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Discovering African Doll-Making

July 25, 1993|EMILY ADAMS

It's Sunday morning. Do you know where your children are?

They're watching cartoons, maybe, or giving you that midsummer "I don't have anything to do" whine.

Well, even if they aren't bored, here's a fun outing that could be educational (but don't tell them that). Better yet, it's free.

The Long Beach Children's Museum has a special program today where children can make beaded dolls from two African traditions.

The dolls are examples of crafts from the Zulu and Ndebele people.

These are not huggable, furry dolls for your toddlers. The dolls are about six inches tall with hard, cone-like bodies, round heads, no legs and skinny bead-work arms. The museum suggests that children between the ages of 5 and 12 will get the most out of this.

The Zulu dolls include yarn hair adorned with beads. The Ndebele dolls, which are still made in the Ndebele homelands in Zimbabwe, are decorated with intricate beadwork.

Laurie Hastings, the museum's art coordinator, reports that bead work on original Ndebele dolls closely mirrored the beads worn by the doll's owner. The type of beads used and their design identified the status of the woman in society and were used for personal decoration and ceremonial dress.

The children add scraps of material, buttons, beads for facial features and twine to hold the whole thing together. They will use the Zulu and Ndebele dolls on display as templates, but the museum staff encourages children to express themselves in their creations.

The formal name of this event is "Getting in Touch With Your Inner Doll Workshop," but don't let that scare you.

So get out of your house. Explore the art of another culture.

The doll-making workshop will be held from noon to 4 p.m. at the Long Beach Children's Museum, 445 Long Beach Blvd. Admission is free. Information: (310) 495-1653 or (310) 495-1163.

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