Over my Christmas break, I decided to try a brand new project – sculpting a jointed doll from Paperclay.
Even though I don’t have much experience sculpting, I’ve always wanted to try this. I decided to make the doll for myself, unsure of how my first attempt at sculpting would turn out. I based my doll on the heroine of Cathrynne M. Valente’s Fairyland books, September, a brave girl from the 1930’s in a homespun cotton dress and the Green Wind’s fantastic coat. As I made my plans before sculpting, I took inspiration from antique French Bru dolls and the Paperclay art dolls of Holli, an artist I admire.
When I began sculpting, I immediately fell in love! I love the way Paperclay feels, and how easy it is to use. In the past, I’d had a hard time with clay and Sculpy, but Paperclay was soft and flexible, and much easier. I loved the feeling of literally forming something with my hands, something that would carry my fingerprints. I spent over a week sculpting and re-working every part of my doll, which, with Paperclay, which softens with water, was easy to do!
After September was dry, it was time for sanding and carving, the most tedious and labor-intensive part of the process. But then it’s time for the really fun part – painting.
Before getting started, I spent time with my watercolors mixing colors and testing them on a sheet of paper to make sure I got them right. I’d originally wanted to give September hazel eyes to match the brown hair I’d bought for her and the green coat she would wear, but as I played with colors, I decided to go with a purple -grey instead.
The painting stage was when September really came alive for me. Another doll artist I know has said that she doesn’t feel like her dolls are alive until she’s painted their eyes, and this is true for me as well.
After September dries from being painted, I’ll be stringing her and creating her wig. I decided to give her a cloth body that her head and limbs will be sewn to. Before painting her, I quickly arranged her together and snapped a photograph to see what she’ll look like.