Pueblo Indians were without the written word so relied heavily on passing stories down by mouth through ancestors. Storytelling dolls
are a mixture of two traditions native to Pueblo Indians; pottery and storytelling. With the rich brown-orange clay found in the regions of New Mexico from which they hail, they mold these storyteller dolls with skilled craftsmanship. Each pueblo village has it’s own specific design, usually a reptile or woodland animal. You can make a storyteller doll to be a man, woman, or animal.
To make your own storyteller doll you will need self-hardening clay, a small bowl filled with water, some old newspaper, poster paints or acrylics, and a paintbrush.
Spread out the old newspaper on your craft or kitchen table before you begin. With the self-hardening clay or other type of clay, attach the pieces of the storyteller doll together with water. Moisten your fingers with water and make sure both ends being attached are wet. Make a big ball for the body and a small one for the head. You will need four smaller, longer pieces for the arms and legs.
Join the pieces together with water and form the body of the storyteller doll. The storyteller should be in a sitting position with the arms and legs open.
You can make two or three children’s bodies for the storyteller by making smaller versions of the storyteller. Attach them to the storyteller’s lap or arms.
Use your moist fingers to shape and sculpt the figures of the storyteller dolls as you wish them to look. You can add clothing and accessories with extra clay here if you wish.
Allow the storyteller doll figures to dry for up to a week and then paint them with your acrylics or poster paints. To make your storyteller doll authentic, leave the eyes closed and the mouth open.
You now have your own authentic, hand-made storyteller doll!