This Tom Cat is baby doll sized, and sitting at about 14 inches tall including the top hat (his standing height is 21 inches). He is inspired by a New Orleans street performer. His face, paws and claws are hand sculpted in polymer clay and hand painted. The Miniature hat, clothes, and guitar are also handmade by the artist. I used Balsa wood to build the guitar and thin wire for the strings. I used flat black with vibrant orange lining on the top hat and red, orange, and speckled feathers to match.
He has a jazzy vintage-style diamond shirt with snap buttons and black slacks. His vest is smokey grey with white trimming and an orange hanky in his pocket to match the lining on his hat. All clothes are also handmade to fit him specifically.
Here is a preview of the project I am currently working on. This is a work in progress picture of the head. It is my "Fat Cat Singing". This head is polymer and rubber with air brushing, hand painted details and jet black tibetan lamb hair. This piece is much bigger than my typical pieces. The face without the fur is about 3 inches wide.
I have had a few people asking how I make my dolls so I thought I'd post about the process that I go through.
I learned a lot of these tricks through Jack Johnston's Art Doll book, his site is : http://www.artdolls.com/ and he is a seasoned pro! I think the book was $20 about 5 years ago.
The first thing I do is build anarmature of the doll. I have been pretty comfortable with 8-10 inch dolls that vary by body type rather than scale. The armature has arms, a spine, hips, legs and a long neck rod. I found some alluminum rods and brass tubes at the Hobby Lobby that are working out great to transition from the armature into the foot mounts. This works by sculpting the feet/shoes and partial legs over the brass tubes. Then clipping the armature rods at the shin, I slide the brass tube over the armature rod, and the bottom half of the tube will fit over the base mounts.
I then pad out and soft sculpt the body. I use alluminum as the inner core, a constrictive paper tape to bind it, gause to add belly bulge and other features, seal edges with Fabri-Tac so the gause cant shift or roll, and finally finish with a custom body sock. The soft sculpted body includes the pelvis, torso, shoulders, 1/2 to 3/4 of the arms and 1/2 to 3/4 of the legs. The polymer pieces are specifically sculpted to butt
up to the soft sculpture partial limbs so that there are no gaps.
The first thing I sculpt is the head. I start with a ball of alluminum sheeting and compress it into the size of the skull. I then deside where the eye sockets should be and add those in. I also create a hole up through the neck area where the armature will fit in. I prefer to make my skulls rather than buying pre fabricated because I can make the features more unique. I then insert glass eyes and some thin layers of polymer to hold them in. I always use ProSculpt Polymer Clay -Light fairy color is my favorite because its softer than the darker pigments. I add the clay around the head and sculpt the features. I often create a sketch of the doll before hand to help fine tune the features. I add the neck and ears and then cure the polymer.
Next I sculpt the hands/arms and feet/legs. The legs are sculpted with the brass rod cores and then a compressed alluminum sheeting, and finally the polymer. The arms/hands have no inner core but they have a hollow center-like a tube-where the armature will slide into. All of these solid core techniques make it so that I never sculpt the polymer more than 1/4 thick. That ensures that curing times are always accurate and fully effective. This keeps the doll more durable against falls or other accidents.
Next I paint the polymer pieces, seal them, and slide them onto the armature to make sure they are all just right. I then make the dolls' clothes and assemble the doll. The last thing I do before attaching the head to the armature is hand-apply the hair. I like to use Tibetan Lamb hair because it is so realistic on the dolls- I buy mine from the Morezemore shop on Ebay. Then I wet and style the hair, perminantly affix all pieces and slide the doll over his/her foot mounts on the base.
Here is the Wicked Witch of the Wild West! She is pulling up her sleeves, getting ready for a stand off. This is a slide show of how I made her. Her head, hands, and feet are hand-sculpted and painted. Her body is a soft-sculpted cloth body. She has a solid core and wire armature. All of her guns, holsters and her hat are also hand sculpted and painted. Her icy blue eyes are hand-painted and her hair is pitch black, hand-applied Tibetan lamb's hair.
(Right Click below and select play to view slideshow)