Make Paper Dolls From Recycled Materials
by Hilary Stamper

My daughter and I had a blast this weekend making paper dolls from scratch. It was wonderful for so many reasons; unleashed creativity, fine motor skill development, hours of focused attention, while continuing to establish the concept of beauty as a truly flexible and personally defined art.

A bit of a fashionista, my daughter reveled in the decoration of new outfits. When I say “fashionista“, it’s not a Hollywood thing; Jasmine just loves the artistry of personal adornment. In making our own dolls, we were completely freed from images of conventional beauty I see on T-Shirts and television shows for young girls. We followed our fancy with our patterns, color choices, faces, and hairstyles. Jasmine painted her own paper doll face, glued a wooly cloud of hair around her crown, and decorated the undergarments. Once she’d learned how to create the clothing with me, she struck out on her own and began to create her own designs. Hours of fun.

Here’s how you can do it:

1) Flatten a cereal box with blank insides.
2) Draw the pattern of your doll with a pencil. I just drew our pattern free-hand, but you can download patterns online. For younger children, the simpler the shapes the better.
3) Cut out your doll.
4) Decorate. We used dyed wool for the hair, but you could use felt or yarn.
4) To create clothing:
Using a tiny amount of tape, tape your doll to the outside of a window, or just hold it up to a window. Hold a piece of white paper (can be used typing paper from an office) over the doll and trace the contours of the doll in the shape of the clothing you’d like to create.

5) Cut out the clothing, including several tabs evenly spaced around the clothing to hold it in place.
6) Decorate with oil pastels or pens for vibrant colors.
7) Fold the tabs over the doll to hold in place. For Jasmine, we had enough trouble that we added a bit of sticker velcro to the doll’s back. On each tab, we placed a tiny piece of velcro - not so much it would create pressure to rip the paper, but just enough that the outfits would stick on the body more easily. It allowed us to have a bit more flexibility with the styling of our clothing if we didn’t need to worry about the perfect fit.

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