Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Soldiers Play with Clay in their Spare Time....

This video is so cute. It will make you smile for sure!
It involves a dog and a hippo molded from plastalina....and some soldiers in their "spare time." The question is, who has more talent? (I like the hippo! hehe)

My daughter showed this to me- I watched it over and over again, laughing! I just love it.
She says it was made here in Israel. I'm not sure if that's true, maybe it is, maybe it isn't- but I think this video is just hilarious. I say, all soldiers everywhere should be having such fun!
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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Forming Fingernails

I just finished making my faerie hands. Yes, I'm slow, I know it.
A bit of a "lazy lass" perhaps! Fabric is fast for me. Clay is sloooowwww. But I'm okay with that!

I thought I would show you one of the things I like most about hands. I like to make fingernails. Those are quick and easy, and look great.
You'll need a fingernail tool and a thin blade, like an Exacto knife or something smaller, if possible.

In Israel, I have never seen an Exacto knife. They might be sold in a few specialty art stores, but generally not. I did find something appropriate here, which they call a "Japanese knife."

The Jaapanese blade is very small so it's nice. In the States, you can get something called a "scalpel." It's thinner than an exacto knife. Some people use it to make spaces between doll teeth. Here are the different knives I have and use (Left to Right): scalpel, Exacto Knife, and Israeli "Japanese" knife.
Back to fingernails...I've heard of people making fingernail "beds" and then putting translucent clay on for fingernails. The lazy lass in me would rather do it this way! Here's a picture of the tool I use to make the fingernail beds.
*NOTE This type of tool is made by Kemper, which is a company that specializes in doll tools. There are many such tools. You can find them on sites like Mini World Dolls.com. THERE ARE ALSO doll artists who sell their "own tools" for about $13 or more!!! (?!?!?) This is NOT necessary! Kemper tools cost about $2.
After the nail beds are "sculpted" (more like stamped!)just use the knife blade on the very tips, to make nails. Don't go too deep, you just need to make it look like there are nails on top of the fingers.
It looks great! After baking, I can just give it a little "French Manicure."
Nice effect, isn't it?

PS I will finish my faerie soon, I promise! (I hope!)
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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I Only Have Eyes For You... Dear

I bought a new toy for myself. That's what it looks like, at least! It's a set of wooden tools for creating accurately-sized eye sockets in clay dolls. This helps take the guesswork out of the proportions of the face. 30 years ago, I would have said they were a perfect set of drum sticks! They come in all different sizes, from small to large. The measuerments are clearly marked on the sticks.

Whether I am working in cloth or clay, I like to make my own doll eyes, and set them into the head. This is actually easier to do than you might think... just form a ball from white polymer clay and paint it.
If the doll is made from cloth, the eye should be like a bead, with a hole that goes through from one side to another. That way, I can sew the eyes in 'from ear to ear'!
If you scroll down my sidebar, you will find a cloth doll named Fuscia. Her eyes are made this way.

After painting, you can put a final touch on the eye to make them look more realistic- a cornea.

To make the cornea, use 3D Crystal Lacquer. It's clear and thick "stuff" that stays where you put it for the most part. Since it won't drip, it dries right where it is- nice and thick. Perfect for delicate eyes! Originally, I bought the Lacquer (online) to make "doll fingernails" but I found another use for it.... I love it when that happens!

There is another product I've read about called 'Diamond Glaze.' I don't have it and never tried it, but I think that might be a similar product. I also heard of people making fingernails with Mod Podge. It's white but dries clear. I am not sure if I would trust it on my eyes though. It's more like a glue. If you have used Mod Podge in a similar situation, let me know. I am curious to know if it's safe!
I bought the crystal lacquer from keelings crafts.com, and I think you can buy diamond glaze from joggles.com.

I sometimes like to paint the white of the eyes with Interference Gold paint (by Golden- the same company that makes gel medium) It's still white, but it gives the eyes a special glowy, slightly shiny look that is perfect for a faerie or some other whimsical fantasy doll. Try it! The paint is on the expensive side but it will last forever and ever. I got mine from Stampington.com's website.

I am thinking about selling these eyes. If you want to try setting handmade eyes in your dolls but would rather try making the eyes some other time, email me. I'll be happy to earn a little extra money hahaha!

Back again to the wooden eye tools. If you buy eyes commercially- glass, silicone, etc- then you know they come in different sizes. Depending on the size of the doll's head, you know what size eyes to purchase. Why am I so pleased with these new tools? Because now I can design the eyes in proportion to the head I am making- NOT making the head to fit the size of the eye!
(does that make sense?)
And, of course, if I want to sell handmade eyes or make them for later, there is no more guesswork. I know exactly what size the eyes are and do not have to sit there and try to measure the circumference to see how many millimeters they are.

By the way, I bought the wooden eye measuring tools at miniworld dolls.com

Happy eye making!
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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Mrs. Flattenstein has Arrived

Way back in 2005, a group of women from around the world (including myself) decided to collaborate on a doll project called "Flat Stanley." It's based on a classic children's book in which a flat boy named Stanley is sent around the world in an envelope to other children, and they write about Stanley's adventures with them in the area they live in. We adapted the idea to suit our artful needs: each person was to create a journal and a flat doll, which we would send through the mail and add to, little by little. My doll is affectionately named "Mrs. Flattenstein."
A year and a half later, I got my doll and journal back. The doll has evolved into a beautiful work of art, and the journal is full of treasure- warm words, collage, artistic journeys, and personality.

The Flat Stanley Doll Challenge was born through the Doll Street Journal, a wonderful group of like minded doll friends I've become acquainted with over the past several years. I chose to use "Dreaming" as my theme.
The doll is sitting on the front cover of the journal. Near the spine, it says, "An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream in the actual world."

Prior to sending it off, I decorated the first two pages of the journal. They reflect my "dream theme."

This was fun. I wet a photograph and scratched it. Then I colored it with watercolors. Using a black marker, I drew a funny body. Then I added wild and wooly pink mohair and put a crown on my head, and a transparent star over my eye.
Finally, I gave myself some rubber stamped high heel shoes! You can see those in the previous picture. Click on them to make them larger.
When I made these collages for my journal, I used interesting elements to create the backgrounds: Handmade paper with real dried flowers inside, strips of a tissue-paper sewing pattern (the kind you buy from Butterick, McCalls, etc), a page from an Israeli telephone book, and lots of golden gel medium.

I've still got some more empty pages in my journal. I'd so much love to have them filled up! If you are a "dreamer" and would like to add to my journal, please email me. I'd really love that. And I'm certain Mrs. Flattenstein would love it too!
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Still Standing

This may be getting a bit boring... but I'm excited! The armature's where I want it. It's posed very nicely, and stands alone. So far, so good! **BONUS** see my messy art table hehehe... I did some ladder stitching on the doll's back, to give it some shape. She's got a natural pose. On to the sculpting!
I'm going to sculpt the limbs (hands and feet) right onto the doll, rather than making them separately and attaching them later.

"HOw can you do that!?," you ask. Well, I made the body out of polyester fabric. Why? Because you can put stuffing into the oven and it will not burn. Neither will polyester fabric. Suspend the doll from the oven rack, like superman flying.
The name of this fabric is Windsor Comfort.

P.S. I suspect that cotton fabric would work just fine as well, since you can iron it, right? That's pretty darned hot! And the clothes dryer? Makes sense to me.
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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Armature Body

Here is the beginning of the body I'm adding to my faerie doll. I am planning to make her well-balanced enough to stand alone without the aid of a doll stand. The key is in the craftsmanship of the armature and the body.

To make the armature, I used Allmaloy suclptor's wire, which is very high quality wire that is strong, non-corrosive and unbreakable, yet flexible. I wrapped it up with florist's tape. Then I put on some stuffing and wrapped it up with strips of quilter's batting. It looked more like the body of a mummy than a faerie! When I shaped the wire, I did some doubling and twisting of the wire, so it would be extra strong. Illustrations on how to do this technique can be found in Susanna Oroyan's book, Fantastic Figures.

I designed a pattern to go over the wrapped armature. I think I'll keep the pattern. It looks just right. If you want it, email me and I'll send it to you.

I've got to sculpt hands and feet now. Then I'll add more batting and sew arms and "thighs." When I'm done I'll connect the sculpted limbs, and then attach the head and breastplate you've seen up until now!

Stay tuned...
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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Burned Head - not anymore!

Coming to LifeA few posts ago, I displayed the near-death accident of a faerie who suffered severe burns on her face due to an oven mishap. I decided not to give up on her, and to do my best to bring about her revival. She is now fully restored with flattering make-up (Genesis paint).
I sculpted a a neck and top-torso, and gave her some new faerie ears. I really like the way she is evolving. What a sweet expression on her face- hard to believe that she has been burned and hurt so badly!

By the way- don't worry, I am not making a nude doll haha
Wonder what that "thing" that I sculpted her on is? It's a concoction that my dear carpenter husband designed heheheee ... a rolling pin cut in half, and then nailed onto a piece of wood. The nail goes from the bottom of the base and into the rolling pin.

Rather than rolling pins, which are completely round, traditional sculpting stands have flat bottoms. Only the top is round (like a tunnel). I like my way better because it really enables me to sculpt the boobs in the right shape. They kind of "scoop" under the bottom curve. If I were making a man, or a flat-chested figure, I would want the standard sculpting stand. By the way, because of the size of the rolling pin, this method is suitable for dolls 18-20 or so inches.

***Note: be sure to place some sort of wire mesh on the rolling pin before laying down the clay. Otherwise it may crack. Sort of like they do to patch a hole in the wall with plaster.

I just thought of this idea and it's the first time I've tried it. Next time, I'll have my husband add another feature to the design to make it perfectly functional: two thin knitting needles coming up through the rolling pin. This will allow me to build the head on the stand first, and then the neck and so on. I'll just make my ball of foil, and pierce it with the knitting needles to about the center of the ball. Then, I'll go ahead and sculpt the head, then the torso etc- all together. The knitting needles are very smooth, which will make it easy to remove the sculpture. If I do this on nails, which I have heard of people doing, I might damage the neck when I remove the entire sculpture after curing.
I can put the entire thing right into the oven and the wood will not burn. No need to make the head in stages. I find that very difficult because the clay is malleable and I inevitably end up smearing and smudging my work accidentally when I work on the other side... Also, I won't have to fire the head and torso separately.

Which reminds me- With the "turny things" on the sides of the rolling pin (the thing inside that makes it roll) my husband will make me a round, flat carousel about the size of a dish. In this way, I can also turn my sculpture around and around, very easily. Gotta love it!

I think I should patent this idea! hehehe Just kidding, please do try it if it sounds like something that will work for you. Just let me know so I can feel good hehehe If you like my idea, please leave me a comment! I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Ok now I'm going back to playing dolls- who should this faerie be?
I think I'll use white Tibetan Lambswool on her...Today I'll get started on her body. I'll make it from cloth, with a wire armature. I'm still thinking about who this doll wants to be, how to pose her..... Suggestions, anyone?
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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Garden Collage by Daughter Sury

My nine-year-old daughter Sury is a BUDDING artist!
Look at how beautifully she captured herself in a garden setting. She took a favorite photo of herself holding a bouquet of flowers, and transformed herself into a living, growing and breathtaking part of nature's bounty.
The clouds are made from photocopied "sheet music" that I had lying around. She painted the entire canvas herself!
I added the quote at the bottom, "Nothing is more completely the child of art than a garden." It was also my idea to add the buttons, the rubber-stamped sun and the rhinestone "crown." But I still feel humble next to her splendid artistic genius!

Click on the picture to see an enlargement.
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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Reconstructing a Burned Polymer Head

I burned my head!


It was suspended on a special hook in the oven, carefully and lovingly prepared so this sculpt could be perfectly cured. I had worked so hard on it, and I proudly closed the door with a smile, gleefully anticipating the end of just a few minutes.... when I could admire my hard work and move on to the next stage of my artful creation.

Suddently, my dog began whimpering and barking like mad. She needed to go out. Murphy's law! Just a couple of minutes.... that's all she needed. I gave in and took doggie out very quickly. But when I returned, it was too late.

The head had somehow detached from the hook, and tumbled down to the bottom of the oven. Luckily, the face was unscathed, but the entire right side was badly scorched. The ears were destroyed, and so was the neck. BAD DOG!

Using my Exacto knife, I carved away all the char. I refilled and smoothed over the damaged areas with new clay. However, the face is "overdone." It no longer has that milky supple look. The young beauty I started out with looks weathered. Well, maybe she will be a troll faerie woman from the moor or somehthing like that! Could turn out quite beautiful...

This head has become my obsession. I must restore it. It's funny- I look at it as some sort of challenge that I've just got to fulfill! Has this ever happened to you?
What I am wondering is, how should I now finish painting the face? I don't want it to look "un-natural."
I'm still playing with ideas. I like to use Genesis artist oils. But it did not cover well. Although it is absolutely smooth as silk, the face looks sort of blotchy. Hmmm.

Somebody suggested I turn it into a cloth-over-clay. Not sure! I'm still imagining what I might do to preserve the clay surface- and anyhow, what fabric would I use? Oh the details I sculpted into the face! Don't want to lose them.... maybe it's a good idea, maybe not... Decisions, decisions!
Has this ever happened to you? What did you do?
Do you have any suggestions? Leave me a comment!
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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Creative Doll Makeovers

I just discovered this title- it looks fabulous and very interesting indeed! If you've ever wondered how to "reborn" a doll- take a vinyl playdoll and make it look so real you can mistake it for the real thing- well I have never seen anything like this book on the market!

I am going to order my copy today. What about you?
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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Doll Cake

This is not your ordinary cake.

Oogah (oo-GAH), or cake, takes on a special meaning here in Israel. The trend in festive cakes looks like something you would find in stop animation films- you know, the ones with the clay sets and characters. These cakes are like a stage with dolls on them- a birthday child's dream come true! The decorations are made from an edible dough that is just like plastalina clay. It looks like so much fun! ESPECIALLY for those of us who like to make dolls.....and they're NOT just for kids.

I can walk into any nice supermarket, any baking supply store, and expecially any bookstore, and find a book and/or magazine with patterns, instructions and inspiration on how to make the shapes and dolls for this kind of cake. You can buy the "dough" in a specialty shop, or make it yourself.
Just add food color to the dough, and you've got "clay." Roll it out flat, cover the surface of the cake, and then sculpt dolls and "props" to your heart's content.

Here is a link to an adorable website: http://yami.co.il/

It is entirely in Hebrew, but it is such eye candy. And ear candy! The site opens with a very popular kids' song: "Ein chagiga, blee OOGAH! (there's no party without cake!) Aifo aifo aifo aifo aifo... ha oogah?! (Where where where where where.. is the cake?)

And another site, called NOGA.
It is her work that I have displayed on my site.

I found a recipie for the dough in a magazine. I have translated it into English.


1/2 kilogram sifted powdered sugar
5 teaspoons water
3 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon soft butter
2 teaspoons corn syrup

1. mix the gelatin and the water, and heat up for a few seconds until the gelatin dissolves.
2. Heat up the mixing bowl with a hair dryer for example (Rivkah's note- I'm just translating haha! I guess it must be a metal bowl....) and mix all ingredients together in it. Mix well until the dough becomes uniform.
3. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

There is also a bit of icing used for decorating. Here's that recipie:

3 egg whites
1/2 kilogram sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Whip all the ingredients together for about 10 minutes.


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