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Armature to Art Doll Part 2

Part two!
Part one: [link]

Special thanks:

Notable links:
Mark Dennis: [link]
Sandra Arteaga Dolls: [link]
Jack Johnston Artdolls: [link]

UK Online supplies:
Mohair Bear Making Supplies: [link]
Lakeland Fly Tying: [link]

I hope this tutorial helped you, if you make a creature with it then please please send me a link to it! I'd love to see what comes of this!

is a group I have started to bring together all the incredible art dolls found on this brilliant 'site! If you have a doll, need some help or just want some inspiration then swing by and have a look!


What is Fimo?
Fimo is a polymer clay (meaning it's plastic based) which is baked in a standard home oven at 110ºC for half an hour to cure it. It feels a little like elasticy play-dough when fresh and sets hard when baked.
Other affordable craft polymer clays are Sculpey and Primo, you can use both of these for this tutorial quite happily.

Can I use another type of clay for my doll?
You could use air drying clay too. That would be fine, just skip the parts about the oven!

I don't have pin heads, what do I use for eyes?
You can use beads, marbles, bits of Fimo rolled and cooked earlier (remember Fimo doesn't need to be baked as long if it's thin/small) etc. Anything round, really! *MaryBunnie uses "Czech glass drop" beads and loves them.

I know, it's frustrating! It's also hard to know if you have the right one as there is such a lack of distinction in florists. If it feels papery then it's right, if it feels smooth and is shiney then it's wrong. If you're buying online then try to look for 'stemwind'. If you're not buying online then look in Poundland (in Britain), local florists, gardening centers, haberdasheries and anywhere that sells fake or real flowers, they will usually have some.

I hate floral tape!!
That's fine, it's not for everyone, if you honestly can't stand it (or can't find it) then you could also use masking tape, but it's stiff nature could be even more frustrating. If both masking tape and floral tape send you into a frenzy then you can also go ahead and not use either! It just means the fimo won't stick to the wire and could prove even more frustrating... :D

What gauge wire do you use?
I don't know! (That's helpful isn't it :giggle:)
I used to buy my wire in my Universities art supplies shop and it didn't have the gauge marked on it, or the material (zinc, aluminium etc) If you're buying in that sort of situation then use your own judgement to decide on the best wire for you. If you're making a large doll, you will need a strong wire. If you are making a small and delicate doll then you'll need a smaller wire! I use a mix for my dolls, thick for the armatures and thin for the wings.
Recently I moved home and there aren't any craft stores here, so I have to get creative with my suppliers! My local gardening center sells gardening wire, for tying up trees and other established plants, and I use that for the armatures. It is a LOT stiffer but also harder to nick and therefore lasts longer. So far it's working excellently, but I do have to use pliers to form it.

What gauge jewelry wire do you use?
Once again, I don't know. I would say it's a medium gauge. It comes on a spool, it's cheap, I used to use copper but now I use... Well it's gold in colour, so it could be brass! I'm not sure! You just have to go to your supplier and see what they have.
A helpful hint: my supplier also stocks floral tape and the wire I use and the tape are next to each other - this means the wire could also be that wire you get for putting in flowers to form them. Try looking in a florist.

What gauge are the tubes?
3/32" or 2.4mm aluminium tubes.

Where can I get good fur?
I buy my fur from Mohair Bear Making Supplies, who are a British company who order their fur from Germany (some of it anyway). Sometimes if they don't have what I want (a rare occurrence!) then I go to Christie Bears. If you are shopping online then look for teddy bear supply websites, they usually have the highest quality fur.
You can go to haberdasheries and look at their fur, I sometimes go to a dressmakers supplies store as they stock soft furs for bridal capes and things.
If you live in America then I'm told Jo Anns and Michaels often have nice fur. Also try Etsy, there are a number of sellers on there. ~mammalfeathers buys her fur in scrap packs from a supplier on Etsy and loves it, as the mixed variety inspire new designs.

What can I use to make the pattern?
You can use any cottony fabric you can find. Old pillow-cases, old t-shirts, I use the lining of some curtains that were being thrown out of my old house. They were huge so it's lasting me a long time! (It also means all my patterns are spotty which is quite nice.)
I have also used newspaper a few times to make patterns, or just newsprint paper, and measured the doll instead of wrapping the fabric around it.

How do you dye fur?
.... *deep breath*
Faux fur is impossible to dye. I have tried hundreds of methods and read through hundreds more tutorials, and everything is kind of half baked. Essentially the plastic that makes the fur doesn't take dye but does stain, so there are methods like sharpie dying or acrylic washes. (*thedreamwolf used copics to colour Afalon's mane!)
However I have found personally that sharpie dying is very expensive and acrylic washes make the fur go 'crispy'. If I have to do markings on a doll I will use Dylon Fabric Paints. What I do is take a small amount on a paintbrush and brush it very softly onto the fur, making sure there aren't any globs, then brush it more vigorously with a nail brush.
The fur stays very soft, maybe not as soft as the original fur, but compared to dyeing with acrylics and sharpies it's a lot better. Of course the more paint you put on then the 'stickier' it gets. Also Dylon fabric paints are heat set so it means if the fur gets wet at any point then it's going to be ruined (but it would be ruined whether or not it had paint on it!).
Of course you can use RIT dyes on natural materials like mohair, but I think mohair fur is pretty gross! I tried using it on faux fur and it doesn't work of course, it just dyed the backing of the fabric.
*WoodSplitterLee uses Tulip fabric spray paint to colour her dolls, which she bought in Michaels, but Britain doesn't have a Michaels so I haven't tried them yet. Tins of fabric spray paint are available from a number of suppliers but they're too expensive for me to buy for the dolls at the moment.
My best advice is to just buy fur in the colour you need! I know that's useless but it really is something that should be considered. However I always buy short pile almond coloured fur and it takes the dye very well.

How do you make wings?
That's a secret! ;) If you've got this far and made a doll I'm sure you can work out a method using your knew found knowledge.

How do you stick feathers on?
Using hot glue primarily but recently I've been using fabri-tac (it's an American product and expensive to buy over here but I found some and tried it out! Turns out it's exactly the same as UHU glue, or bostik multi-purpose glue.)
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TarantuladyArt's avatar
I've been using your wonderful tutorial as one of my resources, trying to build my first art doll. Thanks so much for sharing this. I didn't want to do a body stocking, but my fibers were getting pretty out of control, so I whipped out my trusty felting needle kit. The felting needle is AWESOME on the poly batting, because you can shape the crap out of the form. Like, if you want the batting to be thicker at the top of the armature and thinner at the bottom, you can just pinch the batting up and poke it into place. It also helps because you can make parts really squishy with a tougher outer "shell" of tightly felted fibers. Thanks again for the resource!
devinecrafts's avatar
Thank you for sharing. Watch just for your generosity with secret knowledge :)
koribrittain's avatar
Thank you for putting this out there. I have been researching and getting glimpses of how to make the armature, but nothing this complete. You really filled in some gaps.
DemiDemon82's avatar
Thank you so much for this tutorial!! I've been itching to make my first posable doll. I've done his head but had no idea about how to sort his fur out. Sending mahoosive hugs. Just want to add you're an amazing artist and a real inspiration xx
Crystalheart9's avatar
Awwww, I could hug you for this tutorial.  I've been wanting to create my own fabulous art doll and had no idea what so ever how to put it together.  Thank you so much for all your hard work creating this very informative tutorial:hug:  Your griffin turned out beautiful.
Great tutorial!  I can't wait to give this a go, especially when I get to the KitKat and Guinness part!  It was a Guinness ..right??  This tutorial makes this project much less daunting and I have most of the I'm going for it!!!
Thank you!!!
DragonTheOverlander's avatar
I have been looking for a good quality, legitimate tutorial ALL OVER the web. But alas, I could not find one. But NOW I found this one, which is MEGA AWESOME!!!!!! Lol

In the past, I made some kind of ugly looking dragons. Well, the first one and second one were ugly, but the rest of them were a bit better. But, I have been using wool roving on them instead of fur because I found out the hard way, that if you make the creature too small, or you put too much wadding on it, the fur makes it look too fat and disproportional. That's why I've been using wool roving. And, I was never good at making patterns so the fabric would either hang loosely, or it would be too small, and I'd have to keep cutting random pieces to sew on to make it fit. °~°

But now, I've found your tutorial, and your style of making patterns is easy, has less seams, and anyone can do it. So thank you, your tutorial has helped me out big time, and I made my first furry critter. Its a spotted griffin, (fake fur) with paws in back, and talons in front. Also, I used white chicken feathers on the wings with gold painted on the tips.

Totally awesome. Full to the brim with creativity.
RaptorRemixed's avatar
I got mad and ate a rock

smashfold's avatar
Thank you for this :)

One of the awful thing about being an artist is, as you say in your first tutorial, "I want to make one of those!" comes straight after admiration. Ive been making plushies since seeing them online, but now I've started I've become enamoured of this slightly more earthy and magical art doll. I can't wait to give this a try.
Mi-chan785's avatar
thisi s sooo cool!
Keldain's avatar
Thank you for sharing! :)
Evangeline40003's avatar
Thank you so so so much for these tutorials!! I never even thought to look for them for some reason but always wanted to learn how to make stuff like this~ I am so excited now, thank you!! :D :hug:
XenoBaby's avatar
this is amazing. thank you so much for sharing. ive been looking everywhere for some kind of tutorial on how to put fur on the sculpted pieces. i want to make a character from my dungeons and dragons game i play frequently.  
Hoshiiyo's avatar
Thank you very much :D 
Lost-in-the-day's avatar
Yay for part 2, just as awesome as part 1!
christafinias's avatar
thanks for sharing your tutorials, very kind of you!
AmethystCreatures's avatar
Just wanted to note, if anyone wants to make their doll softer but not lose the armature's stiffness, you can wrap wool or I use pipe cleaners around the aluminium wire so that you cannot feel the wire through your toy stuffing and faux fur! It also has extra wire in the pipe cleaners for extra support! :3

Violet OOAK Poseable Doll 5 (Comp) by Twisted-Distance  
Scyther-X's avatar
I made my little zucchini with the help of this!…
Thank you! :D
Magweno's avatar
:D What a cutie! Congrats!
maryssoftmounts's avatar
This was done so professionally!  You did a great job at explaining some very  complicated things.  I found it easy to understand and very helpful-thank you so much!
Thank you so much for posting a tutorial!!!! :D
Ive wanted to make posable creatures for a while, i had a vague idea of how to begin but now i know all the fine tuning. Now at least i can make the attempt. thank you thank you thank you!!
Magweno's avatar
FluffyGerbil's avatar
It seems like forever since I've started searching for tutorials on this, I'm so greatful I found this! I will have to try this now, thanks!!! Wish me luck lol
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