Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Progress On My Art Doll

I've gotten several people asking how progress on the art doll is coming along. The good news is that she's coming along nicely! The bad news is that it's still going to be a while, since papier maché is by nature a slow process. Still... let's see how she's progressing!

Also, for the record? I doodled in a quick face to get an idea of what she was going to look like once her face was painted on. However, this is NOT what her face is going to look like once she's done. I promise, I'm not that strange!!

But look! She has a head!! Granted, it's not attached yet, but I can see how her proportions look once she's all together! I was really happy to see that her head did actually balance out the crazy cartoon figure she has. Once her head is on, she looks a lot more reasonable. Let's see what I've done...

I started her head with a small water balloon I filled with air. As you can see, it gave me a very strange egg-shaped base for the head. After I had several layers on and fully dried, I sketched out where the features would go and then started shaping.

I did the basic shape work by cutting out the back and sides of the head to give it more of a traditional skull shape. Then I built up some areas and shaved down others. I've been through four or five rounds of shaving and resurfacing, including the one that's drying right now. I can't wait to show it, her eyeballs are suspended in empty sockets without any lids or anything! It's CREEPY looking!!!

Anyway, once I got a basic shape down for the head, I added in a basic nose form and lips. So, at this point she's got basic cheekbones, a fairly nice nose, some slightly scary lips and an absolutely unremarkable forehead, aside from the various lumps and bumps that need smoothing. I decided I wanted to see where her features would be in better detail, so I started sketching with my gel pens. I think I may have gotten carried away, though...

Still, you can see the basic form her head is taking. She needs some ears, and those are going to be an utter nightmare to attach, I think. As I said, I've cut out her eye sockets and put beads in to form a nice eyeball shape to build lids over. Her lips aren't too bad, either. I'm looking forward to finishing her head, although the idea of her hair is kind of scaring me... but more on that in a bit.

Also, her head has been the most dangerous for me so far. I've stabbed myself in the finger once with my Xacto knife and sliced myself once. So remember, boys and girls... do what I say, and not what I do! You don't want to get stitches! (No, I didn't need stitches, but I came close...)

Next, I looked at her body to see where to go with it. I was actually very excited to see her body with the head on, because it gave me more of an idea of what her proportions would be like! As you can see, everything looks less bizarre with her head in place. You can also see a couple of patches here and there where I fixed lumpy spots. Color isn't important at this point, because I'm going to gesso her before I paint her, and none of this color will show through.

I realized at this point that I couldn't avoid it any longer... she needed feet. When I started the doll, I wasn't even sure if I was going to finish her, or what she was going to look like. Now I have more of an idea, and getting what's in my head out into the form of this doll is becoming quite the process!!

Take her legs, for example. See how they're all white at the bottom? I figured out how to do her feet thanks to several tutorials I read and sort of... melded in my mind. What I did doesn't bear any resemblance to what the tutorials did, but that's ok. I know what I'm doing now!

So... the feet. To support her feet, I wanted to embed some wire, since they were delicate and not formed at the same time as the rest of her. I was worried they would crack or break off. The wire will strengthen them and give them more stability, at least I hope so!

So, to do this, I needed to get into those lower legs. Those lower legs that were filled with tightly-twisted junk mail and masking tape... those legs that didn't have any room for wire. This was going to be interesting...

S'ok, though. I took a deep breath, drew on some registration lines and cut half her legs off. I wasn't sure if it would be clear which piece went with which leg, so I drew registration marks in two colors with different shapes. One leg got an X, the other got... a circle, I think? I don't even know, it just gave me something to match them up with. Then I cut through each side of the leg (like the red line) and cut through the top piece connecting them, letting me remove the outer 1/2 shell of each leg.

Then I got to pull out all the wadded up junk mail. That was interesting... I had no idea how easy it would be! Once I had it nicely cleared out, I smoothed on a layer of glue to help stabilize it from the inside, then looked to my wires. I folded a piece of napkin several times then saturated it with my glue mix. Once it was nicely saturated, I slipped it between the two ends of the wire and wrapped the wire in it, giving it a nice glued packing material. I wedged that inside the leg cavity, gave it another layer of glue on the napkin wadding and the cut edges of the leg, then stuck the piece I'd removed back into place. I gave it another coating of glue mix, a layer or three of paper to stabilize things, and voila... the wires were in place! (I kind of forgot to take photos of those steps.)

You can also see the ends which were left open once I reassembled the legs. Those open spots to me seemed perfect for wires to wobble and be unstable, so I put more glue mix inside the little holes, then stuffed bits of cotton in until the whole set was solid as could be. Once the glue-soaked cotton dries, it becomes carvable, sandable... it's crazy!

And with that, I reach the end of this set of photos. I've come a lot farther, but that will be for another day. What's in the future?

I've actually started thinking about how I want to style her, once she's finished. Hair is a big deal, and I'm really thinking of the hairstyle Madonna wore in her video for Human Nature. There's something over-the-top about it that I think would go well with this doll.

As for clothes, I have a pretty clear idea for now, although that idea could very well change. But I'm thinking of a black strapless corset, black knee boots, striped socks, and a giant tulle skirt. The ribbon at the top won't be there, though, I don't think. It's just not the style I'm looking for. :D

So, yea... she's come a long way in the last few weeks. I'm actually very eager to see how she ends up!! I promise, my next post won't be craft-related! :D

Til then, let me leave you with a glamour shot of my doll...

Til next time!

My husband laughed so hard when I couldn't find my doll's head...
See my disclosure statement for more information.


  1. What an awesome project! I'm excited to see what she'll look like all finished.

  2. Bailey- aww, thank you so much!! Part of me feels weird posting projects like this, but it's my blog! *grin* Still, I love knowing other people are enjoying the progress of this too!! :D

    She's come along a lot since these photos were taken 2 days ago, even! It's getting exciting, because each step brings her that much closer to the finishing part, which I'm REALLY looking forward to!


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