How to Make a Voodoo Doll

Four Methods:Using StringUsing Natural ItemsUsing A Photograph and FabricPerforming Actions on the Doll

How voodoo dolls became a means of casting a spell on an individual is unknown, but like ouija boards and tarot cards, they're popular outside of the spiritual traditions from which they arose. The fun thing about making voodoo dolls is that pretty much anything goes.

Method 1
Using String

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    Wrap a foam ball with yarn. This will serve as your head -- how big do you want your doll to be? Whatever size it is, wrap it completely with yarn (or some string-like material) until you can't see the foam anymore. Secure the end with a drop of glue.
    • If you don't have foam ball, make a small ball of just string. Loop it over and over and over and over your four fingers, slide it off, loop it into a figure 8, and double it on each other. Then start wrapping around and around that base until you have a circle. Make sure it's tight! You don't want it to unwind. Then, either weave the end through the middle of the ball or use glue to secure the end.
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    Pick a length for your body and loop a section of yarn to that length several times. Do this two times. One looped bit will be your left arm and left leg and the other looped bit will be your right arm and leg.
    • Crystal clear? Let's say you want your body to be five inches (12.7 cm) long (for a cuter voodoo doll, your head should be quite big compared to the body). Take a section of yarn and measure it 5 inches (12.7 cm) long, then loop another 5 (12.7 cm) inches and another 5 inches (12.7 cm) and so on and so forth. After you've looped four or five times, cut it off. Repeat the same action once more.
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    Wrap the two pieces top to bottom in string. Starting at the bottom of the loop, wrap the loops in string working your way upward in a coil manner. Make it tight! Secure the ends with a drop of glue. You now should have two 5" (12.5 cm) wrapped bits of string.
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    Loop several bits of string around the head. Tie them securely at the base of the head. Leave an inch or two (2.5 cm to 5 cm) in excess to attach everything together.
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    Lay out your wrapped pieces like limbs. Those two pieces you just coiled up? Lay them beneath your ball-shaped head in the form of arms and legs. That excess bit you had in the last step will serve as part of the torso.
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    Wrap under the "armpits" down to the hips. Start at the top and work down the torso and then work your way up once more. If you want your voodoo doll to be a bit chubbier, keep on wrapping.
    • When you're about finished, wrap the last couple bits around the shoulders in an "X" shape. It kind of looks like a mummy. At the back of the doll, glue the end of the string to sign off.
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    Glue or sew on eyes. If you have a needle and thread handy, sewn on buttons make really nice voodoo eyes. Otherwise, grab a couple beads or buttons and glue them onto your head. Ta-da! Instant voodoo doll.

Method 2
Using Natural Items

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    Gather materials. In order to make an authentic New Orleans voodoo doll, you'll need a few basic materials: two sticks, some sort of "stuffing" (such as Spanish moss, pine needles, or grass), string or cord, fabric strips and glue. If you want to dress the doll up a bit, you can also use buttons, feathers, scraps of clothing and other embellishments that belong to the person in mind.
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    Make a cross shape with the two sticks. The longer stick will be the body, while the shorter stick (positioned about a quarter of the way from the top of the long stick) will provide the arms. Tie them together with your string, hemp cord or waxed thread in a crossing motion, so that you make an X on both sides of the doll body.
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    Wrap the stuffing around the sticks. Start at the middle for reinforcement, then go up around the head, down to one arm, back across to the other arm, back to the middle, and down to the bottom.
    • If you're using Spanish moss, try to wrap the doll in one continuous piece. The idea is that it makes a stronger doll.
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    Wrap your fabric strips around the moss. Make sure to leave some of the moss showing, such as on the head (for hair), at the ends of the arms, and at the bottom. Secure with tacky glue. You may want to reinforce with a couple of stitches with your needle and thread.
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    Make a face. Attach beads with the needle and thread for eyes, or glue 2 black-eyed peas to the face for eyes. Add a button or bead for the mouth.
    • This step is optional. Voodoo dolls are just as effective if they don't have faces.
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    Dress your voodoo doll (optional). Dressing up the doll can give it a sense of personality, as well as denoting it as male or female. You can also give the doll items to carry, such as a mojo pouch or gris gris bag.
    • Remember that a voodoo doll is supposed to symbolize a real person or a spirit. Sometimes they are made to look like a person you know, in which case you should have some hair or a piece of clothing, a picture, or other personal item that belongs to that person in order to charge the doll with that person's energy.
    • A mojo pouch is a bag a person carries around with them that contains a spell, prayer, or another magical item.
    • A gris gris bag usually contains a few lines from the Qur'an and a number of small objects that gives the wearer good luck.

Method 3
Using A Photograph and Fabric

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    Find a full-length photo of the person you're thinking about as you make the doll. Ah, finally! Facebook comes in handy. Try to get a photo where they're facing the front.
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    Print the photo on a sheet of photo transfer paper. When you finally have it, you'll be putting it onto fabric, so the bigger the better. Try to make it as large as you can. You want a doll that's about the size of a standard piece of printer paper.
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    Transfer the image onto ironed white fabric. Follow the instructions that came with the photo transfer paper. Generally, all it involves is an iron and a few minutes of waiting.
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    Cut around the person's shape, leaving space for a seam. About 1" (2.5 cm on all sides should work swimmingly. This will give your doll volume and substance. It also makes it easier to cut!
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    Cut the same shape out of a second piece of fabric. This will form the back of your doll. If you'd like a different color, great! Voodoo dolls come in all shapes, colors, and sizes.
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    Sew the pieces together. Do so with the right sides (that have the image on them) facing together. In other words, once it's sewn, it'll be inside out. Leave a hole near the center for inserting the stuffing in the next step. Cut off excess fabric around the edges when you have finished.
    • If you don't have a perfect seam, that's fine. It'll be hidden when you reverse the sides of the doll.
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    Stuff the doll. You can use fabric scraps, yarn, cotton, or any stuffing material. Quilt batting will be incredibly lightweight; if you want something heavier -- something to simulate life -- consider using rice or other heavier material.
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    Sew the stuffing hole closed. You have created life! Now what to do with it? Will you use your powers for good...or for evil?

Method 4
Performing Actions on the Doll

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    Understand that the doll can be used for good or evil. Even though pop culture focuses heavily on the evil aspect of voodoo dolls, they can also be used to invoke blessings and luck.
    • To do evil with your voodoo doll, you'll need nails and rope. Nails are used to cause pain and the rope is used for binding or hanging. If you're using your voodoo for good (after all, what goes around comes around), keep reading.
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    Find pins with colored heads. The color of the pin head represents the area in life the pin will affect. For instance, if you want to do good for someone with a voodoo doll, yellow might help them be successful. Stick pins in the heart that have to do with emotions, pins in the stomach to do with gut feelings, and pins in the head to deal with thoughts.
    • Yellow: Success
    • White: Healing
    • Red: Power
    • Purple: Spirituality
    • Green: Money
    • Blue: Love
    • Black: Repelling/attracting negative energy
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    "Worry" your voodoo doll. If you haven't used the doll in awhile, you can "reactivate" it by worrying - that is, sewing small items on the fabric, fussing with embellishments, or adding more stitches and ties.
    • Obviously, your voodoo doll can't be active all the time. If you locked it in a drawer for years, what would that mean, after all? In order to let the spirits know you mean business, you have to fuss with your doll. Just like any relationship, yours with your doll must be cultivated.
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    Use your doll with candles and messages. Light a candle in the corresponding color of your desires (just like with the pins). Light it and place your wish on a piece of paper underneath it. Holding your doll, focus on your wish.
    • After you feel you've done what you could, place your voodoo doll next to your candle and wait for it to burn out. After nine days have passed, burn the paper and scatter the ashes.
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    Create an altar for your voodoo doll. It needs a home, too! Since next to you in your bed may not be the optimal place, create an altar for it, where you can concentrate on it if and when you need to. When you have a particular desire, you can put it on your altar and use it to focus your energy.
    • Your altar doesn't have to be large. A space for your doll, a few candles, and some small, decorative items will be sufficient. If your voodoo doll is someone else, objects of theirs (from fingernail clippings to a tube of chapstick) should be placed here as well.
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    Create a kit. You can either give this as part of a wacky gift or keep it for yourself. Put the doll in a box along with a lighter, some colored pins, and small pieces of paper. Talk about a memorable birthday present.
    • Make sure whoever you're giving to understands what you mean by this gift! Some people may take voodoo very seriously while others laugh it off as a relic of the past. If in doubt, keep it for yourself and tell them you've spent days wishing them good luck -- and you have the stuff to prove it!

Tips

  • Most voodoo sects emphasize that any actions you use the doll for will come back at you. Think about it like you're tying a rope to yourself and the other person. Whatever happens to them will affect you.
  • If there's any text or graphics on the picture (such as on the person's shirt) remember to reverse the image horizontally before you print so that it shows up normally later when it's on the doll. Alternatively, you can cut out a heart from red fabric to cover that section on the doll.

Warnings

  • Voodoo is a sacred spiritual path; respect the roots of the arts you practice.
  • Don't do this kind of thing in front of people you do not trust or know well - it is frowned upon in many places.
  • Spanish moss is often infested with red bugs and other small parasites. Inspect it very carefully before handling.

Things You'll Need

Method One: Using String

  • A small foam ball
  • String
  • Eyes (button or beads)
  • Glue

Method Two: Using Natural Items

  • 2 strong sticks of different lengths
  • String, hemp cord, or other means of tying
  • Scrap fabric cut in 2-inch (5 cm) strips
  • Needle and thread in a color to match or contrast your fabric
  • Tacky glue
  • Beads, buttons, feathers or other embellishments (optional)

Method Three: Using a Photograph and Fabric

  • Full body shot of a person
  • Printer transfer paper
  • White fabric
  • Iron
  • Thread and needle
  • Stuffing (batting, fabric scraps, rice, etc.)

Sources and Citations

  • JPG Magazine - Original source of modern doll instructions, shared with permission by Lauren Smith.

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