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March 13, 2022 2 min read 2 Comments

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: Inspiration is everywhere. (Believe us, a quick twirl in the DDR storage room and you’ll see what we mean!)

The running motif of this collection is folk art, something that Cheryl has both an eye and an affinity for. She’s been a lifelong collector of tourist trinkets and flea market finds, from all over the country – all around the globe, really – spanning across cultures and centuries. Among them, Seminole Dolls.

“Seminole dolls were really targeted for tourist trade,” Cheryl explained. “You’d find them mostly in and around Florida, in Seminole territory. I’ve always been drawn to their color and clothing; all of the women dolls are in vibrant dresses, or cape-skirt combos, that have bold stripes and rickrack and details like that. And they usually have on jewelry – little necklaces and earrings. They’re just fun. Almost all of the Seminole dolls I’ve ever collected or come across have been women; the male dolls are very hard to find.”

There are indeed male versions, but because of their complexity, they are much more rare and expensive. Female dolls are heads with conical shaped bodies without arms, dressed in colorful garments with simple silhouettes. Males also have limbs, and they are clothed in either long shirts or a shirt and pants, which makes them more complicated to construct.

Seminole Dolls are also often referred to as Palmetto Dolls. For the past century or so, they have been crafted using palmetto fiber because it more closely resembles the skin tone of the Seminoles than the white wood they were carving to create the dolls previously. A single palmetto tree can provide enough fiber to create up to five dolls, which are stitched together and stuffed with cotton to create the forms of the head and body.

Florida Museum

These dolls are created to represent the Seminole (and Miccosukee) people in terms of traditional hairstyle and style of dress, but you’ll notice that their faces and features are very simplified and almost indiscernible. That’s because it is considered bad luck to create a doll with a likeness to an actual person, as it is thought that doing so could bring harm to both the person it resembles as well as the maker.

Seminole Tribe of Florida

You’ll notice that the bold, striped Runaway Dresses in the Folk Foray collection bear an obvious inspiration from the traditional Palmetto Doll-style dresses.

2 Responses

Agnes T. Mayo
Agnes T. Mayo

September 04, 2023

I am 74. At least 65 years ago my aunt went to Florida and brought a Palmetto doll. I have it and it is in perfect condition. I have kept it in my cedar chest for many years. I found this article interesting

Rose Miller
Rose Miller

March 15, 2022

I grew up in Miami and remember Going to the Seminole Indian Village with my parents. I wish I had hung onto those dolls that I bought

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