Saturday, February 13, 2010

Adventures in Paper Clay : Burlesque


The new air-dry clay that lovely Kaerie Faeirie recommended, LaDoll, well, my experiment was a bit 50/50 at first. My dolls are literally "rag" dolls, often no wire armature and I think this clay might be better for use with rigid sculpting. I think we need to take into account climate also, as Miss KF is languishing in the sub-tropical haze of Florida while I am freezing my ta-ta's off in North Wales during the coldest winter for 30 years! So to set the scene, the first night I messed with LaDoll it was around minus 15c outside and I was sat next to an open log fire, the doll was left in that room, which has no other heat source, overnight, so maybe going from dry heat to literally freezing in the course of a few hours wasn't ideal.

It's not just the LaDoll that's beginning to crack!

It wouldn't adhere to the cloth at all, even wet, wouldn't adhere to gesso very well and what didn't fall off overnight had big cracks in it by the next morning. The Papydur, which is what I usually use, goes on like a paste, you mix it with water, but once it dries out the cloth doll is hard as rock wherever you plastered it on. I basically make lovely cuddly cloth dolls with heads hard enough to use as a murder weapon... should the need arise, always keep a Freaky Little Thing handy in case of intruders ;O)

Papydur is a nightmare to get smooth though, and sets so hard it is difficult to sand afterward, LaDoll is beautifully smooth. The LaDoll has set kind of like Fimo, so still has some elasticity, not very stable on top of a squishy fibre filled torso. Next day I peeled off what was left on the body except where I'd sculpted the face and jawline, I decided to persevere with that as the LaDoll was much thicker there and the stuffing underneath much firmer. I covered the rest in a thin layer of Papydur for hardness and once that was dry, redid the smooth LaDoll skin. The finished Burlesque girl has an elaborate costume but will still have a lot of flesh on view so it needs to be good! After sanding and painting hopefully you won't see the join!

I am determined to keep that lovely floppy Huggability of a rag doll for Freaky Little Things but "Burlesque" (I've thought of a name for her, but in the spirit of the challenge I will tease you... not yet!) is going to be more rigid than usual. Because she's fibre filled underneath it all I still want to button joint her and give her free moving limbs, Burlesque is all about pose and poise after all. Button joints work best when they are squeezing the dolls body and I don't want to risk cracking the Paperclay "Skin, so I've built flat button "platforms" at her shoulders, like you would get on a rigid plastic or vinyl fashion doll. Her bum is not getting the paperclay treatment though, and is going to remain temptingly squeezable... ooh La la! :o)


Kaerie Faerie said...

guess I didn't think about your weather. Sorry, I use LaDoll without any structure underneath, but the little dolls I make are very small. I'll have to take some pics of how I use it over fabric. I don't sculpt out the whole face and body, I use it to give dimension, usually breasts, nose, eyelids, lips. I have not had good luck covering a whole piece with clay, besides it covers up all my soft sculpture
good luck, I love her face

Georgina said...

I used a clay called "Plus" and it was a total minus. I have the opposite's just beautiful weather, not complaining here in West Texas, and if the paper clay dries too quickly, it cracks, but that's my clay of choice. That Plus cracked horribly even after I slowly let it dry over a 2 week made huge cracks...the pieces were not worth saving.

It's live and learn and working with new medium is a learning experience!! Say warm!

Yve said...

Oh Karey, I'm not complaining, i love to try new things and I'd rather go with what other doll makers recommend as the choice is bewildering and I have to order from overseas. It's been fun and I know what it will do now. I think the 2 different types actuallu complement each other, so RESULT!!!

Georgina, I love "Plus was a real minus" tee hee :o)

Abi said...

You must try creative paperclay - it is totally forgiving - it's airdrying but I bung it in the oven, at any temp and it survives and drys so well. Hardly ever cracks, will adhere to just about anything, is so easy to sand, and can be as smooth or not as you want! I use foil under mine.
Clay tends to crack if it's too wet when applied, from my limited experience!
It works just as well in the Texan summer months, or the snowy bits we've been having!
Give it a go girl!!

Yve said...

why that's next on my list. Miss Abi, thank you kindly ;O)

Marion Ravendel said...

I just found your blog I love it you all are so great and so supportive of each other I love the dolls that I have seen too.