Monday, December 30, 2013

Tip For Smoothing Clay

Smoothing and Leveling longer clay surfaces. I did discover by mistake that if you put some clay oil on your finger (I accidently got some on my fingers while placing a drop in a lid to work with and did not want to waste it) and then rub the surface, you can level & smooth long sections of legs and arms easily. I usually have arms and legs that slightly "roll" up and down along the length of the limb. I used to spend a lot of time scraping them smooth after baking, because trying to drag unbaked clay just deformed the shape I had worked so hard to sculpt.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Making A Armature For Small Scale Dolls

Ever wished you could watch a doll maker construct an armature? This video demonstrates the process for a doll that is approximately 7 inches to 11 inches tall. Smaller dolls use smaller gauge wire but the process is the same.

You may find it helpful to hold the armature up to front, back and side drawings or photos of a skeleton to get the correct proportions and curve to the spine, neck and legs. You can find 7 and 8 inch ones here:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

More About Hands

This video is an introduction to the volume and basic shapes of a hand. The sculptor is using Super Sculpey Firm Gray, an oven bake clay that is softer clay than most polymer clays used for OOAK doll making, however the forming of the hand is the same. Also demonstrated are practice sculpts of mouth, nose and eyes.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Augmenting An Armature With Brass Tubes

Sometimes a doll needs addition support, such as an arm that is going to be holding a weight or a leg that is going to support the entire sculpt. There are lots of circumstances where you may want to augment your armature with a brass tube. This doll maker shows how to handle a brass tube when using it over a wire in a doll's armature:

To see a photo of the armature shown click on this link:

Then check this blog's Index for more about the topic Armatures.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Polymer Clay - Baking, Strength and Color

Testing polymer clays for strength and color after baking was done by this doll maker using FIMO Classic, FIMO Puppen, Sculpey Premo, Cernit, Kato and Prosculpt. She discusses bake temperatures and  FIMO clay mixes too (a blend of FIMO clays; Rose Puppen, Classic Flesh and Classic White). She shares her results here:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Rules Of Thumb For Sculpting The Human Figure

This sculptor describes the 3 key areas for successfully sculpting your doll; proportion, the main body masses and balance. You can read his easy to understand rules here:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cleaning Clay Residue From Food Processors

Cleaning your clay (food) processor tip: After conditioning some green clay in my processor today, I needed to make sure all the green was out so that future projects would not be green! After scarping and cleaning as usual, I wiped the inside with a paper towel and it still had some green on it. I poured a little mineral oil in and wiped all of the inside using a paper towel and then washed with dish soap to remove the mineral oil, and no more green!

Looking for a glass bowl food processor? Do an internet search for 'glass bowl food chopper' to locate one. They do make them, but sometimes are hard to find.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Products For Making An Under-Sculpt

Some doll makers use polymer clay over their wire armature to make an under-sculpt. The clay under-sculpt is baked, then covered with another layer of clay. The covering clay does not bond with the under-sculpt, but you can use an application of liquid clay as an adhesive.

Some doll makers use scrunched-up foil as their under-sculpt. Others use epoxy sculpt products.

A relatively new product, Sculpey UltraLight, is a lightweight and extremely soft clay that bakes so hard that it won’t crack or break, even in larger pieces. The manufacturer said that UltraLight is a great replacement for foil under-sculpts on wire armatures and when covered with a layer of polymer clay, the UltraLight chemically bonds together with the covering clay. It is much lighter then epoxy sculpting products.  


Monday, July 29, 2013

Sculpting Tiny Toes

This dollmaker shows how he sculpted toes on his very tiny 4-5 inch dolls:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Get Information About Dolls Using Ball Joints

This link takes you to a request page to receive some ball jointed doll information; a PDF file titled "Zen & the Art of Articulating Dolls Using Balljoints" . If you are thinking of making this type doll you may find the information helpful:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Problem: Doll Has Tiny Dark Specks On It

Polymer clay attracts lint from clothing like a magnet. Do not wear fluffy or dark clothing. And cover your clothing with a white smock, lab coat or large white cotton blouse.

While sculpting, use baby wipes to regularly clean your hands, work surface and tools.

Keep a separate ball of clay for cleaning. Use it to remove the dirt that magically appears from nowhere off your hands and work surface. You will see that, over time, your ball of clay will be completely dark and dirty.
  • While sculpting, roll your dirty clay ball over your hands and work surface, pressing it well over and under your nails.
  • Put any scraps or leftover clay into your dirty clay ball. Use the clay from the ball for making under-sculpts, skulls’, and for making a bases for your dolls.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Constructing A Base

Just to get your imagination going, see how this doll maker used wire, epoxy and paper clay on a circle of wood to construct a base for her doll:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sculpting Celebrities

So you want to sculpt a likeness of a celebrity? I say go for it but read this blog post first:

Friday, June 28, 2013

Painting A Geisha Doll's Face

Here is a step by step demonstration of applying the paint colors and shapes to an Asian face to transform her into a geisha.

Monday, June 17, 2013

How To Make A Ball Jointed Doll

What is a ball jointed doll (BJD)? Here is a nice explanation:
And here is a step by step tutorial on the process of making a BJD:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

More About BJDs

This web site discusses making a ball jointed doll and uses a proportion chart for a 5 to 7 year old child. Check it out here:|en&tbb=1&ie=shift_jis

This doll shows how she used steel springs to assemble her BJD instead of elastic:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Polymer Clay Iris

'Marble Method' is what this doll maker calls her technique of making an iris with a pupil from polymer clay. If you have trouble painting your small scale doll's iris, you will want to try this technique:

Friday, May 31, 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Craft Wire vs Beading Wire

When you are making hand armatures, fairy wings or mermaid fins they usually call for small gauge and/or colored wire to construct them. The problem is that all metals corrode and when the wire we are using is close to the surface of your polymer clay or TLS, the corrosion may cause the clay to crack. Lots of inexpensive craft and jewelry wire is available. They are made from a variety of metals; copper, brass and other base metals like tin. These wires are soft (jewelry wire is rated from soft to a hardness of 5) and will make rounded shapes easily. Harder wires make sharp angles but are springy so you must need to push them beyond where you want it to end up.  Some are coated to make them tarnish resistant. You can also coat wire with glue (such as Beacon Gem Tac or Crafter's Pick Ultimate that adheres to metal) or Rust-oleum spray paint to inhibit corrosion). Here is a link to some information about craft vs. jewelry wire that you may find interesting when you are making decisions about which wire to choose:

Using Polymer Paste Adhesive

Kato Poly Paste is a heavy-bodied adhesive used to attach cured and uncured pieces in any combination. Unlike other adhesives, Poly Paste fuses two pieces of polymer clay together and creates a permanent bond. Ways to use Poly Paste include repairing cracks, creating texture and gilding when mixed with mica powders. It will not run when applied to vertical surfaces. Excess Poly Paste can be removed before baking or after baking by trimming with a knife.

In order to take effect, Poly Paste must be cured. It may be cured between 265F and 325F for 10-30 minutes; time and temperature depends on the recommended curing temperature of the polymer clay used.

Here is a short video demonstration of the properties of Poly Paste. You must register but viewing is free, just click on the arrow:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Eye Shape

This link is to a tutorial on drawing an eye. The sculpting process is basically 'drawing' the eye outline on the clay, sculpting the convex and concave curves, and then painting details of light and dark tones so there are two drawing steps to making your doll's eyes. This tutorial explains the drawing steps:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ribbon Roses

Want to make those silk ribbon roses you see on dolls dressed in lavish period costumes? Here is a photo tutorial demonstrating how to make one:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Make A Doll's Hand With An Armature

This photo tutorial is a step by step WIP for making an armature for a hand and how to add clay over the wire.
For larger dolls, you may want to try using an armature like this as you can get stronger fingers and lots of detail. Some doll makers use them in smaller scale dolls too. Try it to see if it will work for you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Taking Better Photos Of Your Dolls

This link is to a blog post on how to get rid of pink or yellow tones from your doll photos by adjusting the type of lighting you use:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How To Make Tiny Buttons

I like this photo tutorial...great tips from this doll maker about making buttons out of polymer clay for your small scale dolls.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Tutorials About Making Fantasy Fins & Wings

There are many ways to make wings or fins for a fairy or mermaid doll. Something fun to 'play' with...who has every seen a real one? Let you imagination go free!
Liquid Polymer Clay:
Transparency Sheet:

Smooth, Smooth, and Smooth Some More

A smooth doll looks so much nicer and is easier to blush andpaint. You can smooth while you are sculpting polymer clay or after you have baked your doll. Here as some smoothing aides to try:

Smoothing unbaked clay with alcohol or mineral oil
After the sculpt is completed, you can gently wipe larger areas of the unbaked clay with alcohol prep pads (get at a pharmacy) to smooth, remove fingerprints and lift specks of dust. Some doll makers use a mineral oil based products on a brush (such as baby oil, Sculpey Smoothing Oil or hand lotions).  There are many products used by doll makers; however, just keep in mind that mineral oil based products and alcohol based products soften the surface of polymer clay so read the ingredients label and use with a light hand and with some caution.  Experiment to see if you like what they do.

Smoothing partially baked clay with Sculpey Clay Softener or a mineral oil based based product and extra fine grit sanding pads (such as Magic Eraser) to smooth partially baked clay. The doll is coated with the softener or oil prior to sanding. The clay is very fragile at this stage so be extra cautious.

Smoothing cured clay with Acetone: To finish smoothing your doll, use a Q-tip dipped into acetone (get a hardware store). Acetone dissolves the surface of polymer clay so only use a tiny amount. Don't acetone the face because you could lose the doll's features that you worked so hard to sculpt. If you get too much acetone on the clay, it will leave a whitish layer; you have to immediately wipe it off and redo.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Another Method Of Sculpting A Hand

This tutorial demonstrates sculpting a hand by attaching separate fingers to the palm. Try them all and find what works for you.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Series Bake? Partial Bake? Spot Bake? Cure?

Confused? These are terms you will see used by doll makers to describe baking their polymer clay doll as they are sculpting it. Each technique has a purpose depending on what the person is trying to accomplish. Here are our attempts at some 'not-very-technical' descriptions of these  terms:
partial baking = baking raw clay at a lower temperature then the manufacturer's directions for a short amount of time to firm-up raw clay but not cure it, so the clay is 'firmer' but remains very fragile.
Use = to begin a series baking sequence or to ready raw clay for using a craft knife to shave off clay; such as for finishing fingers, etc.
series baking =  is partial baking done more then once. Use = firming a part and then adding new raw clay parts, such as firming a torso and then adding limbs or hands, and re baking.
spot baking = is using a heat gun on a small 'spot' to partial bake only the top layer of raw clay (super heating is a special spot baking technique but using a much higher temperature). Use = make a place on a raw clay doll stable so doesn't deform when sculpting another place.
cure = is baking at the full recommended temperature for the full amount of time (per depth of clay) to harden and strengthen polymer clay. The time and temperature is written on the clay packaging and is different for different brands or type of clay. Some doll makers cure each part rather then partial bake as they use the series baking technique. Use = the final bake before the last smoothing of a cured polymer clay doll by scraping, sanding and finishing with acetone.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Baby Head - WIP

This video is approx 30 minutes long and demonstrates each step.  Bring it up to full screen; it's great for follow along sculpting. Try it!

Making A Foil Undersculpt

When making a doll from polymer clay, it is best to keep the clay about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick so that it bakes uniformly. To do that, you form an under-sculpt over your armature wire. The under-sculpt can be made of polymer clay, sculpting epoxy or foil. It also provides a firm surface under the soft clay as you are sculpting, helping to avoid distortion. This doll maker demonstrates making a foil under-sculpt for a baby doll's head:

About 3 Of The Liquid Polymer Clays

The three liquid polymer clays we know of are Kato Liquid Polyclay, FIMO Decorating Gel and Translucent Liquid Sculpey (often referred to as TLS).  Kato, FIMO and Sculpey liquid clays are different products and have different uses. For example, Sculpey can be used as 'glue' between layers of cured and uncured polymer clay.
Unbaked, FIMO Decorating Gel looks clear, transparent and the viscosity is thin whereas Kato and TLS are rather opaque, white and the viscosity is thick. When baked, FIMO is clear, shiny and has some flexibility. The Sculpey and Kato stay a little cloudy, have a matte finish and expand a little  while baking. Of course, the translucent quality of any liquid clay depends the thickness of the application or the type of material you add to it such as, metallic powders, paint or glitter. 
To learn more about these products, see them used and the results of their qualities that were tested, check out these web sites:

Friday, March 1, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

Everyday Items To Use As Sculpting Tools

You do not need special or fancy (maybe expensive) sculpting tools to begin modeling polymer clay. There are lots of items around your house or that you can find that will work very well. This article, with photos, shows you some examples:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Visualizing The Mass Of The Human Head

Sculpting a realistic human head is a challenge as nothing is more complex. There is a book, Drawing the Human Head by Burne Hogarth, that illustrates concepts of form and proportion as well as artistic anatomical facts. We found that approach helpful and are able to apply that method of visualizing the masses of the human head, the face and its features to sculpting, perhaps you will too.

Here is a YouTube video with a quick introduction to the major masses of the head:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Selecting Fabrics For Miniature Costumes

I wanted to share these articles on fabrics to use for costumes, Both are discussions about fabric types and some of their properties.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Making Feet Too Small and Hands Too Big?

A common mistake for beginning doll makers is misjudging the correct length of hands and feet to sculpt for their doll. If we use the height of our doll’s head as the unit of measure for average foot and hand length you can calculate them with these proportions:
·         A doll’s foot is slightly longer than the height of its head and about half a head wide at its widest point. Female feet are slightly narrower.
·         A doll’s hand is about 2/3 the length of the head.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Problem: Messing Up Your Doll When Posing It

When you are bending a completed doll into the pose you want it often results in messing up the clay that you spent so much time sculpting. Try these techniques and see if they help:

To help elevate that problem try doing this:  when you are making the wire armature, bend wire at all the joints before you put any clay on it. The wire will ‘remember’ and will bend easier.

If you are making an under sculpt, apply the clay over the armature wire and bake it; leaving the joints free of clay. They will bend easily because the wire remains free of clay. After you have applied a layer of clay over your under-sculpt and the bare wire 'joints', move the joints a tiny amount at a time. By bending the wire several times, waiting between movements, you allow time for the clay to firm up. It takes a few bends to get the doll into the pose you want.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sculpting A Basic Head Shape

Having problems shaping your clay into the correct human head shape before you add the details? Here is a drawing tutorial that my help you visualize those basic shapes and then mark the placement of the hairline, eyes, and nose on the clay:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

How To Sculpt Hands

This photo tutorial is a step by step demo for creating small scale polymer clay hands:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Proportion Calculator

This calculator has you enter the sex, general age (newborn to elderly) and height (in centimeters) of the doll you want to make; then it calculates all the dimensions of the doll's body parts for you.
For doll makers here in the US, you need to convert the doll's height from inches to centimeters first.
Here is a inch to centimeter conversion table:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Don't Know Where Shadow & Highlights Go?

This video is demonstrating the use of opaque artist's oil paint on a metal miniature (do not use oil paint or mineral spirits on polymer clay). However, if you are not familiar with painting you may find this tutorial informative. The explanation of where to place shadows and highlights is very clear. Doll makers use transparent washes of color on polymer clay (using either acrylic or heat-set oil paints) so the color would be very subtle but the concept is the same. Hope you find this helpful!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

2-Part Mold Making

If you ever want to make mold of something, there are several easy-to-use materials that are commercially available: 
  • Sculpey Mold Maker is a product that is baked in an oven and when cured, will remain somewhat flexible. Use corn starch as a release agent.
  • Another product is Amazing Mold Putty that air-drys in about 5 minutes. You must work fast because of the short set-up time when using this product. The release is Vaseline.
The suggestion we have is to add 'keys' to your mold; keys are used to line-up the two halves when pressing polymer clay in the mold. To do that, you simply place a small wood or metal bead in each corner, and follow the directions above.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Whats Blushing?

Blushing is the process of adding shadow and highlights to make a doll's features and other details stand out; it is what gives cured polymer clay a more realistic appearance. Whether using acrylic or heat-set oil paints, the process is basically the same.

You must thin down your paint color to make it flow on (washes) and quickly remove some of the color to leave a light layer with no hard edges (feathering). In folds and creases, paint the color wash in and then dry brush to feather the color out. On larger areas, pounce on (and off) with a mop type brush, cloth, paper or soft cosmetic sponge. This can be done several times to achieve the depth of color you desire.

Some flesh shadows are a pale pinkish color and some are red-toned brown. For example, a pretty fairy and a rugged cowboy would have very different applications of shadow color. What paint color you choose depends on the effect you want to achieve with your doll art.

Once you finish the shadow, you apply thin washes to add color where human skin is naturally reddish in tone (think make-up shades). You can add accent colors around the eyes, and for men, a darkish 5 o'clock shadow.

Most new doll makers are timid when applying color to their finished dolls or their paint is too thick. The best advice is to play around with color washes to learn how to use them, and how they look, on polymer clay.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How To Make A Shoe Pattern

If you are not sculpting a shoe on your doll's foot but want to make a shoe from thin leather or fabric, here is a photo tutorial that shows you how to make a pattern to fit any size doll:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Understanding Anatomy

I showed you my favorite proportion charts and now I want to share my favorite site about anatomy. This information will help you with your sculpts. There are 7 parts; be sure to check them all out:

How To Apply Thin Layers Of Heat-Set Paints

These YouTube videos show several ways of applying heat-set paints. Both demonstrate a pouncing technique. The dolls in the video are much larger vinyl dolls than our small scale polymer clay dolls so remember to scale down your brushes and sponges for the size of your sculpt.

To make transparent paint for polymer clay dolls, premix heat-set paints to get the color of your choice; make it dark because you will be adding the paint to a medium. Then, add a tiny amount of your color to Genesis Thick Medium until you achieve the level of color with the transparency you desire. If you want to use Thinning Medium, be sure to follow the recommended ratio of 60:40 paint to medium (to ensure that it will dry).

Tools: The glass dish in these videos is a candle plate; find them for $1 at a Dollar Tree store. Tiny watercolor mop/wash brushes work well but for really tiny heads, I use a cosmetic sponge cut into pieces. Look for the smallest flexible palette knife in the shape shown in the video.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Problem: Paint Flaking or Fading?

The paint you select today will determine how your polymer clay doll may look in the future. In the Guild's opinion, heat-set paints are best for polymer clay sculpts because the paints are stable and permanent and form a bond with polymer clay. Some polymer clay doll makers report that air-dry paint colors tend to fade out over time, change when exposed to sunlight, or even flake off; this includes both acrylic and oil based paint. Heat-set paint resists fading because it has a UV blocker in it. However, other doll makers prefer air-dry paints and use them all the time.

Be sure you understand the properties of the paints you choose in order to get the best from them. Click on the topic Painting in the Blog Index to bring up all the posts about painting with both air-dry and heat-set paints.