Making porcelain dollhouse people

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Now that I have started making my dollhouses I find I need people to put in them, I used to run a Porcelain studio teaching dolls, many years ago. I don't like the reasonably priced purchased porcelain dollhouse dolls, they all look like hookers or members of the Adams family to me and I could not justify the cost of the better ones .I have brushed the dust off a kiln at home and am starting to make them myself . I could not find a thread specifically for this subject but wondered if it would be of any interest to anyone.

I thought if I took pictures of each stage it might help someone else who was thinking of this. I do know WickedWood is in that process and with her painting skills I think she will make lovely pieces. I just hope I haven't lost mine LOL..

Showing  is a box of almost ready to fire parts P1010067.thumb.JPG.6935424fa436531d8f3b7

 

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 I just picked up some more molds at the border, I wonder which one will be Joe!!

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I am interested for sure.

Their hands look great. I like how you can see the individual fingers......I don't like mitten hands.

I would be interested in blanks. I want to try painting some. I have a few blanks already on the way, and I can't wait to make them look like hookers....LOL! Just kidding, but there is a good chance they might be a little garish. I've never done such tiny faces. I have a hard enough time making my own eyebrows symmetrical.

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What was in the first picture?

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Oh good lord I admire all of you for trying. My attempts would surely be fit only for horror scenes where genetic experiments have gone horribly wrong!

Can't wait to see them all painted and lifelike!

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1 minute ago, My Miniature Madness said:

Oh good lord I admire all of you for trying. My attempts would surely be fit only for horror scenes where genetic experiments have gone horribly wrong!

Can't wait to see them all painted and lifelike!

Well, I might need to make a haunted brothel.

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Those look wonderful. My painting skills....well let’s just say I’m not sure a miracle would help..  I however would be very interested

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I am sure my painting skills are in the same category as quite a few other people here, I am not sure I have the steadiness of hand to do fine eyes and eyebrows, but it might be worth a try I like the faces in your molds, they look like real people. 

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I am truly not sure if I can paint like I used to, my eyes have deteriorated. I have never had glasses but I think I may need them now. I do use magnifiers for tiny sewing My hands are OK but my arms are not so I have to do everything close to my body. I will soon know I guess. I still have all my brushes, paints , tools etc and a kiln, I had a few tiny molds but I had let all the big ones go. I have bought more recently though so I am hoping I can still do it.

The beauty of painting on porcelain is this, because it is vitreous the paints don't soak into the surface, if you do it and don't like it,  you can just just wipe  it off and  do it again and if need be again, so it perfect for the beginner. It is only after it is fired that the color is stable. I have never painted porcelain with acrylics but I do know it is done. I think the bigger dolls may be harder as you have to carry a brushstroke much further and eyebrows have to be exact but the little ones don't have as much painting on them. That's my theory anyway

I believe there is a  good market out there for decent blanks but it is definitely  not something I want to do. When I did dolls  years ago it started as a hobby, then I taught a little, then I opened a business which got   bigger, and bigger  till eventually I was so busy I never did anything for  me . During 3 days seminars I had to sleep there to keep the 4 huge kilns going through the night and that was not what I wanted to do. Now I am doing things for me!!

Holly I don't know what happened when I put the pictures on, it sort of went funny.

The best advice I can give you if you are interested in doing this is to try with a blank and acrylics and be prepared to be disappointed , china painting on porcelain did not come easy to me. My first attempts at eye bows made the doll look like Chucky, I am not kidding but I was determined and I stuck with it .I am not a natural artist , my husband could paint dolls way before I could ,bless him. I liked working with the clay better than the painting.

I started this topic because I thought it may help someone who is on the verge.  Or it might bring other doll makers onto the site, lets face it houses have people so it is an important  part of dollhouse making for those folks who have tenants.  I am told that dolls are making a come back which would be nice and who knows I may even crack open my trunk of unfinished big ones and get them done LOL

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You are amazing, and so full of knowledge. I've never saw any dolls ( mini- people) that I liked, so I never wanted to put them in a setting. I think you might be changing my mind. Keep up your good work!!

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One of the reasons I think I'll keep on with the polymer clay is I never know who or what will emerge from the clay, but, by golly, they have lots of personality!

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I was always in the same boat as Joanne- never saw any dolls that I liked, and their clothing never looked to scale.  Now that I have seen real artisan dolls I would LOVE to have one in my Art Deco room box, or maybe in one of my Victorians......someday when I can afford one.  

Sure, having been in the cake world I learned about molding people with gumpaste and cold porcelain....and loved that the sugar paste clothing actually hung correctly!  I have people molds and occasionally ponder making a doll to see how it goes, but my painting skills are rough-especially for dainty facial painting!  Also, the people molds I have are old and aren't the correct scale...I think they are closer to 1:6.  I'd have to use the kids body!  ;)

 

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Oh thank you for starting this Jeannine. I am right in there with all the others. I would love to try and make some little dolls. Frankly my eyes are older and my hands shake, but I hope you are able to sell and ship a few blanks. I do have some paints and a small kiln. Also as long as we are talking doll making May I bring up hair... I actually tried to make myself a little doll a while ago, and not being able to fire at high temps, having no molds etc, I bought a little plastic figuarts doll. I persisted painting, wiping and repainting her tiny little face until she had a pleasant expression, then had such wigging failures I finally bought her a premade one. It doesn't quite fit, it is a little large, and gives her big hair. Now she looks like... a hooker, but modestly dressed.

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Joanne , thank you for the compliment but I am not amazing. I have just lived along time and done a lot of things, I am not much good as a house maker though I am really struggling with the wood and without the folks on this site I would be doomed. This is my chance to give back.

Holly your folks are full of character and I couldn't do what you do.

Jackie, I did cake making too but you won't be able to use your molds for porcelain. They have to be plaster. Liquid clay  called slip is poured in, the plaster absorbs the water in the slip  and forms a wall of clay on the inside, when it is thick enough, the slip is dumped out, after a little while the mold can be opened and you have a hollow wet little person, Plastic does not absorb the water from the clay. You could however use your icing people mold to make a solid doll with Sculpey of Fimo, bake it and complete it with acrylics.

Meris, I am sorry but I am not going to offer blanks. I really want to spend my time doing things for me this time around .Howevert here are  folks out there who do sell blanks and I can give you some help with painting , wigging and clothing tips or pouring and firing if anyone has access to a kiln.  Meris Tell me about your kiln , make and model or show me a picture  maybe there is a way. 

Re hair, there is a company that sells very tiny dollhouse doll wigs and also a prewaved hair to make your own, there are some good books out their on dollhouse wigmaking too so that is easy to overcome. I will find you some titles if anyone wishes.

 

Re painting, I can't stress hard enough that painting comes with practice, you can practice doing brows, lips and lashes on a boiled egg  or an apple or a plastic doll. Much of the skill can be found in a book, again I will find you some titles, when you break the painting down to one stroke at a time, which bit to do first etc it starts to come.

In my studio I taught many people who thought they wouldn't be able to do it, in fact we had a poster  on the wall that said  " if you think you can't you won't, " and another that said "the word can't is forbidden here".  It is all learnable.

 

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My kiln is a paragon "home artist" they now make two versions, 120 and 240, mine is the 120 amp one. I had a 240 amp kiln I used a little but I left it behind when we moved here. This kiln runs on a 120 amp circuit, and is mostly just for china painting. It is light and easy to move around and I had envisioned taking it to classes and reteats and learning to paint china, which never happened. Now my husband has Alzheimer's and I am at home for the foreseeable future. I believe that, under duress, it might fire to a cone 6.

I did do some half dolls and a few lace draped dolls with my former kiln. I only have one half doll that I could find poured ,fired and ready to paint leftover from before. I thought I might get blanks to paint but I never found any porcelain dollhouse people blanks. I do love it so. The little dolls are so pretty and fragile and lovely when painted well. I am glad you think anyone can learn to paint doll faces with enough practice.

Here is a photo of the half doll and my plastic dollhouse doll. The plastic one Is terrific because her scale is accurate 1:12 and I love that she can be posed so many ways and can even stand on her own. Her joints are really remarkable. I need to make her a real dress and fix the big hair, she was disturbing buck nekked

Here is the plastic doll horrified to find only half of a doll... and then since they aren't alive anyway, it's all okay. So I am up for any help at all. Umm I finally wiped off her eyebrows ( the plastic one) and left them gone. The molded doll seemed pretty easy to paint (acrylic) for a small doll.

IMG_0579.thumb.JPG.7eef81ac58d95b0a2f847IMG_0581.thumb.JPG.e8f4c8ea2057e52b5b6e4

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Hi, your doll is on a ball jointed body which is why she is so easily poseable, if you look carefully in the picture I posted you can see parts to a doll with that kind of body.

I know Paragon kilns pretty well but not sure about that one I will check it out. The other thing you could do is pour your doll in regular clay which only needs a cone 03 firing. you could glaze with a satin glaze then china paint over that . The dolls would be a wee bit bigger as the shrinkage is less but you could compensate for that, Some molds tend to be on the dainty size anyway so it would be doable.

I miss lace draping and I have tons of cotton lace left from my business that I have kept. I only have a small kiln now so I don't have the height but am seriously think ing about moving up a size. I am not sure if I could do lace draping now though as it is all done with outstretched arms and mine are very weak like that,

The other thing is if you have a store near you that would fire you cone 6 porcelain you could do all the china painting in your own kiln. If you don't want to invest in molds  you can buy soft fired porcelain bisque, it still needs to be fired to cone 6  and it still is breakable although tougher than greenware,  but it will ship, so you would have the advantage of it being available as you cannot ship raw greenware.

I am sorry to hear about your husband and I understand completely. I lost my husband in August to AD

The other option  for anyone out there who wants to use a mold is that you can get latex composition slip which pours beautifully and no firing, again no shrinkage so one has to allow for that. I used to pour a lot of bodies in latex and it is still available. I can no longer use it as I developed a latex allergy  in my fifties and it would be very dangerous for me.

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I just checked your kinl  and at it's hottest it will go to 1900. It cannot get to a porcelain cone 6 it will go to a regular cone 06 and  a bit higher, so you could get a regular bisque firing in it and a glaze firing. Cone 04 is actually a tad over 1900 but it  will make a 05 ,it may go a 04, , your kiln is right on the border for that but for decorative work a 05/06  is enough, I wouldn't use it for food ware though  but it will give you low fired dolls.

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Oh my new favorite subject, lol. 

Just want to say, don't get caught up in thinking you can't make a doll because you can't paint. When you go to paint a porcelain face there are grooves that the paint falls into. I mean, you're painting on what was once a clay sculpt. So where the artist sculpted an eyebrow line, you're going to see a faint line, there's going to be an eyelid mark, etc. it's similar to painting the unfinished metal pieces, at first it seems impossible then once you start you realize the features kind of come out on their own if you apply the paint with a light touch.  The trending look on doll faces isn't that old look where you see every individual eyelash anyway. If you do a google image search for Sebastian Bertram the S Shape Miniatures, the first 40 or so pictures that come up will be his work and you can see what I mean, it's a very subtle eye look, almost no individual eyelashes are seen.  If you like his page on fb, the S Shape Miniatures, you can see more of his details, etc. 

Im just learning too, but abandoned acrylic because I don't like painting with acrylics and switched to my oil paints which are working better for me. I use my own blush makeup for the dolls blush and it actually works great. Then of course it's all sprayed with a fixative after it dries for a few days. Im looking fw to trying the China paint when I get my kiln. 

In learning about the process of what goes in to an artistan porcelain doll, start to finish, I'm now actually surprised they aren't more expensive. If there's a really well made one for less than $300 it seems a bargain. But I wouldn't pay that for a doll. It reminds me of when I first got in to oil painting. I saw one of those computer made canvases with a forest scene on it at Home Depot, I thought, that's cool but I'm not paying $40 for it. Maybe I could paint that myself. So I went and spent $200 on art supplies lol. Expensive getting all of these supplies together for the dolls but I love it. And it came at a time when I don't have room for more houses so I'm finally getting the appeal of the room box, which I never understood before. I was also thinking those pretty glass lanterns would look neat with a doll scene in them. 

 

 

 

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More eye candy. Other google images searches that might change your mind about dolls because the fabrics are out of scale, etc. 

Cindy Gates dolls

Lisa Johnson Richards doll

Janet Middlebrook 

Debbie Dixon Paver (she does very light eyebrows) 

Anna Hardman miniature doll 

Stacy Hofman 

Sebastian Bertram the S Shape Miniatures

another tip for eyebrows...maybe draw them on very lightly with sharpened pencil first. 

 

 

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Thanks Karin, that is excellent advice and lots and lots of thins to look up. It will take the mystery out of it.

I have never painted porcelain with acrylics or oils so you will be a big help to folks out there that want to try

The other thing about making your own  is the men  we all know you can't get a decent man these days but if you make your own you sure can, I have several molds for men, some plain faced, some with moustaches, some with beards, Also I have old folks with wrinkles. Their is  the most fantastic old wrinkly bodies for men and women, The old lady one has boobies that have gone south even, also legs with swollen ankles.The there are children from 1 1/2 inches up, both boys and girls.

There are  pottery  and ceramic studios that are around in some places that may fire for you, it's worth a look.

I don't know what blanks cost but maybe someone who has bought them may know.

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LOL about not being able to find a good man! But it is hard to find them in mini that don't look like women with mustaches. 

Blanks are pretty inexpensive. Like we've discussed...there are very few people selling them.  Unassembled, unpainted can be found for only $15-20. There are artists who sell them for $70+ but I believe those are assembled and maybe painted.  I would never buy one assembled because I have a pet peeve about too long arms and I wouldn't  want someone else to decide how long the arms should be. Some sellers who offer blanks will also offer the option for you to pay extra to have them painted. That's usually an extra $10-30, depending on the artist. 

 

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This is a great blog for beginners like myself or just anyone getting interested in dolls. It was created around Thankgiving this year, by doll artist Stacy Hofman, with its aim to help us beginners with information and links to tutorials for painting, finding blanks, costuming, wigging, etc. 

https://legacymoldsandmodels.blogspot.com/

 

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