PROCESS :: teddy needs a name

Making of a doll.

Through my little art and science supply, Pulp Anatomy, I make these little raw dolls I call 'fleshies' for artists and/or magical folks who use poppets.  With all fairs being closed down at the moment, instead of starting my dolls from scratch, I've been dipping into my market stock that were supposed to come along to Pulp Anatomy's spring pop ups.

I thought I would share my process for making this particular bear doll, for anyone interested in how I do it.  I do not have a tightly laid out schedule and often do not know where I am going until I get there, but I snapped some photos along the way.  For anyone thinking of making dolls for their young ones or with their young ones, feel free to ask questions about my process and techniques.  If you do not have a prepped raw fleshie canvas, you can make one (we are crafty folk here) or use any existing doll or stuffed animal, and just sort of cover and add.  It's all for fun.  

So, here we have the fleshie and some of the materials I use: photo reference, super sculpey original polymer clay (it's a low temperature bake clay that doesn't harm the stuffed doll), and sculpting tools.  For anyone looking to more information for working with polymer clay, I highly recommend Ace of Clay video tutorials on YouTube.  

For the clay face, I use tin foil for the basic structure and sheets of polymer clay on top to make the features.  Sculpey bake and bond is a bakeable adhesive that I use to attach the clay to the fabric.

When I attach the clay to fabric, the bake and bond gets me so far, but for durability I usually have additional supports.  For some clay pieces, I make little holes that I can stitch the clay to the fabric.  Various supports also go in, like these toothpicks for the ears.

I just bake according to the super sculpey packing directions.  Let it cool and off I go to stage two: painting.

I use various techniques for painting but generally I use a matte or ultra matte acrylic paints on the clay and fabric. You can put the paint through the oven again if you are adding more clay later.

The hood fabric is an old chair cover I made and we wore down the edges so badly that I had to retire it.   I basically salvaged what was still intact and now it serves as doll clothes.  My process for clothing this bear was to paint the arms and legs, and the actual cloth goes on in small pieces and is stitched directly onto the doll form.

A small break here to check out the actual chaos that I work in.  I start each project with a clean table and during the way this happens.  I have a particular methodology of organizing that I've developed over the years based upon my very small multi-purpose rooms in my house and my ADHD.  This is my kitchen/dining table for my family of four and that's a hula hoop too.  I go full in when make stuff and this happens:

But I can pack it down and have the space prepped for roller skating in less than five minutes, and even be able to find my tools afterwards to pull out again to make an even bigger mess.

And back to the doll.  More painting.  Tin foil to keep the legs apart, like when people paint their toe nails.

Adding more cloth.  I like a lot of layers on my dolls.  I just find my basic shape and then stitch on, working from the extremities inward until I am happy. It's how I get dressed in the morning as well, but, almost always, without the sharp jabby needle bit.

Obviously, I am going with a scrappy, raw aesthetic here.  If I wanted a finer, smoother look, I would make the clothes separate and then secure to the body with a few stitches.  For strange times like these, though, the raw edges and visible stitching seems best.

I added a hooded edge to the head to both add a level of security to hold secure the clay piece and because, you know, hoods. I like the post-apocalyptic onesie effect here.

The tutu portion came off another doll I made a couple years ago.  It was a linen ruff I made that I removed because I want to revamp the doll.  It happened to fit here quite well around teddy's belly.

And then for the a little finishing party hat, I took some quilt lining felt, painted it up, stitched it into a crown.

A bit of rub on wax metallic finish to give a little shine (and make it inappropriate for ages three and under because I just can not make a doll suitable for children).

And that's my guy.  If you have questions about the process, I'm here :)

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