How to Make a Ndebele Doll

Written by alexis rohlin
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A Ndebele doll, (pronounced In-de-bey-lay) is a doll created by the Zulu women of the South African Ndebele tribe. The dolls are decorated with traditional Zulu styles of women's clothing, which includes beaded capes and wire bands on their necks, legs or arms. Ndebele dolls were originally given to young girls as a fertility charm, during their initiation into womanhood. Now they are given as ornaments and gifts.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Extruded polystyrene foam ball, 1-inch diameter
  • Black fabric squares, 7-inch by 7-inch
  • Black soaker hose, 4-inch length
  • Gold wire, 30 gauge, 4-inch piece
  • 2 red pony beads
  • Black embroidery floss
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • White seed beads
  • Dark brown yarn
  • Light blue pony beads
  • Yellow pony beads
  • 2 black pipe cleaners
  • Strings of multicoloured seed beads
  • Craft glue
  • Light blue fabric
  • Blue seed beads
  • Red seed beads

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Place the extruded polystyrene foam ball onto one end of the black soaker hose. Wrap one 7-inch black fabric square around the polystyrene foam ball and down onto the soaker hose. Hold the fabric down with one hand, and with the other wrap a 4-inch piece of 30-gauge gold wire around the fabric and the hose to secure it in place to make the head, neck and body of the doll. Tuck the ends of the wire under itself.

  2. 2

    Cut a 15-inch piece of black embroidery floss. Thread the floss onto the needle. Sew two red pony beads on the black fabric-wrapped polystyrene ball to make the eyes of the doll. Start by tying a simple knot at the end of the thread. Insert the needle through the fabric at the centre eye line of the doll head. String a red bead onto the needle, slide it down to the fabric, then insert the needle back through the fabric to secure it in place. Sew white seed beads around the red bead in the same manner. Knot the end of the thread and cut it off. Sew the other eye onto the doll head.

  3. 3

    Sew a vertical line of white seed beads down the centre of the head where the nose would be. Sew a line of white seed beads around the circumference of the head starting where the ears would be and up around the hair line and over to the other side, starting at the neck.

  4. 4

    Sew the braids onto the head by inserting the needle through the knot, inserting the needle through the fabric and back up. Tie it in a simple double knot and cut it off. Cover the head evenly with the braids.

  5. 5

    Bend two pipe cleaners in half. Wrap them with gold wire, leaving 1/2-inch at the bottom for the hands. Insert the free ends into the black soaker hose body. The porous material of the soaker hose is soft enough to allow the wire of the pipe cleaners to push through.

  6. 6

    Wrap the strings of multicoloured seed beads around the hose down to the waist of the doll and attach them to the soaker hose by applying a dab of craft glue and press it into the hose.

  7. 7

    Cut a piece of light blue fabric to fit on the bottom half of the hose to make the skirt of the doll. Sew groups of two seeds beads in a dotted line pattern around the skirt. Make a row of blue seed beads, two rows of red seed beads, a row of blue seed beads and the bottom row of white seed beads to finish the doll.

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