Used in China to make war helmets in 202 B.C., today papier-mâché most often serves as delicate arts and crafts. Dolls -- perhaps the most highly prized papier-mâché creations -- sometimes sell for thousands of dollars to private collectors. Professional artists spend hours polishing, lacquering and painting their elegant and intricate creations, but doll-making can be an easy and inexpensive way to create ideal personalised gift for friends and family.
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Some papier-mâché recipes used in doll-making are difficult to make at home, but a simple paste will work. Traditionally made by gradually stirring flour into boiling water until a thick and creamy paste forms, a recipe with added glue makes a more cohesive mixture. Cut out strips of newspaper, dipped into the paste, are then applied to the surface of the doll's body.
Foam Ball Method
Many ways exist to make the doll's body. One method uses foam balls and wire sold at craft stores. A sphere cut in half forms the feet, a ball squished into an oval makes the body and another serves as the head. The wire attaches the parts together, making arms, legs and a neck. Newspaper strips dipped into the paste and placed smoothly on the surface form a coating on the doll; once it dries, you can paint the doll's body and facial features. Thin, colourful pieces of tissue paper create clothing for the doll, while yarn or thick string makes its hair.
Tape and Newspaper
Another method of making a doll's body uses crumpled pieces of newspaper, covered in masking tape, to form the desired shape. This technique also attaches the pieces together using wire, followed by a coating of papier-mâché and paint. This method allows you to be more creative with crafting the body than foam balls. Depending on the doll's size, buying doll clothes from a toy or craft store make the project even easier. Buttons or small beads work for facial features, such as eyes.
For more creative freedom, you can sculpt the doll's body, which requires a different papier-mâché recipe. You must tear newspaper into small pieces and place them in a bowl, letting them soak in warm water for about half an hour, until they turn into pulp. Straining the mixture comes next, and involves taking the pulp and squeezing out the excess water by hand. You next add glue and water until you have a lumpy dough. Rather than using wire for the limbs, you'll sculpt separate thighs, calves, forearms and upper arms, leaving holes near the joints. After the doll dries, wire looped through the holes connects the body parts. Using scrap cloth, you can sew clothes by hand; many free patterns for doll clothing exist online.
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