This may be the oldest project of mine that I ever manage to feature here on Rearview Fridays! It’s a doll I made for a high school project, circa 1994. I remembered her when I featured a couple of other dolls I’d made a few years ago on a recent Rearview Fridays post. I can’t believe she’s in such good condition and that I’ve managed to carry her with me all these years.
May I introduce, Juliet Capulet:
In Alberta’s grade 10 English curriculum, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was par for the course. I had as awesome English teacher, Mr. Young, hands down the most inspiring teacher of my high school career. He was a great juxtaposition of art and jock. He’d been a wrestler in his youth, injuries sustained made him walk with a roiling gait, and he had these giant forearms. He was also passionate about basketball, running a huge national invitational basketball tournament every year. On the other hand he taught English, was the head of the department, and ran the school’s Shakespeare Club (of which I was a member of course). And he was utterly passionate and practical about language and stories and history.
Every year he assigned one project where we could do anything BUT write an essay. Our teenage-minds were blown! It was an arts high school, called Victoria Composite High School at the time and we were exploding with creativity. The excitement was palpable for this assignment in the 10AP class. I think I learned more about Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet and their times because of this project. I researched clothing, costumes, hair, payed close attention to the details of the play. One girl made a dance film, monologues were performed, a guy even forged a sword. Forged a sword! I made a Juliet doll — shocking, I know.
As I look at her today, I am amazed at my 16-year-old self. I started with a basic Waldorf doll, which I figured out myself by looking at other ones. I remember being so proud of how her eyes came out, painting lips and irises with such care. I picked natural fibres like cotton, wool and cotton velvet, dyed the fabric for her skin with tea, did a lot of the stitching by hand. Her hair is black cotton yarn, thick and waist-length. I crocheted burgundy lace for her dress, I even crocheted a snood, a freaking snood! I want to squeeze my overachieving, unstoppable self from 1994, tell her that she’s awesome. That she shouldn’t take the next 16 years to really feel comfortable in her skin because she’s great, extraordinary as is.
Juliet has a little lace and cheesecloth slip that ties at the back, it’s so sweet and innocent. Her dress is rich and heavy and closes with hooks and eyes at the back. Then to top it all off there’s a secret pocket under the top layer of the dress with a wee foil dagger and a corked foil vial, which, of course, has green beeswax in it so if you uncork it you see “poison”. Of course. Cause I like details. Ahem.
Mr. Young really believed in me and encouraged my shy, unsure self to trust my natural writing abilities. I am still surprised that I ended up working as a writer editor and administrator at a magazine for over 10 years without planning or training in that direction, but I think a lot of it has to do with some seeds of trust and inspiration planted in me by Mr. Young. I am forever grateful.
I’m also amused to remember that I simply am a creative creature, it’s who I’ve always been and who I am delighted to continue to be.
Cheers Juliet. Thanks for the memories.