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  • Eliza Kroll

Personage as Icon/Talisman/Fetish/Effigy - Process Log


I started off my research by going to the Mccain Library to find a dictionary and look up the terms "Icon," "Talisman," "Fetish," and "Effigy." This was probably the hardest part of the entire process of making my three-dimensional personage. This is due to the fact that it was very hard for me to find a dictionary. I had to ask three different library staff members to point me in the right direction. Once I had looked up the definitions myself, I realized that I felt the most connection to the word "talisman." According to Merriam-Webster, a talisman is defined as "an object held to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune; something producing apparently magical or miraculous effects." I decided not to look into any extant examples of talismans because I wanted to come up with something completely original and not have any outward influence on my project. This item is a reminder and a form of protection. Its purpose is to be the childhood that the user never had and to protect the past versions of the user.


I came up with the first sketch for my talisman during another one of my college courses. When I first decided that I was going to make a talisman, I knew that I wanted it to be made at least partially out of wood. I also knew that I wanted it to have an indent that I could dig my thumb into. my first sketch brought this idea to life. One of the main issues that I knew I would face was dealing with wood. This is because I have never used wood in any capacity. After a lot of deliberation, I decided to make the body out of crocheted fabric which I would then glue to the head-piece. I only went through one rendition of the body shape because I was freestyling it to match the head. I used half double crochet stitches and increased on random increments 3.75 mm crochet hook with a fingering weight hand-dyed wool yarn.


The main failure that I encountered in this project was the choice of wood. At the beginning of the project, I used a piece of much harder wood that I found; however, as someone who had never carved wood before, I found it far too hard and almost impossible to cut. I was far more successful when I switched to a softer pine 2x4 that I found in my cousin's burn pile.

The second failure that I had was when I was coloring the wood. I originally had issues when I mixed my acrylic ink with white acrylic ink, and it became chalky. To combat this, I covered it in mod-podge; however, it started to peel. Therefore I scrubbed the mod-podge and original acrylic ink off. I decided to use multiple watered-down acrylic ink. This approach worked much better because it did not leave a chalk-like residue, and it showed the original composition of the wood.

The third failure that I encountered had to do with the talisman's facial features. I originally wanted to carve them; however, I could not carve them delicately enough to get the features I wanted. I then had to re-carve an entire section and re-dye it to make it match the rest of the piece better. I ended up drawing on the face with an alcohol-based marker. I do not believe that this was the right choice; however, in future models, I hope to make the carved face work. I also believe that carved facial features will make the piece look more natural and less flat.


For this project, I used wood, wood carving tools, a table saw, yarn, a crochet hook, sewing needles, super glue, and blue, red, and white acrylic inks. I chose to use materials for this project that I had an emotional connection to. I found the word for this project in my cousin Mojo's burn pile. The yarn that I used I had been holding on to for over 5 years because, in my mind, it was too special to use. I gathered a variety of materials from my cousin's burn pile/house.

In the Making

Final Product


The pictures in my sketchbook (below) show the many variations I went through in making this design. I find it pretty amusing that my final product is closest to my original sketch as opposed to any of the other variations I went through. I also included the sketches and notes I made during our class's critique.

Works Cited

"Talisman" 2023. (18 September 2023).

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