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Monday, February 18, 2019


Pearl is my latest muse.  She occupied my time for four weeks.  Her journey is much different than my other paper clay dolls.  Rather than beaded joints, she has a wire armature that allows her to hold a pose.  Instead of Creative Paper Clay, I used ACTIVA La Doll Premier Natural Air Dry Stone Clay.  I will share pictures and a few words describing my experience with the wire armature, clothing, and finally, the new clay.

Pearl is 16 inches tall.  Her body, upper legs and upper arms are fabric. Her head, lower legs, feet, forearms and hands are paper clay.


The stranded electrical wire was purchased for a dragon I made in 2016, Sew Happy   I cannot remember the wire specs, but it was purchased by the foot at our local Ace Pearl Hardware.  I chose it over single wire for durability and safety.  A single wire would allow a more exact and stronger pose, but would not hold up as well with repeated flex and movement.  I also considered that should the wire break over time, although the joint would no longer hold a pose, it would continue to be flexible without a solid wire protruding through the clay or fabric.   

One drawback with using a one-piece wire armature vs. the beaded joints is that the doll is constructed all in one piece.  Each clay part had to be added sequentially and allowed to dry before going on to the next part.  This limited the amount of time I could spend on the doll at one time and added a number of days to the process.  

The initial plan was to use fabric for upper and lower legs.  But the fabric lower legs (shown left) looked a bit lumpy under the tights.  I decided to build the lower legs using clay (shown right).  I also added stretch fabric at the joints to provide shape under the tights.


I measured and drew a pattern for tights.  I copied the pattern to lightweight interfacing so it could be pinned to my stretch fabric.  It took a bit of trial and error to get the size right.

A silky scarf was used for the blouse and skirt lining.  I drew a guide for pin tucks using my favorite marker, a Pilot Clicker erasable marking pen.  It disappears with a little heat.  This picture shows the front of the blouse (on the left) and the two sleeves, one completed and one ready for pin tucks. 

The "fishtail" waistcoat is made of decorator fabric.  The lining and collar are made from a silk tie.  Although the waist coat is not removable, lining was the easiest way to add a collar and the gathered fishtail back.  

The silky skirt lining and a sparkling tulle fabric were cut in a square and sewn right sides together.  I cut a hole in the center of the square just large enough to fit over the hips.  The fabric was turned right side out and the circle finished with a zigzag stitch.  A few gathers were necessary to fit it to her waist.  Lace was layered over the top of the tulle and silky skirt.  A small piece of matching lace was used as an undergarment.  
Gathered fabric at the waist can become bulky, so care was taken to cut and fit the garments to limit gathers.

A crochet edge with glass bead accents was hand-sewn at the hem.  

Shoes were trickier than usual because they were added over the tights.  Her ankles swivel up and down, but do not hold a pose.  It was necessary to pay attention to how how the shoes would be added without limiting that movement.  The fabric of the tights was hardened with PaverPol where the shoe would fit.  Clay shoes were molded over the tights.  Tulle fabric was glued over the clay shoe.  A crochet and bead trim completed the shoes.  I like how they turned out, but it was pain-staking.  I will not do that again!
Pearl's head piece is hand crochet with glass bead accents. 

New Clay

Finally, the clay.  I really like the ACTIVA La Doll Premier Natural Air Dry Stone Clay.  It is about the same price as Creative Paper Clay.  I will continue to use La Doll for for several reasons.  I am slow to work the clay and often add water to keep it from drying.  Water is also a good way to smooth the surface.  The Creative clay can crack and shrink if you add too much water.  I did not have that problem with the La Doll clay.  In fact, I did not need to repair any cracks while making Pearl.  

I like the white color better than the gray Creative.  Less fuss with the color wash added for skin tone.  

I have read that La Doll is stronger than Creative and it may well be.  When making a bead-jointed doll, I add hands last because they are small and fragile.  Pearl's hands had to be built onto the armature early on.  They survived, including garment fittings, without issue.  She also experienced, without breaks or cracks, an active photo shoot for her video on Urban Stitcher® YouTube Channel.      

After four weeks, I have become attached to Pearl.  If I can bring myself to part with her, she will be listed on Etsy Urban Stitcher Shop.