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Dollmaking: the celebration of a culture.

I have always been fascinated with art in all its many forms. I like to do anything that is related to art - from painting to needlepoint. Many art forms were brought to my attention when I took classes at the Art Institute of Chicago.

When I was required to do an art project for school, my art teacher, Mr. Vargas, helped me decide what I wanted to do for the project and what would be its theme. Being very proud of my African heritage, I decided to incorporate the African culture with dollmaking. I decide to make dolls because I love them. Dolls have been loved by children for centuries. Before dolls were used as toys, primitive people used them as religious or magical objects.

Extensive research led to the success of my project. I looked through many books, picture files, and went to art museums. After doing research, I decided I would create dolls to represent certain tribes in Africa. I chose the Zulu, N'Debele, Ashanti, Masai, and Yoruba tribes. After researching the tribes in general, I research specific details, like beadwork.

One can hardly mention wood beadwork without mentioning Africa. The people of Africa are renowned for their beads and beadwork. Beadwork expresses Africa's sympathy and affinity with the environment. Much of the artwork of the tribes in Africa is a significant part of their lives, and much of it passes from generation to generation.

Once I had completed my research, I had to decide on what materials to use. Dolls have been made out of wood, was, papier mache, china, bisque, corn husks, straw, and braided flax. I thought that I would use stockings because the material is easy to find and to work with. Dolls were made our of stockings by colonial. people. They filled the stockings with rags or sawdust and sewed on wool for hair. I followed in that tradition, but I stuffed my dolls with cotton and I used yarn and synthetic material for hair. The fabric and the beads that I used were bought at fabric and craft stores. When I make my dolls, I don't use a pattern. I just cut and sew as I go along. That is why each doll is different.

I really like making dolls. I think that my dolls encourage national and ethnic pride. I hope my dolls will give people a deeper appreciation of the craft and perhaps encourage further research of the African culture.
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Author:Sanders, Marlita
Publication:School Arts
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Words:410
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