Journalists learn to make lucky charm dolls for travelers at Volgograd City Press Center

Journalists learn to make lucky charm dolls for travelers at Volgograd City Press Center

A workshop on how to make antique Slavic dolls/lucky charms took place at Volgograd City Press Center's presentation area. Natalya Ostoslavskaya, an expert in applied-decorative crafts, helped participants put together a Podorozhnitsa doll, a lucky charm for travelers.

To make a close one safe on the road, one needs to take a few pieces of cloth and make the doll's body, dress, headscarf and lining and a small knapsack and to hold them together with a red thread. The doll was a lucky charm for travelers.

First, the participants placed a piece of cotton wool inside some cloth and turned it into the doll's body. The dolls can be as small or big as desired.

"Your doll has a huge head and such buff arms, and it's so beautiful," one of the participants said, commenting on her colleague's work.

A completing doll body is followed by a dress, a headdress and a headscarf. Participants chose all kinds of patterns and fabric colors for these elements, creating their own unique dolls.

The clothes are fastened with threads but without needles because they sap the power of the lucky charm. While tying an odd number of knots, the maker has to say various positive words like ‘happiness,' ‘health' and ‘good luck,' and so on.

"The doll absorbs all your thoughts, while you work on it," Ostoslavskaya said.

After the doll is ready, it needs a small bag in its hands with a little soot from the fireplace of one's home or some earth from around the house, so the traveler will remember their home while away. The lucky charm also projects the strength of his family and clan onto him.

The participants were asked to fill the small bag with other no less important contents.

"We'll put some grain in the bag so the traveler will always have enough to eat. We'll insert red thread, so the traveler will come back home. Or we can place a piece of cloth, so the traveler will have something to wear, and so he always stays warm," Ostoslavskaya noted.

Other people were attracted to the presentation area and lined up to see what was going on.

"I've already made three for myself," a staff member at the museum that is hosting the City Press Center told the audience.

Ostoslavskaya continued to talk to those in the workshop's first round as others listened while waiting for the second round.

"In the past, mothers would make Podorozhnitsa dolls for their sons and wives would make them for their husbands. They tried to hide these dolls, which were small enough to fit inside a pocket, from others. No one except the doll-maker and the traveler should hold the dolls because they provided strong bonds with the family," Ostoslavskaya said.

In the past, people tried to choose tattered fabrics for the dolls so their ornaments and texture would remind travelers of their homes and families. Instead of cutting, they tried to tear the cloth: it was believed that the sound of tearing cloth would scare off evil spirits.

"These dolls spelled good luck, helped people find food, protected them from trouble and allowed them to come back alive and healthy," Ostoslavskaya noted.

Every person makes a doll with a different disposition, she noted.

"When you look at the doll, you can see that it is either young, mischievous, merry or a wise lady," Ostoslavskaya added.

"Please tell us about the dolls' dispositions, the way you see them," a participant asked when all the dolls were ready.

"Your doll looks like a little girl."
"That's right."
"I think my doll is pretty old."
"No, she is not old, she is just more mature."
"And mine looks like a grandma."

"Tastes differ. A faceless doll has some advantages: you look at it, and you think of its facial features and can see a unique expression. This helps develop the imagination," Ostoslavskaya said.

While the participants asked Ostoslavskaya questions, the participants prepared to make their own lucky charm doll. They chose the colors of the dolls' dresses and their fashions and kind words for the thread knots. After that, they worked on the dolls step by step under the teacher's guidance and obtained their own Slavic lucky charms.

Workshop on Slavic doll charms