Papier-Mache Doll Making Techniques

Written by sue stepp
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Papier-Mache Doll Making Techniques
Recycle stacks of old newspaper into beautiful papier-mache dolls. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

People make dolls using many materials. Some of the most common materials are cloth, ceramic clay, porcelain, polymer clay and papier-mache. All of these dolls are sculpted or created using a mould. Making a papier-mache doll is simple but can be time-consuming. The dolls require a lot of drying time but the finished product is worth the wait.

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Paper Pulp For Papier-Mache

Ground paper pulp makes smooth, easily manipulated papier-mache. Fill a large bucket half full of hot water. Tear strips of newspaper about 4 inches long by 1-inch wide and throw them into the bucket. Let the newspaper sit in the water for about 15 minutes. Place an old blender on a flat surface and put one handful of wet newspaper from the bucket in the blender. Fill the blender with hot water and blend the paper pulp until it is ground thoroughly. Don't use your kitchen blender, the paper never comes totally out. Pour the contents of the blender through a wire mesh strainer. Continue making paper pulp until you make enough for your doll. Store the completed pulp in a large plastic container with a lid.

Casting Mache Dolls In Molds

Brush the inside of a latex, plastic or plaster mould with baby powder or talc. This works as a mould release for the doll parts. Make a batch of paper pulp and add one cup of school glue for every six cups of paper pulp. Store excess pulp mixture in a plastic container with a lid. This mixture contains less glue so it sticks less to the mould but it still dries hard and strong. Open the mould and fill it with the paper pulp mixture. Let it dry with the mould open. Follow this procedure for all of the moulded parts for the doll. Pull the pieces out of the moulds and use excess pulp mixture for putting the pieces together. Fill any openings with pulp mixture and let it dry for several days or cook it in the oven on a baking tray at 93.3 degrees Cor three to six hours. If you bake the papier-mache, check it regularly so it doesn't burn. Sand the whole doll with fine sandpaper until smooth.

Adding Paint

Paint the whole doll with three layers of gesso. Let it dry between each layer. Sand the doll with fine sandpaper until smooth. Paint the doll's body and head using acrylic paint. Paint the face last. Add a little bit of pink or red to the skin colour for the cheeks and use a darker shade of the same colour for the lips. Cut a small piece of paper the shape you want the eyebrows and trace the shape above each eye. Use a fine-pointed paintbrush for filling in the eyebrows. If you need smaller lines, use a needle for painting the detail work on eyebrows and eyes. Paint the eyes last.

Sealing The Doll

Paint the whole doll with a thin layer of school glue. Once the glue dries clear, spray several thin coats of spray paint over the doll. The glue gives the doll an extra layer of sealant and makes the spray paint look shinier. Let the paint dry between layers. After the paint dries, add hair, eyelashes and clothing to the doll.

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