Friday, January 22, 2010

Cloth Over Clay

Recently somebody asked about the "cloth over clay" method of making faces for cloth dolls.

This is a great technique where you sculpt a face from clay, sort of like a mask, and lay it on a flat doll head. When it dries, stretch fabric is laid over the clay. It really gives you artistic freedom in creating a beautiful face that looks like it is entirely made of cloth.

I just wanted to share a couple of pointers I discovered:

Rather than using fabric glue, you can use TEXTILE MEDIUM. It's more flexible than fabric glue, and it does not stiffen the fabric. The beauty of it is, you can brush it onto the OUTER SURFACE and use a tool to get into those hard-to reach crevices- like the lips, nose, and corners of the eyes. You can completely saturate the fabric and sort of "mold it" like clay. And as I just mentioned, it won't leave the fabric stiff. How cool is that?

Try it!

You can even use it when the face is already painted, and mix it with Pigment Powder as needed.

A good resource for learning how to do cloth over clay is a book by Antonette Cely, called Cloth Doll Making. This is a very technical book and should be in every doll maker's library.

If you would like an actual pattern with step-by-step photo instructions for this technique and the flat-faced head, I do have one. It's called Niamh. Your doll's face will turn out however you sculpt it! Cloth over clay is definitely a worthwhile technique to explore.


  1. Fern P4:21 PM

    Hi Rivkah! I am enjoying your "how-tos" so much, and learning a lot. You are very generous to provide these for us on your blog. I have a question: Can textile medium could be used to simulate fingernails on cloth dolls, or do you recommend a different method?

  2. Mod Podge works great for nails


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