USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘craft’
Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Legends
Magic
Protection

Voodles

My informant, JP, is creating voodoo dolls for children.  Literally sewing dolls.  She calls them Voodles, a combination of voodoo and dolls.  When she told me she was making voodoo dolls for children I was surprised.  I explained that I thought voodoo dolls were scary–a part of what my dad calls dark magic.  But my informant explained that voodoo is totally misconstructed by modern day society.  She understands them to be these protective spirits with positive attributes, not negative ones.

She plans to create a number of Voodles.  For example, there will be a doctor Voodle for a sick child.  “Another Voodle has a pocket and if you put a penny in its pocket and make a wish, the Voodle is supposed to help it come true. And each Voodle will come with a legend or story.”

JP’s desire to make a Voodles for children suggests she has a strong belief in voodoo dolls.  It also reveals that she believes so many people believe in voodoo that there is a commercial market for voodoo dolls geared toward children.

Childhood
Customs
Kinesthetic
Material

Candy Wrapper Doll

Contextual Data: I had a bit of a cough over Spring Break and so I ended up working my way through a packet of cough drops. One day my mother saw me crumpling one and tossing it aside and she mentioned that when she I was little, she had taught me how to make a doll out of those wrappers. I didn’t remember it, so she explained it to me again. Her step-by-step explanation is paraphrased and illustrated with images below.

1. Fold the paper back and forth into thin strips (“like an accordion,” she explained.)

2. Flatten the resulting thin strip.

3. Tie a knot in the strip, not quite halfway through it, but offset (about two-thirds of the way down). The resulting shape should be a sort of triangle.

  

4. Fan out the smaller top section to create a head and the larger bottom section to create the doll’s skirt.

5. Twist the edges of the smaller portion to create two little ponytails.

After she finished making the doll, I asked my informant where she first learned about it and why she did it. The following is an exact transcript of her response.

“Uh…In school, when we used to get candy. Uh, we… Like how you guys get muffins when there’s somebody’s birthday—the person brings muffins for the whole class, we used to get hard candies wrapped in that foil. So after we’re done eating with the candy, we would play around with it and that’s what we would end up making… It was just something passed around, I guess. From friends.”

My informant attended school in India. When I asked  if the boys did anything like that with the wrappers, she mentioned that she attended an all-girls school. Overall, there doesn’t seem to be any particular symbolism to the little craft — they never really grew attached to these dolls; they would throw them away after they were done with them and nobody ever collected them or anything like that (possibly because they were so common and easy to make, and therefore not anything rare or exciting). In general, this therefore just seems like a fun little way that friends played with one another, and it just kind of conjured up everyday memories from my informent’s childhood school days.

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