Soft Sculpture Dollmaking Tips

Written by robin devereaux
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Soft Sculpture Dollmaking Tips
Soft sculpture dolls are imaginative and fun to make. (Rag-doll from Swaziland image by Elzbieta Sekowska from

Soft sculpture doll artistry celebrates the versatility of fabric. If you are a soft sculpture artist, or just beginning soft doll making, you have probably realised there are many techniques, tools and tips that help you expand your soft sculpture repertoire. Sharing skills and techniques with other doll artists is a fabulous way to learn new ways to manipulate fabric to create soft sculpture dolls.

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Finger Turning Kits

Creating delicate, poseable hands and fingers is a tough task. Experienced doll artist Patti Medaris Culea recommends employing a finger turning kit. The kit is a series of differently sized brass tubing that assists the doll maker in turning hands and fingers right-side out with ease. The kits are available online and at doll supply speciality shops. Culea's Itsy Bitsy Finger Turning Kit retails for about £7.

Gel Pen Details

Painting small details, such as the eyes, on a doll face can be difficult work with even the tiniest of brushes. Gel pens work well for adding detail, and add a realistic sheen as well. Paint a base of acrylic paint on the cloth face and allow it to dry thoroughly. Add details with gel pens and allow drying time. Seal the doll face with clear matt acrylic to preserve and protect the doll face.

Creative Doll Joints

Jointing dolls allows movement and poseability to your creations. There are many methods, from installing pre-made plastic or wood joints, to easy solutions such as knotted joints and using buttons to fashion a socket. For example, apply large, smooth buttons at the shoulders of a doll, sewing directly through the arms, buttons and body. The button acts as the shoulder socket, allowing you to pose the arms. Knees and elbows can be knotted or simply sewn down flat to allow movement. You can make arms and legs in two separate sections and attach them at the knee and elbow with a wooden, plastic or glass bead as jointing. Manufactured doll joints vary and contain package directions for application.

Creative Hair Techniques

A cloth doll's hair speaks volumes for her personality. Adding hair is the doll maker's opportunity to really go wild and use the imagination. You can use fabric, a variety of yarn, fur, fibre, roots, beading and thread. Colour and style are limited only by the imagination. You can paint or draw hair on, mould it from paper or polymer clay, or tattoo a bald head with gel pens.

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