How to Sculpt a Ball-Jointed Doll Torso With Polymer Clay

Written by lauren vork
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Dolls made with ball joints strike a between being realistic-looking and functionally movable. Dolls made from polymer clay, though rich in realistic detail, are not generally made to be flexible, since the material is quite rigid when cured. By combining the ball joint design with homemade clay limbs, you can give your doll the best of both worlds.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Beige or brown polymer clay
  • Doll torso, arm and leg moulds
  • Round-headed pin
  • Toothpick
  • Pencil
  • Jewellery screw eyes
  • Dental rubber bands
  • Needle-nosed pliers

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  1. 1

    Soften the beige or brown clay by kneading it in your hands. Press the clay into the doll parts mould; use enough to fill each mould to the brim. Turn the mould upside down and flex it to cause the piece to fall out.

  2. 2

    Let these pieces sit, outside the mould, for 20 minutes to allow the clay to firm up, or place them in the freezer for five minutes.

  3. 3

    Pinch and roll the stump ends of the arm and leg pieces to form them into round, ball-shaped ends. Make the balls as smooth and even as possible.

  4. 4

    Bake the arm and leg pieces in the oven according to the polymer clay manufacturer's instructions. Do not bake the torso piece, yet. Let the baked pieces cool for at least 10 minutes.

  5. 5

    Insert a needle 1/2 inch into the centre of the shoulder stump of the torso piece. Move the needle in a gentle stirring motion to open up the hole. Remove the needle, turn it around and press the ball end slowly into the hole, forming a narrow, cylindrical hollow. Make this hollow larger by pressing the pencil eraser into it in the same way. Repeat this process with the other shoulder, and with the points on the bottom of the torso where the legs will attach.

  6. 6

    Thread dental rubber bands onto the eye portions of four screw eyes.

  7. 7

    Use the needlenose pliers to insert the threaded screw eyes into the hollows in the torso. Position them so that the screws are buried in the clay at the base of the hollows with the eyes and rubber bands sticking out, inside the hollow.

  8. 8

    Wet the ball end of the right arm piece with cold water. Press the ball end to the shoulder stump and rotate it against the clay; do this to form the mouth of the hollow into the socket portion of the joint. Repeat this process with the other three limbs and joints.

  9. 9

    Use the electric drill to drill holes into the centre of each ball joint. Screw a screw eye into each of these holes.

  10. 10

    Bake the torso. Let cool.

  11. 11

    Use the needlenose pliers to attach the rubber band inside each joint piece to the screw eye on the end of each limb. Fit the ball joints into place within the sockets.

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