Thursday, June 28, 2012

WIP: Paint, sand and leather

Now, if you make dolls 
or you're interested in quirky, cute 
and highly idiosyncratic creations, 
you probably know the work 
Dylan and Jo.

They make sewn and painted little creatures
 that are sweet and spooky,
cuddly and creepy,
delicious and disturbing
( I've run out of alliterative adjectives.)
You can find their lovely stuff
 for sale here

Why am I eagerly promoting them so loudly?
It's the least I can do. 
They were the first place I saw the whole 
technique of turning stuffed cotton
 into a kid-leather soft surface.

And do you know what?
It really works.
This is my test piece.
A spare arm.
I painted it black. 
Let it dry.
Sanded it.
Nothing special.
Then, I painted on a second coat.
Let it dry.
Sanded it. 
And it turned into this.
Sexy or what?

Without the words, this is a really, really odd picture.
Not only does it look like leather
it's amazingly soft to the touch.
I tried a layer of PVA glue
(White glue? School glue?)
at one end as a finishing seal.
It's lovely and shiny,
(but not what I want for Miss R White
I'm testing a matte spray sealant tomorrow.)

Having done a test piece, 
Miss White and I discussed the options 
and she said she was prepared to give it a go
I was going to paint her, after all.
Might as well make her smooth and pretty.
I was so pleased with the trial arm
 that I'm going to paint on her striped stockings
and she's in full agreement.

Protective gear.
(Dollar General bag)

The reason for the protective clothing
is to keep PVA glue off her cloth body.
I've been looking for a way to seal the paperclay
before painting it and the
 best and cheapest I've found is PVA glue.
I'd done a test piece some time ago
and it seems stable, 
doesn't seem to be affected by humidity 
and takes acrylic paint  well.
 The biggest drawback is that you have to be certain 
you're absolutely finished with the sculpting process.
Because when you're done with the glue,
 you're done.

I covered all of Miss White's head and ears and shoulders
in a thick layer of PVA.
Then let it dry.

Then, I painted her head and ears, 
her arms up to the elbow
and her legs from top to toe
in thick white acrylic paint.
No fabric medium and very little water,
just enough to help the paint flow.

 So, paint and sand
And then paint again.

And another view.
Yes, our lawn is that brown.

I was going to write "Assume the Position" here,
but that would be in poor taste, right?
 I sanded down the painted cloth areas
with #100 grit sandpaper.
And now she has smooth, soft skin on her arms and legs.
It's a really satisfying process.

Smooth and shiny!
 Tomorrow, we begin face painting!
Yes, we're both excited! 

For Miss R White's beginning,

To see what happens next,
look here.


  1. Miss White is one brave rabbit...but how could she not be with you at the creative wheel :). I am again left in awe. She looks even more detailed and lovely. I can't even imagine what she'll look like after her face painting. Good thing I'll be back to find out :)

  2. She is, indeed, a brave rabbit. She's not entirely happy with some of the processes, but she is game enough to try. Thank you for your support! Every one who comes to view and everyone who comments means a lot to me and Miss Rabbit. It's been very helpful to chart our progress here on the screen and everyone who drops in to visit helps us along. Thank you, Amy

  3. Miss R White is coming along beautifully! Love her seamed fingers on her hands. Thank you for sharing these step by step photos. I hadn't thought of using glue as the final layer, it sounds intriguing. I have learned many things just by watching hours of videos for doll making in Cloth and Clay, and a few short tutorials in Dixie Redmond's Izannah Walker Workshop (which by the way will be the last installment and will close August 1st). It seems many people paint and sand several layers including clear or white gesso before painting the face. And some paint a layer of acrylic paint down for the first coat on the face and then finish with water soluble oils like Windsor-Newton. And some people like to put a crackle finish, but I think I seriously prefer a smooth texture with a Krylon Matte Finish Spray to seal the doll's painted areas. I like your 'soft' leather looking arm with just the paint and sanding, twice; kind of like 'lather, rinse, repeat.' Oh, yes, I adore 'Cart Before the Horse' as they were also one of my earliest recollections of favorite painted cloth dolls along with Rebecca Miller-Campbell's dolls, which are also cloth and hand painted. One of Rebecca's dolls is my very first doll to purchase in my doll collection (which I have not remembered to highlight on my blog...I need to do that!)
    Oh! And thank you for adding my blog link to your sidebar.
    This is such a rewarding experience following doll making and mixed media is my passion and joy!
    Have a very lovely weekend~
    Teresa in California

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comments. The step-by-step process has been helpful to me, too, not least because I've had to do something every day! I'm about to try the Krylon Matte spray as soon as Miss R White's face is finished and I'll be using it on the limbs, too, if the test piece comes out ok. I just have to wait for a day with low humidity.

      Thank you so much for the suggested sites! Cloth and Clay I didn't know about at all, it looks amazing. I went to look at Rebecca Miller-Campbell's dolls. Aren't they gorgeous? Such expressive faces on her animal dolls.

      I have to admit sitting and trawling doll blogs is how I spend much of my day, too. This is probably one of the best things about the Internet, that it brings people together who have the same delights and passion, even though we are geographically spread out. We can learn new techniques and inspire and support each other.

  4. I LOVE Cart Before the Horse. I used to make some of the doll kits from Gail Wilson. She does the the paint/sand/paint/sand process. I loved doing it. I thought the arms and legs on your rabbit were clay sculpted.

    1. I see what you mean, the white paint does make them look like air dry clay.

      I just went to look at Gail Wilson's dolls, as I'm not familiar with hers. Lovely dolls and a lot of helpful hints on her website about painting them. Thank you for the introduction.


Thank you all for the wonderful and supportive things you say! I'm thrilled to read them and I reply to each one.