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.
Jan 15, 2015
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
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
FIRING YOUR SCULPT
DOING A QUICK SET
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!
FIRING YOUR DOLL
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.
MAKING YOUR OWN TOOLS
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.
MAKE MERMAID SCALE TOOLS
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.
WHY YOU SHOULD HANG YOUR SCULPT
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!
SMOOTHING YOUR CLAY
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!