After baking your polymer doll , then what?
When I first started sculpting in polymer clay, I thought that after curing the doll , or doll parts in the oven that the work was over. Boy, was I mistaken! Sometimes the work is just beginning.
Sure, occasionally when we take a polymer clay doll out of the oven it is a pretty good finished product. All smooth and beautifully formed. But , much of the time, before our doll is ready for the market place it needs some cleaning up.
When I first noticed this about some of the dolls that I sculpted, I was disappointed. I thought that a good artist always had a perfect piece coming straight from the oven.
Then, when I started reading more about doll making, I found that some of the well know artist clean up the doll or doll parts after curing. This was a surprise to me , but, a relief. I thought if I was better at sculpting , I wouldn't need to carve, sand ,and clean.
Ok, so, in case you are sitting out there wondering what it is that I do after my doll is baked , here are the steps to "cleaning up" that I use if needed.
1. After the doll is cooled( preferbly in the oven), if you have some rough spots, or something that doesn' t look right about your doll(for instance, one arm is thicker than the other one, or maybe is bows outward where it should be straighter) take, a rounded hobby knife blade and scrape it until it is smooth or until it is straighter.
2. When you have the area that you want to make smoother or strighter , or whatever you want to do to it with the hobby knife, sand the area or the entire doll , head , or limb with a medium sanding pad or sanding sponge. Next , use a fine sanding pad. You should wear a mask , or sand under water when doing this step.
3. After sanding , you can use laquer thinner or nail polish remover with acetone to rub the piece. The laquer thinner is toxic, so use it in a well ventilated area. I read once where using the acetone was like sanding, and I didn't understand that until I actually did it myself. As you rub the piece you will see what I am talking about. The sanding will turn the piece a white color, but this step of rubbing with the thinner or acetone will help to restore the original color to your polymer clay piece. Also after you use the thinner, you can rub the piece with baby oil and wipe it dry. This also gives it a nice color and a baby fresh smell. Don't use the baby oil on the clay when is is not cured if the oil contains lanolin.
So, that is what I do to clean up. And I guess it is pretty much the same with most polymer clay artist. If you think about about it, it is really not so unusual to clean up the clay doll after it is cured. After all, porcelain dolls are cleaned before they are fired. Seams have to be removed and sanded and wiped cleaned.
I found that it frees an artist greatly to have permission to cut, scrape, sand and work on a cured doll. It opens up a whole new world in which to experiment in polymer clay doll making.
The finished Product!
Lidia, now in a private collection.
Zoey and friend, 14inches