Saturday, July 30, 2016

Tips For Smoothing Your Sculpt

On large areas of unbaked clay just use the side of your thumb or roll with a knitting needle. Many doll makers are using silicone tip tools to smooth small areas. You can use paint brushes too. One of our favorite doll artists said to try a short flat oil paint brush with stiff bristles first. Go in different directions to smooth, don't keep going the same way because it leaves ruts. Then use a small flat watercolor brush to pat down and feather over those areas. Smooth one area into the other. Get the clay as smooth as you can before baking.

Once you have baked your clay you smooth it by sanding and scraping. Hold you work up to a light to find any sharp edges and depressions. Scrape first with a sharp blade and then sand with 320-600 fine grit wet-dry sandpaper. You can sand and scrape after the first bake but be very careful because the clay is extremely breakable at that point.
To sand, use a small bowl of water and dip the sandpaper into it. You'll get the doll very wet, but that's OK.  Keep rinsing the sandpaper to clean the debris off of it. Make small pieces of sandpaper by doubling over the edge. Make a small point with the sandpaper if you need to get into a tight area. If the area is too tiny to get into with sandpaper, use small fine files with curved edges on them.
To scrape, it is easier to watch it done than to explain it. This is a video on making a baby but has information on sanding and scraping:

When everything is smooth and finished you can try a light coat of acetone or you can try baby oil. With baby oil you rub your finger over the clay to eliminate the white scratches left by the sanding. To use acetone, dip a medium soft brush into a cap full of acetone and work a light coat in a small area. Do not let acetone run. Too much acetone will make a white haze as it dissolves your doll’s surface. To fix that, after it has dried and the clay has hardened again, you'll need to scrape most of the white out (that could be an hour or more). Then use that same light coat you were supposed to use in the first place. If your acetone marks are still showing, you could try using Genesis Glazing Medium on it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Baby Mermaid Tutorial - Part 1 of 2 parts

This YouTube video demonstrates one doll maker's technique for sculpting a baby head and beginning the baby's body. She uses series baking to firm up the sculpted head and body prior to working on the remainder.
Part 2 is below. Be sure to watch how this tiny Merbaby is completed.

Baby Mermaid - Part 2 of 2 parts

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Problem: Gray Smudges

Three things to try to avoid gray smudges and other imperfections on your sculpt:

  1. Clean hands, tools and work surfaces frequently. Use moisturizing baby or hand wipes because they do more than remove dirt. Moisturized skin has a finer texture and doesn't capture dirt so easily so dirt won't transfer to the clay. 
  2. Metal tools will sometimes leave gray streaks on the clay too. Some doll makers advise not using metal tools at all and recommend sculpting tools made of unvarnished wood.
  3. When you apply raw clay (unbaked) to cured clay (baked), it sometimes leaves gray streaks. To avoid many of the gray smudges, you could try cleaning the cured surface with alcohol and then rub or brush lightly with a Polymer Clay Softener, and let it sit a while, and then apply the raw clay. Other doll makers always brush lightly with a Translucent Liquid Polymer Clay and then apply the raw clay.
  4. When you have completed adding raw clay and have baked the doll again, you could try sanding with wet/day sandpaper. Begin with 220 or 320 and work your way up to a finer grit. That may remove a gray smudge but will leave scratches. Scratches can be removed with acetone (see more about Smoothing for info on how to use acetone).