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Any Dollmakers Around?

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Any Dollmakers Around?

Postby Falcon_Heart27 » Sun May 17, 2015 1:00 pm

Hi everyone,


I've recently been drawn to the craft of dollmaking, and was wondering if there's any seasoned artists on here that can give me some pointers. :)

I've been doing a lot of online research, and honestly, it's quite intimidating. :o Anyway, I still need to acquire most of my supplies, but I've been honing my sculpting skills on a doll-size clay bust right now.

The kind of dolls I'm teaching myself to make are the ones with wire armatures, then quilt batting stuffing, then "skin" cloth, and clay (mostly epoxy, from what I've read) head/hands/feet. I'm mostly drawn toward human-like fantasy creatures, and really inspired by Froud-style dolls and such.


Anyway, enough rambling from me. As a newbie, I'd be really interested to talk to any other dollmakers that may be lurking here. ;)


Blessed Be,

~Falcon
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Re: Any Dollmakers Around?

Postby AdastraJunction » Sun May 17, 2015 2:50 pm

I have made several for people who asked (commissions). They are called Art Dolls and can be fantasy dolls like the Froud ones or animals, dragons you name it. You'll find a lot of good tutorials on DevientArt and many who sell them on Etsy. Wendy Froud also has a few dollmaking DVDs you can purchase from her website which are amazing, she shows you step by step.

Before delving into this I recommend practicing your clay molding skills on different types of Epoxy and Polymer clays (all of them are different!). Epoxy clay only has a 1.5 -2 hour work time and is for skilled artists, wouldn't want you to waste money if you don't think your skills are up to the task. You can use any gauge wire or armature wire. I use 14 or 16 gauge and double it up (wrapping around itself), it creates stability but still able to bend well without snapping. Also when making art dolls like animals you must be sure you weight the bottom end with polyfil beads since the head will be heavier. Use as thin a layer of clay over your foil base as possible!

I have tons of tips but everyone has their own method. Seek out the tutorials!
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Re: Any Dollmakers Around?

Postby Falcon_Heart27 » Sun May 17, 2015 10:26 pm

AdastraJunction wrote:I have made several for people who asked (commissions). They are called Art Dolls and can be fantasy dolls like the Froud ones or animals, dragons you name it. You'll find a lot of good tutorials on DevientArt and many who sell them on Etsy. Wendy Froud also has a few dollmaking DVDs you can purchase from her website which are amazing, she shows you step by step.

Before delving into this I recommend practicing your clay molding skills on different types of Epoxy and Polymer clays (all of them are different!). Epoxy clay only has a 1.5 -2 hour work time and is for skilled artists, wouldn't want you to waste money if you don't think your skills are up to the task. You can use any gauge wire or armature wire. I use 14 or 16 gauge and double it up (wrapping around itself), it creates stability but still able to bend well without snapping. Also when making art dolls like animals you must be sure you weight the bottom end with polyfil beads since the head will be heavier. Use as thin a layer of clay over your foil base as possible!

I have tons of tips but everyone has their own method. Seek out the tutorials!



Thanks, Adastra! smileylove I'll definitely browse around on DA, can't believe that didn't occur to me sooner. I've already considered Wendy's DVDs, but they're quite out of my budget range, so perhaps that'll be a "wishlist" kind of thing if I decide that I'm serious about this new hobby. I really think that I am, though, especially if I get the right supplies. Right now I'm sculpting "practice busts", but out of the wrong kind of clay (it's Crayola brand air-dry, the only thing I had handy) so it's kind of an uphill battle (the little pieces get so brittle! My guy's pointy ears keep breaking off halfway through drying) but I was too impatient. :roll:

Anyway, can't wait to actually settle down and do this properly.
Thanks for the advice!


~Falcon
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Re: Any Dollmakers Around?

Postby chocokitty » Fri Jun 10, 2016 6:19 pm

Hi there! I definitely wouldn't call myself much of a dollmaker or anything like that, but I've made a few of the creatures like you're talking about -- it's a lot of work, but the finished product is always so worth it. Mine are only ever made as gifts and DEFINITELY not professional, but I can suggest a few things:

My favourite product to work with is Paperclay brand air drying clay. It's super easy to work with, reconstitutes with just a touch of water, can be sanded with minimal toxic effects to give a smooth surface, and takes a wide range of paints. I've found it's especially good if you're just planning on them sitting around and looking cute. I'm not sure how durable it is, but it tends to dry rather lightweight (especially if you use armatures and aluminum foil interiors). Despite this, It's worth noting that without an interior armature, your doll is going to sag. I'm not the best seamstress and definitely not a dollmaker, so I usually bypass this by making dolls at are meant to lie down or stuffed tight enough that the tension keeps them in one spot.

Another product to consider for sculpting is Sculpey and similar polymer clays. I'm not particularly fond of them myself -- I have a hard time smoothing out the sculpt, reducing seam lines, and not squishing things! However, I have used it to make a doll before. For as popular as it is, the fumes from it baking in your oven are toxic and you must clean any dish you bake it in extremely well (it's a plastic) but there's no other way to cure it, and it turns out rather heavy. The powder from it if you sand it is toxic as well. It usually only takes well to certain plastic-based paints like acrylic, and I've had a hard time myself trying not to burn the product while baking it, and even when I do I sometimes find that it's still soft enough to accidentally score with a stray fingernail. These are just my personal troubles, it seems, as polymer clay crafts are still extremely popular! A tip if you choose to use polymer clay that I've recently discovered -- you can use baby oil to smooth out the surfaces! It seems to dissolve a bit of the clay (as would water with stone or paper clay), so expect a mess, but the oil is extremely helpful if you like polymer clay!

As far as other things that I do in particular, I usually sew a very basic body as I'm not a skilled seamstress, invert the ends of each limb, and use super glue to hold the sculpted piece in the "sleeve" of the fabric.

Like I said, I'm not a professional and all this is from personal trial and error -- but I hope it helps, and best wishes to you in your own artistic adventures!
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Re: Any Dollmakers Around?

Postby Katrinkah » Mon Jun 13, 2016 1:42 am

Sounds cool, post some pics when you finish a project :)
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