Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I need it like I need a hole in my head!

If you are familiar with making soft dolls, you probably know that you can use a felting needle to root natural wool into a doll's head.  Working with a hard-headed doll is more or a challenge because you need to glue the hair on.  I discovered a technique that allows you to root that hair in naturally- where it counts. 

For this example, I'm working on a porcelain doll.  Porcelain body parts are hollow... head included.  I needed to fill in the hole, obviously- and inadvertently realized that this could be to my advantage.  This technique was done on a porcelain doll, but it should work on a polymer clay doll too. I may be reinventing the wheel, but I have never seen this technique recorded anywhere.   I think I'll coin it the ' Rooting  Rivkah Technique'...  silly as it sounds, I hope it inspires somebody- sis boom bah, rah rah rah!

You will need:

*quilters batting
*skin colored fabric
*glue that dries clear  
*fine mohair (I used Alpaca)
*sewing machine
*felting needle
*red nailpolish (just kidding!)

To prepare the doll's head sew quilters batting and skin colored fabric in a circle, just a bit larger than the hole in the head.  Trim very close to the seam, and glue down.  Allow to dry completely.  
Looks like a beenie!

Spread out the mohair on a table.  Do it very carefully, especially if you are using Alpaca wool.  It's very fine and  "flyaway."  At this point, it's a good idea to cover the mohair with a quilter's mat or something flat for a while.  This will make it more manageable and prepare it for sewing the wefts.

To sew the wefts, set your sewing machine thread tension to 1.0 or 1.5.  It's a little challenging but the feed dogs on the machine actually do pull the fibers through.  If you have trouble then put on red nailpolish.


Next you will have to glue the wefts onto the doll's head.    You will want to make about 3 rows of wefts, from the bottom up.  (I only had enough mohair for 3 rows).  Let each row dry before you move up to the next.   

note: In a pinch,  glue some "fuzzies" in between the rows.  Just clip off some extra shavings and glue them in so that the "scalp" part doesn't show.  (If you have tons of mohair to work with, don't worry about it!)

Notice I should have added some more shavings in between the wefts...  I'll go in and add it.
Now the doll is ready to be needle felted... 

On the forehead, carefully needle wispy baby hair "under" the edge of the "beenie."   You will have to work carefully holding the needle horizontally and poking sideways- rather than up and down.  Do it slowly and it will work.  Makes for a perfect hariline!  It will look very natural.

This is why I am sure that this technique can work on a polymer clay doll, too- even though the head won't be hollow.  I would try needle felting on the beenie over a makeshift small pillow the size of the diameter of a cup.  Then I would carefully remove it, and then glue the whole thing to the polymer doll.

What do you think?  Try it out!  And don't forget to wear red nailpolish....


  1. Your tutorials are the best! I really enjoy yout site.

  2. This does seem a good idea Rivkah...I bet it would work on a clay head. It may be a while before I get around to one...but definitely want to try it when I do. The hairline at the front does look very natural ....

  3. I`m so glad to have found your blog,you are so helpful,thanks!phylliso


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