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Making a hand using a hand armature
Using a hand armature is completely optional. I tend to find myself using them mostly when the hand needs extra strength, such as they are holding something. But to be honest although its an extra bit of work to use one, I do find they force me to create a better looking hand than when I don’t use one.
So if you want to have one then this is one way to achieve it. In the tutorial below I am working with a pre-made hand armature. If you haven’t got one of these already then you should view my tutorial here on how to make one.
Work out your finger sizing. You can work out the size of her hand using her face. If you press your palm against your chin you can see your fingers end on the forehead. So just do the same for the doll and get the right sizing.
I have marked on the hand where the wrist starts and the palm ends. I also marked the fingers before chopping them to size
I used the dark vivid for the sake of the camera, you don’t have to mark it with such a dark colour.
Gently bend the fingers into the pose you want. This is where having a hand armature really makes things a bit easier, as the pose is done first and it will hold well.
Don’t forget fingers have two bends.
Before moving on, a quick test with the prop to ensure everything is right, and tweaking if needed.
Start adding the clay. Flatten a piece and wrap around the wrist and up onto the palm area. Smooth the seams
Pinch some of the clay up and onto the thumb area.
Add an extra ball of clay to fill out the palm.
Keep turning the hand around and sculpt from all sides.
Flatten a bit of clay into a sausage shape. Press on one side of the finger and then wrap the clay around and smooth the seam
Here’s a tip – when adding the finger sausages add to the harder to reach side. So if the fingers curve in you can add the clay on the inside, and then wrap them around ending on the outside where its easier for you to smooth out the seam.
Having trouble holding that little hand without it swinging around all the time? No problem – use a pair of hemostatic forceps. They are the perfect way to hold these fiddly little things
Finish each finger before working on the next. When you have all fingers in place you can add in the detail – knuckles, fingernails, palm lines…
Carefully check the item looks right with the prop. You may choose to part-bake it for 10min at 275F or 130C before adding it to your sculpture. To add I place the hand wire alongside the arm wire (making sure the length is correct) and use making tape to join together.
That’s all for this tutorial, I hope you enjoyed it. Questions? Feel free to use the comments below.
Fairy #30 Start to Finish Tutorial – Part 3
Blushing the sculpture
When you doll is all completed and you are happy with everything it’s time to blush. Mix some Genesis flesh, red and white together to get a nice reddish fleshy tone then apply to the feet, knees, leg bend, thigh lines, belly button, ribs, side crease, under breasts, nipples, collarbone, arm creases, fingers, palms, back line, and butt.
Work the blush into those areas and then smooth out. If you use too much you can remove it with acetone. Add any extra features like freckles, tattoos, fingernails and such now.
When you are satisfied with the result cook for 10mins to heat set the paints.
Remember not to hold the sculpt when it’s finished cooking, even parts that have been cooked previously become soft and fragile again with each cooking.
You can repeat the process several times to build up layers if you are not happy with the final layer. Acetone can also be used to removed paint after the cooking process
Adding the Hair
Now that your doll is all finished and painted it’s time to add the hair. You should not be planning any baking after this process as it can dry out the hair, so if you are thinking of making any clay clothing then you should do that first.
Apply a line of fabric glue from ear to ear across the back of the head. Cut a strip of hair and press into the glue.
Repeat twice more across the head. Ensure each layer overlaps the lower level.
Cut a small piece of hair and glue to the temples.
When cutting the hair make sure you work out how long it needs to be and then measure that from the wool ends. This preserves the fine ends. Try to avoid giving her a haircut.
For a split place a vertical line of glue, and then place the hair piece in it. Then before it dries use a toothpick to lay the hair back over the glue and press down. Repeat for the other side
If desired add a small hair piece to the front to create a fringe.
When the glue is all dry completely wet the hair.
Style with regular styling glue till you have it as you like.
Add in any embellishments such as mini cloth flowers.
And a light touch of gloss varnish to permanently set the style.
Adding the Eyelashes
Eyelashes can be very frustrating to apply due to how small they are. Take each step slowly and if you fail just remove the lash and glue and try again.
Prepare the feather by cutting away one side and cutting to size. Study the feather, there is an upside and a down side, and also it tends to bend more easily one way.
Using a toothpick apply line of glue to eyelid and then wait until the glue is transparent, this is the Ultimate Glue’s “cement” method.
When the glue is transparent put a bit of glue on the center of the lash you are appling and press into the glue on the eyelid.
Now wait until it is well and truly stuck (I put it down and do something else in between) and then add a touch of glue in the corner of her eye and gently press the lash into it. Again wait until that has set and only then do the same for the outside of the lash.
If you try to rush these steps before they have dried you will find that you press down one side only to have the other side pop back up. So take your time here!
Once dry fluff feathers to suit. An attempt to do this before they are dry could result in them getting stuck to the glue.
There are many different ways you can add a costume to your doll, this can include different materials such as clay clothing, cloth, tissue paper…anything you think up you can use.
In this example we are going to make a bikini top and bottom out of tissue paper and then add some string for embellishment.
Tear or cut the a basic bikini design out of tissue paper, it doesn’t have to be exact as you can add to it bit by bit.
Make a mixture of white tacky glue and water. It doesn’t have to be thick.
Soak the tissue paper in the watery glue. Once soft carefully stick on the doll.
A paintbrush and also a pin is helpful to move the tissue paper to suit.
To curve just fold little pleats and press tissue paper together.
You can create a jagged edge look by pulling on the fibres with a pin.
When you are happy with the look allow to dry.
After a quick wash of her skin with warm soapy water you can add embellishments like ropes, ribbon or cord.
Use sting or paper to add feet and/or hand bracelets. Carefully placed decorations can hide parts you don’t like.
Like the costume the wings can be made with an endless supply of materials, you are only limited by your imagination. These materials can include feathers, film, tissue paper, cloth, natural materials…. We are going to make our wings out of fantasy film, feathers and wire.
Tape a piece of fantasy film over your sketched out design.
Cut pieces of wire to match the design, bend to match the design and then place over design and tape down.
Cellotape another piece of film over top of the wire.
Cover with cloth and use iron to heat set the two pieces of film together.
Trim back film to match the design.
Use a soldering iron (or candle) to sizzle the ends and make holes.
When you have finished adding the holes to your wings glue a bit of fabric glue at the base of each wing (inside and outside) and add feathers to suit.
Drill a hole in the back of the fairy the size of your main wire. This process also allows you to see a sample of the clay inside your doll, if the clay comes out feeling at all wet then your doll is not cooked. It should be a powder.
Place the wings in the drilled holes and your doll is now complete!
Making a Base
Bases can be made from a variety of materials, and can be decorated with rocks, fake grass, water features and such. If you would like to make your own simple base you can do so by following the steps below:
- Cut out a piece of pine to suit
- Cut out a thin piece of particle board slight bigger
- Plane or sand off edges on the pine piece of wood to create a nice beveled edge
- Glue pine and particle board pieces together
- Paint or varnish as required
- Maybe add a printed name tag with the dolls name, the sculptors name and the date the doll was created
Don’t want to make your own? No problem you can get all your stand needs at our shop
Extra Notes, Links and acknowledgements
Dollworld sells all your required doll making supplies. So if you need replacement stock for your next doll please visit our shop
Dollworld is always looking for more artists to join our site. If you are interested in selling your dolls through our shop please email us
If you have any questions or feedback please leave us a comment we would love to hear from you.
All the images and information within this tutorial remain the property of Dollworld. Please do not copy or redistribute in any way.
I would like to thank Linda for the creation of the easy to use eyelash technique. To visit Linda’s site please click here
Tips and Tricks
When it comes to baking nothing beats a convection oven. These ovens make it a lot harder to burn your dolls. Plus the glass sides mean you can easily see your doll as its cooking.
When cooking in either a convection oven or a standard oven place your doll on a cushion of polyfill ensuring all the parts of its body is supported. Then cover the entire sculpture with the polyfill creating a lovely warm cocoon that will protect the sculpture from heatspots. Never use a metal tray, and never have the doll directly under an element.
If you are baking in a normal oven you may find tiny parts like ears, fingers, and noses cook faster and can burn. To avoid this you can help protect them by placing a bit of wet tissue paper over them while cooking.
Always use a thermometer in your ovens, do not rely on your ovens temperature gauge being correct.
And lastly always remember dolls are very fragile when they are warm – even if they have been previously cooked and cooled. Each time the clay is warmed up it becomes fragile and can crack easily. So make sure to leave the doll in the oven with the door open till it’s cooled. My rule of thumb is I give it twice the amount of time to cool than it took to cook.
Living doll clay requires 15mins per 6mm cooked at 275° Fahrenheit or 130° Celsius.
Test your oven
If this if the first clay creation you have cooked in your oven, especially if it is a normal household oven, you can try this test. Make a quick hand shape, just a flattened ball of clay with some rolled spaghetti bits off it.
Place that in your oven with polyfil under and over it, and cook it for 30min. If you can – use a thermometer while it’s cooking to check the temp is right. Otherwise if you don’t have one at least this test will tell you if it’s not right.
Once its cooked and cooled have a look at it – is it burnt? Cut through it – is it too soft and easy to break? This may seem like a lot of work, but if it saves you burning a doll you have spent hours on it may be worth it, especially if you don’t have a thermometer.
If you are having issues with squishing parts you have already completed while working on new areas then doing a part bake may help you.
To part bake or not to part bake, it is an important question, but one only you can answer. The main reason you would part bake is to help stop squishing parts you have already completed while working on new areas. And for this reason it can certainly help new comers. Best way is to just do as much as you can before you feel like if you keep working on new parts you will destroy the completed sections. You may find this point moves further and further out as you do more dolls, or you may find you just prefer to part-bake at certain stages and not change from that. It is whatever works for you best.
However you should save the full 30min bake till once all the parts are in place. The reason for this is that the clay (especially the Beige) can darken with multiple full bakes, so bake no part more than 10mins until the final 30min bake. And always do the full 30min bake (more if your doll is big or the clay thick) never think that three 10 min bakes equals one 30 min bake, it does not! But do remember that when it’s only had 10 minutes it’s not cooked on the inside, so avoid any pressure or those partially cooked parts will crack.
How to hold a doll while sculpting her
Now having talked about part baking you still may find yourself squishing parts in between bakes. The reason for this is that you are not holding your doll right. So here is how to hold her while sculpting her torso:
Always know your safe spots! This could be her cooked head and the armature wire. If I am using my sculpting tool I hold it in my right hand, and hold her like in the image between her head and the wire end. If I am smoothing I smooth with my left hand while holding her, usually, upside down completely by the head, or again the head and armature hold (see the picture in Step 4 – Sculpting the Torso).
This is something that does come naturally when you have done a few dolls, so just be patient and trust me when I say every doll maker has been in your shoes before. You can also try hanging the doll while sculpting to avoid squishing and dirt
Fixing a Crack
Everyone will experience a crack now and then, they can be avoided through the techniques already mentioned in this tutorial, but if your doll does develop one then this is what you need to do:
- Cut away the clay around the crack ensuring you go all the way to the bottom of the crack
- Keep the sides you cut away angled to allow for a seamless fix
- Brush the sides you cut away with TLS – Translucent Liquid Sculpey – this will help the fresh clay bond with the cooked clay
- Add the fresh clay deep into the crack and smooth down and add any details as required
- Cook for 15mm depending on depth of crack
The most important thing to avoid cracks is to cook your doll right. The exact temperature is extremely important. Too hot and it will burn (especially small tips like fingers). Too cold and your doll will not be cooked and you will experience lots of trouble with broken fingers, cracked necks and knees…
So make sure you get that temperature right! When you get it right the doll will feel rock hard
That brings us to the end of this tutorial. We sell this tutorial in a kit form which includes these instructions printed and a enough supplies to complete your first doll. You can find these kits here. Purchaseing one of these kits will also support this site and allow us to bring you more and more tutorials.
You can also view the full gallery of images for this tutorial here. Thanks for reading, and please leave us a message in the comments below.
Fairy #30 Start to Finish Tutorial – Part 2
Painting the face
At this point I like to paint the face, but if you prefer you can leave it till you do the body paint. The style of paining is up to you – make it subtle or make it strong like a pin-up doll, but either way you will achieve a nicer result if you slowly build up the layers. You can also bake it for 5min between layers to help set the bottom layer before adding more colour.
There are lots of mediums you can use to thin Genesis paints, any oil thinner will work but I prefer to use Sculpey Oil Softener.
Use a mixture of Genesis Flesh and Red (thinned down with oil thinner) to add blush into all face groves, cheeks and tear ducts. Remove excess and blend in with a cotton bud.
Paint up lips with your preferred colour. Like make-up you can use it to help define the lips by making them bigger or smaller.
Paint up the eyes using black or dark brown around the eyelids. Add some colour for eye shadow. Blend with cotton bud. The shininess is due to the oil thinner, once cooked it is no longer shiny.
Add detailed features such as eyebrows (can be done with a toothpick to get nice thin lines) freckles, beauty spots and such. Cook for 10mins at 130° Celsius to heat set the paint.
Attach the Head to the Armature
After the head is completely cooled you can remove it from the stick you sculptured it on and add it to the armature using a bit of superglue to keep it in place. Use a drill to extend the hole if it’s too small to fit on the armature.
Having the head in place will assist you when sculpting the body by giving you a good idea on proportions.
Creating the Pose
You now need to bend your armature into its pose. To do this simply place the doll over the guideline pictures and bend the doll to suit. Make sure you test out the armature pose over each different view (front, back left and right) to ensure everything is correct. And don’t forget the bend in the torso
If your doll can kneel by itself at this stage that is great, but don’t worry too much if it can’t yet, those wire thin legs aren’t too good at holding up much. And with the clay head she is a bit top heavy at the moment.
Hands and Feet
With your head all sculpted and painted it’s time to make the hands and feet.
In my past tutorial I had used an armature for the hands. I have now removed this from the tutorial due to the fact that it makes it a bit more difficult. I recommend to all beginners that you sculpt your hands without the armature and either have the fingers together, or press the hand up against the body, both these methods will protect your fingers until you are confident to do more advanced fingers. Also if you cook your doll right your fingers should be strong, and the use of an armature is only really needed for extra strength when the hand is holding something.
The feet however are strengthened with the armature, and I believe it makes sculpting the feet easier, so I have left these in the tutorial.
If you are using one of my kits you will find included a set of some funny looking feet. These have been made using a wire armature covered in cooked liquid clay. If you are not using one of my kits then you can download the instructions to make your own here
You can also view a tutorial on adding clay to a hand armature here
OPTION: Using hands and feet with armature is completely optional. These can, and are by many people, sculptured without the aid of an armature. The choice is yours
Sculpting the hands
Condition the clay and press into a hand shape.
Keep the fingertips thin, too much clay in the fingers will make fat fingers.
Cut out a segment between the thumb and fingers, and then cut little triangles out of the fingers.
Fingers are thinner at the ends, not straight.
Gently roll the fingers, especially at the base to make them nice and round.
If your fingers are too long just trim the tops off.
Start adding details like fingernails and knuckles but keep it subtle
Keep working each finger adding details until you are happy with them all; ensure you keep turning the hand around to check up sides.
Use your own hand as a constant reference
TIP: You can work out the size of her hand using her face. If you press your palm against your chin you can see your fingers end on the forehead. So just do the same for the doll and get the right sizing.
At this point I recommend you leave them aside uncooked to allow them to cool down (warm clay becomes soft). You could choose to cook them for 10 min if you want, but they are harder to attach when cooked, if you do cook them taper off the clay at the wrist and poke a hole in them where the wrist bone would be (or drill it after cooking).
TIP: You can finely tune fingers after they have been cooked by using your scalpel to carefully scape away excess clay. But only do it when they are 100% cooled, and be ever so careful not to break them.
Sculpting the feet
Bend foot armature to match angle of foot and set aside – we will be sculpting the foot separate then adding to the armature at the end
Shape the foot using the foot guide as a reference
Cut out the toes (straight line for the big toe, and angled for the small toes)
Using the sculpting tool define each toe – making sure they are round and not square. Turn it over and define bottom off toes and line across the base of toes
Alternate between the top and bottom to keep it even. Every now and then give the toes a gentle push together to stop the foot becoming too wide
When you are happy with the toes cut through foot and insert foot armature, ensure you avoid squishing the toes.
Using your fingers press the two sides together and give the foot some shape including extra clay for the heel. Use your sculpting tool to close the seams and make it smooth
Use your scalpel to remove any excess clay where the foot is too wide, add in all the details such as crease lines and toenails.
Repeat for second foot
When you are happy with both feet you can choose either to cook the feet for 10mins at 130° Celsius or leave them uncooked. Cooked will protect them from being squished when attaching, uncooked give you more freedom to tweak while attaching.
Sculpting the body
Now the fun part begins – sculpting the body. This is the part I personally enjoy the most
Start sculpting the body working on the torso first.
Work the clay soft, roll out and flatten and then run the clay around the body ensuring each layer is pressed and smoothed down.
Start adding mounds of clay to create the right body shape. Ensure each chunk of clay added is firmly pressed down to avoid air pockets that can create surface marks when cooked.
Refer to the reference pictures as you go.
To create the breast roll a ball of clay and cut in half (to get the breasts the same size) shape each half into a teardrop and press onto the chest. Use your thumb to create the curve on the top of the breast, smooth out the top but leave the underneath a sharp curve.
Spend some time smoothing out the torso and adding detail such as the belly button, abs and nipples.
Taper off the arm and leg clay and cook for 10min at 275° Fahrenheit or 130° Celsius
OPTION: : It is up to you if you want to part bake throughout the sculpting process or leave it till the end. Please see the notes under “Part Baking Tips” here for more information on this option.
Attach your premade feet to the armature. Line your foot and body up against the image and chop off any excess leg armature that would make it too long.
Wrap both wires in the masking tape. The clay will also hold them together.
Now that the foot is in place you can sculpt the rest of the thigh, knee and lower leg. Part Bake 10min.
If you are having trouble keeping her legs firmly on the ground try part-baking then add more clay.
Have a quick check of your hand and arm length against the reference image. If the arm will be too long trim it back a bit.
Cut the hand lengthways through the wrist and wrap around the arm armature.
Next sculpt the upper and lower arms.
Once you have everything looking the way you want you can pose the fingers. If you are worried about them breaking you can gently press the fingers together for extra strength. Part Bake 10 min.
Sanding the Sculpture
The sculpture can be scraped and sanded once it is fully sculpted. Ensure it is completely cooled before handling – for safety I like to leave it untouched at least twice the time I cooked it for. So if your doll is still cooling and you want to keep going you can jump ahead to making the wings, and then come back to this stage when your doll is cooled down.
To give your doll extra smoothness start by scraping the doll with a scalpel. When the entire doll (except the face) is scraped smooth start sanding your doll with a fine bit of wet sandpaper, the wetness helps to stop the clay from clogging up the sandpaper.
When the sanding is finished give the doll a quick wash in water and dry off to remove all excess clay.
When you have gone over all the areas you want and everything is nice and smooth you can use a very light amount of acetone to remove the rough sanding marks. Make sure you use the acetone sparingly as it can make the clay go white if you use too much, also keep your cleaning tool fresh as the clay builds up on it and that can also make the doll get the white marks. I use cotton tips to apply the acetone.
TIP: Putting too much pressure on the sculpt during the sanding process can cause the sculpt to crack, if this happens to your sculpt don’t worry it can be fixed! – see Tips and Tricks
Check over the entire sculpt for smoothness, symmetry, and any last minute fixes. You can make tweaks by adding more clay to cooked areas, and also carve away cooked clay if need be.
Cook doll for 30min at 275° Fahrenheit or 130° Celsius. This is her final bake, and as she is in the oven for a long time you need to take extra care watching the temp to ensure it doesn’t get too hot and burn her!
Fairy #30 Start to Finish Tutorial – Part 1
This tutorial replaced Fairy #16 tutorial, it is the same pose but done with some different techniques that I now follow. If you have a need to see the old tutorial you are welcome to email me.
You may wish to download the 3D pdf file of the pose by clicking here. This is a great reference to ensure you have all your angles and proportions right
Kits and with printed instructions and supplies can be purchased from our shop
Table of contents
When it comes to sculpting these types of dolls there really is many ways you can go about it. Some people choose to sculpt the head first, some the body. As you get into this craft you will develop your own individual patterns and behaviours. For this reason I would like to point out that my methods in this tutorial are those I have used and found to work well, but should you decide to go a slightly different way please by all means do so. I will also provide options that look like this:
OPTION: If you are finding you are squishing parts already completed as you sculpt new parts you may wish to do a part-bake. Please see the notes under “Part-Baking Tips” here
You may also come across a Tip throughout this tutorial. These will point out tips and tricks to take note of. They may also point you to the Tips and Tricks information which will give you future information on that subject. Tips look like this:
TIP: Please see Tips and Tricks for more information regarding the cooking process. It is well worth the read if this is your first doll.
Try to have fun with it, and don’t let frustrations stop you from completing your work. Like any new craft it does get easier the more you practice. And remember that the pictures provided in this tutorial are for guidelines only. Every doll created is a one of a kind piece of art, so your creation will look very different to mine.
This tutorial is based on a work at your own pace, so I cannot say how long it will take you. The clay itself will not harded in the air even over time. But please note however that if you add uncooked clay on top of cooked clay you will have approximately 2 weeks to cook that clay. This is due to the cooked clay sucking the moisture out of the uncooked clay. Leaving it longer than two weeks could result in the top uncooked clay becoming dry and cracked.
Items below found in Kit K1045e
Items below are not included in the kits
- Baby wipes (to keep hands and work area clean)
- Super Glue
- Cotton Tips
- Gloss Varnish
- Soldering Iron (or candle)
- Oil Thinner (such as linseed oil)
Please use the pictures below to help you when bending your armature into place (please note your screen size will change the physical sizing of these images)
Creating the Armature
If you are using one of my kits you will already have your armature made for you, so you may skip this step.
If you do not have an armature follow the steps below to create one
- Using 22g wire cut a length 40cm long (roughly 2.5 times the length of the doll) And one length of 15cm.
- Bend the 40cm wire in half, use pliers to twist the wire the length of the head.
- Continuously place the armature over the guideline picture to ensure you get the right proportions.
- At the shoulders Insert the 15cm piece and, while holding it with your pliers, twist the short piece around one side and then the other side creating the arms.
- Twist the wires back together under the arms and twist all the way down the torso until you reach the pelvic area.
- Separate the wires again and bend with the pelvic triangle and cut off excess at the foot.
- Repeat process with the second leg.
The armature will serve two purposes; first it will guide you in your proportions helping to ensure your doll looks right; second (and most importantly) it will strengthen your sculpt both when creating the piece and also for the long term durability of your doll.
Filling out the armature
In the past I have used old clay to fill out the inner core of the doll. But now I prefer to use the tinfoil and masking tape method.
This method saves your clay (you can keep your old clay for props). But most importantly it means you don’t have to cook your doll as long, as the clay is not as thick.
First rip the tinfoil into strips and tightly wrap around the doll.
The tinfoil should be packed out around the torso upper arms and thighs. Avoid the lower arms and calves area. Also avoid packing to much in the crotch area. If you pack out the breast and bum make sure you leave the centre hollows free to allow you room to sculpt correctly.
After the tinfoil is in place tightly wrap it in masking tape ensuring there are no gaps. The tape makes sure there is no oxidation from the metal on the clay.
Sculpting the Face
After getting tired of fighting to get the right face shape I have come up with a new way of sculpting the face. This is done by creating the centre ball which acts as the skull, inserting the eyes and eyelids and then cooking at 130° Celsius. Then the features are added in shapes bulking out the face in the correct manner.
If you are using one of my kits you will find I have already supplied you with a set of eyes. If you do not have a kit then you can go to this site http://www.dollworld.co.nz/pre-made-eyes/ and follow the instructions there to make your own, alternately you can just sculpt the eyes, rather than inserting them.
Now let’s start sculpting the head. You can follow these steps as a guideline, but do let your own creativeness come through, as each person usually finds they have their own style that reflects through all of their dolls. Keep your work area clean to avoid getting dirt and dust into the clay, this is helped by having baby wipes available to keep hands and work area clean.
Start by crumpling up a ball of tinfoil roughly .4 of an inch.
Using a wire pole or a toothpick is helpful when sculpting the face, a stylus also works well
After the tinfoil is in place tightly wrap it in masking tape ensuring there are no gaps.
The tape makes sure there is no oxidation from the metal on the clay.
Lightly mark the centre of the face, and two thirds down (should be about .6 of an inch)
My lines are for you to see clearly, yours don’t need to be so deep.
Now press each eye in along the horizontal line. There should be about the width of one eye between them.
This step is super important and you should take your time to get it right.
Add a piece of clay across each eye and sculpt the eyelids. Now cook for 10min!
Once cooled add a triangle of clay to the lower face. The eyes are half way down now.
Add a sausage nose, round cheeks and a line across the forehead. This fills out the face.
Start defining the face by pressing down the nose bridge and smoothing out the forehead.
Work out how long you want the nose and press the rest of the nose sausage down creating the mouth ridge.
Smooth the cheek mounds upwards to just under the eye. Use a toothpick to define the eye shape.
Spend some time now smoothing out the forehead, cheeks and chin area.
Define the lips by creating an indented line half way between the nose and chin. Press down under the line to create the bottom lip.
Create the top lip by pressing up from the lip line and flattening. Press down to define.
Start adding details such as the nostrils (go lightly) and the bump between nose and lips.
Smooth out the cheek and forehead lines and spend time defining each feature.
I fine tune the features by scratching away like a sketching artist with a toothpick.
Smooth out features including the eyebrow ridge. A stylus is great for smoothing.
Add a flat ball of clay to the face for the ears, press down in centre to join and create eardrum.
Press down a line around the ear going all the way around by ending short of the lobe.
If you are creating a fairy pinch the ends to create the peak, or just leave if it’s not a fairy.
When you are happy with the head it’s time to cook it. Give your sculpt one last check over, is everything symmetric? Are the ears tips sitting right? Is it nice and smooth? Place it in the oven at 275° Fahrenheit or 130° Celsius for 30 minutes.
TIP: Please see Tips and Tricks here for more information regarding the cooking process. It is well worth the read if this is your first doll.
Using A Dollworld Fairy Pressmould Tutorial
If you have purchased one of our fairy/doll moulds please see below for a bunch of tips and tricks to help you make your doll. If you would like to purchase one please click here for available moulds which come standalone or in kit form.
To view all the pictures for this tutorial please view this gallery. This includes many photos not shown on this page
I hope you enjoy this tutorial and if you have any questions you can contact us.
Table of Contents
Below is a list of supplies and tools required for this tutorial:
Filling and releasing the Pressmould
Step 1 – Preparation
My 6inch mould take about 62grams of living doll clay, so start by cutting off that much and roll out two long rods of clay for the body (about twice the length from toe to neck) two small rods for arms (from finger tip to other finger tip) and two balls for the head. Make sure you really give the clay a good rolling to help condition it and make it soft and pliable.
Step 2 – Filling the mould
Once you have all you clay rolled out start filling the mould. To help the clay release from the mould you can spray the mould with a light spray of water, you can also use a dusting a power but ensure all excess is removed to avoid it sticking to the clay. If you are using the water method just spray the area you are working on, as the mould is very porous and will soak it up pretty fast.
Take one of the long rolls and flatten the end a bit and place into the toe area of one foot. Work the clay up the leg pressing and pulling on the clay to make it fit in the mould. When you have filled one whole leg start with the other leg. When both legs are done work the clay into the torso area ensuring you press it down hard into the mould to ensure the clay is blended underneath – remember it matters what the clay looks like on the bottom, not the top. Remove any excess clay left around the neck area.
Next take one of the arm rods and again flatten and press into the fingers on the mould. Work up the arm again pushing and pulling on the clay to make it fit, then complete the second arm. Remove any excess clay around the neck area and blend into the clay in the torso area. When you have finished the arms roll a tiny rod of clay and fill both thumb areas.
Fill the head and neck with one of the balls of clay.
The level of the clay should be a bit higher than level, but not over full. You want it high enough to make contact with the other half of the mould, but not too full that you have too much excess clay.
Repeat the process for the feet, body and arms of the front portion. When filling the face roll out the ball of clay and then pinch the clay and smooth to make a pointed side. Press this point directly into the nose area of the face and then press in the remaining clay to fill the head.
Step 3 – Add the armature
At this point you can add the armature. Adding an armature will make your doll more stronger, but it does make it harder to remove your doll from the mould so you can try it without adding the armature if you are finding it hard to remove the doll.
Take the metal armature that is provided with the sale of the mould, or buy one here, or make own using these instructions and bend it so it is sitting very flat and lined up with the doll limbs. When it is lined up press it down a bit to make an impression in the clay. Remove it and then use your sculpting tool to make a crevice in the clay for the armature to fit in. Return the armature to the doll and press it down inside the crevice and then push the clay up and around it.
Step 4 – Press the mould together
When you have completed both sides of the mould, and the armature in one side, you can press the two sides together using the locking beads to position it correctly.
Work your way around the mould squeezing each side one after the other. You should feel the mould rocking back and both and if you look through the crack start to see the clay stick together and lift off one side (most likely the back portion).
Here is a tip – if you can see that the clay is just not sticking to certain parts take a small flattened bit of clay and use your sculpting tool to slide it inside the mould (this is before you try and pull the mould apart) Once you have that extra bit of clay inserted continue to squeeze it and watch that area connect with the other side.
When you are happy the clay is merged very gently pull the mould apart. You should now see the doll on one side (most likely it has pulled away from the back half and is left on the front half).
You can now choose to remove a bit of the excess clay, or if there is not much then leave it till after you have removed the doll. Then start removing the doll from the other side. I find it easiest to start with the feet and legs, and then the hands and arms, then the torso and the head last of all.
Please note you may not get this process perfect the first time and it may take you a few tries to get it right. But that’s fine – just roll the clay back up and start fresh. But try not to do it too many times as the mould is very porous and will start to suck the oil out of the clay and will make it dry and harder to use. But dont get disheartened if its not perfect as each mould requires some practice to get used to and like everything the more you do something the better you get at it.
If your clay gets a bit hard from repetitive use try adding a bit of clay softener, just make sure your hands are very clean before using this
Roll out required clay
Flatten end and press into toes
Push and pull the clay up through the leg
Fill torso, arms and head with clay
Add armature to one side
Press on each side to merge
Carefully remove the doll from the mould
Cleaning up and smoothing the doll
Step 1 – Remove excess clay
Holding the doll gently in your hands carefully remove the excess clay with a sharp scalpel.
Work your way around the doll being careful not to cut to deep into the actual doll
Step 2 – Smooth the seams
When all the excess clay is removed start blending the seams away using the side of the thumb
While you are doing this try and keep in mind where your hands are and how you are holding the doll. If you don’t keep this in mind you will find yourself squishing parts of the doll by mistake. I usually hold the doll around the waist – that way if I do squish a bit to hard all she gets is a slimmer waist – don’t you wish it was that easy in real life!
Here is a tip – if you are finding the clay very easily squished and hard to handle put the doll in a clean place free of dust, such as a zip lock bag, and leave it a day or two. This will cool down the clay and make it firmer
Remove excess clay and smooth
Adding ears and defining the face & fingers/feet
Step 1 – Add the ears
The ears are separate from the doll mould – this is to ensure the head can be removed from the mould without obstruction.
Press the ears in their own mould and release. Clean them up a bit by removing the excess clay from the ears
Add the ears to the head by pressing hard inside the ear canal to ensure the ear is nicely connected to the face. use your scalpel and sculpting tool to tweak the ear to how you want it, including removing the point should you wish your doll to be human and not fairy
Step 2 – Define the face
The face can be tidied and adjusted by gently pressing down on the features to enhance or smooth them. I fully recommend you tweak the face and put your own style into her face. You will also need to use a pin or toothpick to put the nostrils in the nose.
Step 3 – Hands and feet
Hands and feet can be tidied up by using your sculpting tool to clean up the finger and toe lines.
You can choose to keep it simple and leave the fingers together, or split the fingers to make them more pose-able. One tip is that this clay can be cut and sanded after its cooked, so if you are having trouble with the fingers get them as close as you can, cook them, and then use your scalpel to further define them.
You can also choose to completely cut the hand away and replace them with hands with armatures in them. But this is an advanced option, so you may want to keep it simple for your first doll
Press deep in the ear canal
Define fingers with sculpting tool
Replacing the eyes with glass eyes
This is an advanced option that I will add with my next doll. It is optional as you can just paint the dolls eyes as they are. Adding glass eyes will add some realism to your dolls face so I do recommend you give it a try once you feel up to the challange.
Dolls eyes can be purchased here or you can make them yourself (tutorial for that coming soon!)
Adding an armature to hands and feet
Strengthen your doll
Adding an armature to your hands and feet will make your doll much stronger at those week points. But the skills required are a bit harder – especially in the hands. But worth giving it a go especially if you want to separate the fingers and have issues with them breaking
Hand and feet armatures can be purchased here or you can make them yourself using this tutorial or check out this tutorial for how to use them in a doll
Posing the doll
Step 1 – Bend the doll
Before you start bending the doll make sure you have your desired pose in mind, if possible have a picture of your pose for easy reference. When you start posing your doll you will be in effect actually move the wire and not the clay. This is why it is important to be as gentle as possible to avoid excessive squishing, and to have your pose already sorted so you dont keep bending and unbending
Step 2 – Tidy up the pose
When you have the pose all sorted you will see that any bends you have made are very rounded (see the picture on the right). This does not make for a nice looking doll so you should make some adjustments to correct this. In the case of the doll I have posed I added some clay to the top of the thighs and smoothed, and also pinched in on the leg bend to define the knees
And remember – if you are having trouble posing your doll because the clay is too soft to work with just let your doll sit a couple of days till it is cooled down a bit
One other thing to keep in mind is that this clay can be sanded and carved after its cooked. So I suggest you get your doll as good as you can, and then cook her. You can then work on her further after she is cooked by carving and sanding. You will find each time you do a doll you will be able to achieve a better pre-cook finish, so dont give up!
Cooking the Doll
When you are happy with her its time to cook her at the recommended temperature for the clay. If you are using the Living Doll Clay provided with my kits you should cook her at 275° Fahrenheit or 130° Celsius for 15 minutes for each 6mm. I usually give a doll around this size 40 minutes. Make sure your temperature is dead correct – too low and she wont be cooked all the way through and thus weak, and too high and she will burn. When she is cooked she should look slightly darker than raw clay, she should not be burnt in any area and she should feel rock hard. I use two thermostats to ensure the temperature is correct in my oven
You can cook your doll in a normal oven, but I recommend a convection oven for the best results. And never cook your doll on a metal tray, this will conduct heat and burn your doll. Always prop your doll up with polyfill to support her when she gets soft during the heating process. Keep an eye on her during the cooking process, I check every five minutes. If you see burning in fingers or toes you can use little bits of wet paper to protect those delicate areas – in fact if you are using a normal oven I suggest you just do this anyway – cover the fingers, toes, nose and ear tips with bits of wet paper
And lastly and most importantly never never ever touch your doll while she is still hot. I cant stress (excuse the pun) this enough! While hot your doll is in a very delicate state and touching her will most likely lead to cracks. You can open the lid/door of your oven to help her cool – but leave her alone until she is stone cold. As a rule I always leave her twice as long as it took to cook her
Doll posed – needs some work
After adjustments have been made
Just before the cooking
Doll in a convection oven
Completing the doll
I am not going to go into detail on the completion of the doll in this tutorial. But if you would like to know more about these steps please have a read of our Complete Start to Finish Tutorial
Please see below for some shots of how I finished the doll I was making to create this tutorial.
To see the full gallery of large size photos for this tutorial please click here. Please leave us some feedback, we would love to hear from you
Hand & Feet Armature Tutorial
This tutorial will guide you through the process of creating armatures for your hands and feet.
Tiny little hands and weak ankles are very easy to break, so this tutorial is created to help protect those fragile areas and give strength and durability to your sculpture.
These hands were designed for a doll around 6.2 inches tall, if your doll is bigger then just enlarge the measurements to suit.
I hope you enjoy this tutorial and if you have any questions you can contact us. To download this tutorial in PDF file please click here.
Hands can be sculptured without armatures, and many people still do sculpt them directly onto the doll without the aid of one. But tiny little hands and weak ankles are very easy to break. For this reason I believe it better to create the hands and feet over their own armature and then attach them to the body when the body is being sculpted.
On completion of this tutorial you will have a made a set of armatures ready for adding the clay to make a pair of hands and feet. These armatures will provide you lots of strength, but will still allow you to bend the fingers and feet into place for posing.
Materials and Tools required
Below is a list of supplies and tools required for this tutorial:
- 26 Gauge Wire – Preferably in a colour closest to skin
- TLS – Translucent Sculpey
- Needle nose pliers
- Embossing Gun
Step 1 – Cut the wire to size
When cutting the wire it doesn’t have to be exact. The wire will be placed for the four fingers and thumb and then twisted together. Any excess wire can then be removed if need be. You can even trim back the fingers if you think they are too long. So let’s go ahead and cut 2 pieces of wire about 6cm long each and 1 about 10cm long.
Step 2 – Bend Wire
Once you have your 3 pieces cut bend the two 6cm pieces in half. These will become the 4 fingers. Place the two bent wires together along with the straight piece. Use pliers to hold all the wires together and then twist the bottom portion to bind them all together and create the palm.
Step 3 – Cut and Shape
When you have the wire twisted together you can place it over the drawing as below, based on how big you want your hands to be. I recreate dolls that are approx 6.2 inches tall and I use the smallest of the diagrams.
Once you have the wire arranged over the hand you can cut the excess off the finger tips. To ensure the wire doesn’t stick out the ends of the fingers cut the cut a little bit shorter than the finger should be. Try to observe the rules about which fingers are longer when you cut the wires – this will help you get a realistic looking hand when you start sculpting. Step 4- Repeat Repeat the process for the opposite hand
Step 5 – Coat in TLS
Once you have both hands done you can coat the hand in TLS (Translucent Liquid Sculpey). Adding clay to raw wire is very difficult as the clay moves around and creates a cavity between the clay and the wire. This is especially difficult to work with when you are working on such a tiny area. Adding the TLS will give the wire a coating that will allow you to more easily add the fresh clay too. To coat the hands just brush on a thin layer of TLS and then heat with your embossing gun until the TLS is hardened and transparent, this only takes about 20-30 seconds.. Avoid allowing the TLS to clump in any area by using your finger to press down on any bumps that form.
Repeat the process three times to build up the TLS layer. Make sure you don’t pile on the TLS to tick as you want your fingers nice and skinny. Also avoid putting too much TLS on the palm/wrist area around the twisted wire, only two layers is needed on that area.
You now have completed your first hand armature and once cooled the clay can be applied. If you would like more information on the process of adding clay please have a read through one of my complete doll tutorials here
Step 2 – Bend Wire
Step 3 – Align to diagram
Step 3 – Cut finger tips to length
Step 4 – Apply TLS and heat set
Step 1 – Cut the wire to size
Cut one piece of wire approximately 15cm long. This is again designed for a doll around 6.2cm tall. If your doll is bigger you may need to adjust the length accordingly.
Step 2 – Bend Wire
In the case of a foot armature we are not going to worry about the toes, since these are short and close together they do not tend to break like fingers can. So we are only creating a wire frame to support the foot and ankle areas. Place the length of wire over your selected diagram of a foot. Starting from roughly the tip of the toe to the head bend the wire several lengths. Pinch the ends together and then twist all wires together.
Step 3 – Shape
Place your twisted wire onto of your diagram so that it starts below the toes (ensure there is a good distance between the toes and the tip of the wire to leave room for sculpting the toes). Bend the wire directly upwards at the center of the heel to create the ankle.
Step 4 – Repeat
Repeat the process for the opposite foot.
Step 5 – Coat is TLS
When you have the two feet start coating in TLS. Like the hands this will give the fresh clay something to attach too but will still allow you to bend the armature for posing purposes.
Apply a thin layer of TLS to the entire twisted portion and then headset with your embossing gun until the TLS is hardened and transparent, this only takes about 20-30 seconds. Repeat for a second layer and set aside to cool.
You now have completed your foot armatures. If you would like more information on the process of adding clay please have a read through one of my complete doll tutorials here
Step 2 – Bend Wire
Step 3 – Align to diagram
Step 3 – Bend at ankles
Step 4 – Apply TLS and heat set
To download this tutorial in PDF file please click here. Please leave us some feedback, we would love to hear from you
how to create a strong Armature