Worry Dolls Worry - So You Do Not Have To
Worry Dolls are Very Tiny
My Worry Doll on her box
Purpose of Worry Dolls
Quite simply, Worry Dolls take on your worries so you can relax. The original Worry Dolls tradition began in Guatemala. The dolls are very beneficial for people who have so many worries they cannot sleep.
The dolls are kept in a small box or cloth bag. When given (or making their own) dolls, one can take a doll out, whisper their worry to that doll and either place it under their pillow or back in the box. The person can then fall asleep easily. When one truly believes this works, it does work. Usually they are made for the purpose of helping children sleep peacefully, yet even some adults use them with good results. The original method is to have six dolls. Each night another doll is taken out of the box and given a worry to take care of. On the seventh day, the worries are all gone and the person is spiritually healed because the worry over issues has been resolved by spiritual helpers, the dolls.
The Worry Dolls method is a psychological process that relieves one of stress and frustration over stubborn thoughts and concerns that are trapped in the mind. It can also be a very spiritual process that brings peace to the believer who has faith in magical spiritual tools.
To make your own set of Worry Dolls, let us start with the materials you will need.
- scraps of plain paper
- 3 twist ties for each doll (like the ones you find in the produce section of your store to secure the plastic bags)
- Small painted wooden box or a small cloth bag
- Acrylic paints and a small art brush (if you want to paint your box)
- Felt tip pen
- Colorful cotton fabric strips
- Scraps of yarn
- Fray Check (brand name, available at fabric stores)
Worry Dolls are very inexpensive to make. You can use things you most likely already have around the house.
Twist ties will become the basic parts to make a tiny doll. Scraps of brightly colored fabric make the clothes for the doll. Small pieces of plain paper are used to make the face. Tiny pieces of yarn can be used to make the hair, or you can make hats or scarves from scraps of fabric.
Make at least six dolls. You may find small wooden boxes, unfinished and ready to paint, in a craft store. If you are making the dolls for a child, it is a good idea to let the child paint the box. The child will more than likely paint something symbolic that will help him or her give their very own personal meaning to the purpose of the Worry Dolls.
If you cannot find a little wooden box you can make one from a greeting card. A box made from a greeting card is quite sturdy and creates its own design. Instructions to make a box from a greeting card follow the next section.
Have you ever seen or heard of Worry Dolls before?
How to Make Worry Dolls
1. Take two twist ties and hold them together. About an inch from one end, twist the ties together -- leave this twisted part for the head. The two long ends will be the legs of the doll, turn ends in to form the feet.
2. Use the third twist tie for the arms. Twist it around the other two at the appropriate place. Bring the two arms together and cut if necessary so they are the same length. Turn ends in to form hands.
3. Cut some long, thin pieces of colorful cotton fabric. Wrap the arms, legs and body with the strips. The best way to do this is to cut into one end of the strip, in the center, to make two thinner strips you can tie the fabric onto the doll securely before wrapping. Use a different color than the top for the pants or skirt.
4. Cut a small piece of plain paper to wrap around the head then with the felt tip pen put two dots for the eyes and a line for a smile.
5. Glue very short pieces of yarn on top for hair. You can also make a tiny hat or scarf.
6. Fray Check - apply just a light coat of the liquid to edges of fabric that might fray over time.
The twist ties allow you to make a very small doll by simply folding the tie ends up to make arms and legs shorter. I made my doll short enough to fit into the box I made. The box is 2" by 2", so I shortened the doll to a little less than 2" tall.
Materials Needed to Make a box
- used greeting card at least 5" X 7"
- Glue (optional - the box will hold together without glue)
How to Make a box From a Greeting Card
Many people save the cards they receive from birthdays and holidays. If you have one you can part with, recycle it into a little box that will last for years. I have some that are over 20 years old and still very sturdy. They make lovely holiday decorations or gift boxes for something quite small, like earrings, ring, or pendant. They are perfect for very small Worry Dolls.
1. Open the card flat. Remove any insert carefully so as not to damage card.
2. Cut the card in half, straight down the center crease line.
3. Here is the tricky part:
Look at the design on the front of the card and decide what part you want in the center of the lid on your box. Then lay front of the card, design up, on top of the back of the card, line up the bottom edges.
It would be nice to have that purple flower in the center of the lid, but it will not work with this card -- so, I moved the card a little to the right to have that curved thick line cross over the center of the lid.
4. Draw a line straight across on the back of the card using the top edge of the front of the card as a guide.
Holding the top card in place, flip both parts over and draw straight lines on the top and bottom of the card piece that is now underneath the back of the card.
5. Cut each card part evenly on the lines you drew. What has happened is that you 'squared' the card parts. Now, since the back of the card will be the bottom of the box, very slightly trim on two adjoining sides to keep the square true. This will allow the lid to fit on the box easily.
* Tip: Save the pieces of card you just cut off as scrap paper to make the faces for dolls.
6. Using your ruler and pencil, draw lines from corner to corner on both pieces.
Make sure you draw these lines on the back of the design lid, not on the design. This will pinpoint centers of each piece.
7. Begin folding each corner to center and crease the fold line as hard as you can with your ruler or pencil by rubbing along the fold.
Now you have two smaller squares.
8. Unfold three of the creased sections on one square. Fold the edge of the one side you left unfolded to the center line and crease hard. Unfold this section and repeat with the other three sections.
9. Unfold entire square and you will note the crease lines have formed a very small square in the center.
10. This is a crucial part. Holding the square so it looks like a diamond, look at the crease lines that stop at the center square. You may be able to faintly see the crease lines in this image.
On opposite sides -- OPPOSITE SIDES -- carefully cut along the two crease lines just to the square. Do not cut into the square.
11. On each of the two sides you did not cut, you have two flaps, one on each side.
Fold the point back to the center, fold the flaps in and fold the section up so it forms a standing square.
Now, pull the two cut sides up, fold over the flaps and tuck the section down into the box, creasing the bottom with your thumbnail.
This is the finished box bottom.
12. Repeat steps 7 through 11 with the top card.
It is always a delightful surprise to see what your finished box looks like. I thought that broad line that separates the dark and light sections would go from top to bottom, or side to side. I was delighted to see the diagonal line which is more appealing and makes two triangles.
It is important to use a card of good paper stock. Using flimsy cardstock will give you a very flimsy box that could easily be crushed with use.
If you like, you can put a bit of glue under the flaps inside the box so they stay put. However, if your creases are good, it is not necessary to glue the flaps down.
May your child find comfort with the Worry Dolls and may you find joy in creating a helpful gift for your child's peace of mind.
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All images except for the large image at top are source: Phyllis Doyle Burns
Please use caution with these dolls, for they can cause choking hazards. Do not give the dolls to very young children.
A Different way to Make a Worry Doll
A Profound Experience
As I just finished the doll and was ready to hit the 'Publish' button, my dear friend from France called me on IM. I told him about this article and the doll I had made and he seemed very pleased about it. He had been having a not so good day and did not know what was bothering him. He felt the good feelings I have about the doll and the article so I emailed him a picture of the doll. When he saw the doll, something began to open in him and he became very emotional, very much affected by the doll.
We both are very spiritual people and help each other on our spiritual path. The doll, when he saw her face and her lovely dress, really touched him spiritually and emotionally. He said what also touched him was knowing that I had worked on the doll, the box, the article with my spirit, that it all came from within me.
I have been making cloth dolls for several years now. When I make a doll, it is a very divine thing for me, very spiritual, and I feel the doll come alive as I create her. Most of my dolls are in the traditional Native American style and they are more than dolls -- they actually become spiritual helpers for someone. Each doll seems to know her spiritual work and who she is to help.
This doll I just made, claimed my friend. She knew he needed help and reached out to his spirit and he felt a profound release of a burden being lifted from him. He said seeing the doll and knowing I worked on it made him almost cry with a deep love and incredible emotion, peace.
We talked for quite awhile and both feel that the doll chose him, so, I will be sending the doll to France to my friend. As I was making the doll, I knew she would let me know where she is supposed to be.
All this made me think about the way people lived long before technology, even long before the written words came. In days before the modern era, people did not count on things outside themselves. They did not depend on mechanics or books, or schools -- all they had was nature and their self, so all they did, all they created, came from within them, from their spirit. They lived in and with nature. It was a much more spiritual world then.
People of long ago made dolls, statues to honor their gods of the moment -- god of spring and new birth, god of the harvest, god of the winter when all things die and go into dormancy, and again the god of new growth, rebirth. As my friend says, they had a god within them and for each thing they did, they sensed the god, the spirit of that moment and how this belief helped them in their every day life. Every thing they did was with respect for the Earth and all within and upon it. When they created a doll or statue to honor their gods, the belief was so strong that it worked for them. Just like this tiny little Worry Doll can help someone sleep without worry, the dolls the ancients made also helped them as a spiritual helper, or spiritual tool. If one has the feeling it works, it will work.
I know that the experts say the Worry Dolls are a psychological process to help one overcome their stress and concerns, yet I feel it is more of a spiritual process that heals one.
I know there is a Supreme Being, Great Spirit, the One, the God that my Christian parents taught me about and that I have known all my life. Yet, the God I know is not just a god of one way -- he is all things to all who call upon him. He is a multitude of what one needs at any given moment. These things and more my friend and I talked about and it gave us a lot of peace, brought us closer to each other and each to our own Self.
It was a very profound experience for my friend and I that this tiny little doll brought so much out of us from deep within.
Note From Author
When my daughter was about five years old, she began having nightmares that woke her up almost every night. I would sit by her on the bed and talk with her to ease the fear till she fell back to sleep. One day while shopping on Pier 39 in San Francisco, I found some Worry Dolls. I had never seen any before. There were ten tiny dolls in a brightly painted little wooden box. A folded piece of paper was inside and on it was a little poem that basically told the child "We are your Worry Dolls. Give us your worries and we will take care of them for you so you can relax and sleep." I showed my little girl these dolls and she was delighted, so I bought them for her. Each night she would take out a doll, tell that doll her worries and tuck it gently back into the box.
Now, here is a warning for snoopy parents: Your child needs privacy at times. Do NOT open that box, for your child has made a strict bargain with those dolls. I one day opened the box to look at the darling little dolls and my daughter came unglued ! She said, "Mommy ! You just let all my worries out," and started to cry. Because I am a quick thinker during a crisis, I explained to her that I could not let her worries out, for the dolls do not see me as their Owner and do not listen to me, only to her -- so my opening the box did not let her worries out. She accepted that and was fine. However, if she had not accepted that excuse, she would have had a difficult time doing her worry work all over again. In a short time period, her nightmares stopped. That was my daughter's spiritual experience with her Worry Dolls. Each child will develop their own way of working with their dolls and it is not for the parents to interfere with.
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Thank you, and may you always walk in peace and harmony, softly upon Mother Earth.
Phyllis Doyle Burns - Lantern Carrier, Spiritual Mentor
© 2014 Phyllis Doyle Burns