Feeling contemplative today, like a lot of people. I decided to finally get back to the new face that I started a few days ago. When I began sculpting this face, I decided to document each stage in the process. It turned out to be the perfect topic for my first doll making blog post.
When I first started making dolls, I sculpted the doll heads, hands, and feet/shoes out of polymer clay, covered these pieces in cloth, and attached them to weighted cloth bodies. I liked the rough folk art result - the texture of the fabric coming through the acrylic paint of the face. I also liked the fact that I didn't have to make any molds - each doll was a one-of-a-kind sculpt.
I'm switching gears with this new line. I dug out some oil based clay, which I plan to mold and cast. Cast in what? It'll be a surprise.
I start with a big blob of oil based clay, which is formed over a ball of aluminum foil. I make out a rough shape of a child's face.
No, the new doll isn't an alien. I love the big eye look. The features are becoming more distinct. At this point, I'm pretty much just working with my fingers. I haven't picked up any sculpting tools yet. The holes are for the glass eyes that I'm going to insert.
Now it's tool time. I push the glass eyes into the face and then form the eyelids around them. I try to look at the face from multiple angles. As you can see in the second picture, the face is a bit wonky. Not that there's anything wrong with asymmetry. Heck, you're talking to a woman born with one leg. No, really. I was.
You may be wondering why there is a mix of white and tan clay here. The answer is very interesting. I didn't realize that I only had a small amount of white clay left. So, I had to resume with the tan oil clay, which was tucked away in the back of a shelf in our art room. This makes it very difficult to evaluate any bumps or inconsistent textures in the sculpture. It's a tie-dye sculptural nightmare. The only way for me to be sure that the surface is smooth, is to hold this sculpture up to the light and look for shadows. Note to self: buy more white clay. Oil clay gets softer the more you handle it, so I put the head in the refrigerator to harden it up a bit.
To make crevasses in the face, I carve out chunks of clay with a dental tool. Then I dip a paint brush into a tiny bit of paint thinner, which helps break down the clay and smooth out sharp edges. Another way to smooth things up is to sculpt over Saran Wrap.
Throughout the process I keep checking for symmetry. That's my cold coffee in the corner, which I had accidentally dipped the paint thinner brush into. Another note to self: keep the coffee on another table.
I think the face is nearly done now. I'm just going to keep going over it periodically, to add some final touches. The next step will be molding. I can't wait!
Sculpting Resources I love:
Drawing Your Baby, by Judy Clifford, is a fantastic book for anatomical reference. I especially like her studies on mouths and ears.