuming part of the craft and it could be avoided by coloring or gluing on wool, fabric or feathers in place of hair. But we loved the look of the embroidery floss.
7. We then tied and stitched a scarf or hair band on over the hair. This can also be done with hot glue.
8. Next we put on faces. My daughter chose to color hers on with markers and I embroidered mine on, although I am no expert at embroidery. Both turned out fine.
9. I added a lace apron to match the scarf, because I had a bit of extra curtain lace hanging around. Both can be made with any white cloth or even a white paper handkerchief.
10. Finally we used another red string to tie a few lavender sprigs into the hands so that they formed a welcoming circle in front of the doll.
All ties were made with either red or gold strings. A Brigid doll should generally be white with red, gold and possibly purple highlights. This is the doll we will use in our Imbolc ritual. We will place the dolls in baskets by the hearth to sleep through the night before Imbolc. Then the children will come and light candles and symbolically wake up Brigid to bring in the spring in the morning. It is their favorite part of the Imbolc holiday.
I'm so happy to finally share the making of the doll with my daughter too.
By the way, this is the same craft used in the children's adventure story around Imbolc called Shanna and the Raven. Although in the book the craft is done with natural sticks or stalks of herbs for the arms as well. There is also a delicious recipe for white and red strawberry dumplings in the book. It's a story about how a couple of modern goddess-orriented kids celebrate the holiday and learn to use intuition for their own protection.
I hope you will all have peace and inspiration this holiday. Blessings of creativity and warm hearths to all!