GLENDALE – Five years ago, a Glendale tattoo artist and mother of three sat down at her sewing machine with an urge to fulfill a creative need.
K-Ta Buathier ended up making her first voodoo doll, which eventually led to launching a business.
“I call them ‘unique dolls for unique people,'” Buathier said inside the Timeless Art Tattoo shop in Glendale where she works her day job.
Although some people associate voodoo with evil or witchcraft, experts said it’s often misunderstood.
Doe Daughtrey, a religious studies instructor at Arizona State University, said voodoo developed as a slave religion. She said it was instrumental in the revolution in Haiti in the late 1700s because voodoo gave the oppressed people a sense of empowerment.
Daughtry explained that voodoo is a polytheistic religion, and for that reason, is often feared by those who practice traditional Christianity because it is so different from religions that only worship one god.
Many people associate voodoo dolls with evil magic: Stick a pin in the doll or harm it in some way, and the person it represents will feel the pain.
“How (voodoo dolls) operate is through the force of contagious magic, which means using a personal object like … a piece of somebody’s hair to affect that person,” Daughtrey said.
However, Daughtrey said the religion is “no more dangerous than any other religion. It’s just different from the predominant Christianity in the U.S.”
Buathier said she began making the colorful dolls as toys for her kids.
Soon after that, she began selling them online after her friends encouraged her to turn her hobby into a business.
She sells the dolls for $40 each through her Facebook page Rebel Devil Accessories and inside Buried Treasures, a boutique in downtown Phoenix.
Bauthier said it’s not just about profits: She enjoys making the dolls to relieve stress and express her creativity.
Traditionally, voodoo dolls have few features, except for a body, arms, legs and head and “tend to not have very much of anything else,” Daughtrey said.
Not Bauthier’s dolls.
Buathier’s dolls feature bright colors, facial features and hair made of yarn so as not to “not scare people,” she said.
Bauthier, who was raised Catholic, said she taught herself about voodoo dolls by reading books related to witchcraft and related subjects.
As a child, Bauthier said her mother taught her to sew and often thinks of her while constructing the dolls.
Her ultimate inspiration comes from her kids, who often assist her in choosing the materials and other design aspects.
“I just want to show them that if they really want something, they can do it,” she said.