A way to get soft clay more firm , is to leech the clay.
You can leech the clay, by putting a flat piece of clay between two pieces of paper and putting a heavy book on top of it. I use computer paper. After a couple of hours, check it. You will see oil on both pieces of paper and your clay should be dryer. If it is still too soft, leech it some more.
Something that I feel is important to share with new artist is that when you feel like you have lost your talent, and you can't sculpt anymore, you need some new inspiration.
It took me several years to learn this truth, but I finally have it firmly planted in my head. You don't just loose your talent!
Of course, inspiration is different for different people. I get motivation to sculpt from doll magazine photos, baby photos, and sometimes just walking in a book store and browsing the children's books will give me a new idea for a piece. Jack Johnston told me that movies, for example, Pirates of the Caribean, inspire him to sculpt .
The next tip on dollmaking that I have for you is concerning your head armature.
You know, when we first start sculpting, we usually just ball up a piece of foil in the shape of an egg, or perhaps, just a round shape.
As we progress, if we are serious about the art, we want to improve that shape. Because the finished product will reflect the skeleton beneath it, we need to have a more lifelike head shape.
Looking at photos of a human skull can teach you much about the shape of the head. See , the head is really two shapes, round in the back of the head and oblong like an egg in the front. And the front of the head near the temple area is more narrow than the back of the head at that same point. You can make this shape in foil. Yes, it takes longer than just making a ball, but it will make the sculpting much easier and produce a more realistic shape head.
Okay, last tip. Go make a great doll and get it published in a magazine. I know, doll magazines are expensive. Especially ,if you want to have a variety, but you dont have to buy them to get the information you need to get your doll's photo published.
Go to Barnes and Nobel or Books a Million( the two stores where I have found doll publications), take the mags that you would like to see your work published in, find a comfortable chair and write down the ifo you need. When you turn inside the magazine , on one of the first few pages, you will find the publishing compay, the editor, with the email address to the editor. You will also find other email addresses to other departments of the publication.
If you scroll on down that same page, sometimes near the bottom , will be listed the specs for digital photos and where to send them for consideration for publishing in their gallery section. The photos do need to be with a plain , uncluttered background, and on a high resolution. If you dont see this info, you can email the editor and ask for the upcoming gallery topics and deadlines for submitting your work, as well as the photos specifications.
Remember, you don't have to be a world class artist to get your photos published in the gallery of a doll magazine, so you dont have anything thing to loose by promoting your work and we all have to start somewhere. Besides, it is a thrill to see your handmade doll in print and it is free!
I hope I have inspired you to make a new creation , or have encouraged you if you are having a "down" day in sculplting. Take the down times to learn something new!