Doll making is a relaxing activity, especially if you are making a doll for a friend or a child. Many mediums such as wood and fabric are used to make dolls, but wire, florist tape and clay come together to make a doll that is sturdy and unique. Doll makers who are good with their hands like working with clay for doll creations as clay can be moulded to create different styles and looks. Best of all, clay allows a maker to keep reinventing techniques during the creation process because of its pliable nature.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Super Sculpey Clay
- Florist wire
- Florist tape
- Clay and craft oven
- Clay knife
- Scissors or wire cutters
- Pencil (optional)
- Embroidery floss
Crumble a small piece of foil an half an inch in diameter in order to form the doll's head. While crumbling the foil, you can shape it to look like a circle, an oval or an egg shape, the egg shape being best for a head since the small end will form the chin, the larger end the scalp.
Cut seven pieces of florist wire for the arms, torso, legs and shoulders. The torso wire should measure three inches long; the arms three and a quarter inches long; the legs four inches long and the shoulder piece should be about an inch long.
Arrange the pieces to form a skeleton. Bend your wire if you want the doll to have bent joints. At the bottom of the arm and leg wires, bend the wire about a quarter of an inch in order to indicate hands and feet.
Cover the wires with florist tape. The florist tape helps flesh out the skeleton, acting as muscles, plus it helps prevent the wire from becoming wavy.
Connect the arms to the shoulder wire, bonding with florist tape. Wrap these joints with at least two layers of florist tape. Too much tape will create bulky joints, and when you cover these areas with clay, your proportions will be off.
Attach the foil head to the top of the torso wire (the neck). To do so, stick the wire into the bottom of the foil ball, then cover the head with florist tape and tape it to the neck.
Knead your Super Sculpey Clay until it is soft and pliable. You can do this by rolling it between your hands or between your hands and the table.
Add clay to the skeleton a little at a time. Add a thin layer of clay around the skeleton in order to cover your wire and tape, smoothing the clay as you go along. You want to cover all the wire and tape so when you bake the clay, wax from the florist wire does not ooze out, creating cracks.
Begin shaping the head, neck and shoulders of the doll by adding more layers of clay and smoothing these layers until you have even coverage. Decide where you'll create the face and add an additional layer of clay so you have more of a cushion between the facial features and the foil core, especially since much of the face will be carved out and you do not want the foil to show.
Shape the torso and chest by adding and smoothing chunks of clay. To form a waist, you can pinch in the clay at the centre if you are making a female adult doll, smoothing until both sides are equal. The more clay you add, the more the torso changes, so your doll can be a chubby adult male or a slender female. Use your clay knife for shaping, especially if you want your figure to have sharper angles.
Create a rounded column a quarter of an inch in diameter that measures an inch in length. Cut the ends off at a length you prefer. If you are creating a female adult doll, attach these to the torso just below the shoulder/collar area and smooth until the breasts look natural.
Roll a two inch circle-shaped ball of clay. With the clay knife, slice the circle in half. Theses piece will serve as the doll's buttocks. Cut another piece of clay, this time a square measuring about an inch which will serve as the front panel to the buttocks. Attach the buttocks pieces to the back and the front panel to the front of the torso piece, smoothing the connections until seamless.
Create the legs by smoothing clay on each leg wire from the hips down. By the hips, you want the clay to be thicker, much like a real person's thighs would be, tapering the clay width until you reach the knee area. When you get to the calf and shin portion, make the shins flat and flush with the wire (making sure the wire does not show), and for the calves, arc the clay out a bit to create the illusion of definition. For the ankles, taper the clay to fully cover the wire, then add the feet making them any size you wish. On the insides of the feet, push the clay in a little to indicate an arch.
Form the arms using the same method as you did for the legs. Add more definition toward the shoulders down to the elbow to indicate muscle tone for the upper arm, tapering the clay toward the elbow. For the lower half of the arm, have a thicker amount of clay by the elbow, tapering toward the wrist. For a female adult doll, make the wrists slightly smaller than you would a male's. Once complete, add the hand. To create the hands, create two small teardrop shapes and attach to the ends of the wrist. Smooth the clay to create a seamless finish.
Build the face by making a small, two-eighths-of-an-inch, tapered triangle for the nose with another piece of clay. Place this triangle vertically in the centre of the face, fat side facing down, smoothing first at the top of the triangle, than at the sides to create a seamless finish. Take a piece of wire and pierce the nose at the bottom twice to create nostrils. Between the nostrils and underneath the nose you created, add a small indentation to indicate the bridge of the upper lip. To form lips, you can do two things: a straight line indentation for a male or adding two thin strips for a female. For the male, directly below the lip, create a horizontal indentation using your clay knife. With the knife, you can create a straight-lipped look or a smile, depending on how you wish the doll to look. If you are creating a female doll, take two very thin, small pieces of clay and put them directly below the upper lip indentation. Smooth these pieces slightly leaving the centre piece unfinished to indicate a mouth opening.
Create eyes in one of two ways: inlaid eyes or paint. For inlaid eyes, roll two small circles measuring around an eighth of an inch to two-eighths of an inch. With the sharpened end of a pencil, poke two holes on either side of the nose. Place the circles inside these holes, completing the eyes.
If you choose to paint the eyes on, wait until the doll is baked.
Form fingers and toes using a small pair of scissors. For the hands, cut three lines halfway down to create the four fingers. Take a small piece of clay and attach to the inside of each hand for the thumbs.
For toes, cut four lines a fifth of the way down.
Turn the timer on your clay and craft oven to the polymer clay setting as directed by the oven's instructions. Place the doll on top of foil and place in the oven for the time indicated in the oven instruction manual. Let bake and cool in the oven afterward for at least an hour.
Paint the skin and face your desired shade. This may require several coats depending on how your clay absorbs paint. During this step, you can also add colour to the cheeks and paint the eyes and lips.
Finish the doll off with a wig and clothing, if you choose. To create a wig, use embroidery floss, folding strands in half and stitching them to other strands. Once you have the wig to the desired length and fullness, glue it to the top of the doll's head. Create an outfit or find some doll clothes to finish the look.
Tips and warnings
- Looking at pictures of actual people help while creating an adult doll. These pictures will help you get proportions correct and will also give you an idea of all the different body shapes people have.
- By not sealing off and smoothing the clay, you create air pockets that can crack during the baking process. If you have any holes in the clay, the wax from the florist tape can leak out during baking, which can ooze all over the oven and also make the doll's skeleton weak. Before baking, make sure air pockets and holes are eliminated.
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