Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Make A Light Tent

This link is to a tutorial on making a light tent from a cardboard box. Easy and inexpensive solution to taking great photographs of small scale dolls:

Some info on lighting and background: http://tekaandzoe.blogspot.com/2010/11/photography-studio-set-up.html

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Heat Guns

A heat gun is a helpful tool for setting up small parts of unfired clay without having to set any other part (to do that, cover the part of the doll that you don’t want to set with some aluminum foil).  A heat gun also cures Genesis heat-set paint. Some doll makers use a heat gun for a super-heating technique. Read more about super-heating here: 

How to choose a heat gun: Embossing heat guns are sold in stamping sections at many local craft stores. Genesis also makes a heat gun for use with their paints and can be found where Genesis paint is sold.  You can use a paint stripper heat gun that is sold in home improvement stores, but be aware that they get much hotter than the embossing heat guns sold for hobby work; hair dryers, on the other hand, have too little heat to bring Genesis paint to drying temperature.

Be careful. It is really easy to scorch the doll with any kind of heat gun!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Conditioning Clay By Hand

Most conditioning is done by working the clay with your hands until it warms and becomes soft and pliable. The warmth of your hands combined with the stretching and compressing of the clay changes it to a working consistency. You will know when your clay is completely conditioned because the clay's texture changes and you will be able to see and feel this change. To speed up the process, many doll makers use pasta machines, food choppers and commercial clay softeners as aides. To use the clay softeners, follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Some doll makers find using a dedicated electric food chopper is a helpful time-saver (never use it for food). When you're chopping clay to condition it, crumble the clay into the bowl and pulse the blades in bursts of several seconds, just until the clay is the size of a pea. The friction from the blades will warm the clay. You can over heat the clay so watch the clay and stop when it has been chopped into small bits. Dump out the clay and press the bits together, then continue conditioning with your hands.

Clay cannot get too conditioned, but clays get softer the longer they're worked and the warmer they get. If your clay is getting too soft you can firm it up by letting it rest for a while, even overnight, or chill it for an hour or so. Sometimes, the clay will be crumbly no matter what you do because it has been partially cured. This can happen if the clay has been exposed to excessive heat or ultraviolet light.

Check out this photo tutorial on conditioning and blending polymer clay: http://www.debwood.com/p199.htm

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Make A Multi-Strand Wire For Poseable Doll

When you make a poseable doll, choose a multi-strand wire for the armature. A multi-strand wire will take a lot of bending, whereas a single strand wire can be fragile at the point of the bend.

You can make your own stranded wire from brass, aluminum or galvanized steel. Choose fine gauge wire and twist 6 to 7 strands together.

If you don’t plan to incorporate a tube in the doll’s lower leg, the finished diameter of the multi-strand wire is not crucial. If you are planning on a rod and tube stand, the finished diameter of the multi-strand wire should fit into the size tube that you will be placing in the clay.

To make a multi-strand wire:
  • Cut several lengths of wire.
  • Double it over and secure the end of the loop over something stationary.
  • Pull against the wire to keep it taunt and twist all the strands together.
To make a multi-strand wire with a power drill:
  • Fit a hook into a battery powered, electric or hand drill.
  • Cut wire at least 8 feet long and fold in half.
  • Place the loop end in the drill’s hook.
  • Run your hand along the wire to even it out and tie the cut ends together, very firmly.
  • Secure the tied end into a vice or other holding device, or tie the cut ends around a stationary object.
  • Start the drill, pulling tightly against the wire to keep it taunt.
  • As the wire twists, it will shorten. Be prepared to move with it.
  • To see how firm the wire is, stop the drill to relax the tension. Do not over twist or the wire will start to ball up and get lumpy.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Problem: Cracking Clay

Cracks sometimes occur when you are bending a doll to pose it while it is still raw clay or when you are joining raw clay to some partially set clay. Cracks also occur when raw clay has been left exposed to the air. Sometimes the clay is too soft to fix the crack when it happens. It is best to set the doll aside and let the clay firm up before attempting to fix it.
Don’t attempt to just smooth over a crack. Use a sharp tool to carve out an open area.  Then, with a wood tool, press new raw clay into the open area to fill in any pockets. Finish the area by smoothing with your thumb or a filbert brush.
A tiny crack on cured clay is difficult to fix because you can’t carve out a hole. Try using a liquid polymer clay product on the doll and re-baking it (follow manufacturer directions). You will have to coat the entire doll to have a consistent color. You can also make a mixture of regular clay and liquid clay. Use the mixture to fill a crack in a cured clay doll but only do that on an area that is going to be completely covered.
The issue of cracking clay is discussed on this blog... be sure to read it: http://madsculptor.blogspot.com/2011/04/head-or-other-partscracking-issues.html

Monday, October 1, 2012

Need a Pattern for a Hat?

While we are on the topic of hats, I found a site that has patterns and instructions for 4 different styles of hats. Check them out: http://www.dollhouseminiaturesclub.freeservers.com/hat_styles.htm

Dyeing Tibetan Lamb Fur and Mohair

You can dye both mohair and Tibetan lamb fur for your doll's hair with Rit dyes. You can also use regular hair dye. Here are the instructions for both techniques:
For commercial hair dye

For Rit dye
 Decide on the color you want for the doll's hair. You can get a natural blonde color with a combination of yellow and tan RIT dyes. Don't use cocoa Rit thinking you are going to get brown, it turns purplish. The color chart links in previous posts about dyeing feathers should help you get just the color you want. 

Here is what you do:
  • Leave the fur on the hide.
  • If you have a large piece you can cut it into smaller pieces by cutting on the hide side only, Using a sharp blade, cut close to the hide surface, being careful not to cut the fur.
  • Boil some water; pour it into a large enough container to submerse the entire section of hide.
  • Before putting the hide in, thoroughly mix in some liquid RIT dye the color you want.
  • Put the hide into the dye bath and stir it around for 5 minutes.
  • Take it out, run clear water over it to rinse out the dye and hang it on skirt hangers to dry.
  • If the color is not what you want, you can re-dye it after it is dry.
Do not use a blow dryer on it. Air dry only.
Be sure to dye only bleached fur.
Sometimes it takes two dye baths to get the desired color.

For more detailed instructions, read this: http://dollmakersjourney.com/dyeingmohair.html
And finally, a photo essay of one doll maker dying some Tibetan lamb and mohair: