Jan 15, 2015

About Patricia Rose

Patricia Rose is the primary instructor.  She's been in the dollmaking business for over 25 years, excelling in both porcelain and polymer clay dolls. She's won many awards including several "Dolls Award of Excellence" and the "Doll of the Year (DOTY)" at the NY Toy Fair. She's produced several professional lines of dolls through great companies like Paradise Galleries, Homeshopping Network, the Miss America Pagent dolls, Ashton Drake and has done a one of a kind show for Walt Disney at Epcot. She has been featured in multiple doll publications worldwide. She's an icon in the doll industry and loves sharing her trade with other artists. She is multi-faceted and always has many projects in progress. She has a website, a blog and an eBay store. Her primary site is patriciarosestudio.com

 Join the other student who follow her blog along as she teaches all the tricks she's learned over the years. She's an excellent instructor and she is continuously recreating herself. She's proof that you can make money doing what you love and she wants to share this with other artists. She loves her job and the enthusiasm her students bring to her life.
Patricia offers many tutorials on this site for free.
Patricia has a newsletter she sends out by email once a month that will announce any mold sale or a new product release. Write her and sign up for her mailing list if you think you'd like this email newsletter information. patriciaroseart@gmail.com


Beginners corner, firing, costuming and paint


In the first PR Fairy DVD, she used a toaster oven but they spike temps and are inaccurate. I no longer recommend them! The doll is also too close to the elements. You just can't trust a toaster oven! Try the Hamilton Beach Convection Oven. Many doll artists use them and love them! They're plenty big for your dolls and the convection circulates air around your doll keeping the temperature even. I personally use the biggest convection home oven range I could buy. 




If you're a clutz and you've finally gotten the face or fingers just like you want them, you can do a quick set with a heat gun before working on another area. This will just firm the outer layer. DO NOT hold the gun on one area! It gets very hot and will burn your doll. Instead, move it side to side until the clay loses it's shine. That's enough to firm it up so a gentle tap with a finger won't mess it up! Need a heat gun? We sell them in the store! See link in right column!





Put your work in a cool oven, turn on to 230, time it for 18-19 minutes, when finished, open door slightly, turn oven off, leave in oven until completely cool. Scrape lumps off your art piece. Sand with 320 - 600 grit fine wet/dry sandpaper. Rinse paper often and rinse doll with water when finished. Clean lightly with acetone only with a cotton ball if needed to remove white scratches or lumps in the bigger areas of the doll. Put art back in cold oven, set on 270 degrees, once it gets to that temp cook for 30 minutes or longer based on how thick your doll is. When finished, turn oven off, slightly open door again and let cool completely. Paint with genesis paints, put back in oven and fire for 5 minutes at 250 degrees, let cool completely. I watch these firing like a hawk. I wear the timer so I won't forget the doll! I’ve found that an embossing gun cures the genesis paint faster and is a better way than putting the doll back into the oven for that paint firing. They sell them in stamping sections at many local craft stores. I personally now use a digital convection oven and the temp is accurate! The reason I advised you to use lower temperatures to fire your work is, most people do not have a convection oven that will circulate the heat evenly or a digital oven to be totally accurate.





If you lay your doll flat to fire her you can prevent crispy fingers and toes by covering them with a heavy layer of polyfill stuffing.


Use these links to order Polyfil or a Digital Thermometer:



Fire your work in stages. Fire the first time in a cool oven at 225F for five minutes. Turn the oven off and open the door partially to allow your sculpt to slowly cool. Do not handle your doll until it is completely cool! This is called a soft bake. Only the outer clay is firm. Here’s why you fire lightly the first time- It's a great way to freeze the areas you have perfected and it's also easy to scrape off the cellulite on the bigger areas of your doll now. Use a xacto blade and scrape until the whole area is white. If it is white, those are high areas, if it is still flesh in between the white that means that you have low places that do not blend smoothly. So keep scraping girls! A light cost of acetone takes the white scraps completely away. Now you can continue to add clay to areas that aren't finished (ie- hands) and fire again. You can do several soft bakes but your final bake needs to be full length at the recommended temp for your clay. The core has to get hot enough to cure the doll. Do not add up your soft-fires and subtract that from your final bake. Your doll will crack and crumble in time and you will have an unhappy customer!



Q: Why do my fingers break easily?

A: It's probably one of two things- you're not baking the clay long enough or your choice of clay is not strong enough. Properly cured clay is usually strong enough to withstand some mild mishandling, even the fingers. You can get more info on the different clays in the Clay section. For bigger dolls, you can also use fine wire in the fingers.



Very little material or accessories are needed to decorate these figures. You need to think outside the box, like they say. Meaning, everyday items around your home can have endless finds in them. Look at everything a little closer now, think if you turned it a different way or only used a thin edge of something, or cut something up to look ragged like a fairy gown… there’s the magic. Shop at home first before you spend too much money or stock up on items that the scale would never be right anyhow.
Miniature shops will have a major comeback now that polymer fairies are catching on everywhere. Plan to spend some time in one and be sure to take your strong reading glasses along to see the detail that went into some of the finest artesian work you will ever see. While there, ask about local miniature show that might be coming to your area. You’ll get some hard to find deals at shows! And you’ll get to meet the artist!
Fabric Sculpting is no mystery. Just get an embossing gun and burn the edges of fabric. Be careful not to do it on the doll. Get under fabric and heat it to make small holes and crinkled up effects. I’ve found that chiffon and tulle netting give the best effects. Try not to burn to the dark stage or you’ll have to spend time cutting it off. You don’t want your fairy to look like she just escaped a burning forest!
And here is a really good one... tiny waist look in scale if you gather a skirt on them, but first carve the waist line on the doll down some before adding the fabric. Alien it neatly at the waist line and then apply heat to the waist and hip areas with your embossing gun (depending on the frbric). Most fabric will flattern down but burn if you get too close, so be careful.
Use a stiffening product like Stiffy Stuff and water it down a little to make the fabric flow evenly. For a dress, sometimes it needs to be pinned to the table to bring the fall gracefully down until it dries. Put the doll on a block of styrofoam and pin the train of the dress down.
Other times, as in corsets, you can put the clay on the bodice and impress designs into it to look like lace, then fire it on the doll with the embossing gun carefully. I also do the shoes that way instead of taking a chance by putting her back in the oven.
The best fabrics are the light ones as in chiffon, tuelling, lawn cotton, thin kid leather, thin dainty silks and mini laces from miniature websites who specialize in tiny trims.


Invest in some basic colors of Genesis heat set paints. They are much nicer than acrylic paints and you can do fine details with them. They are silky and rich. You can thin them down, with the Genesis Glazing Medium or Thinning Medium. Dry brush all the blush areas or use a dry dauber. You them on for five minutes at a low temperature, and that makes them fairly permanent. These paints are costly but they are worth it. You only need a few colors to make many new colors and they last a long time as you only use a little. Genesis Mixing chart at bottom of page.
You most likely will be making sweet fairies or mermaids if you are following Patricia's work. Painting has a lot to do with your final look. Don’t use black eye liner or lashes. We are not making Vegas divas. Use burnt umber. And remember that heavy blue eye shadow went out with bell bottoms or was it Disco? Keep her lips as natural a shade of pink or soft mauve as possible. Heavy cheek blush does not look natural either, keep it simple and you’ll have an out in the woods fairy.

Beginners info makiing tools and more


Hard to find tools? Make your own tools from clay and household items. A sewing ream ripper is a wonderful sculpting tool. A very small crochet hook is useful inside ears and navels. A wooden cuticle stick is great. The plastic tube inside a bic or other ink cartridge is useful in making mermaid scales. A rolling pin makes semi-soft clay softer by rolling it out in a plastic freezer bag. Old small paint brushes clean up lumps on your dolls very nice. Old party dishes and cups make great palettes and thinner holders for Genesis heat-set paints. And if all else fails make the tools you want in polymer clay. Do get a good pair of scissors, wire cutters, small needle nose pliers, sewing needles, small paintbrushes and Xacto knife. Everything else can be made or found around the home.



Mermaid scales are easy to make if you’re neat! You can make a scale maker out of a small hollow cylinder of brass or stainless steel. Cut the end off at a 30% angle. Or just use a small drink straw cut at the same angle. Too much flex is not a good thing, I prefer the metal tools and it’s hard to find a small straw in diameter. Remember necessity is the mother of invention.



Armatures, keep it simple. A little 18-28 gauge steel, brass or aluminum wire is all that is needed. Make it look like a stick figure and make sure you run the wire out one leg then make a loop that sticks out the top of your dolls head. Run that same wire down the other leg. Twist the arm wire into the heart area of you piece. Give it a spiral twisting all the way down from the top where the loop sticks out of her head to the waist area. See the patterns in the right hand column for more help. Get the Beginner's Fairy DVD for more info.


To gain control of your soft clay, build an underarmature. Start out with the armature you want your doll to be. Save all your old and dirty clay for this. Wrap the clay around the heavier parts of the body and remember not to build it up too much because your good clay will cover this later and you'll want a thick coat. Keep all the joints free of clay touching each other, as on the elbows, knees, waist, shoulder joints, upper thigh joints, etc.

Remember to keep the ankles and wrists very thin or omit adding hard clay altogether.

Hang this armature in an oven and bake it very hard at 300F for 40 minutes. Now you know your core is cured!

You will have about 2 weeks to finish sculpting your poseable doll and fire her. Otherwise, the cured clay will start leaching the oil out of the new clay and it will become dried out and crack.




Use a sculpting stand to keep your doll at eye level and to keep your hot little hands off of it! You can gently hold her with a couple of fingers while she's suspended. Simply remember to add a loop at the head of your armature. No more flat spots on your dolly!




The best thing to smooth the clay is a hardwood tool, clean short stub oil paint brushes and the side of your thumb. Don't add anything accept pressure!


Smoothing is done in three ways-

  • On the bigger areas, use the side of your thumb to smooth out. In tight areas like the face, use an old, short, flat, small 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. If you hold you work up to your light just right and see some sharp edges and depressions, those will be the troublemakers later when the first firing is done and they will require sanding and scraping.
  • Sand with 320-600 fine grit wet-dry sandpaper. It's black in color. This is done after the first firing. Be gentle with your work, it's very breakable at this point. Scrape first as usual, then sand with the paper. I put a small bowl of water in front of me and dip the paper into it. You'll get the doll very wet, but that's OK. Keep rinsing the sandpaper to clean the debris off of it. Use only small pieces of paper at a time. Double over the edge and make a small point with the paper if you need to get into a tight area. If the area is too tight to get with this method, use small fine files with curved edges on them. Work on the doll until she is a polished piece of art.
  • Only after everything is finished should you use a light coat of acetone to eliminate the white scratches. Dip the medium soft brush into a cap full of acetone and work a light coat in a small area. Do not let it run, that's an indication of too much acetone, and that will make that white haze as it dissolves your polymer surface. (see troubleshooting) To fix that, should it happen, you'll need to scrape most of the white out after it has dried and the clay has hardened again, that could be an hour or more. Then use that same light coat you where suppose to use in the first place. If all else fails and your marks are still showing... the Genesis paint glazing medium will save it some. Fire your doll hard at 270 in an accurate temp. oven. Then go to the painting stage.




Don’t be lazy with your sculpting! Fingers are round, not square. This is one of the things that separates the professional from the amateur sculptor. Go the extra mile. Your paying customer knows the difference. Why do you think the BIG girls get the BIG money for their work? It’s hard work and they deserve it! If you are making a doll in just a few hours, you're not spending enough time on it!


Always work with a reference. Memory work LOOKS like memory work! Get familiar with all the curves and dips of the body by joining Female Anatomy for the Artist. They have thousands of nude pics that you can download to your computer to get just the look that you want!


If the armature is poking it's ugly little head out all the time, it is trying to tell you something. Here is what to do:
  • The wire of the armature is a size too large or more. Use a smaller wire in the next creation.
  • It is often best to use a smaller gauge wire in the arms and one size larger gauge for the legs.
  • If you move the pose around a lot, the wire is what you are moving actually, and the clay will be smashed in the process, so plan out the pose before you start sculpting.
  • If you have hot hands and touch the clay a lot, it softens the clay and handling it will make the wire pop out also. So here it on a chain from the ceiling and touch is as little as possible... Or get a stand like I use to keep her off the table and out of your hands as much.
  • Hang your dolly up in a pose close to what you want, walk away from her for a day. The clay will firm up and you will have less to struggle with the next day. Do like I do, have 5 stands on your desk with about 8 dolls you are sculpting all at the same time. Sometimes you think the doll looks great but if you leave her alone for a day and come back to work on her later, you will instantly see what could be improved.
  • If you use a mold and are having trouble stitching the parting line sides together, roll a little snake like line of clay to cover that line and work the clay in. It's a better way of not smashing the sides of the doll. Plus when fired it will not have a crack there as it often does.
Here are a few pointers to help you.
  • Do not use sculpey polymer clay products for your nice finished dolls. Sculpey and even Super Sculpey is great for kids and craft projects BUT it streaks, cracks, shows imperfections and is brittle when fired. Use ProSculpt, Fimo, Puppen, Kato, Cernit or a combination of these different kinds of polymer clay.
  • Use fresh clay each pressing. The more you use the clay in a mold the more the oil is soaked out of the clay and into the plaster mold. It dries out the clay! Then when fired or even before that it will crack in the joints.
  • Sometimes spraying the mold with water just before you press will make the doll easier to release. Or, you could lightly dust the mold with baby powder or cornstarch just before pressing. Make sure you get almost all the powder out of the mold before you press or it will leave white dust on the doll. DO NOT USE ANY KIND OF MOLD RELEASE AGENT ON THE MARKET. YOU WILL RUIN THE MOLD! You can also stick the mold in the freezer for about 20 minutes before releasing the doll to firm up the clay.
  • Make the doll as even with the top of each half of the mold as possible, less will ooze out when you press, so there is less chance of the two halves sticking inside the halves and not releasing the doll after you've pressed it and opened it. Each mold is different and has it's little tricks for releasing it. The same thing happens to ceramic and porcelain molds. You will have to learn to work with the mold you use.


There are many different types of clays and differing opinions but this is a general overview. Cernit, Kato, Fimo Classic and Puppen Fimo are among the strongest. They are also the hardest to work up because they are hard. Prosculpt and Fimo Soft are less strong but still a great choice and are easy to soften to work with. Prosculpt Light is the weakest of the Prosculpts but this can be strengthened by adding Fimo Classic or Cernit to it. This is where it's important to bake your clay correctly and your sculpt will be sufficiently strong to last many, many years. Sculpey and Super Sculpey are too brittle for the small details like fingers. Another tip for strengthening clay for delicate fingers is to add a pea-size ball of Sculpey Mold Maker clay to about a pound of your regular polymer clay. It's a rubbery consistency and it will allow your fingers to bend before they break and the small amount will not affect the color or transparency of your clay.
Many artists blend different clays to get the color, transparency, and consistency that they prefer. If you do this, always bake according to the highest temperature listed for the products. Under-cured clay is brittle and fingers will break easily. Also if the core is not cured, it will eventually eat the outer shell and your doll will become brittle and crack. Don't be afraid to cook your doll sufficiently. Keep two thermometers in your oven and watch it frequently.
  • Use a glass work surface. You can use a plate, a piece of beveled glass or a microwave glass base plate (easy to find these at Goodwill for cheap!). The glass is easy to clean (which you need to do often) and is also easily moveable.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before sculpting and keep wipes near for frequent cleaning of your hands and surface.
  • Don't use anything metal to sculpt, they leave a residue on your hands and your clay. Use hardwood tools as they have a natural oil that helps them glide across the clay. If they are varnished, take time to remove with acetone or it will leave deposits in your clay.
  • Cover metal tools or painted paint brush handles and the metal hub with masking tape. The clay eats the paint so tiny pieces of it fleck into your clay. Or you can cover the handles with clay and bake them. Just be sure the tool is oven safe (don't put the rubbertip tool in the oven!).
  • Wear light colored clothes to reduce dark lint transferring to your clay.
  • Clean your clay with an alcohol pad. You can them by the box at the drugstore. They are slightly abrasive and do a great job of removing surface dirt. They also leave the clay a little dry so that it doesn't attract lint/dirt.
  • Cover your work between sessions by placing it under a cake plate cover or covering with a plastic bag. You can find glass cake plate covers and cheese covers at most retail stores!  
Some plastics will leach your clay, making it crumbly and difficult to work with so once your clay is open, keep it in it's original package. Ziplocks seem to do okay but Walmart bags leach it. Avoid storing it on paper, cardboard or other absorbable surfaces. Also, keep away from direct sunlight and keep it covered so it doesn't collect dust.

Clays Available that I recommend


Did you know that you can color your own clay? Blend Fimo White with a little acrylic paint to make the perfect color of shoes, boots, clay corset, top hat, and more!
  Always have the right colors on hand! I recommend using  a color blending wheel so you can make the perfect color!
Try using a small food processor or coffee grinder to blend your clays evenly or to soften up your clay to make it easier to work with.
You can resoften your clay with a clay softener like Sculpey, or you can use a couple drops of baby oil. It doesn't take much! My favorite trick for softening clay is cut some up in tiny pieces, put in a freezer baggie and then put it under a heating pad for a hour on the lowest heat setting. It becomes pliable enough to mix together then.  Roll it out on a piece of glass with an acrylic roller. It will be easy to work with now. But remember in that soft stage, it is really wonderful to apply the clay and pose the doll, but I let it harden up to room temp once you have her in the pose you wish. If you move the doll around too much, it does not adhere to the wire well and will go limp in small areas. The wire might pop thru the clay at that stage.