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If you're looking for a fun craft for kids of all ages, you need to learn how to make a worry doll. Nothing beats a craft with a great story behind it. Once you tell your kids the fascinating Mayan legend behind the dolls, they're going to love it even more.
These dolls were originally created generations ago by indigenous people in Guatemala. The idea was that, when someone had a problem that would keep them up at night, they would tell their worries to one of these dolls.
Then they would put the dolls under their pillow, and the dolls would "worry" for them during the night, and they could sleep peacefully and wake up feeling refreshed in the morning.
If you want to share a version of the legend from a modern Guatemalan standpoint with your little crafters, check out this site.
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Types of worry dolls
We're going to show you:
- How to make a worry doll with pipe cleaners
- How to make a worry doll with toothpicks
- How to make worry dolls with clothespins
- How to make a worry doll with wire
- How to make a worry doll with twigs
- How to make a worry doll with craft sticks
As there are several ways to make worry dolls, these are the general craft supplies you're going to need:
- Toothpicks, wire, twigs, popsicle sticks, clothespins or pipe cleaners (for the body)
- Plastic or wooden beads (for the head), though these are optional
- Different color yarn and/or embroidery floss
Well then, let's dive in!
How to make a worry doll
1. One great resource for learning how to make a Guatemalan worry doll is this awesome tutorial from Snapguide.
In it, Dayle teaches you how to make a doll using twist ties, small sticks and wooden cocktail forks.
She shows how to add hair with variegated yarn, and she has some very cool ideas about how to dress them. One of her sample worry dolls is pretty modern, dressed in jeans and tennis shoes!
2. Another option is to make your doll out of pipe cleaners.
Erin, over at My Very Educated Mother, makes homemade worry dolls with pipe cleaners.
All you're going to need are the pipe cleaners, embroidery floss or yarn, some glue, and scissors.
Check out her video below to see how it's done.
3. Here's another tutorial, this time from Stories InStiches, that walks you through the process of making a Guatemalan worry doll using just a pipe cleaner, embroidery floss and a wooden bead. Although they call them "bendy dolls," they look exactly like worry dolls.
4. A third approach to making these little dolls with chenille stems comes from Heidi's blog, which documents teaching the craft process to a group of 100 kids!
If you try out this method, you'll be using strips of fabric to clothe the worry dolls as opposed to the other methods we've seen, which use yarn or floss.
The end result is pretty darn cool and is definitely worth a try!
5. If you want to make a worry doll craft with spectacular hair, this is a fun one. You'll be using pipe cleaners for this one as well.
6. You can take your worry dolls up a notch to two with this interesting tutorial which will teach you how to create some very unique clothing for your dolls.
7. Toothpicks are another option for the base of your worry dolls.
There's a great tutorial right here, which will walk you through the process step by step.
Image: The Crafty Teacher
8. For a more elaborate toothpick worry doll, check out this series of 5 video tutorials, which will help you make some pretty unique dolls. Below is the first video.
9. And what better place to find a tutorial on how to make a worry doll than on a website specializing in all things dolls and dollhouses?
Custom Doll Houses and Miniatures was nice enough to put this tutorial together. It’s a simple yet interesting approach to creating a traditional doll.
10. Yet another option, which has a little bit of a different appearance than the other worry dolls, is to use a round wooden clothespin.
This website explains how to make these adorable dolls. Cait also notes how creativity and art are awesome for reducing stress, as her little artists were all giggling and smiling as they were making their dolls.
Image: My Little Poppies
11. RedTedArt has another version using clothespins which adds arms to your worry doll. Alternatively, you can make them with flat wooden clothespins. They do a great job at giving detailed instructions on how to make these larger-than-average worry dolls with wooden pegs.
12. Alternatively, you can make them with flat wooden clothespins.
For this method, you're also going to need chenille stems, markers, scissors, yarn and glue. If you're a bit lost, check out the video below for the step-by-step process.
13. You can make worry dolls out of almost anything and this inventive site shows you how to do it with nothing but wire and yarn. They may not be traditional worry dolls, but they're the same size and share a surprising resemblance to the originals.
14. In this tutorial, you'll be using wire for the body but it makes the head a little more lifelike. It is a little challenging but they do a great job walking you through the steps. They kind of end up looking like Bratz dolls.
For this method, you're also going to need chenille stems, markers, scissors, yarn and glue. Check out the video below for the step-by-step process.
15. Sometimes the simplest method produces the best results, as Happy Hooligans shows. With only a few supplies—one of which you can find in abundance for free outside—you can make a simple worry doll. It ain't fancy, but it does the trick.
16. Then there's this awesome tutorial that asks you to go big with your twig selection as well as offering a few other worry doll options. You’ll find two Y-shaped sticks and tie them on top of each other so the short ends make arms and legs, then wrap the sticks with yarn to create your dolls.
17. Here's Miss Tori with an easy-to-follow video on how to make pipe cleaner people that she uses in class with her students.
18. This last one is our favorite tutorial, hands down. This is for advanced crafters who take their worry dolls very seriously and are looking for a more modern final result. They use pens for the body and even accessorize the dolls with tiny buttons.
Well, there you have it: 18 different ways to make a worry doll. This is a fun, affordable and easy craft for kids with a great story behind it. Plus it lets children practice their fine motor skills and, perhaps most importantly, after they make their dolls, their worries are gone.
For the ultimate inspiration, check out this video of someone in Antigua Guatemala making worry dolls at the New World Craft Trade Show. He's been making worry dolls for more than 2 decades!