Covid Creativity: 20Aug2021

by Ruth Stanton

I am hoping our readers will agree with me. Creating something imaginative out of something I came by when looking over our wood pile, or visiting a friend who was showing off his portable sawmill, could be seen as a form of art. 

I was inspired to turn tree crotches into dolls. I think this is art because my dolls meet the criteria set by my laptop’s dictionary: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

These dolls certainly relied upon my creative skill and my imagination to come into being. I present them in a visual form (my painting, albeit Mother Nature’s sculpting). I think my ladies convey both beauty and emotion.

I create my dolls within the limitations that Mother Nature sets. For this reason, I do not bore holes a quarter of the way down from the top of a doll’s head and insert sticks that could serve as arms. I don’t whittle out features to serve as noses, chins and brows. 

Generally, a doll suffers from an obvious deformity: one leg is bigger than the other. That’s the way with trees. I try to find crotches offering legs that approach uniformity of size, but I haven’t yet found two branches that are the same size; so, I work with what I’ve got.

It’s a lot of fun to create these dolls. I never know who will wind up looking at me when I am done. The big doll in the photo is about three feet tall; the little one, about a foot. Unfortunately, I did not get the soles of their feet exactly perpendicular to their bodies, so they need to lean against something in order to stand upright. 

I’m not very good with a hand saw and I don’t have an electric saw. I rely on someone else cutting the “feet” so that the dolls stand up. But I expect Michelangelo sometimes used assistants, so I don’t suppose that matters.

The only thing that stops me from using a fast-moving electric table saw is that 

(a) I don’t have one, and 

(b) they scare me. 

Monique (younger daughter) took a woodworking art course at John Abbott. Her teacher removed the tip of his finger as he was demonstrating how to do something with a fast-moving saw!

Matt Williams has agreed to do some cutting for me to prepare a children’s craft for the Wood Fair. I’ll ask him to re-cut some forms I have on hand that range from fifteen to eighteen inches high. I’ll try to make sure they can stand without props.

Tree Crutch Dolls, Ruth Stanton

Don’t be shy Collectif members, we want to see your work! Send JPG images of work completed since March 2020 to with up to 100 words per image describing what you did, materials used, inspiration, etc. Maybe share how you’re feeling more than a year into the Covid experience & how/if creativity helps. 

Give us informative, inspiring show & tell. Writers, send us poetry, lyrics, a short piece or excerpt and try to include a suitable illustration of some sort. For all images please include size (height by width), title & media. Thank you!


    • You’re in luck, Alison. Five of Ruth’s doll pieces can be seen at WOW2021, the art show along Main Street, Alexandria, running from 11 September to 24 October.


  1. I really like those dolls, Ruth. They are so creative and fun. I look forward to seeing the 5 of them in the WOW show.


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