A daily dose of creative suspense.

Ball Jointed Dolls

Marlyn getting her blonde hair on

Things are getting hairy for Marlyn Monroe!

 

 

Marlyn Monroe Getting her blonde on! I found this Tibetan mohair fiber at a famers market in Tibet of course! Just kidding. It was in Lewes Delaware but it was a Tibetan Monk who sold it to me. OK,ok it was just a guy. Just a plain ole guy. A guy who went to Tibet and bought it from a monk.

Here how I did it: (sorry I didn’t take pictures, it was hard enough just doing it.)
Materials:
“Goop” glue
tooth picks
newspaper
foil
scissors
a strip of Tibetan Mohair

Step #1:
I cut a little bit of hair about 1/2 inch wide. Spread it out flat on the foil where I had dapped some glue. Using the tooth pick I spread glue on both sides of the hair clump.

Step #2:
Starting at the bottom of her head I pressed it onto her head, using the round tooth pick I kind of rolled it onto her head.
I just kept doing this in rows all the way up her head layering one row over the other.

Step #3:
I had made grooves for her part on the top of her head and a hole for the crown swirl and one more in the front because she flips her bangs back and over. When I reached the top I put glue in these grooves and pushed the hair ends down in the grooves and then made a tiny ponytail to push into the crown hole.

Step #4:
Now I am letting all the glue dry 24 hours before I style and cut it.


Porcelain semi-jointed dolls

A bunch of little people waiting for me to fire them soon as my new kiln comes- they say next week? That’s okay, I’ll just keep making stuff while I wait patiently. These dolls will be small and simple. I think they are children but those kind of kids that are so cute they are almost scary. Almost. Maybe that’s what happened to them. Sometimes being too cute can be damaging. I wouldn’t know, I’m not that cute.

Waiting for the fire.


Audrey lost her head!

Poor Audrey she lost her head yesterday. I was trying to smooth her neck out, her long, long, swan-like neck and POP! her head flew off and rolled across the floor! Hours and hours of work just went POP! So I tried to repair her but I don’t know if she will be okay. This people making is heart breaking work. Sigh.

I have finally decided to do the Audrey in a suit with a poodle and suitcases outfit. I think it was because I love the hat so much and I can’t wait to make the little suitcases. She is going to be about 24″ tall. How did she grow so big? She is about the same size as Marlyn, who by the way is sitting ever so patiently on top of the TV waiting for her new arm.

Could be good? What do you think?


Audrey Hepburn

You just can’t get more perfect beauty.

My next sculpt is Audrey Hepburn. I’ve almost got her head done which is the hardest AND the most fun part. I started out doing it in super sculpt because I got this great new book.

“Doll Making- One artist’s Approach by Robert McKinnley.
Great book BUT I found out I hate, hate, hate sculpt now that I am spoiled by porcelain. So I scrapped that first head and reworked her head in luscious porcelain.  Now that her head is done I really have to decide what pose and outfit she will be wearing AND how much of her will be jointed. Decisions, decisions …I also hate making decisions. They are so, ummm, final. Sigh. But there comes a time when it must be done and now is the time.

The wonderful thing about Audrey, and there are many wonderful things about her, is that she knew how to wear clothes. I so admire that since I am a totally failure at clothes wearing. But Audrey is , well a star in that department. Let me show you what I’ve narrowed it down to and maybe you can help me decide?

1. Breakfast at Tiffanys- which has been done by everyone but there is a reason for that.

Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

2. Roman Holiday-

I wonder if I could make a Vespa Scooter from clay?

3. Sabrina-

Fresh back from Paris, Sabrina turns heads in this suit by Givenchy. This is a lovely scene where David Larrabee offers her a lift, failing to recognise her.

The camera pans up, first taking in her rather stylish luggage and dog with a sparkly collar:

See, poodles are very chic! (I have a standard poodle).

 

I could make all the little suitcases and everything.

 

Could be good? What do you think?

The suit is quite boxy across the shoulder, with a nipped in waist. It appears to be double breasted. Kick pleat in the back of the pencil skirt:

Isn’t she adorable?

Close-up of the hat, which although appearing to be a turban of draped fabric is actually rigid.

4. Funny Face

This is a very classic look for Audrey. But is it the right one for me to do?


Frida is painting

frida2

She is finally done- the magnificent Frida! She is sculpted with movable arms which hold a palette of paint in one hand and a hand-made brush in the other. She is wearing a white slip underneath a full brightly colored skirt. Her blouse is stretch black with tiny embroidered roses. I mad everything by hand including her bamboo easel. I painted her little painting. I love her! Now I just have to figure out how much to charge and I will be putting her up for sale on Etsy.

Presenting Frida, the painter.

Frida quotes (you know how much I love quotes and she said some cool one)s:

described Kahlo herself as a “ribbon around a bomb”.
“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”
 “I was born a bitch. I was born a painter.”

“I suffered two grave accidents in my life…One in which a streetcar knocked me down and the other was Diego.”
Once when asked what to do with her body when she dies, Frida replied: Burn it…I don’t want to be buried. I have spent too much time lying down…Just burn it!”
Her last diary entry read: I hope the end is joyful – and I hope never to return – Frida.”.
“I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”
“I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy as long as I can paint.”

“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly” 

Who was Frida~ you say?

Frida Kahlo de Rivera (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954; Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón) was a Mexican painter, born in Coyoacán.  Perhaps best known for her self-portraits, Kahlo’s work is remembered for its “pain and passion”, and its intense, vibrant colors. Her work has been celebrated in Mexico as emblematic of national and indigenous tradition, and by feminists for its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.

FRIDA’S BIRTH & CHILDHOOD

July 6, 1907 Frida was one of four daughters born to a Hungarian-Jewish father and a mother of Spanish and Mexican Indian descent. She did not originally plan to become an artist.
A survivor of polio, she entered a pre-med program in Mexico City.

FRIDA’S HORRIBLE ACCIDENT

On September 17, 1925, at age 18,Frida  was riding in a bus when the vehicle collided with a trolley car. She suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident.

  • a broken spinal column,
  • a broken collarbone,
  • broken ribs,
  • a broken pelvis,
  • eleven fractures in her right leg,
  • a crushed and dislocated right foot,
  • a dislocated shoulder.
  • an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus, which seriously damaged her reproductive ability.

The accident left her in a great deal of pain while she spent three months recovering in a full body cast. Although she recovered from her injuries and eventually regained her ability to walk, she had relapses of extreme pain for the remainder of her life. The pain was intense and often left her confined to a hospital or bedridden for months at a time. She had as many as thirty-five operations as a result of the accident, mainly on her back, her right leg, and her right foot. The injuries also prevented Kahlo from having a child because of the medical complications and permanent damage. All three pregnancies had to be terminated

During her convalescence she began to paint. Her mother had a special easel made for her so she could paint in bed, and her father lent her his box of oil paints and some brushes.

FRIDA’S HEALTH

1913~At the age of six, Frida developed polio, which caused her right leg to appear much thinner than the other. It was to remain that way permanently.

FRIDA’S ART

Her paintings, mostly self-portraits and still life, were deliberately naïve, and filled with the colors and forms of Mexican folk art.During her lifetime, Frida created some 200 paintings, drawings and sketches related to her experiences in life, physical and emotional pain and her turbulent relationship with Diego. She produced 143 paintings, 55 of which are self-portraits.

In 1953, when Frida Kahlo had her first solo exhibition in Mexico (the only one held in her native country during her lifetime), a local critic wrote:

It is impossible to separate the life and work of this extraordinary person. Her paintings are her biography.”

She  was influenced by indigenous Mexican culture, which is apparent in her use of bright colors and dramatic symbolism. She frequently included the symbolic monkey. In Mexican mythology, monkeys are symbols of lust, but Frida portrayed them as tender and protective symbols. Christian and Jewish themes often are depicted by her work

This observation serves to explain why her work is so different from that of her contemporaries. At the time of her exhibition opening, Frida’s health was such that her Doctor told her that she was not to leave her bed. She insisted that she was going to attend her opening, and, in Frida style, she did. She arrived in an ambulance and her bed in the back of a truck. She was placed in her bed and four men carried her in to the waiting guests.

Today, more than half a century after her death, her paintings fetch more money than any other female artist. A visit to theMuseo Frida Kahlo is like taking a step back in time. All of her personal effects are displayed throughout the house and everything seems to be just as she left it. One gets the feeling that she still lives there but has just briefly stepped out to allow you to tour her private sanctuary. She is gone now but her legacy will live on forever….

FRIDA’S LOVE & MARRIAGE

At 22 she married the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, 20 years her senior. Their stormy, passionate relationship survived infidelities, the pressures of careers, divorce, remarriage, Frida’s bi-sexual affairs, her poor health and her inability to have children. The streetcar accident left her crippled physically and Rivera crippled her emotionally.


FRIDA’S POLITICS

Both Frida and Diego were very active in the Communist Party in Mexico. In early July 1954, Frida made her last public appearance, when she participated in a Communist street demonstration.

FRIDA’S DEATH

Soon after, on July 13th, 1954, at the age of 47, Frida passed away. The official cause of death was given as a pulmonary embolism, although some suspected that she died from an overdose that may or may not have been accidental.An autopsy was never performed. She had been very ill throughout the previous year and her right leg had been amputated at the knee, owing to gangrene. She had a bout of bronchopneumonia about that time, which had left her quite frail.

In his autobiography, Diego Rivera would write that the day Kahlo died was the most tragic day of his life, adding that, too late, he had realized that the most wonderful part of his life had been his love for her.

On the day after her death, mourners gathered at the crematorium to witness the cremation of Mexico’s greatest and most shocking painter. Soon to be an international icon, Frida Kahlo knew how to give her fans one last unforgettable goodbye. As the cries of her admirers filled the room, the sudden blast of heat from the open incinerator doors caused her body to bolt upright. Her hair, now on fire from the flames, blazed around her head like a halo. Frida’s lips seemed to break into a seductive grin just as the doors closed.

Her ashes were placed in a pre-Columbian urn which is on display in the “Blue House” that she shared with Rivera. One year after her death, Rivera gave the house to the Mexican government to become a museum. Diego Rivera died in 1957. On July 12th, 1958, the “Blue House” was officially opened as the “Museo Frida Kahlo”.

Frida has been described as: “…one of history’s grand divas…a tequila-slamming, dirty joke-telling smoker, bi-sexual that hobbled about her bohemian barrio in lavish indigenous dress and threw festive dinner parties for the likes of Leon Trotsky, poet Pablo Neruda, Nelson Rockefeller, and her on-again, off-again husband, muralist Diego Rivera.

 

Frida, self portrait 1940 oil


Poor, poor Marlyn

She was almost done and then pop, her elbow joint bust through sending her whole lower arm crashing to the floor! Three fingers broken and a broken elbow. Now I have to result her lower arm. So close and yet so far. It happened because I am experimenting with springs and fishing tackle spinny things and I pulled too tight. The porcelain couldn’t take the stress since it is not really being fired to the correct tempter due to kiln restrictions. I hope to remedy that problem soon by buying a doll kiln that can fire to cone 10.

Here’s a grainy photo of poor Marlyn.

Marlyn broke her arm

Marlyn’s head


Dorian’s Doll

Now that I was finally able to give it to her , I can now put up a few photos. This 13′ ball-jointed doll is sculpt from porcelain. She has painted eyes. I still have not decided which I like more painted eyes or inset glass eyes. Her white soft hair is Tibetan lamb wool, you don’t want to know how I acquired that! Her crocheted hat and sexy pink lingerie outfit was hand sewn by my dear friend Sandy Malamed, who is a genius with the needle. Isn’t the bra adorable? She is strung with elastic cord and pins. very loosely so she drapes into her surroundings but has trouble standing up. She prefers to lounge. She’s that kind of girl unlike her owner who prefers to charge full speed into life. I’ll take more pictures soon.
Take a look at the porcelain doll I made for Dorian.


Sonnet- O what a doll!


Porcelain doll finished!

After many months of work,I gave my oldest daughter this doll I made for christmas.

Her hair was cut from her owners head.

Her burlesque costume was hand sewn by me from recoiled clothes.

Her bustle is removable by unsnapping. She throws it to the audience during her strip performance.

Her eyes are set-in glass eyes. She was hand sculpted by me. I didn't use any molds. She started out as just a lump of white porcelain clay.

Relaxing before a performance.


Sculpting a foot in porcelain

My first attempt at filming myself sculpting a doll’s foot so i won’t forget how to do it. Yeah, my memory is that bad.

 


2 sisters for 2 sisters

The 2 pretty sisters dolls are almost done. All that is left is the hands.

Double vision sister BJD dolls


Two heads are better than one.

I’m making two new dolls for my daughters for Christmas. I tried to keep the faces the same so they wouldn’t fight. Ha!
I always do the heads first because that is the most important part to me. THE PICTURES ARE FROM BEFORE THEY WERE FIRED.
They survived the bisque firing with no mishaps. No cracks, no explosions, no bits of other pottery stuck to them. Hurray! No on to the bodies. Will I can this done before christmas?



All cracked up!

Marilyn cracked up!

When I bored the holes into Marilyn’s head. My latest ball-jointed doll, she cracked! So I went on a hunt to find some solutions to cracks. I seem to run into this problem ever time and only crazy people keep repeating the same mistake over and over and expecting a different result. So what do I do- I research. I educate myself and change what I am doing.

CRACKS

Ways to fix cracks:

  • You can use a damp sponge to smooth out the hairline cracks.Stoneware you have to just use a stick to push the clay down. If you use  a wet sponge, the grog come out. It takes out the fine particles and reveals the grog.
  • A stiff paint brush dipped in water and scabbed over the cracks works too.
  • Dip the brush in slip for larger cracks.
  • Smooth over small cracks with the edge of a needle tool at bone dry. it usually works. if the crack is significant, use vinegar slip that is not too moist .
  • Try the deflocculated slip. Way better than vinegar. Look at bottom for recipe.
  • The same material used in the original clay work would also be used as the mending material, but it is important to realize that the CONDITION of that mending clay material will be vital to its success.
  • Two different materials with two different shrinkage rates are simply NOT gonna hang around together very long. Therefore, since we’re dealing with ceramic materials subject to shrinkage as they move through a firing cycle, it becomes important to use clay in the mending material that has experienced the SAME conditions as that of the original clay work.
  • If the damage needing to be fixed is found in clay work that has already been BISQUE fired, then the clay used to make its mending material must also be bisque fired before the patch can be made. On the other hand, if the crack is found in GREENWARE (that is, in clay work that has NOT been bisque fired yet), then the mending material must use clay that’s still in its raw unfired state.
  • By matching the shrinkage rates between the original and the mending materials, you will insure that the patch can create a good, stable fit that will not shrink away or sink below the surface level of the original clay around it. This then makes the repair process much easier, since what you see while working out the final appearance of the patch is exactly what you get in its fired result!
  • Fern Zeller mentions in her book that she made a porcelain stick to rub into cracks to repair fired porcelain. Roll scrap porcelain, while still moist into a pencil shape. Important to use same porcelain. After stick is fired to cone .019, this partially fired stick can be rubbed over the crack and it will fill the space. Then when the item is taken agai  to high heat the crack is fused and disappears.


A lot of this information is available as a free ebook Art Teacher Ceramic Center 

Deflocculated Slip
Make the deflocculated slip by taking throwing slip and then adding dry trimming scraps until thick. Then a couple of drops of Darvan 811. That thins it, then more dry trimming scraps. Then a bit more 811. Then dry trimming scraps.

A whole bunch of crack fixing recipes:
Try them a see what works for you.

GREENWARE FIXES
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

GREENWARE REPAIR

dry clay body 2 part

soda ash or frit 1 part

corn syrup or vinegar enough to make a paste

 

SPOOZE variation #1 (greenware): Dries very hard

dry clay 1 part

vinegar 1 part

corn syrup 1 part

peroxide a few drops

GREENWARE REPAIR: No amounts listed

zircopax

calcined kaolin

water

a few drops sodium silicate

LEATHERHARD CLAY or GREENWARE REPAIR (no amounts listed)

sugar

dry clay

water

MAGIC WATER from Lana Wilson: Use to repair greenware, use instead of a joining slip or add to bone dry clay for a deflocculated slip

water 1 gallon

sodium silicate (a liquid) 3 tablespoons (9.5 g)

soda ash 1.5 teaspoons (3 g)

SIMPLE GREENWARE REPAIR submitted by Jan Edwards: Sometimes I’ve been able to repair a crack on greenware, leather hard or dry, by making a “paperclay bandaid” by immersing a strip of toilet paper into slip from your clay body, or making a thick paste of T.P. & slip. Use it & discard the leftovers. Paper clay gets to stink when left around.

REPAIRING BONE DRY WORK submitted by Kim Murton: APT* mixed with dried clay, ground with the wooden end of a feddling knife, works pretty well for cracks that appear after the piece is bone dry. I open up the crack with a needle tool or sharp wooden pointy tool and then fill the crack with the APT mixture. Then I smooth it all out with a rib. No water!

PRESSING & ROLLING- Cracks sometimes appear where noses attach to faces, usually as the piece is drying.  Burnish the crack away using a conical wooden tool, pressing and rolling over the crack. This works surprisingly well if you catch the crack before the piece is too dry but just a tad dryer than leather hard.

BISQUEWARE  REPAIR

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

CRACKED BISQUE REPAIR submitted by Michelle Gallagher: Mix a bit of crushed soft brick into a thick slip paste of the same raw clay body as the bisque fired piece, filling the crack and smoothing it over before applying glaze. This works especially well in joining areas such as handles and seams. I have even repaired glazed pieces in the same way and re-firing a second glaze with some success.  If the piece is cracked and heading for the seconds shelf anyway it’s worth a try.

BISQUEWARE REPAIR

Sairset 1 part

calcined clay body 1 part

glaze (as goopy as possible) 1 part

BISQUEWARE REPAIR

powdered bisqued clay

grog

vinegar

a few drops of sodium silicate

GREENWARE & BISQUEWARE FIXES
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 

SPOOZE variation #2: Use to attach anything, leatherhard, bone dry or bisqueware. Keep applying until cracks disappear.

Liquid sugar: any kind, honey, corn syrup, etc 1 part

vinegar 1 part

slip of your choice, any thickness 1 part

FIX-ALL (green or bisque repair): Mix dry, then add water

dry clay body 100

gum (CMC, arabic, etc) 2

neph sy 2

bentonite 2

MARX MAGIC MENDER, submitted by Veronica Hughes: I like Marx Magic Mender for repairing greenware up to the bone dry state. However, depending on the clay, it may or may not match the clay color after bisque firing. It’s also useful for filling in small surface cracks on bisqueware. It’s been successful at temperatures as high as Cone 10.

JOINING SLIP
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

COLEMAN JOINING SLIP cone 6, amounts are by weight

Borax 5.26

talc 5.26

neph sy 15.79

OM 4 ball clay 26.32

EPK 26.32

silica (200 mesh) 21.05

SCORE-NO-MORE

Dry mix:

dry clay body 100g

custer feldspar 2 g

bentonite 2 g

gum arabic 2 g

add water to above mixture until it is a thick paste. Then add:

Darvan 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon

Epsom salt solution ¼ teaspoon

*Darvan is available at many ceramic suppliers.

*To make the Epsom salt solution, start with a small amount of water. Add Epsom salt until the water will dissolve no more salt.

Add water until you have a thick cream consistency. The gum arabic will rot if stored for a length of time, you may want to freeze Score No More when not in use.

HJALMARSON’S ADHERING SLIP “A” cone 10, amounts are by weight

kaolin 25

ball clay 30

feldspar 20

silica 15

zircopax 5

borax 3

bentonite 2

Mix the dry ingredients with a liquid consisting of:

water 70%

glycerin 30%

For each pint of slip, add one teaspoon of CMC gum in a gel form (add dry CMC gum to water to make a gel)

Preparing Slip Mixture for Mending and Attaching: Pour fresh slip into container; Add APT-II Ceramic Enhancer into slip until it begins to thicken to a consistency of cake batter; If Slip Mixture becomes too thick for attaching or mending, thin back with slip – not water (Adding water will increase shrinkage); Unused Slip Mixture may be stored in an airtight sealed container for several days. Add more slip if it becomes too thick; If Slip Mixture is left open to air, it will dry and become greenware.

*APT-2 Ceramic Enhancer is available at many ceramic suppliers. The following are instructions for using APT-2 from their website:

GLAZED FIXES
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 

REPAIRING GLAZED WORK submitted by Richard Armstrong: Use an epoxy putty stick to adhere the broken parts. These can be found at any hardware store. They are about 4 to 5 inches long and 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Typically they are a two-part epoxy product that is reddish with a gray center. Cut through with an industrial knife and kneed until a uniform color. It is moldable for a few minutes and sands well. The next challenge is to match the glaze with paint. You can either paint the whole object or go for the match. The last stage is to spray it with a clear or satin cover, homogenizing the whole piece.

Grout-Cracks that happen after the glaze fire  just fill with grout. Find a color that matches the clay body fairly well. The crack is repaired but not hidden.

REPAIRING ALREADY-FIRED WORK submitted by Penelope Dews: Here are some ways for fixing cracks in sculpture, permanently bonding sculpture that was made in more than one piece and fixing broken sculpture: Broken sculpture that has clean edges that fit well together can be fixed by using 5 minute epoxy, that kind that comes in two tubes that you mix together.Then to cover the crack , and also to fix cracks in other sculpture, use DAP pre-mixed cement. It comes in a quart container and is grey in color. Use acrylic paints to color the cement to match the sculpture clay, or glaze. It can take a little practice. Work the cement into the crack and let sit 2-3 minutes, then sponge away so only the crack is filled. If it is a really wide crack, say 1/2 inch, the cement may shrink a bit. Let dry a couple of days then reapply. Attached separate pieces of sculpture together using the cement. Let dry about a week.  The pieces will be very well bonded!

For repairing non-structural cracks:  by Pete Pinnell: http://www.claytimes.com/articles/glazeadjusting.html
My general advice is to leave the cracks or breaks for post-firing repair.  However, as long as the crack is not structural, I have had great success in healing them by packing them with bisqued clay dust and some sort of flux.  *With every piece* I place a small amount of sieved powdered clay next to it in the kiln.  After the bisque firing, the clay powder may be mixed with the glaze or vitreous slip and packed into the crack.  After it has dried, wipe smooth and apply the normal surface treatment over the whole piece.  I also fire the remaining bisqued powder with the piece through the second firing and use it again to mix with epoxy for post-firing repairs.

GLUES: For gluing joints together or strength bonds: Devcon 5- Minute Epoxie Gel. This is some of the toughest stuff . There are tons of other high strength epoxies out there, but use one that can easily find locally. Check to make sure it hasn’t been sitting on the shelf of the hardware store for more than a year.  Most glues have a shelf life and should be purchased as needed. Stronger than your clay, little to no yellowing, and no dripping.  Make sure you mix it to death!  Use Popsicle sticks and squares of tinfoil for mixing.

To join large sections together, use the one hour slow setting epoxy mix on the inside edge of the seam, and then tack it in place with the five minute gel on the outside edge of the seam.  The slow setting epoxy will have a bit more bonding strength since it penetrates the pores of the clay more thoroughly.

For filling seams or cracks: Apoxie Sculpt two part kneadable Epoxy. Purchase the white so that you are able to tint it yourself by kneading in mason stains and fired clay powder. This stuff is great for mimicking texture and color.  Long working time- sets in 2-3 hours, with full strength in 12-24 hours.  Order it from WASCO taxidermy supply at: www.taxidermy.com

Faster setting kneadable epoxies: East Valley kneadable Epoxy. Just like the material above, this is a two part epoxy mixed with clay, so that it is less likely to yellow or change color over time.  It sets rock-hard in one hour and can be sanded, drilled, or painted.  The company who sells this, also sells pigments you may mix with the epoxy to change the color to match your clay, glaze, or slip surface: http://www.eastvalleyepoxy.com/.

In an emergency,use the ACE Hardware Brand grey plumber’s kneadable epoxy.  It sets in five minutes, which is great, but it barely leaves enough time to knead in the mason stains and mix thoroughly before applying it to the surface.  Use this on the bottoms of pieces as ‘bumpers’ to level them off.  Wax paper on the table helps to keep it from sticking.

Beth Cavener Stichter’s website has more information, http://www.followtheblackrabbit.com/material.htm. Glues are under “Other Materials”


Double joint making

I had so much trouble figuring this out but I think i got it now.

Flatten some clay and wrap around a ball the right size.

Clay wrapped bead

Cut ball in half with X-Acto knife

Two halfs of clay ball.

Slip and score two halfs together. Make two

Join balls together with small disk between

Roll out thin slab with rolling pin.

put pattern on slab and cut out shape

Lay cut out shape over back of joint and form into knee cap.

make slits and holes on sides for joints.

Here’s how someone else makes double joints


Marilyn Monroe Doll

My third attempt at making a ball jointed porcelain doll. This is the biggest one so far. She is going to be Marilyn Monroe. I tried to keep the proportions  very accurate. I looked at many photographs of her and measured  every part. I’m trying to figure out how to make her have the double jointed  joints.

All the pieces laid out, except the joints

Her head.


Elephant 17- new porcelain doll

Ana's birthday present

The first photos of the porcelain elephant I made for Ana’s birthday. It is a ball-jointed doll, strung with elastic. She is painted with oil paint which is not sticking very well, I guess my first doll which was fired three times was denser, so the oil did not soak right in? Still haven’t figured out the china painting technique.

I’m getting better but still not at the level of skill I want to be. But the journey is what I enjoy anyway.

17 looks so pretty in her new sailor dress and hat

I found her hat at Micheals and added the blue ribbon and elastic. I cut slots for her ears so it would fit better. Her two piece sailor outfit was hand sew from a piece of old vintage cotton. It took a lot of tiny stitches and three tiny vintage snaps. I made her panties from a discarded pair of white tights that used to belong to Jocie. I’m very happy with how she turned out and Ana named her 17.

17 sits quietly waiting for Ana to come home from school. She tries not to look at the clock too often and hums happy songs through her trunk while she waits.


Sewing a new frock for first doll

Jocie picked out the material and I sewed up a summer dress, panties, stockings and shoes for “Etsy”. That’s right, Jocie named her Etsy. She said it has been her favorite name for awhile.

Etsy loves to strike a pose for the camera, even though she was very miffed at me for photographing her nude. She’s still pouting. But I wanted everyone to see how her joints work.

Etsy riding Dorian's donkey.

Etsy climbed this tree but now she's not sure she can get down.

She knows she's pretty.

Etsy daydreaming about Pinocchio.

Etsy asked when Ana is going to mow the grass.

This flower matches her dress .

She loves to sit in the garden and wait for fairies.

She was tempted to join the goldfish for a swim.


Painting the doll

Dolly's got problems

My first porcelain doll, which is mostly a learning doll because I really have no idea what i’m doing. I fired her twice and then painted her with china paint and fired her again. Just like people said on the Internet all the red in her rosy cheeks and lips burned off leaving white porcelain and the skin color, which I thought was going to be too dark mostly only showed up in the cracks. every little imperfection showed up when color was applied. I don’t own my own kiln so I didn’t want to keep experimenting with the china paint because it had to be fired at a lower temperature than anything else, so she had to run a giant kiln with only my tiny doll. not good.
So I read somewhere that I could use oil paints to paint her. I thought why not, I don’t know what else to do at this point. The oil paint had to be mixed heavily with linseed oil to get it to spread evenly and blend. After blending, I wiped off the excess oil. I think it turned out pretty nice, but some spots where the porcelain turned glassier and whiter, causing the paint to react differently. But all in all, I think not too bad for a novice.
Her hair keeps falling out but only shot pieces, not sure what to do about that. Maybe more glue?
Her right hip socket is a bit too big and the ball sometimes falls into the socket and she ends up with one short leg. She may need orthopedic shoes.
Her poor hands are all crackled , why? I used a commercial slip on them and it fired different than my porcelain. I guess you can’t mix clays even if they are both porcelain.

She is very upset about her hair falling out.

Her hip ball falls into her socket and makes her walk crooked.

Her hands are dry and cracked from washing too many dishes.

She is so embarrashed about her big feet. Her Mom told her she will grow into them but she is thinking of having them bound like old chinese princesses.

Her eyes are uneven because part of the bigger one fell out during one of her firings. She doesn't mind this because it makes her look cute.

Is it almost bedtime, I'm getting tired of all this picture taking.

I'm getting sleepy!

I don't know how much more of this I can take.

Now you are making me mad!

I'm trying to sleep here. Please shut off the lights.

No! Means NO! No more pictures.


My first BJD’s hair

I’ve been saving hair for a while, never knowing exactly what I was going to use it for but like the good artist I am, I knew someday it would be useful. My first porcelain doll is ready for hair. So I looked on the internet on how to make a wig.

 

Trayful of Jocie's curls

I cut 3 inch strips of tissue paper. They say this is very necessary so the hair doesn’t go down into your sewing machine.

3 inch tissue strips

Set the stitch length to lowest setting. mine is 2.

Use lowest setting.

Use matching thread.

Use matching thread

Then I laid the hair in a row between two strips and sewed down the strip 3 times, each row a little apart from the other.

I then covered her head with plastic cling wrap and laid a strip of cotton from the back of her head to the forhead and smeared Liquid nails all over it. I did the same with the sides cutting a semi-circle .I cut a very thin band to glue around the whole edge of the wig cap and let it dry overnight. In the morning I pulled off the plastic wrap and had a perfect fitting wig cap.

I made a ball of foil to be a stand in for her porcelain head so I wouldn’t mess it up with glue as I glued on the strips of hair. I couldn’t get all the tissue paper off, even after soaking it in water for a few hours. I guess i have to do it better next time or find another way.

I just smeared liquid nails on the back of each strip and glued it all to the wig cap in a style that was cute.

Sew three rows of stiches and then pick out the tissue paper, fold back over edge and stitch two more times


Making a doll wig

Where's my hair?

Materials for making Doll wigs:

  • The viscose material used for doll wigs is the shiniest among other miniature wigs.

    Viscose is also excellent since this material is easy to curl using knitting needles and is less likely to form frizz.

  • The Tibetan lamb wool is also used in achieving natural wavy styles for long-haired dolls.
  • Mohair, on one hand, is commonly used by doll makers in forming thick fibers of braids.
  • There are also doll makers who use silk fiber or tussah, wool yarns, embroidery threads, among others.
  • Human hair
Basically it’s possible to find Tibetan Fur in ivory white (brilliant white isn’t natural, because it comes from whitened ivory mohair), black, some kind of blonde and brown. Normally it is curly, but it can have straighter or curlier parts only at the ends or at the roots. It is possible to find it in different lengths of fiber too, from 5 to 15 cm, and with different types of skin too. Sometimes the skin can be too thick and is not good for sewing. The fiber is almost always fine but extremely strong. One last thing is that not all Tibetan fur  plates are good to create a wig, because they can have scars on the skin, sewn areas or parts with irregular fiber lengths (from very long to very short.) Tibetan fur wigs can be washed with a bit of shampoo or natural soap under lukewarm water. The important thing is not to wet the skin because it could shrink. If the skin gets wet, try to dry it immediately. Open it and fill it with tons of handkerchiefs. Create a ball as big as the doll’s head and put it into the wig, so the skin won’t become smaller, and handkerchiefs will absorb the skin’s humidity.
Steps to make doll wig:
  • You will need:
  •           plastic wrap,
  •           transparent craft glue,
  •           light fabric pen,
  •           wig material (either human hair, dyed hair, or fur)
  • After you have all you need in making your china doll wig, place your doll into a stable working area.
  • Mark the doll’s hairline with a light fabric pen. This mark will be the wig base that will guide you in placing the hair material for the wig.
  • Now, take the plastic wrap to cover the head and glue the plastic wrap evenly around the head.
  • Put the wig material, whether human hair or fur, on the head with plastic wrap.
  • At last, the china doll wig is finally in place. You will now have to allow the glue to completely dry and once it has dried, you can freely adjust the wig or remove it.

    You can even curl the wig if you are using human hair.

Wig making tutorials:
Welting hair- show how to sew hair with tissue paper

China Paint

Mixing China Paint:Mixing paints is a simple procedure. The pigments, called overglaze ceramic paints, come in powder form, and are available at art supply stores and from mail order houses. To mix, merely add some spirits of gum turpentine and fat oil (balsam) to the powder on a flat piece of glass, enamel or metal surface. Using a spatula, mix the ingredients thoroughly.

No quantity measurements are necessary. Just mix the powder and liquid to obtain the most desirable consistency for individual working preference. However, take care not to make the mixture too oily, for the paint may bubble, blister or chip off and give poor firing. A mixture is too oily when it runs quickly; and when it’s too thick, it looks pasty and doesn’t flow off the brush properly.

Red colors usually need more oil than others because they seem to be very gritty and dry.

White powder is rarely used since the blank pieces themselves are white. In special cases, however, it may be used to bring out a highlight in the painted subject.

Always keep in mind the fact that a little color goes very far, and there is no need to be wasteful.

It’s easy to tell if there is too much oil in the color mixture. If the colors take ten minutes or more to dry, or if they are too transparent, there is an excess of oil in the paint. If there is too much turpentine in the mixture, the color will run during painting, and it will also fire poorly.

In applying paint,
first dip the tip of the brush into clear turpentine or fat oil, and wipe the excess off. Then, holding it like a pencil so that the tips of the bristles rest on the glass, draw it along the outline of the paint on the glass so that either the right or the left side of the brush at the tip gets paint, and the other half of the tip stays clear.

AN IMPORTANT point to remember about this technique is that the paint must always be brushed on with swift, single strokes. Once the stroke is made, the paint dries almost immediately and cannot be gone over again because the brush picks up or mars the first application.

Beginners will usually apply the colors too heavily. The best results are obtained when the colors have a transparency on the blank. Also, there is less risk of the paint cracking or peeling in firing.

Variations of color intensity can be had by light and heavy pressure on the brush.

When an error is made,
it is simply wiped off thoroughly with a soft cloth dipped in turpentine. The area dries in a fraction of a minute, and the design can be re-applied correctly. This artistic single stroke technique is easily learned by experience.

Gold Paint:
For that extra touch,plates can be beautifully finished with 14-karat gold trimming.

The gold paint comes in liquid form, and looks like a dark cough syrup. It can only be applied to a clear china blank, or an unpainted part of the plate. If it is applied over another color, it turns black. Jean recommends applying it after the first firing, and then firing the piece again. Gold trimming should be used sparingly as it is expensive—about $30 for an eight-ounce bottle.

Firing:
AFTER THE design is painted on, the chinaware must be fired so that the colors are permanently baked in. High temperature kilns which go up to 1375-1400 degrees are used for this purpose.
The painted chinaware is placed in the kiln before the heat is turned on. Care must be taken in handling the painted china blank as any fingerprints left on the paint will show up in firing. Smaller kilns reach 1375 degrees F.—the most popular firing temperature—quicker than larger ones. When the correct temperature is reached, the heat is shut off and the piece left in the kiln to cool off slowly.

The heat in the kiln must not be permitted to go over 1400 degrees. At that temperature, the china may warp or the colors may “spit,” that is, burn off or sputter. At 1900 degrees, china glaze melts.

When the piece is removed from the kiln, the colors should look rich and vibrant. An over-fired piece has dull colors which rub off easily, and the surface feels rough when the hand is passed over it.

If the piece is under-fired, the color also rubs off. An inexpensive pyrometer gives a convenient and accurate indication of temperature for proper firing, and is well worth the cost. It saves a lot of guess work.
After the china has cooled, rub the entire piece once over lightly with the finest grade of sandpaper available. This procedure smooths the surface and gives the glaze a lovely sheen. The final step is to wipe the finished plate with a soft cloth.

China Painting for Dolls Tips

Aging Veins
Mix equal parts of Eye Blue (19) and Rose Glow Additive (22). Apply like a wash into eyelid area, into wrinkles and over tops of hands.

Feature Enhancer
Add dimension around nostrils, ears, lips and lids by applying Feature Enhancer (18) in crevices. Feature Enhancer is also an excellent eye shadow, and interesting for hair color, lashes and brows.

Freckles
Use Dark Brown (4), Auburn (7) and Yellow Brown (6) alone or in combination. Apply specifically with a detail spotter and let stand without blotting, or blot randomly with a stippler or sponge.

Painted Eyes
Use Black (1) for the pupil, regardless of eye color. To achieve more color depth for the iris, apply two colors into each other while wet blotting between color applications. For example, for a beautiful Blue-Green, apply Eye Blue (19), blot with Q-Tip, and then apply Blonde (8) and blot again. Dark brown (4) and Blonde intermix beautifully in the same way.

Painted Eyes – Highlights
Use White (20) for highlights or for raised highlights use Raised Glaze Additive (32) on painted eyes. Add over black pupil or colored iris.

Tear Ducts, Nostrils, Finger Nails
Tear ducts, nostrils and finger nail accents generally use the same color as the doll’s lips, whichever red or pink tone that is.

Intensity
Intensity of application of any color paint can cause completely different looks. Generally, lips are accented with the same paint used for the overall lip color, but the accents are a slightly thicker mixture and therefore appear darker.

Color Tips

Rose Glow Additive
Rose Glow Additive (22) is added to reds (except True Red) to stabilize them during firing. It allows red paint to fire hotter than cone 018 without burning off when used as a wash or blush, and may be added to other manufacturers reds.

Blotchy cheeks are often a result of color burning off when firing too hot. The cheeks look good until the doll maker applies a second coat of color; the media applied for the second coat washes away some of the first coat, thus the blotchy look. You may add up to equal parts of Rose Glow Additive to your cheek color to prevent burn off.

Matting Agent
Add about 10% Matting Agent (24) to Signature System China Paints (which are glossy), so that when applied opaquely the colors will not be shiny.

It is not necessary to apply Matting Agent to color that is applied thinly as a wash (translucent application), as thin washes tend not to be shiny.

Too much Matting Agent added to the color will dilute the color intensity and deter paint adhesion with some colors.

Flux
Flux (23) consists of three ingredients — lead oxide, borate of soda and pure silica acid (a fusible glass). All fluxes in china paint are not the same, as these three items can change proportions.

Jean’s Flux enhances the flow of red paints that are mixed for cheeks and overall washes. Do not add to Black, Brown or any other colors — these already flow beautifully.

Glaze Sheen
Glaze Sheen (25) is applied last over lips, eyes or for tears as an opaque application, then fired to cone 022 for a very high shine. Do not fire the head again to cone 018 (normal china paint temperature) or the glaze sheen will overfire and cause the paint beneath to turn yellow.

White
White (20) may be added to any color to lighten the paint.

Lips, Cheeks, Overall Washes
French Lip (10), Pink Cheek (11), Pink Lip (12), Rosey Blush (13) and Peach Lip (14) are different shades of pinks that can be interchanged for those features.

Eye Shadow
Eye Shadow (17) is a color often recommended by Kay McKee for reproducing some of her favorite pink lip and cheek tones.

Soft Lash
Soft Lash (3) is a combination of red and green that creates a grayed brown, excellent for modern doll lashes.

Auburn and Blonde
Auburn (7) and Blonde (8) have been blended to match the modacrylic wigs so often used for dolls. Blonde is a lovely soft color for baby hair. Auburn is a great overall wash for a warm tan skin tone.

Dark Brown
Dark Brown (2), as well as being great for lashes and brows, is an excellent overall brown wash.

French Brow Additive
French Brow Additive (21) is designed to be added to any warm brown to remove the red.

Clown Colors
These vibrant hues (Colors 26 – 31) work beautifully both as thinly applied blushes (except True Red) and as pure opaque glossy color.

Although they all fire to cone 018, they should be painted on and fired in the following order if they are all being used on the same piece.

1. True Purple (31) and True Green (27) can endure the highest temperature and will also fire fine at cone 017. They should be applied first.

2. True Blue (26) and True Yellow (28) are the “average” colors, and should be applied next.

3. True Orange (29) and especially True Red (30) are temperamental. This is true of all fired orange and red glazes. They should be fired last, and preferably only once, and they thrive at 019 environment.

And of these six colors, if premixed with Clean and Dry and mixed to a thick, flowing consistency that is applied smoothly, will achieve opaque high gloss in one application.

The Medias

Glycerin – General Information
Glycerin is a cleaning agent used in the manufacture of some types of soap. It is also a humectant, meaning it draws moisture out of the air, and for this reason it is used in many skin care lotions.

If the air is humid, our China Painter’s Glycerin will get wetter as it sits on your tile. For this reason paint should be mixed thick, with only a track thinned for immediate use.

China Painter’s Glycerin
An “open media”, meaning it stays wet rather than drying out while you’re working with it. Used to paint all features, with the exception of cheeks. Also used to pre-clean surfaces prior to painting. Wipe back thoroughly.

Cheek Blush Glycerin
A “closed media”, meaning it tends to dry out in use. Used to paint cheeks.

Clean and Dry
Use it as a premix prior to adding glycerin to your dry china paint. It enhances the paint’s ability to absorb the glycerin, and reduces the necessary grinding.

Also use it to clean brushes, dry mops and stipplers – it dries in a matter of moments, so your clean brush or mop is ready for reuse quickly.

Firing Tips

About Cones
Check what cone your kiln is firing to by using free-standing test cones in three positions on each shelf of your kiln.

Tips
Top: Cone 018 fired perfectly.
Middle: Cone 018 overfired. (Reds will become blotchy.)
Bottom: Cone 018 not fully matured, but excellent for Signature System China Paint.

The ideal position for firing china paint is the BOTTOM illustration. You may have to adjust your kiln sitter by following your manufacturer’s instructions, or you may have to use other than a cone 018 in your sitter to achieve the proper melting free-standing cone on your shelf.

All Signature System China Paints are glossy when fired properly and applied opaquely. When fired as a wash or blush, they should have only a slight glow.

Yellow, very shiny paint is a sign that your paint has been overfired.    

Something to remember.. it is very important that you get all the scratches out of your piece that you’re going to paint this way. If you leave scratches, the china paint will show the scratches like a red streak. This happens because the paint sinks into the scratch. In the wet cleaning instructions, rubber gloving is very important to get out the imperfections. If you dry clean, I wouldn’t suggest this type of painting. During dry cleaning, there’s usually a few scratches left and you probably won’t like the finished product.


Stringing my porcelain ball-jointed doll.

Stringing dolls
This is how I strung my first doll.

Shows how I strung the elastic in my doll.

Marina Bychkova- (Her last doll sold on ebay went for $7,799.00 US.“The articulation of my resin Enchanted Dolls is the same as my porcelain dolls.  All the joints were altered to improve a movement range and after testing all kinds of stinging up methods and playing with elastics, I realized why I developed a steel spring articulation to begin with: it’s because elastics absolutely SUCK compared to carbon springs. They suck. Sucky-sucky-suck-suck.”

“This is different at least in part from Marina’s method because it is clear from the location of the pins that EDs have two springs in each arm. I doubt Marina uses elastic anywhere in EDs, but the wire would explain a lot.”
“There are pins at ankle and bottom of knee, with spring between. Then top of knee and hip, spring between. the arms are the same (wrist- bottom of elbow, and top of elbow to top of arm).  There are no pins in the body though.”

“Small springs, some fishing swivels, some stainless steel wire for pins and s-hooks, and do some experimenting.

Marina developed her spring-tensioned stringing design based on Martha Armstrong-Hand’s book.”

“Basically, you’ll need a pin at each terminating joint. A terminating joint is a joint that the string stops at (it does not go through it to another joint). Examples of terminating joints are the hands and feet. The string goes through joints like the elbows and knees, so they aren’t terminating joints.

Attached to the pins at the terminating joints are S-hooks. The S-hooks go through the slit in the joint. At the other end, the S-hooks are attached to a spring, or a swivel. You’ll have to decide which is more appropriate for the joint, a swivel, or a spring.

S-hooks go through elbow and knee joints, and slide through the slits in those joints. Martha seems to have used a combination of springs and elastic. She also used wire. Her doll heads did not open, so the head is another terminating joint. You can see hardware on the top of her doll’s heads.

Using springs for tensioning dolls has been around for a long time! Part of the fun of designing a doll is to invent your own spring-tensioning system.”

Epoxy is what is used to secure the pins. Pigments are used to color the epoxy to match the skin color of the porcelain. Epoxy is like resin. Actually, epoxy is resin.

Aidamaris Roman both make Porcelain BJDs and they use springs for tensioning the BJD.

Martha Armstrong-Handalso used springs in her porcelain dolls. Martha Armstrong-Hand had several different designs for spring-tensioning dolls, not just one.

Anyway, if you’re going to cast in resin (which is much lighter in weight than porcelain), you should be able to string your dolls with round doll elastic cord.
1. Evidently, porcelain is a wee bit more abrasive than other materials, and elastic will wear out more quickly.
2. Because elastic is usually strung from the head, through the body, down to the ankles (one loop per ankle – two loops subtotal), and from one wrist, through the torso, to the other wrist (one loop subtotal), for a grand total of three loops in the doll; the elastic goes through several joints. When elastic goes through several joints, moving one joint has the possibility of causing movement in other joints.
3. Using springs and swivels with s-hooks attached to pins inserted through several joints, allows individual joints to be moved without affecting the other other joints. Essentially, each joint is individually tensioned.I understand that using elastic to test joint design is a good idea, during the design phase of making a doll, because it is quick and easy, and gives the designer a good idea of how the whole doll will pose under tension, and how individual joints will work with weight on them.

Joint Padding-
twigling, in her Zen booklet, recommends pliver for sueding:

Socket friction can be added by gluing in
thin pieces of leather, called pliver; or by coating the sockets with a thin
layer of hot-melt glue from a glue gun. Hot-glue sueding is a quick and
dirty method which is reversible and needs to be redone relatively
often. Pliver sueding is more time consuming to do, but also more
durable if the right glue is used. The use of pliver is a throwback to
antique porcelain dolls where leather was glued between the joints to
prevent the sound of porcelain surfaces rubbing together. The pliver
used to suede a balljointed doll is thin and flexible, but a quite fragile.
The flexibility means that it can be stretched and shaped to fit into a
socket without needing to cut it into a specific shape.
Pliver is the top portion of a full grain lambskin after the skin has been split, the bottom half being sold as suede.
It is very thin, and suitable for crafts such as dollmaking, clock and camera repair, leather painting or calligraphy.

source of pliver on EBay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Thin-Sheepskin-L…oQQcmdZViewIte


Once you get a design on paper that you think will work, get some springs, swivels, and wire, and try it. After you make the first one, you'll more than likely have another idea of how to do it, even better. You may need some needle-nose pliers, and whatever other tools are needed to work with wire. Don't forget to wear safety goggles, so when you snip off wire to make an S-hook, the pieces don't hit you in the eye!


You don’t need two swivels in a given section (between two joint pins), so maybe you can save a few pieces there? One swivel will give you the full range of turning and keep bad stuff from happening to your spring.

1. Barrel Swivel 2. Crane Swivel 3. Snap Swivel- Martha used the Barrel Swivels to string her dolls with

More Links about Using Springs for Doll stringing:
Cindy McClure taks about how she does it


The porcelain doll market

Marina Bychkova- (Her last doll sold on ebay went for $7,799.00 US.

Famous and successful porcelain doll artists like Marina Bychkova are getting $7,800 to $3000 a doll! It takes many, many hours to learn this art and to make one. They are truly works of art.

Here’s what I’ve found when i research the porcelain doll business.
Source: http://dollmaking.lotzstudio.com/lmakpor.html

Original Artist Studio:

An original artist may produce their dolls 100% by themselves in their own studio. In this case, the artist will sculpt the original art work, make molds, cast, clean all parts, fire parts, paint the porcelain, assemble the parts, wig and costume the doll. They will either sell their dolls exclusively wholesale to select shops or sell their dolls themselves.

An Artist cottage industry:

Original sculpts may be produced with the original sculptor’s overall guidance in a small business environment or they may be produced in the artist’s own multi-person studio or “cottage industry”. The resultant dolls must pass this artist’s quality scrutiny in all stages of production.

 


Firing Porcelain Dolls

Firing Porcelain

Source: http://dollmaking.lotzstudio.com/lmakpor2.html

Now that all pieces are cleaned and dry, they are ready to be fired in a high temperature kiln. The raw porcelain pieces are loaded into a very clean kiln on very clean kiln shelves. Items are spaced without over crowding to allow plenty of air movement around all pieces and an even temperature within the kiln avoiding the development of hot or cold spots.

Doll parts are propped and supported using heat resistant fiber, clean silica sand, or high temperature clay and wire props. The weight of all raw porcelain pieces must be supported to prevent warping.

Items must be placed to allow all air inside the hollow pieces to be safely vented to prevent an explosion caused by any trapped air breaking lose.

The kiln is set for the appropriate temperature for the type or brand of clay being baked. The kiln temperature is controlled either with an electronic monitoring device, a kiln sitter, or using an appropriate set of witness cones. The kiln is very slowly brought up to the extremely high temperature recommended by the slip manufacturer. Then the kiln is allowed to slowly cool down.

Aso Check out Seeleys tips on porcelain casting and firing.

If the correct temperature has been reached, then the clay will mature and vitrify into perfect porcelain. If the proper temperature has not been reached, then the “under fired” porcelain will look chalky. “Under fired” porcelain can be fixed by baking again to the correct temperature. Conversely, discoloration and warping will destroy all pieces in a too hot / “over fired” kiln.

Final Cleaning

All fired doll parts must be cleaned and scrubbed again! This time each piece is sanded with mild abrasive pads to remove any gritty residue. The resulting satin smooth doll pieces are ready to paint.

I fire my greenware to “.018″ in the kiln sitter. “.019″ is recommended, but the first is a little bit stronger. After firing, I soak my pieces in water, sometimes overnight, but at least 10-15 minutes before working on them. Soft fired pieces can also be glazed, as might be required for a China doll. In this case, soft fire to “.017″. Just be sure they are dry, before glazing them.

Cleaning greenware this way, the item is stronger, therefore less prone to breakage and scratching. The dust does not adhere to the piece, as is the tendency with regular cleaning. It also can be shipped, where regular greenware cannot.

I find it is easier to cut and bevel the eyes before I soft fire, but some of my students prefer to do this after firing. If it is done after firing, you almost have to use stone eye sizers rather than the wood.

NEVER pour any contaminated water down your drains! Both plaster & clay can clog your drains.

To sand the soft fired ware, I either use a slightly worn #220 Grit Scrubber, but prefer the “Pink Sanders” that are available for sanding bisque. I cut them into 1/2″ strips, as it is easier to get into small places. You also will need stiff, flat brushes, as these help sand also. I like to finish up with the sponge side of the grit scrubber to smooth the piece off.

I also like to let them dry and check again to smooth any spots I might have missed.

Hope this helps those who have been asking how to clean soft fired pieces.


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