How I Art Doll
By Kelsey Wilkins
A reference for poseable art doll crafting basics.
I have been making art dolls since 2015. They are very complex projects that require skills in multiple art fields and take a lot of patience and perseverance. The style of doll that I make requires the use of these skills: painting, sculpting, basic construction, sewing, trimming fur, understanding of anatomy, problem solving, and I suppose you could include photography in the list too. You’ll also need knowledge of many tools and materials. The fastest I ever made a doll was 2 weeks, my sheep doll in 2015 with a very simple design. I meticulously timed the making of my Halloween dragon made in 2016, for a total of 30 hours. Generally, a doll will take me about a month or more to complete. Surely I will get faster with experience, but I will always take time and care to make something excellent and special. If I’m gonna spend a long time making something, I’m gonna make it good! When I made my first doll, I was impatient so I rushed and cut corners, and I later regretted that I could have done better. Make something you can really cherish and be proud of, for yourself, cause you’re awesome. ♥
What is an art doll? They are dolls that are hand made pieces of art, often made with a wide variety of materials. I’m not sure where the line is that seems to cross into plush/stuffed animals and sculpture.
Although they are not toys, some artists make their dolls sturdy enough to be handled by kids.
The way I make my dolls is not the only way to make dolls, it’s just what works for me, the creative methods that I enjoy. Experiment and find what works for you! The purpose of this guide is to help you get introduced into making poseable art dolls.
My goals for my guide have always been:
1. To hopefully save others from heartache caused by catastrophic crafting failure. My first doll was a bit of a disaster and fell apart.
2. To hopefully save others from wasting money on doll materials that end up not working. It can be expensive to get started, especially if you have to keep replacing parts.
3. To encourage others to create and explore creativity.
Table of Contents
Special thanks to:
Anya Boz - anyabozartist.com - Her art dolls were the first ones of this kind I had seen, poseable, intricately detailed, furry, mesmerizing. I had gotten into raising rabbits and tanning their fur, but I had no kinds of projects in mind for the fur. So I googled something along the lines of “projects(or was it art?) made with rabbit fur”. One of Anya’s earlier works made with rabbit fur upcycled from a rabbit fur coat showed up and I nearly died. I was instantly hooked on the concept of poseable art dolls. I’m not sure how I never saw or heard of these things until 2015. I think her firework tiger is my favorite of her work.
Magweno - deviantart.com/magweno - Her tutorials got me started - Part 1: fav.me/d38jnod and Part 2: fav.me/d38johg As far as I know she doesn’t make art dolls anymore, I miss her, the whole art doll community misses her, we hope you’re doing well and enjoying life Maggie! ♥ Her ivory and gold kirin Elmis was always my favorite of her work.
More Tutorials on Deviantart:
XPantherArtX - How I learned to make whiskers out of paint brush bristles: fav.me/d5djid9
Rhiannon Wolf - How I learned to flock fur: fav.me/db5i5ia
NecoStudios - How I learned to save my tails from being too pointy: necostudios.deviantart.com/art…
EvieCat - Another tutorial that helped me get started: fav.me/d65xnrl
Links to Related Resources:
Garie’s at GarieInternational - Thorough strength testing for several brands of polymer clay. This is what helped me decide to go with Sculpey Premo! brand: www.garieinternational.com.sg/…
The Blue Bottle Tree - An amazing resource for all things polymer clay: thebluebottletree.com/ Their test on 41 different sealers for polymer clay: thebluebottletree.com/testing-… Their test on spray sealers for polymer clay: thebluebottletree.com/spray-se…
New Clay News - Another good resource for clay, including air dry clays: newclaynews.blogspot.com/p/wel…
And that’s the end of my tutorial!
I hope you enjoyed my guide, whether you’re here to make a doll, here to find techniques for use in other art forms, or just here out of curiosity!
Go and make something fun!