Rainbow Dolls had our monthly meeting today at Rainbow Silks. Jill had requested some help with wire armatures and I duly obliged with a demo on one method of creating a doll body using a wire armature. I adapted this method for cloth dolls largely from Maureen Carlson's book Family and Friends in Polymer Clay. Although the book is meant for polymer clay doll artists I feel it is indispensable for all doll artists. Besides the bits explaining making armatures, this book beautifully illustrates what happens when you play with facial and body proportions. Unlike some polymer clay artists (not all, but a few) Maureen's Carlson's approach is 'Here are the rules - break them if you want'. I love her playful approach. Too much reality is just stifling.
Too see how I have adjusted Maureen Carlson's approach to better suit cloth dolls download this free tutorial on building a wire armature: Download wire_armature_tutorial.pdf . But do invest in Maureen's book - you won't regret it.
In our demo today I used Shelley Hawkey's pattern for the head and hands of Dylan the Elf from the December 2006 issue of Doll Crafter & Costuming. Everyone seemed really impressed with him. Well, he is pretty cute. I gave him a little hat and slippers for his photo, but the wadding on his body has not been tacked in place, nor has he been skinned (that is the body covered in fabric, not skinned like a 'coon) If you want to purchase back issues of this magazine click here to buy the magazine from Jan Horrox.
To my mind,
There are 2 basic ways for making a doll with an armature:
- 1. creating a pattern for the body pieces, inserting the wire and stuffing around it
- 2. creating head, hands, and possibly feet, attaching them to a wire armature and using batting (wadding) or similar and building up the body by wrapping
My tutorial covers method number 2. If, however you are keen to learn method number 1 click here to see Mimi Winer's free tutorial on wire armatures.
For a good general article on wire armatures by Martha Checkett click here.
If you want a simplified version of the wrapping method to make a simple doll with a bead head try this free tutorial from Susanna Oroyan via the DIY Network by clicking here.
It is hard to believe but I actually managed to make the armature and talk at the same time all in under an hour. Even I was impressed.
I was even more impressed by the dolls and projects the other members brought to show. Here is Chris' in-progress fairy:
Jill's gorgeous Oriental quilt:
And Stella's own design for her interpretation of Klimt's the Kiss in cloth, also inspired by our last meeting where we played with stamps and painting:
See, you never know where something you've learned at your doll club will take you! So let's start seeing some dolls with wire armatures. Go on, wire you waiting?