Spirit Doll Tutorial

Welcome to my first ever tutorial. Step by step photos show the process as Terpsichore appeared.
Terpsichore was created in honor of my friend Brigit, who makes beautiful Spirit Dolls!  (See her dolls here.) In Greek mythology, Terpsichore ‘delight in dancing’ is one of the nine Muses ruling over Ballet and Dramatic Chorus. This Spirit Doll was created to remind us to continue to dance through life, no matter what life brings us. No matter what we must do, we can allow the Grace of Dance to influence our thinking, to move through the challenges of life.

Live links are included throughout this tutorial, so you can find the supplies you might need. Almost everything you see here can be substituted with items you may have on hand. You might find sticks from your own garden. Or use cotton scraps rather than the moss for her body bulk. Vintage jewelry, family heirlooms, pieces of this or that.... all can be included. Listen to YOUR MUSE! You may have some ideas of how you want your doll to look. But, when you listen to your Muse, you may find a whole new look you hadn't dreamed of.

Before starting, I invite you to do a short meditation... Allow the Ancient Ones, the Grandmothers, the Sacred Spirits, and of course, YOUR MUSE to direct your creativity. You will be gently amazed at the blessings and healings that will come forth.

So, let's get started....

After choosing two sticks, one a river washed branch from Yosemite Valley, the other a Cypress branch from Monterey Area. Both sticks are bound in an area that 'felt' right. Imagining where her head and arms will be and where her skirts will flow.
 Both sticks are bound together with artificial sinew. The sinew allows you to bind really tight, with very little wiggle room. A package of the sinew and where I buy it will follow further down the post.
Here's my stash of twigs, branches, and Lacy Moss.
 A length of moss was chosen, the pulled apart to allow more bulk.
 The moss is wrapped around the joined sticks. (This is where you might use torn strips of cotton fabrics.)
 The amazing and wonderful thing about the moss is that it sticks to itself and can be molded almost like clay!
 The moss adheres to itself, and will be anchored later when you add her clothing.
 Next, it's time to audition faces. (You can find an array of these terracotta faces here.)

 The Spirit Doll faces usually call out to me, so I chose three to audition....

 This is the one that felt 'right'....
A very long craft needle is threaded with the sinew to anchor on her face.
 Can you see how long the needle is? Notice how it is pushed through the density of the moss and through the holes made in the face.
 Take the sinew through the holes, from the front to the back.
 Then anchor by tying on the back side....
 It will look something like this.
 Then you can add more moss to cover the sinew. Remember, the moss adheres to itself, so it makes it easy!
 See, you can barely see the sinew.
 Ah... time to audition the fabrics for her wardrobe! I liked the myriad of colors in this recycled silk scarf.
 Then I choose a coordinating thread (floss) from my ridiculous stash of vintage floss. A minimal amount of hand sewing will be needed.

 After cutting a length of fabric for her skirt, the long needle helps to make gathers.
 The gathered skirt is then joined around the approximate waist level. I first tie the threads, then with the long needle, stitch and anchor it by going back and forth through the moss. This is one of the places that really helps permanently hold the moss in place.
 Tying it off....
 The loose gathering makes it easy to position the fulness where you want it.
 This, finally felt right.
 Time to audition more fabrics for her shawl. Found another upcycled scarf that felt right. The shawl is draped over her head and flows down both sides of her. But! don't sew it down quite yet! She needs a vest or blouse. It's good to have the shawl fabric picked out, to better choose a coordinating fabric.

 Also found a scrap of Designer Fabric sample that will work for her blouse. I get amazing samples of designer fabrics from a place called Fabmo. They upcycle loads and loads of amazing designer samples, making them available for us 'crafty' artists, and saving the fabrics from the landfill!! (See Fabmo here.)
 After cutting the fabric I decide to drape it across the front and make a few stitches to hold it in place.
 I'm not fond of using glue, although you can. The simplest sewing stitches work fine.
the back side...
Here you can see how I took advantage of the hem of the scarf, folding it over to create a doubled layer of flounce for the skirt.
 Time to audition some embellishment with these terracotta adornments...
 These 'adornments' are made with natural terracotta clay, stamped with Impress Me Stamps, and glazed with many layers of Stewart Gill Byzatinia paints. You can find lots of these adornments here.
 This one felt right....
 Sinew was again my choice for creating a necklace... You can't see it here.... but I left a long strand on both sides, to be later used as the loop for hanging on a wall.
 This is a great place to use some beads or broken jewelry that have been just hanging out in your jewelry box.
 One of the very few places I use glue. Just a drop will insure the beads will stay put.
 Here is a picture of the sinew. Here is where I purchase it. It is truly amazing stuff! It is artificial... not an animal product. Made from waxed thread, but acts like leathery sinew.
 Using my long needle I pull both strands of the necklace sinew through, all the way to the back. Having left a long piece of sinew, it can be knotted to form a loop to hang her on a wall.
 I like the way she's looking... but my Muse says 'Don't stop now.'
 So, several purple leaves from a vintage corsage are auditioned. Less is more, in this case, so I didn't include the actual flower.
 Four of the purplish leaves felt right, so they were anchored on with a single bead and a bit of floss. The floss went through the bead, through the fabric, then back again, and tied off with a thick knot.
I like the casualness of the threads hanging down.

So, here she is... Feeling complete.


  1. I loved looking at your tutorial, I got some great ideas. You work has really inspired me Chris. Much Love, Brigit

  2. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing the step-by-step process...and the evolution of your gorgeous spirit doll. xoxo

  3. Thank you. I have been buying already made spirit dolls ( I love them). But want to make one myself. Your tutorial has helped a lot.

  4. You are so generous and kind to share this tutorial! Beautiful to see and inspiring. Been wanting to make some kind of doll. It hits me in the heart somehow, seeing this.

  5. i am so happy to find your page. Your dolls are wonderful and much in line with how I see a healing doll. Thank you for sharing your tutorial....its wonderful. Marjorie

  6. oh my gosh..... wonderful tutorial, and what a magical piece you created!

  7. Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing your process, and also this most beautiful spirit doll. You have brought something special to my day and surprised my own flagging spirit into recognition of Terpsichore again. I feel a little soft shoe shuffle coming on...

  8. I loved your doll tutorial every word inspired me to look around for supplies and make one or more thank you very much.

  9. Love your dolls! I have been making them for several months but I learned a lot of new things with your tutorial. Thank you so much for posting this!

  10. Thank you for your generous tutorial. I have just started my spirit doll journey and you have inspired me greatly. Much love to you.


Thanks for your comments!
Sweet Blessings and Big Love to you