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Group Photo! by StorybookCreatures

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7 by StorybookCreatures

I am in the process of fixing up the following pages to look as nice as this one! Sorry for my mess!

8 by StorybookCreatures

Click to go to each section!

  1. Material Suggestions

9 by StorybookCreatures

  2. How to Paint Glass Eyes

10 by StorybookCreatures

  3. Armature Face and Ears

11 by StorybookCreatures

  4. Legs and Feet

12 by StorybookCreatures

  5. Painting

13 by StorybookCreatures

  6. Stuffing

14 by StorybookCreatures

  7. Making a Pattern and Attaching the Fur

15 by StorybookCreatures

  8. Finishing Touches

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  9. Final Results
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Extra Tutorials:


18 by StorybookCreatures

  Fun with Moldable Plastic

19 by StorybookCreatures

  Versimold - Moldable Silicone Rubber

20 by StorybookCreatures

  Poseable Doll Wings

  Ball and Socket Joints - Modifying pre-made and making custom ones with moldable plastic. I have tried and it's kind of fail, I will share my results soon.

21 by StorybookCreatures

:iconanyaboz: 22 by StorybookCreatures

:iconmagweno: 23 by StorybookCreatures  Part 1  Part 2

XPantherArtX's Whisker Tutorial

RhiannonWoolf's Art Doll Tutorial

Rhiannon Wolf's Fur Glueing Tutorial

EvieCat's Art Doll Tutorial

AliatheGhoul's Making an Art Doll Part 1  Part 2

NecoStudios's Tail Pattern Polymer Clay Strength Experiments

24 by StorybookCreatures

New Clay News…

25 by StorybookCreatures

The Blue Bottle Tree…

26 by StorybookCreatures

Add a Comment:
Kheisa Featured By Owner Edited May 30, 2017  Student Artisan Crafter
Thank you for this!! I've never made an art doll before, so having all this information right at my fingertips is SO helpful. I'm referencing it heavily for my first art doll for school! :)

One thing I wanted to ask/suggest based on how my project is going: have you tried needle felting the batting instead of hot gluing it? I've been using wool batting and 36/38 gauge felting needles to form the shape of my doll on top of the armature, and it's come out much softer than I imagine hot glue would have. That said, it's also a lot lighter and airier (I assume), so I guess it wouldn't be the best for projects where firmness is better and/or the head is quite heavy.
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome! I really could have used some more information myself when I first got started, my first doll came out pretty sad. lol That's really cool you're making a doll for school! I always wonder what things would be like if I had gotten into art dolls while I was still in school. I just started going through my tutorial again, cleaning it up and making it look nice. (:

I just watched a video by LeopardCorgi where she needle felted stuffing on her doll.
Having it softer and more flexible is definitely a plus, I'm not sure I would have the patience though, haha. The main reason I use hot glue is to ensure that the doll holds it's shape, even after years of handling and posing. Would needle felted stuffing stay in place? I have never needle felted anything before.
Samy144 Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
>o< Looking over this was very helpful! Now I really want to try making an art doll, but where do you get all this supplies? Stores such as Michel's or Joanne's?
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad it helped you out! (: Well, I've found the best price for polymer clay on As for fake fur you will probably want to order online for best price and quality, do not get "craft fur" it is the lowest quality. I would check your local stores for faux fur, you never know what you might find-especially on clearance. Now I have not purchased from these stores, but I've seen other artists recommend them:
I get my glass cabochons on ebay, if you are interested in using those for eyes. (:… Make sure you use a ruler and draw the size on a piece of paper to make sure you are getting the size you want, 10mm is VERY TINY. I have never seen genuinely clear cabochons in store, but you can always look around. Quilt batting or stuffing you can get from any store with a craft section, wire can be purchased at just about any store too. Steer clear of spray sealers, most are incompatible with polymer clay(Mr.Super is the only one I know that works). I was able to pick up some water based polyurethane sealer at my local hardware store, Varathane and Minwax are popular brands, I just picked up the Ace Hardware brand and it works like a charm. (:
Samy144 Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Okay, thank you again so much! I'll try looking at these stores for the materials. I can't wait to start an art doll! I'll be sure to come to you if I have anymore questions! :D
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome. xD Be sure to show me what you make! (: I'd be happy to answer any questions, I like being helpful. ^u^
Yumio-chan Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2017   General Artist
Thank you very much.
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome! (:
AchillobatorPrince Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Salutations! I want to make creatures that are hairless (smooth frog-like skin) so I'm planning to only use clay, I've never done this before, so I have a question. After you dry the clay, how do you still make the creature poseable since the clay is hard and sturdy?
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Hello! (: Well all the clay parts are not poseable, only where the clay ends and the wire begins can it bend. You could do a doll with satin fabric, or faux leather/reptile fabric. Like this one: It has a fabric skin, with a clay head and feet.

Ball jointed dolls are always smooth skinned, but making one of those is a VERY VERY VERY advanced project. It takes a lot of studying to understand the mechanics, and if you want a durable doll that will last a long time you'll want to get into mold making with resin.
AchillobatorPrince Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much! That was very helpful. I certainly won't be making ball jointed dolls, I think I'll use satin fabric, faux leather or reptile fabric. Once again, thank you so much!
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome! ^u^ Good luck!
leisa74 Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2016
You have no idea how helpful this is - thankyou! thankyou!! thankyou!!!Hug  for sharing x
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad you like it! ^u^ I had fun making it. xD
AnyaBoz Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
Holy crap! This is a wonderful tutorial! You have certainly done your research and found your own
methods! I am thoroughly impressed with this. I have been wanting to make a tutorial for awhile, but 
my methods are a lot less technical haha especially when it comes to the fur. It's really hard to teach
someone without actually being there, but you seem to have covered everythingD
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!!! Hamtaro Hamster Emoji-07 (Cute Dance) [V1]
Yeah, I read through your FAQ before I started my very first doll and I saw that you make your dolls in 1 to 2 sittings because you've gotten so quick. I imagine taking a normally quick project and stretching it out over a very very long period of time(having to stop frequently to document it) would be very agonizing. lol Especially if you can't wait to get started on the next project!!!
I work pretty slow since I'm a beginner so it wasn't bad taking extra time for pictures. I actually had a lot of fun making the tutorial, I've always wanted to make one! Thank you!-I tried to photograph and explain as much as I could, I figured if I didn't I'd end up having to answer a lot of questions later. c:

I think a time lapse video would be a better kind of tutorial for you to do, like the ones Dan the Monster Man does.…
AnyaBoz Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
Yeah OMG I actually made a tutorial attempt last year. I tried to keep everything simple, but
unfortunately, the room guardian had its own plans. It ended up getting way to complex for 
a tutorial, not to mention, the fur color was black so it was insanely hard to photograph and 
show any pattern lines on it. 

Yeah I think the time lapse is definitely a better method. I just move the room guardian around
so much when I work with them. Most of the time they are on my lap and not on a table or anything.
Maybe I'll have a videographer follow me for the whole process haha! 

May I give you a couple suggestions though. I don't want to be pushy or anything. There a just a few
things that I think you might find beneficial:D 
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh my goodness! Yeah black fur wouldn't be very good for a tutorial. Lol

Haha! Yeah I work with them on my lap a lot too. I usually start with everything in the center of the counter and it all migrates to my lap. xD

I wouldn't find a few tips rude at all! c: I love to discuss methods on how to make stuff. ^u^ I often do things uneccessarily difficult until someone else points out the simple solution. Lol
AnyaBoz Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
Yeah I didn't plan to do black fur, but you know. When a room guardian wants it....
I spoil them too much.:D

Your method is pretty solid, I just know that you mentioned having trouble with the wires 
breaking on some of your dolls. I've watched a lot of stop motion tutorials and they all 
suggest that if you are using "bones" like you do in your dolls, it is best not to twist the 
wire. Twisting the wire on joints that only bend in one place like elbows and knees actually
weakens the wire. It's okay to twist it in places like the neck and tail but it will make the
wire last longer in the legs if you don't.

Also, I don't know if you've looked into it, but to avoid any chance of breaking altogether, 
plastic doll armatures work wonders. I get mine by the foot at this website, but you can also
get connector joints to connect legs to spines and stuff.…

Otherwise your method is pretty foolproof haha. This will just solve some of the problems you've had.
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Haha. c:
The only wires I've had break so far is the ones in my very first doll, where I used a single untwisted wire, and the part where the wire attaches to the foot. The wires in my joints don't bend at sharp 90 degree angles, I dunno if that makes much of a difference. I have a photo in my stash.... I can never find out how to get to my stash! lol I can't attach stash images to comments now that I'm not a core member~ I was wondering about that though, if the twisting might actually intensify the amount it's bending in certain spots...

How stiff is the ball and socket joints? Leather has a greater resistance to bending than fabric(at least my home made novice leather does~), and if the wire I use isn't thick enough any bending you do gets bent right back by the leather. My first doll I made can't keep her head in any position other than forwards. lol I could probably epoxy pipes to the plastic joints which would be nice but I'm worried it won't hold poses.
AnyaBoz Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
Oh sorry, I guess I must have read the description and assumed that it was a 
reoccurring problem. Honestly I still twist a lot of my wires, but the "bones" 
in my guardians are made with foil so they are not nearly as stiff as the ones 
you use. It's probably not a big deal since yours do not bend so sharply though.
I think stop motion people do it because they are bending the puppets much more
often and at sharper angles. It's just something to think about I guess.

Oh the ball and socket armature holds it's position way better than any wire. I did
a trade last year with Foxfeather248 and the doll she gave me was made with real
rabbit fur with the plastic armature. It works wonderfully, in fact, she is the one who
told me about the stuff. I was so impressed with it because it bends and holds it's
position without any push back unlike most wire. I am pretty sure it's what Lisa Toms
uses in her dolls. The only issue you might be concerned with is the range of motion.
It works very well for spinal armatures because it's built like a spine, but when it comes
to legs, it will never be able to bend as sharply as an elbow or something. It works 
better for larger dolls, that's why I use it for the necks in mine but not for any arms 
and legs. It's worth looking into though.:D
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, stop motion puppets get bent VERY often haha. I would love to try ball socket joints one day though. If they are built the way I think they are, I think I know of a way to increase the range of motion- You could use a dremel tool to carve a U shaped hole in the cup side of one of the joints, just big enough for the smallest middle part to slide into. That's really good to hear that they work so well for you! They sound so magically promising but I was discouraged by this video Magweno posted:…
It seems like a nudge would be enough to make the head move but perhaps she just makes it look easy and she's actually pressing very hard on it! I also did some thinking the other day about why exactly the leather is so stiff and it's because I glue fabric reinforcements on with hot glue-which makes the leather goes from limp to pretty stiff.  I did a little test last night and glued fabric to a fur scrap with tacky glue and it didn't compromise it at all... Soooo I'm making 2 kittens for my Mom for Christmas, I'm almost completely done with one of them(which I used hot glue seam reinforcement). The other one I got to the point just before cutting out the fur so I will do that one with tacky glue and then compare range of motion after!
(1 Reply)
CMWyvern Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks for posting!! I love seeing how other artists build their dolls! Everyone does it differently. I've been waffling for a long time about how much information about my techniques that I want to share. A lot of highly talented artists are pretty secretive.. which I initially found very annoying. But then I came to be glad that I was forced to figure out everything for myself - my techniques are mine and mine alone, and thus I understand why and how I'm doing everything. So I'm not sure how much I want to share. But I do believe, no, I KNOW, that people who are going to become fabulous art doll artists are going to do so whether or not anyone tells them anything. They, we, have the drive and the will to figure it out. Any techniques shared will at most just speed up the learning curve. And I actually really like explaining what I do. While I don't have any plans to make a tutorial, I can't resist dropping a few hints here.

You don't find that sculpting the feet directly onto the wire lets the clay crack at the joint? I did some tests of this before I started making dolls and immediately realized that the clay/wire join is of utmost importance. I use copious amounts of epoxy or epoxy sculpt to glue the wire to the clay. It's rock hard and the wire will break before it cracks the epoxy. Expoxy sculpt also works great for adding weight to the hips if the doll's head is overly heavy and needs counterweighting.

I see you make a VERY VERY elaborate skeleton for your dolls, complete with all those carefully measured bones... dang! That must take awhile! I don't create "bones" in my dolls; I haven't found it to be necessary.

I agree that quilt batting is the way to go for filling out the doll. I do almost all of it with what you refer to as the "mummy technique", and a TON of hot glue. SO much hot glue. I like the way you build out the belly almost entirely bellow the spine, to a much more extreme degree than I currently do.

The best super glue is 2P10, which comes in larger bottles and is excellent quality. I think what I've got now is medium viscosity, but you can get it in any thickness from watery to really thick gel. The thicker stuff takes slightly longer to cure.

Your patternmaking is FAR more scientific than mine is, although the basic principle of wrapping something around the body to create the pattern is the same. I've realized that if the seams do not show on the finished doll, which they do not, it makes no difference if those seams are asymmetric. Generally I have 6 pieces of fur that get sewn on.

I'm interested to see how your dying experiments go. What to color the fur with was my biggest question when starting out, and I've found only 3 things that work to my satisfaction. 2 of those things behave and are used essentially the same, but they use different chemicals. I do all the fur coloring after the fur is sewn on (with the exeption of extra furring on the face). If you are using rabbit fur, there may be more options of what you can dye it with since it is a natural fiber. Faux fur is a lot harder, since it is essentially plastic. Not much likes to stick to plastic. 
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes!! I love how different people's ideas and construction is! Yeah, I went back and forth about sharing or hoarding my techniques to myself, but then I stopped and thought, is it really a bad thing to share? And I've taken a lot from other people's tutorials, it seems quite selfish to take and refuse to give back. I agree, even if people read and use my tutorial, they may never make more than 1 doll with it. Or perhaps none at all. You need A LOT of patience and not everyone can sit down and do tedious work. I probably will keep a secret or two in the future, some kind of advanced technique once I become experienced.

I haven't had any problems with my first 3 doll's feet cracking, I do put a glob of hot glue where the wire comes out of the clay. I will continue to play with the dolls and see if anything happens. I was anticipating switching to making the feet and ears with moldable plastic. Epoxy sculpt is a great idea! Way better than some hot glue, thank you! c: I was also pondering how to weight the hips for an anthro doll. I was thinking of using glass gems inside the stuffing.

The bones don't take very long for me, the cutting part takes the longest but I will switch to an electric tool for that. They aren't necessary at all, it's just an aesthetic I like. c: It should also help anyone pose the doll realistically, I do enjoy a good amount of realism. Llama Emoji-05 (Flower Sparkles) [V1]

You use more hot glue than I do?? lol I worry about using too much cause I don't want to sacrifice the squishyness of the stuffing. I've gotten into taxidermy, and I've been butchering my rabbits and chickens the past few years so I've learned a lot about anatomy. I figure the closer I make the armature to a real animal, the nicer it will look and pose. Or maybe I'm just over complicating things. c: It makes me happy to have that realism in my work either way.

I will have to look into 2P10, the only place I've used super glue so far is on whiskers on my first doll. I did have 2 fall out while I was working on it, but since I have replaced them she hasn't lost any. I do really like glue that cures/sets quickly so I can continue working~

Some of the seams on my newest doll(the Kitsune) do show, but I am using real fur. Maybe it's because it's not as thick as faux fur? Sometimes the seams look bald, sometimes you can't see the actual seam but it is obvious due to the part of the rabbit each piece was taken from. The legs are fluffier and have less guard hairs than the back, and the stomach fur is thin and short. I'm planning on flocking the 'bald' spots, and trimming the uneven fur lengths.

You use all faux fur right? Unfortunately my dying experiments are all on real fur with Splat hair paint or regular rit dye. I have not gotten into making markings yet, I was thinking about cutting out my pieces from my pattern, then dying them and sewing them on after they dry(since leather has to be stretched as it dries or it shrivels up and gets hard as a rock). I might be able to get away with brushing on dye on a completed doll, as long as it doesn't soak down to the leather. I did order some reptile 'faux fur' from Joann's the other day. It's almost like jacquard, the scales are raised up.… It'd be really pretty and cuddly for a dragon doll. c: I will probably need that new rit dye for synthetics to dye it.

I find it very interesting that there is no real advantage to real or faux fur. Faux fur is a more available resource for most people, it is easier and much nicer to sew, but difficult to custom color. Real fur is way more soft(from what fake fur I have felt), very easy to color, but the leather is not reinforced like fabric, it can be torn easily.
CMWyvern Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
I once use a rock inside the stuffing as a weight before I discovered epoxy sculpt. Another thing that helps with anthro dolls is to make the head as light as possible (cast it in resin if you can - it is MUCH lighter than polymer clay, and also a lot stronger, so when the doll inevitably does do a faceplant, it won't break. Paint sticks to resin better too.) Also make the feet as heavy as you can - for instance, the troll I made has steel knuts in his shoes to make them heavier.

I use a crap ton of hot glue in my dolls because I don't want the stuffing to shift around, and it doesn't seem to reduce the squishyness. That is most affected by how tightly you wrap the batting.

A super realistic armature definitely won't hurt!

I am in school for industrial design, and 2p10 is one of our staple materials. It works on almost anything (and your skin best of all). Smells nasty and I hope it's not too deadly since I've certainly breathed a lot of its fumes, but it is wonderful stuff nonetheless. It works great for repairing broken sculptures too.

Yes, I use all faux fur. It's actually not hard to get custom colors once you figure out how to do it. However, occasionaly some faux furs will be really bad at taking certain colorants and will rub off onto your hands slightly. This has only been an issue for me once, though. Unless you attempt to use dye-na-flow. DO NOT use dye-na-flow on faux fur. It does not work and if you get it on the clay, the paint won't stick as well.

I wonder if you could use acid dyes on rabbit fur?… I have used them on wool and suede and they work WELL on any protein fibers. The colors are intense and they do not bleed. The downside is that you have to sort of boil them... I don't know if there is a way to use them with a brush. The suede I dyed was from an old coat and the texture was utterly unaffected by the dying process.
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the tips!!! I want to make an anthro doll to be like my mascot. I want to take him with me to any art/craft shows or conventions that I go to! So he's gotta last! Hmm.. so epoxy sculpt is heavy? I was thinking about putting glass gems inside the legs under the quilt batting... if there's room. I'm not quite sure how big my anthro dolls will be. That is a really good idea to put a steel nut into the foot!! I was pondering how to make the feet heavier when there's not a whole lot of room to work with.

By the way! I just had one of the kitsune's feet get quite wobbily and another cracked! I know hot glue sticks really well to porous items such as fabric, and polymer clay is porous... but it does not stick as well as I'd hoped. I might switch to making my feet out of moldable plastic, my next doll I will try doing it. I'm almost wondering if I should abandon polymer clay altogether, but it is such a pleasure to work with.

I have not heard of dye-na-flow before, but I will not use it on faux fur! Thanks for the heads up! c: I just got some 100% polyester "faux fur" (it's more like jaquard fabric) reptile skin, which I will by dyeing. Other than that I do not think I will be utilizing faux fur unless I happen to receive some scraps because I have a steady supply of real fur in my barn. c;

Hmm.... If it's not used at too high of a temperature it might work. "Acid dyes will work on other things besides silk and wool. Basically anything protein, like feathers, fur, leather, etc. You just have to come up with a way to use it that won't ruin the substrate you are using it on - for example, leather doesn't like being simmered in a pot, it will just dry out. With feathers or leather, some folks paint it on, then steam it" Very glad to hear it works so well on wool, I have some cuttings from my sheep that I intend to dye. c: Looks like that dye works on feathers too! I also have plenty of those growing in my barn. ^u^ and all over the yard~ lol I'll probably just stick with rit dye because it's very simple, unless there's a certain color I can't get. Eventually I'll get around to testing painting markings on with rit dye. c:
CMWyvern Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
Epoxy sculpt is very heavy and VERY hard once fully cured. It takes a good 12 or 24 hours to reach full strength, and is workable for several hours after mixing. I hate it as a sculpting material, though. It's very sticky and droopy. You can use water to smooth it and wash it off your hands. Glass jems could work as weights too - try one or both!

Hot glue is great stuff, but once you start putting forces on it, it is not very strong, especially with smoother/harder surfaces such as polymer clay, rocks, or for some reason, sticks and wood.

What do you mean by moldable plastic? This stuff? I have some and haven't figured out quite what it's good for yet. It's very difficult to work with and the working time is VERY short before it cools. The consistancy is droopy and stiff, and very hard to smooth. (Slight tangent - I often find myself describing sculpting materials with seemingly opposite traits, like "overly soft and brittle". Well, I don't know how it works, but it is true.) I was dipping it in hot water, though, a heat gun might work better. Instamorph has a smooth and slippery surface, which paint and even sharpie ink rub right off of. I haven't tried gluing it. HOWEVER! Anyaboz has made some of her room guardian's horns out of it and has found a fixative that makes paint stay on most successfully.

I wonder if you could paint acid dyes onto a doll and steam the whole doll? Would it require rinsing?

Like I said, the only leather I've tried acid dyes on was a suede, which I did simmer with no ill effects. Same with wool, unless you stir it too much - it may felt! I don't know what would happen to other types of leather. I've never used rit dye for anything.. is it a vat dye?

Is the curing process for rabbit fur particularly intensive? My family just butchered some rabbits we raised for food, actually. I didn't save the pelts this time since I don't know what the process is and I don't have time at the moment (I'm about to go back to school).

It seems like every time I bring feathers indoors, they very slowly develop tiny crumbly holes, as if invisible mites are eating them or something. I always wash the feathers, but this happens anyway! Have you observed this phenomenon?
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Ooooooo I like the sound of this epoxy sculpt! xD I wonder if it'd be a good idea to make a bunch of little balls of it and then attach them when you need it. Like little pre-made weights. I'm questionable on glass gems because when you hold a single one it's not that heavy, but holding a bag is very heavy! But the amount of weight needed to balance a doll is probably less than I think it is. I will indeed have to try them out. c:

Yes! Instamorph is just one of many brands. It is a very different material to work with, you just gotta play around with it and figure it out. c: Did you see my little experiment I made with mine? Instamorph Rooster by StorybookCreatures The hotter you make it, the more pliable and longer the working time is, but that also depends on how much heat your hands can handle. lol I've read having a crock pot keeps the water at a good temperature so you can just keep dipping it without reheating water every time. There are certain tools you can use to "weld", I haven't experimented with anything. I have read that you can push Instamorph into molds! So if you can't seem to sculpt it, there is still hope for it. Ew... paint doesn't stick? Well that's quite a damper on my hopes and dreams! But perhaps sanding it first will fix that? I was planning on doing my next doll's horns, fingers and feet out of Instamorph. I'm going to mold it around some wire that's curled at the ends for it to grip on.(We'll see how that goes...)

Oh wow! That's an idea!(painting the doll then steaming it) I'm not sure if you have to rinse it after steaming, I'll have to do some more research. c:Hmm.. I'm not really sure what a vat dye is. Sweating a little...

The curing process for rabbit hides is pretty simple actually. c: The worst part is pulling all the flesh off of the skin because it takes time. You can fold the hide, skin to skin, after removing it and throw it in a bag in the freezer. Doesn't matter if it's soaking wet or not. The only frozen hides I've had problems with are ones that were in the freezer for 3 years, but they came out just fine. There's a TON of different tanning chemicals available, most commonly used(and what I use) is aluminum sulfate(commonly referred to as alum and this stuff is deadly if injested) and non-iodized salt(I use a huge bag of feed stock salt it's cheap and available locally). This alum, salt and water mixture is called a pickle or tan. So basically, you cut and pull the hide off the rabbit however you want, and if you really don't have time or energy just rinse the blood off and chuck it in the freezer(or fridge for a few days). Other wise you'd rinse and begin fleshing by pulling off the big chunks. Then you mix up half of the pickle, 2 gallons of water, 1 cup of alum and 1 cup of salt(this is good for about 5 or 6 hides). Mix it up well and put the hides in, I give them a good massage to get the water through the fur so it is totally saturated and the pickle is reaching the skin from both sides. Some clean rocks or other heavy items are needed for weighing them down. Nice thing now is there is no rush, the pickle is starting the tan and preventing decomposing so you can take your time finishing fleshing. Stir the bucket every day at least once to make sure the chemicals are reaching the entire skin. After they've soaked in this 'pre tan' for a day or two it is MUCH EASIER to flesh them. So do not kill yourself trying to get every bit off as soon as it leaves the animal. You can just do a little bit everyday, take it out of the bucket and rinse it if your skin is sensitive, alum tends to dry your skin. It is hard to tell at first which is flesh and which is skin, but you learn, flesh is usually pretty slimy feeling. After the hides are all clean, add another cup of alum and cup of salt, continue to stir at least once a day. I've read it only takes 48 hours to tan, but some people insist 1 week. I just leave it in there until I'm ready to do the next step, there's no harm in leaving it in there much longer than needed as long as you continue to stir it every day. Do not wring your hides, just squeeze them, give them a good rinse in cold water. Some people wash them with soaps or shampoos to make them smell nice~ but I've found soaps and shampoos make the fur rough and dull. I think it's because it's removing oils from the fur? The furs do not smell bad after tanning, they have pretty much no smell, and as long as it's rinsed well it is clean. c: it is up to you if you want to wash it. (At this point they can be thrown into another bucket of dye if you wish to dye them c:) Then you'll want to squeeze the water out and you can roll it in a towel and squeeze it to help it dry faster. Lay it out on anything that will allow air flow to both sides, do not put it in the sun! You need to stretch it as it dries and it will turn white. You just stretch and stretch and stretch, every 20 minutes or so. I had to put some of my hides in the dryer on low because they took 24 hours and were STILL too wet. I blame the weather, usually they only take like 10 hours to get to the "butter zone" for stretching. Feel free to ask me any questions, I was SO confused when I first got started in tanning. Earlier this year I got to chat with a very experienced tanner, plus I've learned quite a bit myself, so I have a lot I can share. c:

That is extremely strange about your feathers falling apart... I have not had that happen. Are you collecting fresh feathers? If I find a feather that looks like it has started to decay I do not keep it(kinda ratty, not so pretty). I usually pick up feathers that have fallen off my birds in the last 12 hours, aka they weren't there yesterday. lol Sometimes I put the feathers in a bag in the freezer to kill anything on them, sometimes I take them straight to a bath in very hot water with dish soap. What do you wash your feathers with? I have a few feathers that I brought in the house last year, never washed them and they are fine.
CMWyvern Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
You could - I haven't compared the density of expoxy sculpt to that of glass. How are you planning to secure the weights in the doll? With epoxy sculpt, you could just apply it directly to the wire around the hips or on the bones. It might not take as much weight as you think, for sure. More weight can add stability (Like a bop-it or weeble), but designing with balance in mind is the most important. My faun… has resin feet, head, and hands, so it is not heavy overall nor does the head weigh a huge amount, but it is not exactly bottom heavy. There is no extra weight in the feet or legs. It stands pretty well on a flat surface without the staff. Of course, a slight breeze will knock it over, but the point is you don't need large heavy feet in a doll for it to stand on its own.

Not bad! Your test sculpt looks pretty good! I didn't have a crock pot immediately available, so I had to work with microwaving water and the bowl cooled off annoyingly quickly. Yep, paint doesn't stick AT ALL well - but the fabulous AnyaBoz found a spray fixative / varnish that solves this problem! I don't remember exactly what it was... it's in some comment thread somewhere. I haven't tried Instamorph with paint and the brush on polyurethanes that I normally use. I haven't done experiments with instamorph and epoxy or just itself over wire yet - tell me how it goes!

Vat dying is whenever you put the dye in water and then whatever you want dyed floats around in that so you get a solid color.

Thanks for explaining how you tan the rabbit hides! That sounds fairly doable actually! I might just give it a try if we raise rabbits again.

This happens for me with feathers of any kind, even if they start out pristine. Chicken feathers, some wild bird feathers including a huge and glorious eagle feather (That was a sad day when I saw it happening to that one!). I wash them one by one with liquid soap (dish or hand, I don't recall) and fairly hot water. Whatever it is, it seems to affect feathers only. All my wool stuff is and always has been fine.
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Paint didn't seem to have a problem sticking. It took a lot longer to dry than it does on polymer clay, but it did dry. Won't rub off, but I can scrape it off with my nail. I did not put any paint sealer over it, that might fix that problem. I used Apple Barrel matte acrylics.
Sany0691 by StorybookCreatures  
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StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Did some work with Instamorph! My Mom's tiny crockpot worked perfectly~ Kept the water at about 141 degrees. It does firm up rather quickly but I found I had plenty of time to work it into shape. c: You can see I coiled the wire to give the plastic more to grip on. The top horns are completely solid, but the lower horns do wobble a tiny bit if you poke them. Not a problem though, they are stuck fast to the wire. I had SO MUCH FUN doing them~
Sany0687 by StorybookCreatures  Sany0695 by StorybookCreatures  Sany0697 by StorybookCreatures
I tried adding a texture to the first horn, but it was too bulky for the look I wanted. I just made little rectangles and wrapped them around, pinching at the bottom to bind it. I was able to remove it after by wedging small pliers under it. If I were to do this horn texture again I would dunk the entire horn after so it would bind.
Sany0688 by StorybookCreatures  Sany0689 by StorybookCreatures
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I was thinking to wrap the gems in quilt batting and attach that, sort of in place of stuffing. But your idea to put epoxy sculpt in the bones is much better! That's unused space and it will also hold them in place.

Wow! That's pretty cool about your doll! It has such tiny feet that really is amazing it can stand on it's own. I'm planning to have human shaped feet for my anthro dolls so there is some room for weight there. I've been inspired by The Cat Returns' Baron character.

Thank you! My little Instamorph rooster was a nice test, I love how the hot plastic instantly bonds with cooled plastic, so it is very easy to add little bits(which is how I sculpt with clay). I used hot water from a "K-cup" coffee machine, it lasted a little while but having to stop and get new water really sucks. My Mom has a tiny crock pot that I am going to try using to make horns for my newest doll.

Ah! Yes, Rit is commonly used in the washing machine, basically same concept except the machine does the agitating and rinsing for you. I put my rit dye into a container with water and submersed the hide overnight.

I'm glad you're going to give tanning a try! c: I really like to be able to use as much of the animal as I can and not be wasteful~

That is really really weird... I just checked all the old feathers in the house and they are all fine. You'd think that hot water would kill any mites. Hmm.. I'm really at a loss here, some of my feathers I brought in the house years ago and stuck them into a fake plant in the kitchen, never washed them, and they're fine. I checked on my feathers down cellar too, a bunch of feathers sitting in an open bag, and some sealed in a bag, all unwashed and all fine. Perhaps you could try putting them into the freezer for a few days?(I've read this may or may not do a thing to help against bugs) I use Dawn dish washing detergent(for hand washing dishes). How do you store your feathers? I put mine in a big ziplock bag and seal it with a bunch of air in it so they don't get distorted. Have you seen any bugs on the feathers? Or any parts/debris from bugs?

Did some reading on the internet, one person says to try tapping the feather over a white piece of paper to dislodge any mites, they will be tiny tiny black dots that move. Someone else suggested putting your feathers in a bag with a moth ball. I hope you get it worked out! Crafting with feathers is very fun!
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh! And thank you for the extensive feedback!!! Llama Emoji-46 (This and That) Heart Love 
Eviecats Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2015
This is a beautiful collection of your journey and tons of hard work in doll making, I think it's so important to share ideas so we can learn from one another and find better more sturdy ways to do things so customers love them and keep coming back for more!  =D  I see your dying experiments are coming soon- have you heard about the new rit that came out last month?  I haven't tried it yet but supposedly it WILL dye faux fur... my adventures in using original rit were pretty horrible LOL.  ^_^
StorybookCreatures Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!! And yes!! c: I've learned so much from others, I'd love to give back! Llama Emoji-03 (Sparkles) [V1]
I have heard about the new rit dye! But I really don't have any faux fur, I use real fur from my rabbits that I raise. Regular rit liquid dye works very well on them. I have heard that faux fur is EXTREMELY HARD to dye. I hope this new dye will work for those who do not have access to/don't want to use real fur!
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