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Dragonfly art doll

Hi artsy friends.

I don’t know about you, but I get restless with just making the same kind of art.  I’ve enjoyed making art dolls and picked up a few new patterns recently and started with this doll, Cecily.  I purchased the pdf pattern from the NLH Designs Etsy shop.

Cecily is a steampunk dragonfly art doll, about 16 inches tall.  She is a fairly simple doll, with minimal joints. The instructions are easy to follow and she is pretty quick to sew up.  The stuffing takes a long time and I have to admit that I over-stuffed her a bit and popped a couple of seams in the process, including her filtrum.  Poor thing.  The nose is needlesculpted.


I followed my own face style for painting the face, using Prisma pencils, gel pens, Pitt pens. I didn’t seal her face because, well, I popped the seam. Didn’t seem to be much point, really.

I used faux fur for her hair, that was cut in sections and sewn directly on her head. I made the dragonfly wings, following the instructions but haven’t assembled and attached them yet.

Even with her flaws, I think she’s pretty cute.

I am enjoying this process, but I need to plan ahead when I make the next one.  The sewing and stuffing is rather tough on my hands. I’m going to have to spread the work out over several weekends: cut and sew several heads and bodies; stuff on another weekend; paint faces; assemble dolls; make outfits; make accessories.

I see a box full of soft, art doll body parts in my future.

Once my hands recover and I finish Cecily, I’ll post the final photos.

Happy arting!



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WIP Cloth art doll

Hi ho friends.

As mentioned in the last post, I wanted to make a cloth doll.  I flipped through my copy of Jan Horrox’ “Making Fantasy Cloth Dolls,” book recently and dug into my fabric stash to make the elfin fairy doll, sans wings.

Overall impression. I enjoyed making this doll.  The pattern and instructions are very clear and easy to follow. Most of the work was easy enough, except turning the fingers. I had all the tools except the tiny turners for the fingers, but I made it work…eventually. It took the Purple Thang, a chop stick, and probably about 30 minutes of pushing and prodding to turn the hands.

The face. This face is lightly needle sculpted. The mermaid doll pattern has additional needle-sculpting along the bridge.  I will make make the mermaid next. Oddly enough, I’m following the directions and projects in the book in sequence. Wacky!

Overall, I’m happy with her face. I didn’t quite get the sculpting I wanted for the end of her nose.  I’m sure it will just take a little practice to shift the stuffing around while needle sculpting.

For her face, I used Prisma pencils, black XS Pitt Pen, Big Brush Pitt Pens, and white Posca pen.

General impression of the project.  The finished doll is about 18″ tall.  She sits nicely.  I stuffed her arms and legs a bit too firmly so they don’t bend very much. However, I’m pretty happy with this gal.  I like her costume and jewelry (strategically placed to hide her wrist joints).

I think the dolls in this book are a good start for someone who has not made cloth art doll previously. If you are already an artsy/craftsy person, you will probably have most of the supplies on hand.

I’m looking forward to making the other three dolls in the book.

Happy creating!

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WIP: Clay art dolls

Hi ho friends.  I have a few more clay art dolls in progress. They were created for the various stages of shooting the art doll tutorial series. The two dolls in the foreground are ready to fix cracks and add clay to the bottom. The doll in the center has been sanded and is ready for shooting the next stage.  The red head at the back is featured in the face-up video, which is shot but not yet edited. Last but not least, Isabella is on the back right.

The red head’s dress needs a little work, but I am out of that particular fabric so she is on hold until I find or buy more fabric.


The rest of the shooting is on a short hiatus.  I got sidetracked with making cloth dolls, but that’s another post. My knee surgery is coming up soon, so I don’t know when I will be able to get to finish the clay doll video tutorials.  I hope soon.

Happy creating!

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Stump Doll Video Tutorial

New Art Doll Tutorial featured post

Hi ho friends.

I have posted the first in a series of video tutorials on how to make a 6″ tall, mixed media stump style art doll.  Click this link to go to my Freebies/Tutorials page.

I don’t yet know how many videos will be in the tutorial, since I’m filming as I make the doll and have to adhere to the Youtube 15 minute limit (‘cuz I have a free account).

Here are the supplies for video Part 1 of this project:

  • An old magazine
  • Masking tape
  • A small oval shaped item to trace around. You can freehand it, if you like.
  • heavy cardboard (not corregated – it’s too soft)

I’ll add to the supplies list as I add videos.

April 22, 2017: Part 2 has been added. In this segment: the head is made, attached to the body, and then sealed with gesso.

Happy crafting!

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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.


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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! 🎨

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Class Review: Tamara Laporte Art Doll Angel

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.

19d03-14156617_1099084940201687_735472917_nThe 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.Chin-up-desk-angel

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.

Happy creating!