My Personal Note
Welcome to my website and the absolutely beautiful world of One Of A Kind (OOAK) art dolls. Part of my goal with this site is to not only have a place to display my art but to also share my personal trials and tribulation with my doll making experience. There have been so many wonderful artists that have shared their incredible talent with me that I feel this is just my small way of honoring them and giving something back.
Please bear with this site…it’s definitely a work in progress.
The way I have this structured is to provide you some of the basic things that must be taken into consideration when creating one of these dolls, and then some specific details about my own dolls, particularly my Lord of the Ring dolls which has turned into an all out obsession….lol. I love a good challenge. I have also created several tutorials for how I’ve created my dolls based on what has worked for me. As you gain experience you will find what works and what doesn’t work for yourself, and based on that you will eventually develop your own unique style. It really becomes a personal thing. At times this journey can be very frustrating but that’s all just part of the learning and growing experience. It is also the most amazing feeling when you finally break through and figure something out or actually create your very first doll (that you're actually not embarrassed to show to your friends). Just hang in there and you too will be creating beautiful One of a Kind art dolls. So grab yourself a nice cup of coffee and come along.
Happy Doll Making
BEGINNING THE PROCESS OF CREATING A ONE OF A KIND (OOAK) DOLL
Dolls can be literally created out of anything like fabric, wood, clay, plastic, porcelain, etc., from a simple felt doll to ones that are almost lifelike), and pretty much any combination of these different media. Dolls can be micro (< 2 inches tall) to life size and everything in between from dolls that are proportionally correct to a human figure or distorted from the human figure to create any manner of creature. Dolls can be rigid, not moving at all, to ones that are fully articulating like Ball Joint Dolls (BJD), or fabric/soft sculpt dolls that can be gently posed. As you can see the possibilities are endless, just use your imagination and let yourself go.
There are several places you can turn to start gathering information on not only the looks that can be achieved with the different types of media but to the physical construction of these dolls as well. Basically I started with the internet and my local book store. I came across two books by Susanna Oroyan, seen below that started to open my eyes to the wonderful world of One of A Kind (OOAK) Art Dolls and doll making.
In reading these books I not only discovered that there were literally endless possibilities and ways to make a doll, but I also got to see some of the amazing works from various artisans, like Judith Klawitter who creates Old World Santas that are just simply amazing.
Judith Klawitter – mixed media (soft body, hands and head clay, the animals are also made)
These searches also led me into the wonderful world of small polymer clay art dolls and to such artists as Patricia Rose, Julie Mansergh (Faeries in the Attic - FITA), and Nicole West, just to name a few of these amazing artists, and to cloth doll artists such as Antonette Cely and Lisa Lichtenfels, again, just simply amazing artist.
Patricia Rose (free tutorial on him and several others) – polymer clay
Julie Mansergh (FITA) – polymer clay
Nicole West - polymer clay (her work is just amazing)
Antonette Cely (fabric with clay sculpted face mask)
Lisa Lichtenfels (this is fabric – just amazing)
(again this is fabric – wow)
Basically what I discovered in all of this research was that there were many questions that needed to be answered before I could even begin to actually make an OOAK art doll. After looking at numerous ways for creating dolls my focus is using polymer clay because it’s very forgiving and its ease of use and multi-media.
DECIDING ON THE SIZE OF YOUR DOLL
So now that you have some inspiration and a vision of the doll you want to create, the first major thing to decide is how big do you want your doll. For me I started with dolls between 8 – 10 inches where I learned to sculpt a basic head to fall somewhere in that range and that can use a simple armature. But, if you want a lot of detail you will probably opt for a larger doll, especially if an elaborate costume is involved where the drape of the costume is important. Each of these dolls has various aspects that must be considered because it will determine what type of internal support will be necessary. Also something to consider, especially if you are doing a character doll or portrait doll you want the doll big enough to try and get a really nice likeness. It's far easier to sculpt that kind of detail into a face that is larger. Also, and not to discourage you as you start out, unless you are really good to begin with why frustrate yourself by starting out with something that takes time to master like a portrait doll. Take time to learn the basic skills necessary to sculpt a face, then after mastering the basics you can sculpt portrait/character pieces. Portrait sculpture is an art all to itself and requires tremendous attention to detail. A great resource for learning the basics and planes of the head and body is https://philippefaraut.com/store/, once you’ve mastered the basics he has DVDs on how to do portrait sculptures. I’ve purchased several of his DVDs and sculpting aids and found them to be extremely helpful in visualizing the surface angles and planes of both the head and body.
It is also recommended since the size of the head dictates the size of the body (for a correctly proportioned human) that you start by sculpting the head first and then once you have a completed head you are happy with to then create the armature for the doll. There are several tutorials available for free on the internet to get you started; you can get several nice picture tutorials of the process at http://patriciarosestudio.com/html/tutorial.html
If you are truly set on making the armature first and then doing the head, it can still be done but it will require you having scaled drawings and using something to keep the measurements in check, like calipers or dividers, more on the basics proportions of the head below.
A few years back Patricia Rose did a series of tutorials for the members of her website (which she has closed), but did one for a playboy bunny which is available for purchase. In this tutorial she gave very clean and concise steps for making a face, each stroke had purpose. I found this to be the best tutorial to get started on the basics of the face and when I start to stray, like recently, I go back to that to remind me of the basics. Portions of the picture tutorial is available below, picture sculpting tutorial.
TYPE OF MEDIA
Again, to start out with and to learn the basic anatomy of the face and human body you might want to consider using polymer clay because of its ease and flexibility. You can sculpt until you are happy without having to worry about the clay drying out, or removing too much material from say a wooden sculpt. With clay you just push, adjust, brush or squish and start again to your heart's content. Also with clay you can sculpt in incredible detail with pretty much any size doll you are working with, and the finished baked clay because of its translucent qualities, once painted can look incredibly life like as can be seen in the work of Michelle Bradshaw and Renata Jansen.
Michelle Bradshaw (can you believe these are made from clay – wow)
Renata Jansen (also some great tutorials)
TO MOVE OR NOT TO MOVE
Now that you have decided on the size of your doll, the next thing to consider is; do I want my doll be able to move or bend at all.
So, if the doll is going to move then it will be a mixed media doll or a ball joint doll. If it's not going to move you can sculpt the doll entirely of clay. This is something that must be considered at this time so you will know how you are going to create the support/structure for your doll.
TO STAND OR NOT TO STAND
The next thing to consider is do I want my doll to stand on its own. If you want it to stand and look natural you want the support to be invisible or what is referred to as a "freestanding" doll. This is important to consider at this stage because the support for the doll needs to be built into the doll, it cannot be added later.
I would recommend for your first few dolls that you keep the pose very simple. This will allow you to learn the muscles in their more natural state so you can learn how to sculpt them correctly. As the body is twisted or bent the underlying muscle also move and those need to be mimicked in your sculpt.
Also before you start "investing" more money into this hobby you really want to find out if it's for you, because like anything there will be cost associated with it. If you decide this is for you, and you've started to master some of the basics and now want to take on more challenging dolls, then a site dedicated to artist will be a must. These sites offer actual models in various poses that will allow you to see how the muscles move and what you have to sculpt. There are also a number of "virtual" pose sites that you can also join so you can get the necessary pictures of the pose you want. These sites offer the subject taken from several different angles so you can see the figure in 3D, a must for a sculptor. The virtual sites are extremely good and tend to be a bit less expensive and allow you to zoom in and completely examine the subject from every angle conceivable. This is a site I would recommend www.magicsculpture.com Also, as you progress you will want additional tools, sculpting aids and supplies, so this too adds to the expense.
So I hope you’ve found the information here helpful and your journey to create OOAK dolls. I hope that this has opened your eyes to this wonderful world and provided some inspiration.
So now that you are hopefully inspired and have a vision of the doll you want to create, let’s get into some of the mechanics of actually making the doll.
One final note: You might want consider joining one of the many OOAK doll groups that are on the net. It's a great learning resource because you can share ideas and techniques. It's also a lot of fun because you get to meet and talk with people from all over the world that share your love of doll making. Here is a site that I would recommend is www.ooakguild.com . There is also a group on ebay that you can join which has both collectors and artisans as members.
Up-date: Patrica Rose is back in Florida and has started her blog again with sculpting tutorials. She only has them up for the time she is sculpting them. If you want some really nice tips and sculpting techniques for FREE check out her blog, http://patriciarosestudio.blogspot.com/
This tutorial was created by Patrica Rose a few years ago when she was doing them for members of her site. Unfortunately she has closed that group, but the tutorials she did are available for purchase on her site. I found the Playboy Bunny tutorial to be one of the really good tutorials for getting the basics down for making a face. There are many others out there but I find this one to be very simple and clean. You will still need to get more detail for finishing the eyes, especially with the very popular inset eyes, but again follow this tutorial and you will be creating faces in no time. I really like the way she teaches, every stroke has a purpose and I would recommend purchasing some of her tutorials if you are truly serious about sculpting and taking your art to a professional level. Of course you can do it by trial and error but the process will take longer and you might really struggle with the anatomy.
One of the other things I really like about this tutorial is that it makes it easy to use simple nail head eye blanks ( see my tutorial on making them here), once the eyes are sculpted (see photo above on opening the eyes). Once the eyes are open you simply drop the eye-lens in where she sculpted the pupil, very simple.
The full tutorial for making this doll is available on her website for purchase. Again, I would also consider purchasing some of her DVDs on sculpting. What I really like about her instructional DVDs is that she sculpts young adults and children so her anatomy is very simple and clean. She does not get into doing older persons or character dolls so you can learn the basic anatomy first, then if you chose you can then learn to create those type dolls.
Much of what is posted here are my trials and tribulations with the overall process of how I'm making my dolls and, at least for me, what worked, what didn't, and what could be/ can be improved upon. Remember this is a journey and as things have developed the original thoughts have changes. There is no one single way to make a doll and as you experiment and become more knowledgeable you will develop your own methods. What I hope to accomplish here is to at least give you an idea of the issues that I needed to work out. I hope that if you decide to make an OOAK doll that this information will be useful to maybe help you avoid the pitfalls I encountered.
What is really helpful in understanding the proportions of the human body are drawing books for the human figure. They not only lay out the head proportions but all of the necessary body proportions from the face, to shoulder width, arm length, etc. Below are two books that I would recommend, especially the one on the right.
If you are making a doll that resembles the human form one of the most critical things to be concerned with are the proportions of the doll. If the proportions are not correct your doll will show it. Proportions are measured using "head" size; a typical male body is 8 heads tall, and a typical female can be between 7½ and 8 heads tall. As you can see from the other chart of the face, the face proportions are measured by eye width, this is for an adult doll, the location of the facial features on a child or baby will differ from this illustration. The first three exhibits came from the book on the right seen above. The illustrations in this book are wonderful and I think you will find them very useful as you begin the sculpting process.
Proportions for an Adult
It is also critical to have some good detailed anatomy books. These will be used to show the details of the skeleton, the underlying surface muscles and surface anatomy. They will complement the drawing books so that you will really see the "planes" of the head and body. This is a book I picked up when my daughter was getting her college books.
Now that you have the basic idea of what you want to create, the next step will involve creating the support or armature for the doll. I have prepared a group of progressive armatures that range from the most basic simply wire armature for very small dolls to very complex armatures for very large and mixed media dolls. These armatures are for polymer clay dolls and mix media dolls.
SIZING AN ARMATURE
Now that you have the finished head you can create the wire armature for your doll. There are many ways to make armatures that can range from ones that are very simple (basically a few twisted wires) to ones that are extremely detailed and will replicate a human skeleton. Lisa Lichtenfel’s technique creates an actual skeleton that is fully articulating and mimics the movement of a real skeleton. The first lesson will focus on a very basic wire armature.
To begin, carefully measure your finished head. Write that number down and then multiply it by either 8 (if you are making a male doll) or 7 1/2 or 8 (if you are making a female doll). Write that number down as that will be the size of the doll you are going to make.
Next, take your anatomy book or drawing book and make a photocopy of the skeleton from the front and side. Once you have the photocopies measure from the top of the head to the heel and write that measurement down. This measurement is needed in order to adjust the photocopies to the correct size for your doll. For example, if your photocopy picture measures 7 inches and you are making an 8 inch doll, you need to adjust them to measure 8 inches for your doll, here is the formula you will use to figure that out:
The size doll you want divided by the size you have multiplied by 100 will give you the percentage of either increasing or decreasing the photocopy. So for the example above:
8 divided by 7 x 100 = 114%
You will set the photocopier to enlarge to 114%. Measure the new copies to make sure the height of the skeletons matches the height of the doll you are making. So now you have the templates you will follow to cut and bend your wire.
Once you have your diagrams cut them out and mount them onto a piece paper so you have both views side by side. This way you have all of the views you need nicely mounted in one place so you can quickly compare your armature to the diagram to ensure everything is lining up correctly.
Please note that the tutorials provided here are for personal use only. They are not to be duplicated or copied in any way. It is my intellectual property. Also the reference material here has been purchased by me to aid me in creating my art dolls, as well as for aid in creating these tutorials to help you learn some of the different ways to make One Of A Kind (OOAK) art dolls. Please do not just copy the images here. Please support these wonderful artists and purchase their books if you are serious about doll making. They are well worth the investment because you will need them for more than just these tutorials if you are going to make these beautiful dolls.
Thanks for your cooperation and understanding.
To make a basic wire armature for a small polymer art doll is pretty simple, if you can cut and twist wire you are good to go.
You can use this armature for small dolls (i.e. something around 6 - 7 inches or less), any larger and the wire alone really isn’t strong enough to support the weight of the clay. There is a tutorial for a stronger armature that is available to my members. Membership is free, just sign up.
Take your wire and start to measure from a bit below the heel to the head and add about an inch, make a bend and end at just below the other heel. See diagram below.
Take the wire again and measure the piece for the arms as shown below.
Place the bend in the wire approximately 1 inch above the head and then make a mark with the sharpie marker about where the heart would be. Leaving a loop at the top, twist the wire down to the mark you just made.
Align the “heart” over the diagram again and using the sharpie marker make a mark where the hips would be. See diagram below.
Twist the wire to the mark you made.
Lay your armature over the diagram and make bends where the shoulders and legs would be. See diagram below.
Using the sharpie marker, mark the wires at the wrists and just below the ankle (about ¼ of an inch). Cut the wires at those marks. Bend the leg wires at the ankles to form a bit of a wire base for your feet.
Well there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.
TO MAKE IT FREESTANDING
If you want to make the doll freestanding you can add a piece of 5/32 inch brass tubing. Measure the tubing from just below the knee to the bottom of the heel. Cut the tubing using tube cutters or a saw for metal. Cut the wire that you are going to put the tube on so it extends about a ¼ of an inch into the brass tubing at the knee. Using the wire cutters crimp the tube onto the wire. See picture below for an example.
To construct a stronger armature for a larger doll (i.e. over 7 inches but less than 12), see the next tutorial that is available to my members. I would bump up to at least the next armature in this series because it defines the limbs and the bones to keep your doll in perfect proportion as you bend and pose it. This is one area that beginning doll artist struggle with so this will greatly simplify that issue.
More Advanced/Proportionally Correct Wire Armature using lollipop sticks
Strong/Proportionally Correct Wire Armature using brass tubing
Wire Armatures for Combination Soft Sculpture and Clay Art Dolls Under Construction
Also Note: My attention for the foreseeable future will be focused on dolls that range from 8 to 24 inches tall and ones that are made out of either all clay or mixed media dolls that use a wire armature for support. BJD are completely different from this type of construction and will not be covered at this time. If you are interested in learning how to make a polymer BJD, I would recommend Red's site, http://morezmore.com/myblog/2010/01/02/bjd-1/, Natasha is a wonderful artist and a very giving person. She has many great tutorials on her blog. Please stop by and check her out and while you are there you can check out her ebay store for things you will need to get you started.
Happy doll making.