What is an art doll, you ask? An art doll, is an object of art, rather than a toy. They can be made if different materials, including: polymer clay, wax, wood, porcelain, natural or synthetic hair, yarn, wool, felt paper clay, or fabric. They usually require some kind of a skill to complete, weather sculpting, painting, or costuming, and are usually one of a kind. Because they are OOAK - one of a kind, they can fetch high prices. The mass produced dolls you find in stores are fine, and less expensive, but isn't it more fun to have a one of a kind in your home? The thing I have enjoyed about making my own dolls, is that I really had no idea what I was doing when I started, and the more lopsided and lumpy they are, the more character it adds. I have loved watching them come to life.
I have to say, I believe art dolls are always in fashion. I have trended through many Halloween decorations over the years, but the look of the art doll is something I have held on to, even when I have decided to, "be done," with other items in my Halloween collection. It is timeless, and a modern-day throwback.
Before I started my dolls, I watched a few youtube how-to videos, but the process seemed a bit long and drawn out. I am always looking for a cheap and easy way to do things, and I believe I have found it!
In this tutorial, I am only sharing the basics, and giving you creative license to do whatever you want with what you create. You may be pleased as punch that you did it yourself when you are finished. I know I was. I have never seen the art dolls I created. That makes them even more special to me.
I knew I wanted three dolls, to represent my three kids.
You will need:
Styrofoam balls - for the head and base, possibly the body.
Styrofoam bricks - for the body.
Styrofoam tools - optional, but kind of helpful.
Das Clay to cover the styrofoam and dowels.
Dowels - (I used barbecue dowels from the grocery store.) for the legs and neck.
Hot Glue or Tacky Glue - To hold the heads and bodies in place. (I didn't do this, but should have.) and to glue fabric on for clothes.
Strong but bendable craft wire for arms (and hairlines if you want).
Craft paint and paint brushes.
Fabric scraps or paper for finishing.
I had most everything on hand. The only things I didn't have on hand was the DAS paper clay, and the styrofoam tools. I got the clay at the craft store, and used a coupon. I think I paid between $4 and $6, and have ton left over! This is what you are looking for:
I found it here on Amazon also.
I got the styrofoam tools at the craft store as well. The tools were kind of helpful, but not totally.
They are HERE on Amazon as well.
Set your styrofoam out, and decide what size you want your doll to be. My dolls started out much smaller than they ended up. Choose a ball for the head, a ball or part of a brick for the body, and a ball sawed in half for the base.
Choose the size of the arms, neck, and legs. Tuck your dowels in, and see if they feel rightly proportioned. I didn't glue mine, because I was wishy-washy, thinking I might change my mind, (and the glue was on my second floor, and I on my main floor, was feeling lazy). I should have just trusted the proportions I chose, and glued it (after step 3).
Cut a piece of wire, that when folded in half, is still long enough to be the proper length for an arm, and still go into the doll by about an inch. I decided I wanted my dolls to have exposed wire arms. You can cover the wire with clay if you want, but I didn't want to deal with fingers and all the detail.
Optional - I stuck wire into the into the head of the girl doll to create a hairline and pony tails. I had never seen that done before, and wasn't sure if it would work, but it worked beautifully!
Cut or shave your styrofoam down to the size you want it to be. You can do this with your tools, or a kitchen knife... even sand paper or a file. I did like the sanding tool. Remember, the clay will help even things out.
After you have shaved and shaped the styrofoam into the shapes you want, stick your dowels and wire arms in, and make sure the doll can stand up on it's own. When I made the basic structure of my first doll, I thought wire was going to work for the legs, and it was no where near strong enough, so I used dowels.
Glue all your pieces together.
Get a small cup or bowl of water. Dip your fingers, and wet the styrofoam. Break off a small piece of clay, and massage it in your hand for a second, to warm it, then spread it over the moistened portion of your styrofoam and or dowels. Repeat these steps for the entire doll and base. You might find the clay to be a bit lumpy. You can smooth it out easily, by wetting your finger, and running it over the clay. You can also add additional clay to make things like noses. I didn't do this, because I wasn't entirely sure where my eyes and mouth would be when it came time to paint. Be sure to keep any unused clay covered, as it will dry out if exposed to air.
Let it dry for a day, or according to package instructions. The color will be light when it is dry.
Paint the body. I painted skin color first, then added hair and clothes over the top of the skin color. I liked using gloss paint wherever possible, because it gives a more, "finished," look. For the eyes, dip a toothpick in paint, and dab it where you want the eyes to be. Draw the mouth with a toothpick as well, practicing on a paper first. For the cheeks, find the color you want (I used the same as the mouth color), and add a small drop of it to white paint. Mix well. Daub a paint brush in it, and daub it on a paper until it is nearly dry, then daub it on the cheeks of the dolls. This will make for a transparent, blushing look.
Dress your doll!
For the Mummy, I simply painted the face arms and base, because I knew those would be the only things showing, and then I tore strips of white fabric, and started gluing them in place using a hot glue gun and wrapping. It couldn't be any more simple. This doll was so fun to watch come together.
For the Witch, I found a black flower in my scraps, and glued some black fabric into a cone and attached it to the flower to create the hat. I then glued it on the head. For the skirt, I found some old lace, and gathered and glued as I went.
Dracula might be my favorite! I painted the basics on him - black pants and base, white shirt, black hair blue vest, then using a toothpick, I painted the gold buttons of his vest, and the medallion around his neck. I decided his pants were too low, so I painted another black band around his waist, helping the proportions to look better. I held fabric next to him, and figured what I thought would be the appropriate cape length and width. I then cut out a shape that I thought would work.
I have a very important tip that I used with Dracula's clothes. I was not about to line or hem his cape. I used Fray Check.
You can also find it HERE on Amazon.
I just ran a thin bead along the entire perimeter of his cape, and the raw edges ribbon of his cape collar, and the lace of his shirt collar. The fray check works like a sort of glue, to seal the fabric in place, and now it won't fray, but will look crisp! The ribbon and lace were each hot glued in place as well.
My kids got so excited when they saw these characters. The dolls were way less work than I expected, and they turned out more adorable than I ever could have imagined! This is a project I will for sure tackle again! I might even let my kids do it...
Thanks for stopping by.
Have a Happy and Creative Day!