Friday, October 12, 2012

Making Whole: Healing Through Art: What Are You Made Of?

 by Diane Steinbach

Making Whole is a bi-monthly art therapy column focused on art to heal.  
Paper dolls can have hinged appendages or be simple silhouette forms

Using the self-portrait in any of its forms as a tool to self-analyze is always useful.  It helps us visually identify how we feel about ourselves, and how the thoughts we have about ourselves can impact the way we feel and deal with our daily lives.

In this self-portrait activity, we start with a paper-doll form cut out of cardboard and using collage picture images of textures like stones, rocks, wood, and feathers and actual textural collage materials like lightweight fabrics, small screws and nails we create a tactile and visual representation of our how we see ourselves.

First gather materials. Find papers or magazine images of textures like images of rocks and stones, and actual fabrics.  Glue stick, super glue, and scissors.

Cut out a paper doll form that is at least 12 inches tall out of cardboard.

Using collage materials, cover the form with images of materials that relate to how that part of your body acts or feels.

For instance, if you head feels fuzzy, use cotton balls to cover it.  If you think you are hardheaded, cover it with pictures of granite or concrete.  If you think you have a screw loose, put screws or pictures of screws on the head. Get the idea?  

Do the same for all the areas of the body on the doll form.

Once complete, look at the complete form… at the representation you created of YOU.  When you see it complete, what does it tell you? What do you think others would see or think if they saw it? Do you think it is an accurate description of you?

Let the doll sit in your space for a few days.  Look at it and see if it still seems to fit who you think you are. 

Are there things you would like to change about it? Would you like to be less hardheaded for example?  How would you do that? Can you make a change on the doll to represent that? Do so. 

Continue to work on the doll to change the things you want to change… one thing at a time.  Look at the doll continually to remind yourself of the changes you’d like to make.

Remember, a self-portrait only captures your interpretation of you in that moment of time, and you, like your portrait, are always a work in progress… the journey continues.

 Diane Steinbach is an art therapist and the author of: Art As Therapy: Innovations, Inspiration and Ideas:, Art Activities for Groups: Providing Therapy, Fun and Function and A Practical Guide to Art Therapy Groups

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  1. How interesting is this activity! I'm sure it will produce many amazing paper dolls!! Patsy from

    1. Thanks Patsy! It has, and its amazing how different the results can be when you do it throughout the year yourself.

  2. Wow, this is so awesome! I just love your blog! Thank you so much for sharing at A Bouquet of Talent. I am so thrilled to have you, and your newest follower. :)

    1. Thanks for your kindness Kathy, and we enjoy being part of your blog hop!


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