Polymer clay

Recently I have been experimenting with different forms of polymer clay to make the head, forearms, lower legs and chest of the dolls. I started with Sculpy because it was the only polymer sold at the local craft store, Party Time, in Napa (now, sadly, out of business).  Sculpy III, specifically, is a good work-horse clay. However, it takes quite a lot of kneading to shape it. The kneading warms the clay so it is workable.

Last December, after making a portrait doll on commission for a friend and customer, my thumb joints became red and swollen, forcing me to stop work for several weeks. I recovered, but I have changed my practice. I take frequent rest periods and switch to alternate activities that don’t involve my thumbs. Opening and closing my hands frequently to stretch them and improve circulation helps also. I find it’s good to have some ice/gel packs ready in the freezer to apply to my joints as needed. I never in my life would have anticipated this! Yikes!

I was searching around on the internet for a clay that responds better and found some very useful You Tube instruction videos on dollmaking. One artist recommended Cernit clay, which I promptly ordered from Polymer Clay Express. I am finishing up with the Sculpy on a new doll and haven’t opened the Cernit yet. It is a wonderful Bisque color.

14 inches

Repurposed striped sock for leggings, Leotard made from black tights and rope ribbon (tiny piece from Joanne – Thank you!)

I am currently preparing to dress the Tall Doll, Grace. She is made from wire, cotton, silk, Sculpy III Polymer Clay, acrylic paints, various fabrics. Her wig is made from human hair.


About jodynash

I am a textile artist with a background in printmaking and photography. I received my BFA from UC Davis in 1996. Found objects hold a fascination for me partly because of their random nature, but also because it feels right to re-purpose and reuse instead of discard. I suppose my desire to see things gain new life results from my long experience as a Registered Nurse. There is no easy explanation for why I make dolls. As most artists will tell you, we are simply compelled in one way or another. In that, I have been all over the map, to be sure: painting in oils and acrylic, printmaking, silk painting, writing poetry, singing, and dancing. Making these dolls, for now, just feels right and good. That all the wire-twisting, stitches, beading, modeling, and painting are hand-work means a return to the investment of energy into each piece in a way we rarely see in our tech-driven, factory processed products. In addition they are locally produced, and often customized specifically to a customer's design. My skill and approach are always evolving. I am always a student, though often a teacher. I am fortunate to live in beautiful Napa, California, a source for my inspiration and peace, with my equally talented and ever so witty husband.
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