Tuesday, August 25, 2009


It was birthday time for my youngest son, Dylan, and I knew I needed to come up with something wild, weird and memorable for him. So, for some reason, this idea popped into my head... a Voodoo Alien! I've never made anything resembling a voodoo doll before, but have seen some artful renditions, and have appreciated those artists who make them with only good intentions, as protectors and intercessors... rather than as evil little pincushion beings that might be intended to cause harm, stuffed with the hair and fingernail clippings of one's enemies.

Working directly from the only sketch I made, this guy came together fairly quickly. I wanted him to look "tribal", in an other-worldly way, and a little bit scary... but only for purposes of warding off any evil spirits that might be lurking around. He's intended as a sort of totem or icon of protection, with some elements that are strictly for the fun of it!

Keeping the shape simple, I started by creating the basic body from a scrap of an old wool Navy blanket. The arms are cut from a felted thrift store sweater. Except for the initial outside seam, all the stitching is done by hand, using bright red or brown button & craft thread, and I let that stitching show wherever possible. The eyes are mismatched on purpose, giving him that intimidating squint that shows he means business!

I wanted to embellish this doll with lots of found objects, charms, beads and wire. The mouth idea popped into my head as a clear image- a red felt oval, and six white pony beads for teeth. When I later opened my bead box, it was amazing to find that when it came to white pony beads, I happened to have EXACTLY six... no more!

The charms each mean something (sometimes just some random thing I made up). His heart is a copper penny that I found, with a heart-shape punched out. This gives him compassion, and protects his owner's heart. He also sports a gold Barbie shoe, which represents his "soul" (sole), and offers protection from Barbie dolls, something my sons definitely thought were evil when they were young boys! A "Holy Family" medallion covers the possibility of the Catholics actually having it right.

There are a couple of old keys sewn on, including one on the neck piece, which also contains various bits of old fishing tackle that my husband picked up on the shores of the Kalama River. These items offer protection from the loss of keys, as well as protection from stepping on fish hooks! An NRA button protects against gun violence. But, the most important charm of all is the purple armadillo pin, which represents Dylan himself, who was sometimes called "Armadillon" in his youth. This one also offers him the protection of the well-armored armadillo's tough outer shell!

Just for the art of it, I used several of my very favorite vintage buttons, including one white dollar sign button, leftover from a shirt my mother made for my dad when I was a kid. I like to think it's imbued with some prosperity energy and/or protection from financial hazards! This doll is also quite obviously male... being endowed with a strategically placed dangly doodad, which is really just his codpiece, serving to protect his *ahem* "naughty bits" (not pictured).

The legs are sticks, donated by my neighbor's gigantic beech tree, and wrapped with brass and copper wire. His hat is made from a very large and unusual plastic button I bought at an antique store recently, topped with a faux ivory bead and a red pony bead which looks just like a "cherry on top".

Smiles, guffaws, raised eyebrows and various exclamations were heard all around upon VooDoo Alien's unveiling at my son's 22nd birthday party this past weekend. I'm assured it will not soon be forgotten, which is good enough for me!