Art Dolls & So Long 2016

Hi ho lovelies.

Can you believe 2016 is nearly over?  I feel a mix of relief and disbelief at the past 12 months.

It’s been a pretty good year here at Tenukihandcrafts: my first gallery show was a success; I added prints to my shop; my work was published in a book about women artists around the world.  I owe it all to you, my friends.

I had planned to make art tutorials this year, but in the end, I made a couple art journal flip throughs and a couple planner tutorials.  One of my goals for 2017 is to make offer more tutorials.  What to learn more about making art dolls?

My last post for 2016 is a look at my recent obsession: art dolls.  Making art dolls has been on my list for a very long time. This year, I took 2 classes for inspiration and instruction: Tamara Laporte’s Art Doll Angel and Adele Po’s Create Your Own Doll.  I really enjoyed both classes tremendously.

In Tam’s class, we made stump dolls using Creative Paperclay and some sort of base – either a skinny glass jar or wadded and taped magazine pages.  It took me several tries before I made the doll I’m most happy with to date, although you might be a tad concerned looking at the initial stage of development.

I made the base of the head and torso from the pages of a Vogue magazine.  I wadded the pages into rough shapes then roughly sculpted and taped the shapes.  I taped the head and torso together with more wadded magazine pages for a neck. I covered the entire figure with the paper clay and let it cure for several days.  I sculpted the features and let this layer dry. Creative Paperclay is considerably easier to sculpt than Sargent’s Sculp-it clay.




I painted the gal with a layer of flesh color Deco Arts acrylic paint, followed by a layer of gloss varnish. I let those layers completely dry then paint the features on with Pitt Brush pens, which is a technique I learned from Christy Tomlinson in Effy Wild’s Radiant Faces class. I added highlights with a white Posca marker and outlines with a black Pitt Pen.

Once her face was complete, I added a fake fur wig, attached with heavy gel medium. After letting the wig dry completely, the real fun begins!


I crafted a dress from scraps of fabric and lace and sewed it on her.  I made her necklace from glass beads, silver beads and 26 gauge silver wire. I added a couple of birth marks.

I picked up some La Doll porcelain clay for a full art doll project (you can see the body in the background of the first photo of this post). La Doll is even dreamier to work with than Creative Paperclay. But that’s a post for another day.

What was the best thing that happened for you in 2016?  Drop a comment below.  I’d love to hear about it.

Well, my lovelies, that’s all from Tenukihandcrafts in 2016.  Thank you all so much your comments, support, all-around wonderfulness, and coming along for the ride.  I wish you and yours glad tidings in 2017.


classes, Dolls

Art Doll 

Hi ho friends.

After enjoying the art doll mini class with Tam, I went in search of a new class for sculpting the entire figure and found Art Dolls with Adele Po. 

This figure has been a work in progress for at least a month. Air dry clays take 24 hours to dry, so there are a lot of breaks between stages. I made a second head after the first was too large for the body and made new arms in order to securely attach them to the body. I still have to glue the doll to the base, but I think that will be easier after I finish painting.

The figure stands about 11.5 inches tall. The scale overall is too small for me but that’s just the way this one worked out. I plan to make more of the art dolls, and have a mermaid in progress, so stay tuned for more art  dolls.

Today, I assembled her and applied the final coat of gesso. Once dry, I will get to work on painting and outfit making.

Adele suggested having a character in mind, but I prefer to work without a plan and see who emerges. One if my classmates commented that the doll knows stuff she doesn’t, so I will create a sage of some kind. Time for research!

Without further ado, here is the As Yet Unnamed Wise Woman art doll.

What’s new in your art world? I’d love to hear about your latest project.

Happy creating! 🎨


Lil Art Doll Angel

Hi ho, lovely readers!

You’ve probably seen some of the pics of my lil art doll project this weekend, cross-posted from my Instagram account. I thought I’d give a bit more detail about the materials I used to make this little gal. One of the things on my bucket list has been to make art dolls.  Since sewing hasn’t been so good on my hands due to all the gripping involved, I thought I’d see if sculpting would be easier.  There are a lot of breaks in the action to clean up and wait for things to dry, so it is easier on my hands. Hurray!


I followed the basic instructions from Tamara Laporte’s Art Doll Angel. One of her examples was a bust, which inspired this one. Here are the supplies I used:

Sargent Sculpt-It! air dry clay, sculpting tools, an old fashion magazine, graphite pencil, gel pens, E6000 glue, masking tape, Deco Art flesh acyrlic paint, pink and white with glitter dots tissue paper, rubber stamp, Stayzon ink in black, an old non-glossy magazine, Pitt pens, Molotow white acrylic marker, lace, ribbon, ribbon roses, Golden interference red,  a small amount of natural light tan colored alpaca rover, Modge Podge, Gloss varnish, and tiny chain with tiny turquoise beads, 2 plyers and a jump ring.

I made the head and bust by wadding up pages from on old Vogue magazine and then taping the heck out of it in order to shape it into the head and bust. I put on layers of Sculpt-it and worked on smoothing it. I kept it pretty wet, so it didn’t crack as much as one of the other dolls I made that is still drying…

Sculpt-it takes 24 hours to fully dry. For this one, I decided not to build up a chin and brow and just see how well I could do the highlights and shadows by hand.

I adhered the torn pieces of non-glossy magazine page to the bust. While it dried, I took one of my favorite stamps and black Stayzon ink and stamped onto pink tissue paper. I painted the head and neck with flesh tone paint. Then layered the tissue paper over the magazine layer. While I was doing this, I didn’t like the little cracks in the head and neck, so I took the white tissue paper with little glittery dots and glued it all over the head and neck.

While I was working, I examined the head to figure out where I would put the face and she seemed to be looking up and to the side, so that’s how I drew on her face. I used Pitt Brush pens to shade the face and color her eyes and lips and used my white Molotow marker to do the highlights.  It look three layers of Pitt pen shading to get a look I liked. You do have to wait for each Pitt layer to dry before continuing – otherwise, you just pull off the color or get an unattractive blob.

I pulled sections of the alpaca and glued sections down with matte gel medium. That was kinda tedious but it worked out. As I was waiting for the first layer of hair to dry, I braided a little section to go around the front of her head (bangs just weren’t going to work). Once I got all the hair on, I twisted and formed a bun at the back. Added a ribbon to the bun and glued 5 ribbon roses to the top of her head.

Glued on the lace for a neck line and used the interfance red above the lace.I made the necklace from the tiny gold chain with beads and a jump ring. Wrote the words on her chest with a Pitt pen and highlighted it with a white gel pen. Made wings from a paper doll template I have, embellished the wings with gel pens and used E6000 to glue them on.

I’m pretty happy with her – I think she’s just adorable and think I’ll take her to work on put her on my desk.

I’ve got a few more dolls on the window sill drying.  I trying to use up the 2 lb bucket of Sculpt-it before I break open the Paperclay.  I want to reuse the bucket for the lefter over clay. I’m hoping the Paperclay dries faster and is easier to use than the Sculpt-it, which seems a might fussy and has a plastic-y feel while you’re working with it.  It doesn’t feel plastic when it’s dry.  Weird.

I really enjoyed making this gal and realized part way through the process that many of my girl portraits are the same style: head and shoulders with no arms.  There’s no real mystery to the lack of arms – I’m not very happy with how these usually turn out, so I tend to make heads on shoulders.

Expect to see more art dolls – I had a lot of fun making and embellishing this gal.

If you’re interested in Tam’s class, you can purchase it from her Etsy shop.

How did you spend your weekend? What projects are you working on?

Happy crafting!


Is it my turn?

Pair Go Tournament Promo photo 2015

For the 3rd year, a photo of my dolls playing go have been on the promotional material for the Seattle Go Center Pair Go Tournament. The Go Center has a traditional tatami room complete with a tiny go set that is scaled perfectly to my 60 and 70 cm sized Asian ball jointed dolls. Today’s post will explore the layers of information contained in this image.

Brian, the Go Center manager, brought his pro photo gear and sage advice. It took about 4 hours to get this shot. I used my Canon Rebel, mounted on a gorilla tripod, on manual so we could use Brian’s wireless flash slave trigger thingymabobber and disabled my camera’s on-board flash.  One light was set outside the tatami room, behind the punch bowl set. The other light was inside the room behind Hiro. Both were triggered when I took the photo.  Brian selected the shutter speed and apeture. On the first try. Because he’s a pro!

The dolls were very cooperative and held their poses, which may make you think I’m a nut. But, seriously, these dolls are strung with elastic and the resin is slick and you have to take steps (like hot glue or heavy gauge wire) to help with posing.  There were many tiny adjustments, from turning their heads so they were looking at something specific to shifting Hiro’s eyes so that he was looking into the camera.  Sticky tack was used on Hiro’s collar (because I forgot to mend it); on the tiny go stone in his hand, and on the punch ladle to hold it in place.

He had the idea to set up a punch bowl to cast a shadow on the tatami room screens.  At the Go Center Pair Go Tournament, we offer desserts, punch, and assorted bevvies to the players between rounds, so the punch bowl shadow offers a tempting distraction to our players.

From the Go Center library, I chose the game to decide 3rd place of the 1997 Women’s World Amateur Baduk Championship between Diana Koszegi from Hungary (black) and Chikchina Svetlana of Russia (white).   Even though the game on the board is not pair go, it is black male’s turn. Playing out of turn is quite problematic during a game, resulting in a 3 stone penalty and the stone is left on the board. The order of play during the game is: black female player, white female player, black male player, white male player. There is no talking during a pair go tournament except for the following questions: “should we resign?” and “is it my turn?”

In this photo are, clock-wise from the left: B&G Rin (Hiro), Elfdoll K (Kane), and Elfdoll Smiling Soah (Ginger).  The fourth doll (not shown) was my Dollstown Arin, but her presence was not contributing to an already complicated image. Although I was sad to remove her from the shot, I liked that the viewer is drawn into the image by becoming Hiro’s partner.

Even though it took so much time, I really enjoyed setting up this shot. Brian is a terrific teacher, providing technical guidance but letting me work through the process of finding the shot.