Doll making series: what clay I use?
Behind the scenes Doll making series

Doll making series: what clay I use?

doll making clayWhen I started to create art dolls, I was stunned by how many supplies there are in store. Well, not here where I live, but in general. If you have an internet connection and a credit card everything is accessible, right? You can go with air dry clay, oven baking polymer clay and air dry casting slip. If you are more advanced you can use resin or, in my opinion, the master level – porcelain.

My first dolls were unlike anything I’m creating now. At that time I didn’t even know that interior art dolls existed at all. Theatre and puppets were my game and I never turned my attention to something different. But the choice of materials I’ve used for these dolls was a little bit scarce. Cheap air dry clays and papier-mâché allowed me to create rough creatures with a lot of texture, so I didn’t experiment with supplies a lot.

early dolls

Early creations for theatre

After a year or so, I became a little bit tired of my monstrous creatures, but curious at the same time. What else is out there? I started my research. Again I was stunned by a variety of art dolls, styles, genres and possibilities. Internet became my teacher. Many attempts to create my first art doll, months of trials and errors searching for my style, sculpting weirdly shaped heads and arms, till I was happy what I created. Well at least then I thought so. Looking through my first dolls I feel a bit ashamed that I didn’t work harder. But this period was truly important – I tried so many new materials and I found the best ones which I still using today.

Before we begin, I would like to draw your attention to something important. This is only my personal preferences and what works for me, don’t necessarily will work for you. Please have that in mind and if you’ll have any questions or observations leave a comment down below!

La Doll Premier – air dry stone clay

premier clay

Get this clay here.

From all dry clays I tried, this is the best one so far. I’m using it for almost a year now and I actually see the improvement in my work. Especially in faces, with this clay I’m able to sculpt the tiniest details thoroughly. Delicate elements like eyes, lips or nose, which aren’t bigger than a centimetre in my dolls, sculpts with ease. If you’re a doll artist and you never tried this clay before, I strongly recommend you to do so. It may change your work, like it did mine.

PROS
  • Easy to work with, extremely lightweight, suitable for really detailed and delicate dolls.
  • It dissolves in the water so you can use it as a coating with smooth finish or smoothen the surface using only water and your fingers.
  • Sands easily to the almost shiny finish.
  • Fairly strong when it dries, I had accidentally dropped finished pieces many times, but it never got broken.
  • Easy to carve.
CONS
  • A little bit pricier compared with other air dry clays.
  • Comes in a smaller package, usually clays are packed in 500g pieces, but this one is only 300g.

La Doll – natural air dry stone clay

la doll clay

Get this clay here.

Almost the same as La Doll Premier, but somehow I like Premier better. It still is very smooth, lightweight, easy to work with and all, but for me, Premier feels a little bit smoother and whiter. I’m using this clay more to sculpt the dolls’ body and Premier for the faces, hands, and feet.

PROS
  • Easy to work with, extremely lightweight, suitable for really detailed and delicate dolls.
  • It dissolves in the water so you can use it as a coating with smooth finish or smoothen the surface using only water and your fingers.
  • Sands easily to the almost shiny finish.
  • Fairly strong when it dries, I had accidentally dropped finished pieces many times, but it never got broken.
  • Easy to carve.
CONS
  • A little bit pricier compared with other air dry clays.
  • Not as smooth and white as La Doll Premier, but difference is almost invisible.

Creative Paperclay

paperclay

Get this clay here.

It was the first better quality air dry clay I used for my dolls. When I tried it I thought there is nothing better for dolls on this earth! Well, of course, I was wrong, but it’s still a really good quality clay. When I started using it my dolls improved beyond recognition. Beforehand I worked with papier-mâché and polymer clay, so Paperclay was the first step on the path to creating better dolls.

PROS
  • Easy to work with, really soft, smoothens well.
  • It’s suitable for beginners, especially for those who want to try air dry clay for the first time.
  • Sands easily, it’s good for carving too.
  • Sticks to almost every surface without glue.
CONS
  • Even though it sands very easily, the finish never gets as smooth as with air dry stone clays. Those small fibres annoyed me once my dolls got better.
  • Sometimes it tends to crack when it dries. I experienced that a few times, you can fix those cracks, but it’s still irritating.

If you want to learn more about doll making and create your own doll using the same techniques I use, check out my Doll making classes!

Doll making series: what clay I use? by Adele Po.

What do you use for sculpting? Maybe you have some recommendations for me? Share it in the comments. Also don’t forget to subscribe to my mailing list. Get the latest news and stories about my work or daily life straight to your inbox!

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Handmade OOAK art dolls by Adele Po.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Chrystal Creswell
    February 28, 2017 at 2:46 am

    Hello! I am so excited to find you nline. I have been wanting to try to create my own OOAK dolls and have been researching the best supplies. Since it’s my first time, I have purchased the paper clay and am looking forward in creating. Thank you for your blog posts. Very inspireing for me.

    • Reply
      Adele Po.
      February 28, 2017 at 6:11 am

      Thank you for a lovely comment! I hope my articles will help you to figure out some things in doll making. Good luck on your creative journey. 🙂

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