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Handmade dolls fly off shelf

Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison
Northern News Services
Published Monday, December 12, 2011

Sharan Green has been making handmade Inuvialuit dolls for 25 years, although she has tried to stop many times.

NNSL photo/graphic

Sharan Green was one of three Sachs Harbour artists to sell goods at the 2011 Christmas Craft and Gift Fair in Inuvik. - Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison/NNSL photo

"I keep getting orders," she explained.

The Sachs Harbour resident said she began making dolls after her aunt, Gloria Elias, sent her home with a package of materials and patterns.

"I'd tease her, you know, because I'd see her dressing them up and sewing all those little shoes and putting their faces on, and I guess she got fed up with that," she said.

"Finally, after one of my visits I was just going to leave and she threw a package at me and said, 'Here, you try and make them.' "

Green went on to make four dolls that year, although all were about half the size they should have been.

"They didn't turn out at all," she said.

She ended up selling them for $40 each to a friend in Tuktoyaktuk who owned a shop, and from there never stopped learning how to make better, and larger, dolls.

"I'm happy with the designs now," she said.

Green begins her dolls by sewing the body and head, and filling it with pillow stuffing or batting.

She then puts together its pants, parka, mittens and shoes. She always uses moose hide for the dolls' faces, because people like the smell, she said.

All the hide and fur she sews by hand, and for the rest she uses a sewing machine.

Green estimates that she makes about 10 dolls per month, most of which she sells through the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation in Inuvik and the Co-op in Sachs Harbour.

In the past year she has also had the opportunity to teach two classes on doll making - one in Fort Smith in April and another in Sachs Harbour last month. She said that teaching others to do what she has done for 25 years made her realize how much she has learned since she first started.

"For me it's easy because I've done this for years," she said.

Despite having made countless dolls, Green said she doesn't have a single one at her home in Sachs Harbour.

"Whenever I try to keep them my children or grandchildren will take them."

Last month her daughter Pamela made a doll for the first time, and Green said she hopes all those who have tried making a doll once either in her class or on their own will continue on with the tradition like she has.

"That way we don't lose the skills we gained," she said.

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