Hi ho, lovely readers!
Quite a while ago, I signed up for Tamara Laporte’s mini class, called Art Doll Angel. It was originally part of a series of Christmas-themed lessons led by Christy Tomlinson. Today’s post is a review of Tam’s class. If you’re interested, you can purchase this lesson from Tam’s Etsy shop.
This is one of Tam’s shorter mini-classes. There are 2 videos, both about 45 minutes long, plus a detailed pdf. I loved this class. I’ve been wanting to make more art dolls for quite some time. Tam makes the process of working with air dry clay completely do-able.
Tam used Paperclay for her art doll. I had Sargent Sculpt-it on hand. I made two dolls, initially, as you can see in the first photo. The larger doll was made over a S&B Curry tin for the body and crumpled Vogue magazine pages for the head then taped to shape. The smaller doll was made by crumpling up pages from a Vogue magazine attached by a skewer then taped.
The larger doll took for-ever to dry, so I worked on the smaller one with various craft supplies I have. I call her Beatrice and I think she’s just adorbs. I ended up giving her to one of my co-workers who was having a really rough day. Beatrice is just over 3 inches tall.
These little dolls take very little clay. I wanted to start using Paperclay, but I had almost 2 pounds of the Sargent clay, so I made up a bunch more to use the stuff up. I currently have 7 in various stages of completion. The 7th doll is ready to be covered in clay. I think this last one will use up the last of my Sargent clay.
The Sargent clay tends to crack. It seems when I use more water to smooth and blend the clay, it cracks less. But I didn’t really take notes. Some of the cracks are quite large, but don’t appear to be dangerously cracked. I don’t find the cracks attractive so I cover the doll with layers of tissue paper adhered with Speedball gloss gel then go where the muse takes me. I particularly like using the gloss gel followed by coloring the face and neck with Pitt Brush Pens. The ink is a transparent enough to show any stamped images and text. By letting the ink to dry, you can build up layers of deeper color.
This class is a great introduction to art dolls. I plan to keep making these little beauties. Tam provides plenty of details and tips on how to work with the air-dry clay with inspiration for you to branch out on your own. The reason Tam’s videos are long is that she turns the camera on and works through the process on camera. The nice part is that when she works herself into a corner, you get to hear her thought process and see her work through it. I really enjoyed this mini-class and love making these Desk Fairies, as my supervisor dubbed them.
In the course of making the 7 versions, I’ve refined my process: make a base from cardboard, weight it with 4 metal washers, wad up magazine pages and shape them with masking tape. I prefer a matte masking tape or blue painter’s tape. I’ve got some glossy artist tape that is too slick for my taste. After taping, I use a skewer cut to size to attach the head to the body then tape between the two to keep the head from spinning around as I work (so annoying!). My dolls tend to end up roughly the same size as Beatrice – between 3-4 inches tall.
Add a fairly generous, but not dripping, coat of black gesso – it’s easier to see black gesso. Liquitex gesso doesn’t have enough grip for my taste. I actually like clear gesso because it has a lot of grip, but it’s difficult to see how evenly it’s applied. In writing this out, next time, I’ll try a layer of black gesso. Once dry, use clear gesso. Add the layers of clay, smoothing it out as best you can. And then adding brows, a chin and smoothing the clay around to create a nose and mouth. I have two plastic clay tools. Each end of the tool has a different shape but I could really use one of those ball-ended tools. Dotting tool? My plan when I get around to using Paperclay is to either embed doll eyes in the head or make little clay eyes. The Sculpt-it clay takes overnight to dry, which is why I have dolls in various stages of completion. As with my paintings and art journal pages, I keep working on each doll until I love it. When I get stumped, I set it aside and wait for inspiration to strike.
I love integrating mixed media techniques on these quirky little stump dolls. While waiting for the clay to dry, I take out some stamps, Stayzon ink and tissue paper. I stamp randomly around the tissue then use torn tissue as my first layer. As I made more of these, I prefer keeping stamped images away from the face unless it’s small images or text. I dig through my papers and fabric to find the shirt/dress. I found the base of these dolls is not very tidy, so I like gluing sturdy paper around the base. Then I go to town on embellishments. I’m currently enjoying gluing wool roving to the heads for hair. I have a paper doll template with 2 styles of wings in 3 sizes, so I trace the wings onto Shinzen back with scrapbook paper and glue them on with E6000. I’ve enjoyed these stump dolls so much and am on the verge of progressing from busts to making full dolls.
It does seem a logical progression, given how much I love my plastic and resin dolls, huh?
What’s on your art table? I’d love to hear what you’re working on. Please leave a comment or link to your current project.