How I make dolls with Creative Paperclay
This information below is what I have discovered about this modeling compound and how I make the dolls I am making now. I do not profess to be an expert. This is just one artist’s point of view. It is here because I so appreciate the webpages that share similar knowledge about polymer clays and repainting fashion dolls that I want to thank those who put those pages up and pass the gratitude along.
I make large and small dolls with Paperclay. Some have cloth bodies – but more often now I am sculpting the entire doll and jointing them for fun. I will add more photos of doll in the process over time.
I like Paperclay because it is water based, requires no curing to harden, takes an amazing amount of detail, dries to a very light weight, can be modeled very thin or small while retaining strength, smooths beautifully, gives off no noxious fumes, tastes okay (well, I get into my work and it gets everywhere), can be washed off and out of clothing and tools really easily and pieces made from it can be reworked over and over. As I work I often change my mind. I love being able to change something I thought I liked yesterday and allowed to completely harden! I also like being able to jump up to do something else and then come back to my pieces whenever with no worries.
When I begin I have out the sketch, paper towels, a sponge to wipe the rasps and wipe the doll itself in the drier stages, a small bowl of water, aluminum foil and a length of elastic to test the jointing after the pieces are dried and all the sculpting tools.
My wet sculpting tools are my fingers, toothpicks, a wookie*, a small set of brushes, two teeny round iron rasps, small ball stylus and everything else that fits the purpose. For dry sculpting I use the rasps, a Master Beveler tool, wet dry sandpaper or some flat sponges with fine sandpaper on one side at 320 grit. Here is a picture of my typical working surface and tools with an early doll in process.
I usually start with aluminum foil scrunched up into the appropriate size and usually make a ball on a stem for the head and torso – using a rough sketch for a size and proportion guide. I keep the stem slim so I have great flexibility for the torso jointing. I add enough clay to get the face in the right place and rough out the rest of the head and neck, do the facial features and I either then let it sit on a convenient radiator overnight to dry, or I toast it in a little toaster oven. Since I have been working small the pieces dry easily and fast. Larger pieces like Baby Luca’s head may need to sit for several days to be completely dry – unless you work in layers and dry each layer. It depends upon how much clay I use.
I then rough out the upper torso, and figure out where I want the arms to join, piercing the torso with a toothpick or a skewer and twirling it to keep it loose. I move down to the rest of the torso, and do the same thing for the hip/leg joins. When I like what I see, I let it dry.
When it dries I finish up the details of the face and smooth whatever needs it, and add ears with wet clay and carve the copyright sign, the date, LN and the number on the back of the head/neck. I let the piece sit in front of me as I rough out the arms and legs – but I don’t put on fingers or toes. I pierce each piece with a toothpick for the elastic to go through, and then let them all dry. The hands and feet are then added with wet clay and allowed to dry at several steps. I am still developing how I make the hands and feet. Right now each finger is added individually and then allowed to dry. And when it is dry I smooth, add detail and the next finger until the whole hand is done.
The best way of adding wet clay to dry seems to be by wetting the dry surface with a touch of water (or saliva - this is where the tasting comes in) and then pressing in the wet clay and smoothing with the same brush.
After all the detail is finished and I am happy, I smooth the pieces until I am satisfied and let them become bone dry. I then start the layers of flesh color with acrylic paints, adding more layers of washes for blushing, accents, details and shadowing. The doll looks pretty bright and modern at this point. After allowing for the paint to become really dry, I give the pieces several light layers of varnish for protection from scuffing and light. These are after all, art dolls and need some protection from us; and the elements.
When these are well dried – it can take a couple days for this, I then add the hair, the moleskin in the joints and I string the arms and legs. I then paint the knots of elastic and give them a coat of varnish, too, so they blend in a bit.
Drying and sealing my Paperclay pieces. I usually allow the pieces to dry on a windowsill in the sun, over a radiator over night - at least eight hours. If neither are available I have let the pieces dry in a toaster oven, or a regular oven with the door propped open - at it's lowest setting. You don't have to worry about fumes with Paperclay, unlike polymer. I don't leave them unattended. The sealers I use are Liquitex acrylic mediums and sealers, allowing them to totally dry between coats. (added 9/07)
I hope you give making dolls with Paperclay a try. There is always room for another doll lover to become a doll maker and I hope you will share your photos with me.
Making New Dolls with Paperclay Tutorial continued!
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