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Spring Equinox gnomes!  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Spring Equinox gnomes! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

With spring right right around the corner, I thought it was time to make Bee another gnome! I decided to make a tutorial so you could make your own gnomes for the little ones in your life.  Follow along or get creative and follow your own whimsy!

Materials for the gnomes.    I use wool roving to stuff my baby toys.  You can also find wool felt.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Materials for the gnomes. I use wool roving to stuff my baby toys. You can also find wool felt. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Materials:

gnomepattern

  • Grey Catsidhe’s gnome pattern
  • felt in the desired color
  • batting
  • thread or embroidery floss
  • scissors
  • a sewing needle

The pattern may be enlarged, and should be for a baby.  I make mine so that they are small but not a choking hazard. Using the pattern, cut out the shapes in your felt.  You’ll want to cut out one face and two bodies.  At this point, I find it best to stitch on the face and add any desired details to one side of the body.  You can be as simple or complex as you wish.  I decided to make this gnome very girlish and even gave her some hair.

Stitching on the face to one side first. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Stitching on the face to one side first. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Starting at the base, stitch from bottom, to the top, and back to the bottom using the blanket stitch.  Leave the bottom opened so that you can stuff the batting in before completing the blanket stitch all the way around.

As a finishing touch, I added a little leaf to the top of the gnome’s hat.  I think it makes the Spring gnome look like a little seedling. Make sure you stitch that leaf very secure!  As with all baby toys, inspect your gnomes frequently to make sure nothing is coming apart.  My baby loves to gums her gnomes so they can get a bit worn looking.  They are very easy to clean with some soap and water.  Air dry, preferably in the sun.

Have fun making gnomes for wee ones or your own altars!  Please share any that you make!  I’d love to see.

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My time is limited and, as a result, I haven’t felt pulled to make the very detailed, large dolls I made prior to pregnancy.  Those will come again, but I’ve recently found myself returning to my roots and making dolls with very simple shapes.  Some may view that as backwards, but something Phillip Carr-Gomm said in the latest Druidcast really spoke to me.  He compared the movement of people back to religions inspired by very ancient myths to salmon returning to their spawning ground and taking part in a cycle rebirth.  Not only did it make sense to me in regards to Druidism’s place in the modern world, but it dawned on me that I was experiencing the same thing in my art.  Motherhood has transformed my life in ways that I’m only just beginning to understand.  It is impacting my art.  Everything has to be reborn in this new phase of my life.

You may have seen the Waldorf-inspired gnomes I’ve been making for my daughter.  They are akin to my early exploration of doll making.  Limbs are very complicated and so I’m not bothering with them so much right now.  Recently I’ve been wanting to spend less time on constructing the form and more on adding soul.  I decided to make a new Brighid doll for my altar.  I’ve said this many times, but I’m a proponent of using your talents to make your own ritual tools.  For me, the desire to create representations of deities for my altars is what brought me to doll making in the first place.  I retired my original Brighid doll.  She was very top-heavy and required a metal and wooden stand.  With baby just months away from walking, it seemed like a safety hazard.  Brighid has a new home upon my altar and in a form that matches my evolving understanding of her.  She is more voluptuous, draped in a tartan cloak “pined” with a Celtic knot button to represent her smithcraft and art in general.  Although I did not make limbs in the usual sense, her hand peeks out from her cloak to magically hold her sacred flame, something I needle felted using dyed sheep wool (also very appropriate for this Goddess).

A Brighid doll made and photographed by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

A Brighid doll made and photographed by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

I’m rather happy with how she turned out.  As I worked on this Brighid doll, the Goddess sent her inspiration to me and I’ve already started to dream up another doll to represent another Goddess I’ve been working with.  In the meantime, I’m planning to ritually consecrate this doll in Brighid’s name to create a “home away from home” for her, thus facilitating communication.

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Concept Art

Brainstorming a new Brighid doll for my altar.

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Before traveling to Syracuse, we stopped at the Burrville Cider Mill for some  locally made cider and donuts.  They were our potluck contribution.  I mulled the cider and it was fantastic.  Visiting the mill was a wonderful way to ring in the new season.  Autumn pleases all of the senses!
A pouch I made to hold old match and incense nubs.  Because they were objects used in magic and ritual, throwing them into a garbage can did not feel right.  I collect them in handmade pouches and put them into the seasonal fires.
For our Autumn Equinox workshop, Willow taught us how to make corn dollies – a traditional craft  for this time of year.  I have tried before but certain aspects confounded me until this group activity.
My finished corn dolly.
Here she is posing with my hubby’s corn dolly. These were offered to the Earth Mother during ritual. 
The wheel has turned.  Contrary to the summer rituals, our Autumn Equinox rite began under the veil of night.  There was a slight chill and we joyfully circled around the sacred fire.
The main offering was a bowl with some of our personal harvest.  Everyone contributed with fruits, vegetables, grain, herbs, and flowers.  They were put into the hedge for the Earth Mother to take back into her.

I hope your celebrations were filled with joy and that you communed with the harvest spirits.  May your autumn be full of blessings and bounty!

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“Balor Archery Target” painted and photographed by Weretoad, 2012

We spent Saturday with my grove mates to celebrate Lughnasadh.  It was wonderful to see them after staying with my family for the Summer Solstice.  We held our traditional Lughnasadh games!  They were more low-key and less structured this year. We had other activities planned this year and the heat was oppressive this weekend.  We spent a lot of time, including our business meeting, just floating around the pool.  The games we did have included archery, spear throwing, and Kubb.  Because nobody was really keeping track, we didn’t declare a champion this year.  Instead, everyone who participated charged a wreath which was given as an offering during ritual.

This year included a special women-only ceremony for one of our younger members, Dragonfly.  We welcomed her to womanhood and shared our words of wisdom and wishes for her.  It was very lovely and well-planned.  I know that, if I have a child, I would very much like for them to have a coming of age ceremony. I know I would have liked something like that.  What I liked best was that it was very personal and not connected to a spiritual mandate of some sort.  It was all linked to physical changes and her life.

“Artisan Showcase” – Photo by Grey Catsidhe

In addition to games, our Senior Druid felt it important for the artisans to show their work as well.  We did not compete – simply shared some of our recent work.  Painting, sewing, ceramics, sculpture, drawing, photography, and jewelry making were all represented!

One of my more recent dolls – “Dryad.”  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.
One of my “Wee Greenman Pins.”  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.
“Lughnasadh Altar” – Photo by Grey Catsidhe 2012

Our ritual was held in the shade of several trees behind our hosts’ home.  As the sun set, the air became less stifling and we focused on the cooling waters our bodies and lands so crave.  At the same time, we acknowledged the searing truth that is high summer and the lessons it teaches.   We praised Lugh as champion – as the many-skilled one who inspires us to reach for our goals and work hard each day.  We thanked the Nature Spirits for the harvest.

After that – we feasted!

It was a good day with wonderful people. I’m looking forward to the Autumn Equinox already!

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A grovie commissioned me to make a small Persephone doll.  I wanted to share some of my process.  Every doll I make starts with an idea.  They are usually inspired by mythology, nature, or a combination.  I sometimes translate them into concept drawings but not always.

Next comes fabric selection.  As I’m still working with my client on clothing, I worry about the actual doll body first.  She’ll be wearing a peplos and I wanted the rest of her body to look natural as opposed to using different colored fabric for legs (stockings).  I used some tea and coffee grounds to dye white knit fabric to a more fleshy color.  The result was a pale cream.  Perhaps not quite Mediterranean, but she is an Underworld deity.  😉

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

Next comes the pattern. I’ve been working hard to develop my own doll patterns. Using other peoples’ is generally frowned upon. Many are protected and, therefore, illegal to use when making work to sell. I seem to always be tweaking my designs. The proportions, the shape of the chin, the fingers, the feet, the breast size… I’m always tweaking.

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012

Sometimes, even after cutting out the fabric pieces, even after stitching everything together, I’m not happy.  I have a few doll heads floating around because I didn’t like the size compared to the rest of the body.  Sometimes the shape is just wrong.  After stitching this doll together, I decided the torso was too long and adjusted it.
After stitching and adjusting, I’ve got a simple doll form ready for facial features, hair, and clothing!  That’s my favorite part.  My bigger dolls are much more complicated with breasts, more fabric sculpting, eyelids, articulated fingers, etc.  These smaller forms are fun, though, in that they aren’t as frustrating!

As I craft my dolls, I light incense and say prayers to Brighid, patroness of the arts.  While making a deity idol such as this, I meditate and chant during some of the work.  It’s up to the eventual owner to do further work with the deity to truly make it their home, but I start the process with love and care.

I intend to update as Persephone comes into being.  Stay tuned!

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Despite how busy college has kept me, I’ve been stealing time here and there to work on art projects.  I’m working on two commissions: a large Blodeuwedd doll and a small Persephone doll.  I’ve also started to make a doll to enter into the Wellspring Artisan Competition in May.  And, of course, little things here and there like pins, earrings, tree spirits, etc.  Photographed here is a doll I’ve been slowly making over a few months and literally just completed.  She’s a hanging doll, a concept I came up with while sitting at my altar (I don’t doubt others have done this before, but I’ve never seen it).  I thought how appropriate it would be to have a deity image hanging from the wall.  This is Brighid, arms outstretched in welcome.  She wears emerald green and a tartan pattern of dark green, blue, and black.  She has braided, wool hair dyed orange, green eyes, and and”skirt” of flame made from yellow iridescent ribbon and orange crinoline.  On her chest is a metal triquetra charm I painted bronze then sanded to antique.  I really love how she turned out and plan to make Manannan Mac Lir next.

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