Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tips and Tricks of Working with Polymer Clay, part one

If you ever worked with polymer clays and you like me, just starting, most likely you encounter three, at least three big problems.
First: good quality polymer clay is not cheap, even in internet stores, and if you build solid parts, it is going pretty fast. The solid polymer parts are also very heavy, especially heads.
Second: when you try to smooth the surface, you find that it is pretty difficult, because fingers leave marks and dents.
Third: what if you want your parts to be empty inside? For example, my dolls are combination of fabric and polymer parts, that are build on wire armature. If your clay is solid, how do you attach these parts?

In order to solve these problems I researched a quite a few internet articles, read  "how to" books and watched a lot of "Youtube" tutorials. Many of them were good and I learned a lot about the process, yet I could not find all the answers to my questions, because everyone does their sculptures little differently, and not all my questions were addressed.

In order to let the parts dry evenly, stick them on the wire.
Therefore, by the way of error and trial, I was looking for my own ways to solve these big problems. Here are some solutions that I discovered. I decided to share them with you, if it helps you a little, and saves you some trouble, I would be very happy.

My greatest find that helped with solving these big problems is the "Carve-Foam", that is similar to florist foam that is sold in any craft store.  Its greatest advantage is the ability to easily withstand 275 degrees heat of your oven. "Carve-Foam" is easy to give it desirable shape, even without special carving tools. Then, you need to dip it in"Gesso"to seal  porous surface and let it dry.

After it is dry, you place your favorite polymer clay on the polymer mat or a simple piece of wax paper, roll it about 5mm thin and  carefully wrap up your foam forms in.
Gently smooth clay over (do not press too hard, you can crash the foam) The foam provides an nice smooth base, that makes it easier to smooth, without leaving finger marks. Just a little talc, gently brushed and ribbed on the surface of your clay also makes surface smoother.

It is important to put at least one layer of Gesso on.
 You can find it in any craft store.
Sculpt, then bake, and after the parts are cooled off, (give it at least a hour)  clear the foam out!
You can ask: where do I get this marvelous foam? And I will suggest you the link to the "Dick Blick" store. As an art teacher I work with them a lot, and very happy with their prices, quality of products, and service. I would recommend it to every creative person, who has a life and a hobby. Enjoy!

The parts of my latest project, already backed

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The New Beginnings!

Here it is! My favorite moment! it is almost magical: the birth of the new doll! Going from conception to reality.  After I finish with the rough sketches and the initial research, I'd like to start with a face. The face defines everything else; character, mood, posture.

Polymer clay is my favorite material for sculpting, For this little guy I used "Sculpey". This face is already backed. The head is empty inside, yet, still somewhat heavy.

This is another of my favorite personages from the "Commedia Dell'Arte" In my opinion, the most adorable one. I wanted to make him for ages, and finally got to it! Can you guess who he is?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Arlecchinno is complete!

At last! The result of hard work of three months: I started working on Arlecchinno in the beginning of April. My Arlecchinno in his full glory! The most challenging work that took most of the time was his costume. Of course, it is my own interpretation of the classic character. Mine Arleccinno much more childlike and naive.

But in my research I actively used this wonderful site:

I found the summary of classic "Commedia Del'Arte" extremely interesting and full of useful information.

A little latter, I still plan to add traditional "Arlecchinno"s mask to his costume.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Arlecchinno, the next step.

Slowly, but surely I continue to work on Arlecchinno's traditional stage costume. It really taxes my sewing abilities (which are very few) to the limit.  But I really feel that it pushes me to improve on something, that before I did not even attempted, because I considered myself being hopeless.  Yes, it comes together. I don't regret the time I spend on the project. Working on my dolls, even if not everything goes smoothly brings me pleasure, and when it is  finally works out, great satisfaction.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Commedia Dell'Arte continues to intrigue and inspire me in my art doll making. After I completed sweet flirtatious Columbina, I continue working on her beloved, Arlecchinno.

Arlecchinho is a low class personage, usually plays role of a sly servant, who wants to cheat his masters, but because of his silliness, always fails and gets himself in trouble. Arlecchinno is a man-child, who often frustrates lovely and clever Columbina, but she always forgives his shortcomings and takes him back.

At this point I have already completed the building of Arlecchinno's body, and ready to work on his costume.

I am rather pleased with him at the moment, he looks wild already!