The Mad Art Doll Sculptor Experiments — A PaperClay-Premier Slurry Mix (Slip)

He-he-ho-ho-ha-ha! Mwha-ha-ha-ha-ha-HA!

It’s kind of like that for a few seconds but then days (and into some mornings) were spent examining many different art doll mediums, sculpting techniques, youtube videos, and pinterest pins. But you know, that initial glee does infuse a peaceful and intense joy into hours of research.

Related Pinterest Boards

I’ve built up little libraries on my Pinterest boards. It’s not all the usual, so you may want to check these boards out.

La Doll Premix Clay, an Air-Dry Clay

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/444941638163831573/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/444941638163831549/

Official sites refer to La Doll Premix as a stone clay, a paper clay, and a polymer clay  — a hybrid clay! It has paper pulp in it as well as two types of finely ground stone – talc and pumice. It also has other stuff in it that allows it to dry to artist grade strength and you can make hollow dolls with it just as you can with La Doll Premier clay. Premix is a proprietary mix of La Doll Stone (often just referred to as “La Doll) and La Doll Premier, their most advanced clay. It is stronger than if a customer mixed the two, I’m not sure how.

Unfortunately, I can’t find Premix locally and shipping costs are financially prohibitive so I turned to an experimental mix.

Considering Air-Dry Clays … Paperclay and Premier

I have some delightful polymer doll clays (Cernit, Puppen Fimo), but have become quite fascinated with the air-dry clays suitable for art dolls, mainly Padico La Doll Premier, one of if not the strongest air-dry clay on the market. (Clays that seem to dry in the air but that really cure by chemical reaction not included.)

Air-dry Clay Directory: http://newclaynews.blogspot.com/p/adc-brands.html

Many of the renowned figurative art doll artists on my pinterest  boards use these two air-dry clays. Others most commonly use artist grade polymer doll clays, often Cernit and Fimo.

Air-dry Clay Slip … What For?

Padico makes Premier, Premix, and La Doll (meaning their original Stone clay) and  La Doll Cloth Clay, a clay slurry/slip version of Premier air-dry clay, essentially.

Slurry, n. — a semiliquid mixture, typically of fine particles of manure, cement, or coal suspended in water.

In the ceramics world, clay slurry is referred to as “slip.” It’s used to coat or join pieces. It’s also a handy way of recycling dried up bits of clay, as they can be rewetted (providing they weren’t fired, I presume).

The Cloth Clay page states: It is a liquid air-dry clay sure to inspire some new styles of doll crafting. It can be used in a manner similar to the clay-over-cloth technique currently used by many cloth doll crafters or used for draping fabric on a sculpted clay figure. It can also be used like a clay slip, to fill small holes or cracks on finished surface of a sculpted figure.

If you go to the video on youtube, “Japan ‘Ichimatsu’ doll Making (without subtitle),” you’ll notice they’re working with a surface clay made of pulverized shells (must not breath in while dry!) and do wonders with clay slip. They don’t just use it to join things like the ears. They also use it to create the eyes — to embed the eyes. They later carve them out in a highly stylized way. Captivating.

Ecorche (sculpting of the muscles, often over a wire armature), such as what sculptor Julian Kohr accomplishes, involves sculpting the fatty padding and skin for a more realistic appearance.

https://youtu.be/SXmtItK9SmE

Can an art doll artist do that with Premier and other artist grade air-dry doll clays, maybe like this at times? It’s a WIP (work in progress) by russian art doll artist extraordinaire, Михаил Зайков (Michael Zajkov). Such an approach would better portray all sorts of people — young, old, female, male, active, inactive and an artist could better portray the body as a living, breathing, body, a person with a story.

The Questions, They Burn!
  1. Why not do an adapted version of ecorche and then dip the sculpture in a clay slurry to add fat/skin?
  2. Why not dip armature in a clay slurry to start coating the armature with clay?
  3. Why not, at various stages, dip WIPs in clay slurry to smooth things out and bulk things up at the same time?
  4. Will slurry be smoother and easier, more magical, than traditional additive and/or subtractive methods, litterally and figuratively, pardon the pun? If it is, can a slurry open doors when working with air-dry clays? Is it part of how to work air-dry clays masterfully? Is it part of that toolbox?

Slurry Creation, a 3:1 Mix, and Testing it Out

https://youtu.be/ri6UQKRJZPU

I got two larger jars, put in a block each of Creative PaperClay in one jar and Padico La Doll Premier clay in the other, in chunks. I then added water and tried to break the clay down  and create that magical slurry. Apparently, that was going to take forever so I transferred the clay and water to a blender and added enough water to make smooth slurry of each kind of clay. I added cling wrap over each open jar then closed the lids.

I started testing. I wanted slurries to provide a smooth and an even enough coat and then sanding can take care of the rest.

  1. PaperClay slurry was too gritty in a coarse way.
  2. Premier clay slurry was so smooth and gelatinous-like that it bunched up when I tried to smoothly apply it over a sheet of paper with a brush. Nope. Neither were quite what I wanted.
  3. A mix of the two?! In mad scientist mode, I got a trusted dual ended measuring spoon out — a teaspoon on one end and a tablespoon on the other end, and made a 3:1 Creative PaperClay Premier clay mix, meaning one part Premier (1 t) and three parts PaperClay (1 T). “T” is for tablespoon and “t” is for teaspoon.  I mixed it up well, applied with a brush to paper, applied it to a papier-mache egg, filled a mold with it, and dipped a wooden skewer in it.
    1. The 3:1 molded clay slurry has dried.
      1. Dried, the molded clay slurry is close to a thin wafer like medallion and it broke easily. Curious, it’s strong if it’s coating something, even a thin wooden skewer normally used in BBQing, and is whacked against something hard but if strong shearing force is applied, if on its own, the dried 3:1 clay slurry breaks. So it has some kinds of strength but not others. Unless someone tried to snap doll in two, dried slurry remains incredibly strong. This is a vote for using this slury as part of the sculpting process, but only in thin layers over something else — the first coating of armature, coating musculature to soften appearance, adding sculpted eyebrows/moles/elbow skin. I will not use it for joining limbs, other body parts, or digits. It’s a vote for either decreasing amount of Creative Paperclay slurry in the mix or switching to a premade slurry of eithre La Doll Stone (regular) or La Doll Premier. The slurry for La Doll Premier is called Padico Cloth Clay. I just now ordered some Padico Cloth Clay for $11.20 US dollars. I must compare, of course.
    2. The clay slurry dried on the wood, paper, and papier-mache very nicely, stayed put, dried overnight, and sands ever so easily.
    3. Strength and other qualities will be continually checked as I use this mix.
    4. The clay slurry I haven’t mixed will be kept separate by brand and used with the clay it’s made from…unless I mix it for certain purposes. I don’t know if I will?
    5. Two coats of 3:1 slurry on a wooden skewer, letting the first dip dry overnight before dipping again, made the stick at least twice as thick as its original width. It does not easily chip off even though I whacked the coated skewer against many surfaces many times.
    6. One coat of 3:1 slurry dried on paper does crack and separate one dry when you fold the paper.
    7. Testing of brand-pure, 3:1, and other ratio mixes of slurry will be dried over armature and tested.
    8. Putting clay slurry in a thin line squeeze bottle to write, create brows, create moles and other details is still a monstrously good idea. I was incredibly pleased with the results.

Conclusion

I am more interested in Premier, Cloth Clay, and Premix than ever. Premix is not available locally or from many o the major art supplies online stores.

The book Yoshida Style Ball Jointed Doll Making Guide, by Ryo Yoshida just arrived. I got it for 20-something US dollars, a good price. It came weeks early, a rather pleasant surprise. Now I must find help with translation or find ready-made translations of chapters online. No one’s Japanese here is that strong.

Advertisements
art doll sculpting parts stand

Video: Adjustable Art Doll Sculpting Stand & Oven Cover

Many art doll artists build up and sculpt their polymer clay doll parts over wooden dowels. My recent youtube video shows that I can place these dowels in my stand and tilt the whole thing so that the art doll heads or other parts tilt up toward me as I work. I can just as easily return the stand to level position. The clay stand can go from work table to oven and has so far prevented burning of polymer clay parts during tests. It also evens out the temperature. Even good ovens momentarily spike in temperature, from what I understand, so it’s wonderful if you can find something that holds temperatures even within it, despite expected oven fluctuations.

I made my stand out of clay using what I had, which was Amaco Air Dry Modeling Clay, but the one shown in the Creager Studios instructional DVDs was made out if wood. Since I made this with a natural air dry clay, and not a more durable kiln-cured clay, I coated it with Kato Liquid Polyclay and cured it. If I hadn’t done that, the stand could leave clay dust and crumbles all over while manipulating it. Problem solved. The Kato Liquid Polyclay was chosen because it cures at a higher temperature than the polymer clays I chose for creating my art dolls. This means I don’t have to worry about the Kato Liquid Polyclay burning.

I guess I’m the oddball that makes a stand like this before really getting into sculpting polymer clay art dolls, I’m still a beginner, but I like figuring things out ahead of time in order to hopefully avoid some of the most common problems — how to comfortably work with your clay yet keep it as clean as possible, how to avoid marring it when working on it or between sculpting sessions, and how to cure it properly without burning or darkening the clay. Yeah.

Karen A. Scofield Learning with Creager Studios Workshop DVD. Progress shot. KarenAScofield

WIP: Sculpting with Creager Studio Workshops Sculpting the Head Volume 1

2015_01_11and12_SculptingArtDollsAgain 001

Note: This page will show more as my work progresses.

The above shows my progress during the first two days. I have to add the lips, eyes, flesh it out more, shape it more, add details and then bake it.

Where to buy the Creager Workshop DVDs: http://www.creagers.com/. I have all three and they’re really helping me. I love them.

Rusty and a Beginner — I was a beginner when I started sculpting art dolls in 2005 but managed to get juried into an art gallery with assemblage type dolls. I’m diving in again after a years-long hiatus and this time, I want to do far more pure sculpting. I tried one head to toe body pure sculpt and then stopped. It’s been years since. I have hours and hours of practice ahead of me — I both look forward to it and dread the awkward stage. This time I hope to stick with it.

So … I cracked open my Creager DVD on sculpting heads and this time I’m going to keep on trying.

Right away, I came across numerous technical problems.

Clay — Ooops. I chose a clay blend because I was in love with it after some pretty decent results in one of the softest clay — Sculpey UltraLIght. Like straight Sculpey Ultralight, however, my Super Sculpey-Sculpey Ultralight clay mix doesn’t blend or smooth well. After this practice head, I’ll switch to working with more traditional art doll clays. They have varying degrees of softness and firmness but will blend and smooth well.

Unfortunate Combination of Store Practices and Super Sculpey Packaging  — Super Sculpey boxes aren’t sealed in a protective wrap, the boxes don’t close tightly, people often pinch off a piece or mar the clay, and stores invariably place Super Sculpey on bottom shelves where they’ll be exposed to the most dirt, dust, and lint. It’s not one of the more popular clays among hobbyists, so boxes often sit on the shelves longer than other clays, thus compounding the problem. Consequently the clay is often dirty before you even get it home and you can’t simply wash off the lint. I could shave off the sides and put them in a scrap clay container, I suppose.

Brushes That Stain Clay — Jodi Creager said to use artist brushes…any small enough to smooth the clay. Not her fault, Murphy’s Law and all, but Daler Rowney Simply Brown Nylon Brushes leave their bristle color on my clay. Only the brown ones do that so far. I’ll look for other brushes, white and/or natural bristle ones. I guess I should test even brushes on polymer clay first. Test, test, test. Lots of testing with everything.

Lint — I’m wearing light colored cotton with a white lab coat over it. No dark fibrous sweaters or towels are allowed in the studio. Pets are not allowed either. I cleaned my station for two days with wet wipes and even rubbed my claying mat with a wad of clay to pick up the lint and I’m still finding dark fibers of several different colors in the once clean clay after working it yesterday and today. Argh!

Jan. 15, 2015

Learning to Pure Sculpt More with Creager Studio Workshops "Sculpting the  Head" Volme 1 DVD

Learning to Pure Sculpt More with Creager Studio Workshops “Sculpting the Head” Volme 1 DVD, third day…

Jan. 19, 2015

Learning to sculpt polymer clay art doll heads with a Creager Studios Workshop DVD

Learning to sculpt polymer clay art doll heads with a Creager Studios Workshop DVD

I’ve been making progress every day or other day, the latest involving fine-tuned shaping and texturing, but as soon as I added rudimentary ears and and started to correct the jaw, I saw a bunch of things I want to change. I need to add more to the top of the head, add more flesh to outer upper eyelid to reflect age, redo and lower ears, redo chin, add a bit to the upper lip right under the nose thus changing the bottom of the nostrils and nares slightly. For starters. Then I have to do the neck and continue with the rest of the body. I’ll probably have to do more texturing and even further fine-tuned shaping. Here’s a video that shows him from different angles at this stage, just in case WIPs (Works in Progress) interest you. For me, they’re a good record that I can organize into one ongoing post.

Progress Jan. 26, 2015.

Learning with Creager Studios Workshop DVD. Progress shot. KarenAScofield

Learning how to sculpt with more of an additive process with Creager Studio Worshops “Sculpting the Head” Volume 1. Progress Jan. 26, 2015.

I have to revisit the entire list of everything I’m working on because I didn’t make nearly the progress I wanted. Perhaps it’s better to make slow, small changes than to make such mistake that I don’t know how to save the work from that point.

Pinterest Board: Art Dolls and Spirit Dolls.

It includes definitions and some of the finer figurative art doll examples, photos of the artists, some videos, and the occasional tutorial. Enjoy.

Related Pinterest Boards

I finally separated finished art dolls from all the rest that might go into making them. It’s not all the usual, so you may want to check these boards out.

Art Dolls vs. Spirit Dolls

To Learn About “Dolls” As Figurative Fine Art or as Decorative, Meaningful Spirit Dolls, See:

About Art Dolls: https://karenascofield.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/pure-sculpt-ooak-art-doll-definition/

About Spirit Dolls: https://karenascofield.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/a-spirit-doll-definition-and-resources/

Art Dolls

Professionally speaking, Art Dolls are works of fine art that aren’t created to be played with and that don’t use any commercial molds in the process of their creation. They can take a week to a month or more of full-time and often overtime work to create and are sold for anywhere from a bit over 100 US dollars to several thousand US dollars each if made by highly skilled, better known artists.

Altering what you make using commercial molds means you used a commercial mold and therefore any work made with that isn’t an art doll in any professional sense. Those creations belong to different categories of doll.

Note: The array of industry-recognized, doll related categories and their titles are covered in the first link, above.

Spirit Dolls

Spirit dolls can embody or symbolize things and may or may not employ commercial molds in their creation. They may or may not be considered fine works of art. They may touch or depict human and animal spiritual natures in some way. The spiritual natures of people, places, animals and things can be interpreted through the lens of an array of world views and religions.

Art Dolls

(URLs For Included Links Last Checked and Corrected: Jan. 6, 2015.)

What’s Your Reality Bubble?

Professionally speaking, Art Dolls are works of fine art that aren’t created to be played with and aren’t created by using commercial molds. They can take a day to a month or more and are sold for 100 US dollars, if the skill level is lacking, to 10,000 US dollars or more when made by highly skilled, better known artists.

Altering stuff made while using commercial molds means you used a commercial mold and therefore any work made with that isn’t an art doll in any professional sense. Those creations belong to different categories of doll. See the array of industry-recognized, doll categories and their titles covered on ODACA’s (Original Doll Artist Council of America) Standard Definitions Page.

My pinterest board on art dolls and spirit dolls shows some of the finer examples of art dolls.http://www.pinterest.com/sari0009/art-dolls-and-spirit-dolls/

Although some “art doll” artists who use commercial molds and commercially made doll parts may hold workshops and/or write books, they are usually not among those who are selling said “art dolls” professionally as active members in any of the better known art doll associations as professional art doll artists.

Why Differentiate?

Art is art, right? If it’s a doll, and it’s art, then it’s an art doll; case closed. Not so fast…

In the professional art doll world, many art doll artists can take weeks or months to create their art dolls and props. It’s a concern when doll crafters who use commercial molds or parts flood youtube and the marketplace and call their work “art dolls” or One of a Kind (OOAKs) Art Dolls. Differentiation using professional definitions protect the entire field of art dolls. 

I went to a SOFA exhibition (Sculptural Objects, Functional Art, and Design) around the year 2006 or so and wondered why there weren’t a bunch of art dolls there. Many people think art dolls are just for old broads over 50, or some such nonsense. Because “dolls.” The morass of what people try to pass as art dolls creates problems for the art doll field too. This is why some art doll artists make sure to classify their work as “figurative” or “fine art.” E.g., Hidden Hollow’s description of “Original One of a Kind Figurative Clay Sculptures & Other Works of Art,” by Dianne Mayne. Another example comes from Anna Klocko’s webpage, “My dolls, which I call Figurative Sculpture, are the culmination of many aspects of my artistic life.”

Pure Sculpts: I prefer to pure sculpt art dolls in clay, though the trunk of a doll may sometimes be stuffed fabric. When I say “pure sculpt,” it means the artist takes raw clay and sculpts it with their own hands (or feet if they don’t have working hands) or sculpting tools, as opposed to using commercial molds in any manner. Pure sculpt art dolls can reach the heights I want to as an artist, capture a precise moment or an expression, and can artistically push the envelope in some way. They are created as pieces of fine art. This is why if I altered a molded item, I’ll say that’s what it is, and if I make a pure sculpt, I’ll call it a pure sculpt.

Note: The following definition is based on various official and standardized definitions and additionally addresses OOAK clay art dolls, specifically, as opposed to all professional art dolls.

Pure Sculpt OOAK Art Doll Definition (My Definition) — An original one-of-a-kind (OOAK) doll made by the artist using no one else’s patterns or molds. The doll is made of any medium or combination thereof and is the artist’s original work and design — no class dolls, no reborns, no repaints, no commercial molds and no recycled or mass produced doll parts. A pure sculpt, the doll is sculpted completely by the artist’s own hands to fulfill their vision and is created as a work of fine art. Art Dolls go for fine art prices and collectors ask for them the world over.

Again, an art doll is original one-of-a-kind doll made by the artist, using no one else’s patterns or molds, made of any medium or combination thereof and is the artist’s original work and design — no class dolls, no reborns, no repaints, no commercial molds and no recycled or mass produced doll parts. Art Dolls go for fine art prices, collectors ask for them the world over.

Art Dolls (Fine Art) vs. Crafting: It’s generally understood, in professional art doll circles, that if you use commercial molds, then you’re crafting and you’re not creating an art doll. More on the different terms you might hear on ODACA’s (Original Doll Artist Council of America) Standard Definitions Page.

Professional, Standard Definitions

The Standard Definition for OOAKs: “When the original or first doll is sculpted, assembled, costumed and finished by the artist and this doll is never made again, it is called a one-of-a-kind doll. One-of-a-kind dolls are almost always entirely designed and handcrafted by the creating artist.”

ODACA (Original Doll Artist Council of America) Excludes the Use of Commercial Molds: “All work made from commercially available molds, even if significantly changed by the hobbyist, should carry original marks followed by “reproduced by . (craftsman’s name or initials).” To do otherwise can constitute infringement of creator copyright. Makers who sell works made from other’s molds as their own originals may also be subject to charges of fraud.” In case it’s not clear that commercial molds shouldn’t be used for art dolls, this is the standard definition for an art doll artist: “One who takes an idea and transforms it into a three-dimensional doll form by using his or her hands to sculpt or re-arrange raw materials.”

Wikipedia’s Definition of Art Dolls: “Art dolls are objects of art, rather than children’s toys, created in a wide variety of styles and media, and may include both pre-manufactured parts or wholly original works.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_doll

Etsy’s Word on Art Dolls: “There’s no hard and fast definition to be found for an art doll. They can be made out of almost any medium or several different media. They come in various shapes, sizes, styles, and designs. They can be very realistic or abstract with barely anything recognizable on them. They can be human, humanoid, anthropomorphic, alien, fantasy, sci-fi, or just about anything in between. You can read more here.”

NIADA (National Institute of American Doll Artists) Doesn’t Allow the Use of Commercial Molds and Parts: “A NIADA artist who uses molds in his/her dollmaking is expected to produce such molds, or have them produced by a mold-maker from a sculpture made by the artist. No commercial or “repro” molds may be used.” See NIADA Artist Handbook.

International Art Doll Registry’s Say on Art Dolls:We accept figurative Art Dolls made from polymer clay, cloth dolls with original sculpted components, air dry type clays such as Paper Clay and also figures made from Epoxy Sculpt or Aves. We do not register works that are pre-manufactured dolls such as reborns or fashion doll repaints.  We do not register animal or other non-human sculpts other than fantasy (fairies, mermaids, centaurs, etc) and anthropomorphic dolls.” In case that isn’t clear for the crafters, “original sculpted components” means don’t use commercial molds and call your doll an art doll, specifically. http://www.international-art-doll-registry.com/join 

For More…

See “The One of a Kind Debate” at http://www.dollmakersdream.com/one-of-a-kind-debate.html.

More about OOAKs at http://www.niada.org/fundraiserdolls/DollSaleLI.html.

Also see the NIADA site. http://www.niada.org/about.html.

ODACA (Original Doll Artist Council of America) — http://www.odaca.org/index.html.

And then there are Spirit Dolls

My first full body sculpt, by Karen A. Scofield, in UltraLight Sculpey Polymer Clay.

Sculpey UltraLight Polymer Clay: My first attempt at a full body sculpt

I sculpted this WIP in 2007. Before that, I had tried to sculpt a few things (face cabs, hands, feet, runes) in clay first (my first dolls were more assemblage style) in 2005 to 2007. Only after that did I … Continue reading