Tag Archives: Arts & Crafts

a Lord of Plenty sculpture

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Abundance, or the Lord of Plenty- as I like to call him, is the third primal Power in Waincraft, the second born of Mother Night, and bright twin of the Wild Father. In creating a sculpture to represent him for my altar, I drew on imagery of what this Power represents for me from Germanic and Celtic sources, but also a lot from intuition.

As for how I made the sculpture, just as I did with my Wild Father sculpture, I started with a regular batch of salt dough (2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, and about a cup of water). After kneading, I broke off a big chunk of the dough and formed a rectangle and rounded off the top edges for shoulders. I rolled out some more dough and cut a circle shape with a drinking glass. This I placed above the shoulders as a backdrop to the head and celestial objects around the figure, making the basic size and outline match its twin sculpture.

Lord of Plenty construction
The beard and face were all one rounded rectangular piece. (When attaching a new piece, always dampen the base surface.) I used a cutting tool to add details to the beard. A tiny rope of dough was used for the nose/eyebrows. After making soft indentations for the eye-sockets, I attached tiny balls of dough for the eyes, poked holes for the pupils, and cut horizontal slits to suggest eyelids.

I cut grooves into the sides of the figure to suggest arms of a robe. The wheat-like texture on the right of the figure was made with little scissor snippets.

The cornucopia, pig, and bird shapes I added to the base were cut out of dough flattened with a rolling pin. Ropes of dough were used to make the tree branches and the sun rays. The apples and leaves on the tree, and fruit in the cornucopia were all made from small balls of dough. For the leaves, I flattened small balls of dough and pinched each end. The stars around the head started out as tiny balls of dough also. I cut and carved their shapes after attaching, pressing down with a small tool, the areas I wanted to recede into the background.

For the opening to the cornucopia, I pressed into the base a little with my thumb, then attached a rope of dough around it, smoothing with dampened fingers where the rope joined to form a circle. I then pressed ridges into the cornucopia basket.

When completely done shaping and blending, I baked it at 250°F for several hours.

After cooling, I painted all the grooves and crevices with an acrylic craft paint in the shade of burnt umber to get a good contrast. I used a paintbrush dipped in water to blend a little bit of the color to other areas for lighter contouring. When this was dry, painted the rest of the piece. When all of this was dry, I sprayed the entire piece with a coating of clear acrylic.

My new altarpiece now sits upon the fireplace mantle next to a small cauldron. I hope this description of how I made it was useful to anyone wishing to make something similar.

Lord of Plenty

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Harvest Dollies for Modern Pagans

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Historically, grain dollies were made from the last sheaf harvested, and either left in the field or placed wherever grains were stored. It was often tied or plaited to be roughly human shaped, but in some places shaped like an animal. It was representative of the Spirit of the Harvest, or the Corn Mother. In Ireland, the grain harvest is associated with Lughnasadh. But the god Lugh is not a grain god or earth god. He’s not John Barleycorn (who is English, and more about the production of beer). Lugh isn’t a sun god either, but I’ll get to that later.

The grain dolly from the previous harvest would be ploughed into the first furrow of the new season in the spring, or else otherwise destroyed in some way to release the spirit of the previous year’s grain. Another tradition, the one that most Pagans follow (and I don’t know the origin), states that it is to be kept to insure a bountiful crop through the next harvest season and burned around the time that a new one is made from the last sheaf.

Since Neopagans have three harvest holidays (Lughnasadh, Autumn Equinox, and Samhain) in the widely observed “wheel of the year”, there is some debate over which holiday to burn a grain dolly. I would think the answer would be to make it close to one’s local grain harvest date. Arkansas grows soft red winter wheat as a commercial crop. Harvest begins in May and ends as late as the first week of July. So, for our locality, if you want to burn your grain dolly at the end of harvest, it makes sense to do so at Lughnasadh, rather than at any of the later harvest holidays. That, and because it’s the harvest holiday that has a strong grain theme.

Note that I’m calling them grain dollies instead of the more traditional “corn dolly”. This is because Americans have confused traditional use of the word corn to exclusively mean maize. To the Europeans, corn meant grain. Corn dollies were not corn husk dolls. They didn’t have maize back then. Corn dollies were made of whatever grain various European cultures predominantly ate, like wheat or oats.

But we do live in the modern western world, and many would say that we need to adapt traditions to where we are and the way we live now. Americans in general do eat a lot of corn, both as a vegetable and as a grain, and as a sweetener (although Arkansas doesn’t grow much maize commercially). Corn husk dolls are easier to make than wheat dolls, which is probably a big part of why most American Pagans make corn husk dolls instead of the more traditional grain dollies for harvest holidays. The materials are also easier to find. Not many people grow wheat in their backyard garden but plenty grow corn, or could get corn in the husk at any farmer’s market or grocery store. Maize harvest starts mid August in Arkansas and can last late into September or even October, so it would make sense to burn your cornhusk harvest dolls at the Autumnal Equinox or Samhain if you are so inclined.

Unless you are a farmer or a gardener who grows grains, your harvest doll is purely symbolic anyway, not made from the last sheaf of anything, but symbolic of the harvest for you personally. So make it of whatever materials represent the harvest for you (you’ll notice that one of the dollies in the picture below is make of both cornhusks and wheat), and burn or bury it at whichever of the harvest (or spring) High Days that you feel drawn to do so.

Harvest Dollies | Ozark Pagan Mamma

Solstice Sun Shirt

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All you need to make this festive sunny attire is a sun-colored shirt (perhaps one you’ve tie-dyed in light sunny colors), contact paper, scissors, an iron, a piece of cardboard the width of your shirt, and fabric crayons.

Prewash the t-shirt and iron out any wrinkles, if necessary. Insert the cardboard inside the shirt to give you a hard surface to work on. See my tutorial for making tissue paper sun faces, and use that method to cut out a design with the contact paper, keeping the design simple.

Next comes the tricky part– peel off the back of the contact paper and lay your resulting sticky stencil on the front of the shirt. Use your fabric crayons to color in the features of the sun face and other details, and along the edges, fading as you go out from your design. For best results, use colors that contrast the colors of your shirt, so the design will show up. When finished coloring, peel off the stencil. Follow the directions that came with your fabric crayons for setting your design permanently into the fabric.

Solstice Sun Shirt

For more Summer Solstice fun, see Kids’ Activities for Midsummer / Summer Solstice.

offerings

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In ADF Druidry, giving offering is a big component of our rituals. In this very tangible way we establish and maintain a give and take relationship with the Three Kindreds (collectively; the deities, ancestors and nature spirits). It is spiritual hospitality. It is ghosti, the Proto-Indo-European word from which we get the English words guest and host.

offerings of oats, cornmeal, and seeds

In our protogrove, we like to include a time for “group offerings” in every ritual. This is a time for folks (anyone who wants to, that is), to come up the the altar, one at a time, and place their own offerings into the offering bowl (or fire, if we’re outside). They can say something if they like, but that’s optional. They can use the basic offerings we provide (which is usually oats, cornmeal, and birdseed), or bring their own biodegradable/burnable offering.

When creating a personalized offering, there are so many options. There are several things you will want to keep in mind, however. First of all, your offering needs to be of natural materials that will degrade and not pollute the environment. How will you deliver (disperse) your offering? Fresh green offerings such as herbs and flowers will degrade quickly, but other food offerings may need to be finely crumbled. If an offering can’t be crumbled into tiny pieces, it will need to be either buried or burned. If your ritual is taking place on your own land, it may not be so important to you that the offering return quickly to the natural elements. However, it has been my experience that burning is preferable as a quick and satisfying mode of delivery in a ritual setting. The following are a few ideas are for burnable offerings…

offering cakes
An offering cake can be made of any kind of of bread or biscuit dough, or even salt dough. (Although salt dough is not edible, the salt in it is an excellent offering, and salt dough can be a bit easier to shape into creative forms than other doughs, making it an offering of art rather than food.)

spiced salt dough offering cakes
To personalize an offering cake, mix items into the batter before baking (or in the case of salt dough, drying), such as herbs, flavorings or spices associated with the holiday you are celebrating or spirit/deity you are honoring. A biscuit shaped circle is a classic shape for an offering cake, but you can make them in any shape. Try using cookie cutters, molds, stamps, or shaping with your hands. You can shape the cakes into a symbol associated with the deity/spirit/occasion you are honoring. The tops can be decorated with diluted food coloring or garnished with herbs or flowers.

offering bundles
One way to make several small offerings at once is to use an offering bundle. Place items inside a scrap of natural fabric (a seven inch square seems to work well). Gather up the edges, and tie off the end with a string or cord. You could also use a large pliable leaf or piece of brown paper and fold your bundle. Some ideas for items to place in the bundle are: a written prayer or devotional poem, herbs, flowers, dried fruit/nuts, grains, and loose incense.

offering bundle

Another option for an offering bundle is to skip the container and just tie items on a stick (this will however limit what can be used to what will stay tied on) . You may even want to carve runes or symbols onto the stick itself, and anoint the entire bundle with an appropriate tincture or oil.

offering stick

greenman doll

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This greenman doll is bendable! Your kids will love hanging one from a tree branch or from an Ôstara basket. Here’s how I made it:

greenman doll template

Print out the template above. (If you copy and paste onto a word document, it should fill up half the page in landscape mode. If it doesn’t, shrink or expand to get the right size.) This doll is actually sewn before it is cut out, so you’ll need to trace the pattern onto the wrong side of your fabric. I used an iron-on transfer pencil and traced over the outline, then ironed it onto back of the fabric. With the right sides of two pieces of fabric facing each other and pinned in place on the corners, sew (a very fine stitch) on the lines all the way around. Now cut closely around the outside of the lines you’ve sewn. To turn the doll right side out, cut a small slit in the middle of the doll’s chest. Use a skewer get the skinny parts all the way pushed out. (Sorry I don’t have pictures for these first few steps… this doll has actually been in my basket of unfinished projects for years- from when I still had a working sewing machine.)

becoming a greenman

When you’ve got it all turned out, take a couple of chenille stems and twist one in the middle to the size of the doll’s head, and twist the ends down to form loops for the hands. Tape sharp ends down. The other chenille stem is for the legs. Bend it in half and twist loops at the ends for the feet. Tape sharp ends down. Insert chenille stems into the doll casing through the slit cut in the chest. When they are in place, fill the doll with stuffing, putting in little bits at a time and pushing into place with a skewer. When the stuffing is even all over, sew the slit in the chest closed by hand.

greenman doll comes to life

Glue a silk leaf onto the doll’s chest wound. (Re-purpose the leaves from old silk flower arrangements found at a thrift store.) I hot glued three onto this one’s chest at different angles. For the face, I folded a leaf in half and cut leaf and horn shapes around the edges. I’ve made some before using several very small leaves arranged around the face. Paint on or draw on features with a marker and you’re done!

greenman doll - Ozark Pagan Mamma

Frigga Tile

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Recently, I finished a series of seven Norse deity tiles for my altar. There were some long gaps in time between making each one, and originally I aimed only to make tiles of the gods, and as for the goddesses, I made flat-backed figurines to hang on the wall in between the god tiles. However, at some point I thought it would look nicer to have them all be tiles.

My seventh tile was also my first craft project done in the new place. The inspiration for my Frigga tile was an illustration of Frigga from “Myths of Northern Lands” by Hélène Adeline Guerber.

In all my tiles, I’ve tried to include a specific feature so that each may be easily recognized as the deity they represent. So for Frigga, it was her distaff. It was actually harder to get the arm and hand shaped the way I wanted it than it was to form the distaff.

But the hardest part of the entire project for me was the face. Overall, I’d say my style of sculpting is “primitive”, though I have achieved much more detail than I ever thought I could with salt dough.

Frigga Tile

After the dough was completely air dried, I gave the tile a good coat of blue acrylic paint, them after that was dry, I sponged on light blue, mainly just getting the color onto the raised parts of the tile, letting the deeper lines and indentions remain the darker color. I let it dry for several days before I sprayed on a protective acrylic clear coat.

The tiles are roughly five and a half inches square. This one was made with regular salt dough, though most of the other ones were made with a stronger formula. All of them have a tack hole pressed into the back for hanging, although now I use plate hangers instead of hanging them from a tack since late last summer the humidity caused most of the ones I had made at that time to fall and break. (Don’t worry, I glued them all back- good as new, and gave them a clear coat.)

salt-dough altar tiles

KIDS’ ACTIVITIES FOR IMBOLC

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EXPLANATION & INFORMATION

STORIES

  • “The Cailleach of the Snows” from the book “Celtic Memories” by Caitlin Matthews (for ages 8 and up).

CRAFTS

  • Make candles with beeswax sheets.
  • Make candle holders with salt dough.

ACTIVITIES

  • Look for early signs of Spring. What is the first flower to make its way through the thawing soil? What kinds of birds and other wildlife do you see? This is a good time to start a nature journal.
  • Do a Spring cleaning of your room, as well as helping the grown-ups clean the rest of the house.
  • With a grown-up’s help, make juniper room spray with a few drops of juniper oil (or a sprig of juniper) in a small spray bottle of distilled water. Use this as a spiritual cleanse on Pagan holidays.
  • Decorate a nature table with an Imbolc nature scene; put down a white cloth for snow, some green cloth for the greening land, a doll dressed like the goddess Brigit, and some of her animals (swan, cow, sheep, hibernating animals…).
  • Help grown-ups with preparing special Imbolc foods.

Kids' Activities for Imbolc