An art doll mini tutorial by Danita

I am having a great time and work creating an art doll collection. I have been working non stop on the dolls and I thought it would be fun to stop for a moment to tell you the story of the doll creation using images from the doll making process and turning the tale into a mini tutorial.

Danita Art Doll Materials Tools List Messy Desk

Look at my desk… Someone told me that a messy desk is the sign of a creative mind, so I guess that makes me one of the most creative people in this planet. No contest on that.

But hidden within the mess, there are secrets to be found, like all the materials and tools used when you create an art doll. Can you spy them all in this picture? There’s one you can’t see but it’s the most important one of all… Love for what you do.

Danita Art Doll Making Dollmaking Dollmaker Tutorial Steps How to

The first thing you want to do is pick the fabric for your doll bodies. Something resistant and sturdy that is also breathable is my weapon of choice, but you can choose anything you wish as long as it’s workable into small flexible pieces.

I create the patterns from my dolls from a standard but usually let the doll dictate what she wants to be, so the dolls are never the same, always different from one another. I really insist on that to give each doll a personality.

Danita Art Doll Handmade Techniques Tutorial Stuffed Bodies Muslin Polyfill

Once your bodies are cut and sewn, it’s time to stuff them! The perfect time to do this is while binge watch on my favorite TV shows and movies. I always buy a huge bag of Poly-Fil, grab my trusty stuffing tools and set to work!

Danita Art Doll Heads Tutorial Paperclay Paper Clay How To make

Once the bodies are filled and my binge for TV and movies satisfied, the dolls move to my working table to start making the doll heads using paper clay, my sculpting tools, and as a new addition to my dolls, glass eyes!

Danita Art Doll Sculpting Sculpture Paper Clay Tutorial How to Secrets

Making a doll face with paper clay starts with a very rough surface that you have to sand and work until you have a smooth surface as a foundation, and let’s be very careful not to scratch the glass eyes with your sanding block.

Your hands and the sculpting tools will be of great help here. I polish, remove and add clay all over the place until I am happy with how things are looking. It’s a very labor intensive process so it’s important that you take your time working this step.

Danita Art Doll Head Face Paper Clay Paperclay Sculpture Handmade Dollmaking How to

They always look very strange while you work the doll making steps. Next, after I am happy with the way the face is looking, I start to trace out features with a stabilo pencil because the next step is to paint the face.

Danita Art Doll Painted Head Paperclay Paper Clay Tutorial WIP

I use a lot of materials at hand here, specially with pan pastels and stick pastels, ink pencils and acrylic paints with the same techniques I use on my mixed media paintings. Getting the right amount of blush and color on the eyes is crucial to make the doll very realistic and with a lovely expression.

Danita Art Doll Handmade Eyelashes Painted Detail Face Techniques Tutorial

Once I am finished with the face, it’s time to add more features to it to make it even more real. I love how I have learned how to bring my mixed media and watercolor paintings into the real world with my Art dolls.

Danita Art Doll Dress Hand Made Sewing Tutorial Clothes for dolls

And did you know that sometimes I spend more time choosing the perfect fabric for the doll that making it?

A piece of my soul goes into each doll I make, to me they are alive in a way and I can hear them whispering what they want. Sometimes they know right away, sometimes they will take their time choosing who they want to be, but it’s a very important step and I must get it right.

Wouldn’t you be the same if you were given the freedom to choose who you want to be? It’s a very important decision and one must take all the time it’s needed.

Danita Art Doll Clothes Trouser Handmade Tutorial Tecniques

All the clothes on my dolls are handmade, most of the time from scratch. You can see here that I took a piece of fabric and turned it into trousers for this little girl.

I insist on everything being handmade. It adds to the uniqueness of each doll and to her final personality.

Danita Art Dress Handmade Fabric Clothes Unique OOAK Tutorial How To Make

The dress is made with a fabric I found on a thrifty store somewhere during my travels. I will collect fabric, lace and props I find during my too frequent visits to antique and second hand stores and when the time comes, I will be ready for the perfect doll to wear it.

The lace on her also came from a very old box of lacy thing I was given by a friend. They are very precious to me because some of them come from another time, and there will never be one like it again. Using old, used things with a new purpose makes everything magical.

Danita Art Doll Choker Gold Cameo Handmade Corset Tutorial

Once I’m done with the dress, I will add accessories to the doll. She is wearing a very nice choker with a cameo I made myself here in the studio with golden colored flakes and jewelry resin, like the ones I use on my original jewelry, only very small.

The dolls are pure mischief when they are finished. I really love to play with them in the studio while they impatiently wait for their final photos. We have lots of adventures and sometimes they even help to make other dolls.

Danita Art Handmade Doll Paper Clay Paperclay Sculpture Fine Art Toy Finished For Sale

Now the final step is to place them for adoption on my online gallery and shop, where they will sit on my virtual showcase, waiting for the perfect match that will take them to their forever home.

Penelope was very lucky! She did not last five minutes on the virtual shop front when her new adoptive parents picked her up. She is now very grateful to the people who gave her a forever home to start a new story in their hands. I’m really looking forward to hear from the stories and adventures they will have together.

I really hope you liked this little insight into my work. I wish I could live closer to my friends and fans so we could get together and learn what I teach on my online classes.

Danita Art Workshop Live Classes Dollmaking Doll Making Mixed Media Painting Tutorial How To

And luckily, the opportunity to spend some time learning with me in person is coming very soon. I have been invited by NW Country Art Retreats to teach a 4 day workshop in their beautiful place near Mount Rainer in Washington State.

I hope you can join me. Together, we will create a beautiful art doll just like the one we saw how to make on this tutorial, plus much more. And I will be just delighted to be in your company, working, laughing and sharing a beautiful time together.

A doll with a sweet tooth

Danita Art Handmade Doll Toy Girl Original Dollmaker Maker Making

My latest doll is a little girl with astonishing green eyes, who happens to love cotton candy.

I was thinking about my childhood delights and how much I loved to eat that delicious pink and fluffy cotton candy when I visited the fair or the zoo.

It felt like eating clouds, so soft and unsubstantial, but it still left that sugary taste in your mouth. I loved to think I was a bird and I flew to the sunset clouds. Now that I am a grown person, I don’t indulge on cotton candy that much, but I still remember how it made me feel and I wanted to evoke that feeling with this doll.

Danita Original OOAK One of a kind Art Doll Maker Making Dollmaking Handcrafted Paper Clay Cotton Candy

I didn’t think it was a good idea to use real cotton candy for her treat, so I dyed wool, needle felted it and placed it on a stick so she sn have an everlasting sweet. Yay!

For her eyes and face, I used a mix of techniques that involve a lot of materials, starting with paper clay that I sculpted and then painted with acrylics and shaded with my derwent inktense color pencils, the same ones I reviewed last week.

Danita Art Original OOAK Doll Ceramic Porcelain Hands Dress Handcrafted Pink Yellow

Her dress is special too. I picked up a very light cream fabric with pink and yellow flowery accents, because, after all it’s Spring! I think it goes very well with her dark wool hair and her sweet face.

Did you know that sometimes I spend more time choosing the fabric for her dress than any other step? To me it’s very important, I need to be super extra sure that it’s the right one for the doll and she always helps me choose. I show her several fabrics and she decides which one will it be, and so far, all of them have always been delighted with their choice!

Danita Doll Art Handmade Ceramic Porcelain Boots Shoes Laces Ribbon Silk Pink

And finally, the shoes. Another important decision! This time she chose to wear high boots with pink lacy bows on them. I had the perfect silk ribbon for them, and they are just lovely!

Just like the hands on my dolls, they are custom made. I pour ceramic and resin into vintage, early 20th century doll molds for each of them, so each one has a very unique and one of a kind outfit and body.

I really believe that going that extra step of making each one of them old school, by hand instead of mass producing them or ordering premade items makes each doll special, just like the person that will adopt her in the end.
Danita Art Doll figure Sculpture Handmade Handcrafted Dollmaking Dollmaker Cotton Candy Girl
Do you like Belle and her cotton candy? We hope so! Drop me a comment here my blog, or via email after you see all the pictures of her in her official photo shoot page. There’s lots of them to enjoy!

Product review: Derwent Inktense color pencils

 

Derwent Inktense Color Pencil Product Review by Danita Art

They say that the UPS truck is the adult version of the ice cream truck. And you know what? They are right!

Today the truck arrived and left a package on my doorstep that I have been waiting for a long time. Want to see what it is?
It’s a huge box of Derwent inktense color pencils. Yay!

Danita reviews derwent inktense 72 pencil color box tin

The first time I heard about them, someone recommended them to me as an alternative of the wonderful Stabilo art pencil, my weapon of choice for all my pencil artwork and drawings in my studio, but they did not do what I wanted them to do at the time so I put the Inktense I got aside and continued working.

But now that I have been experimenting with watercolors and a new illustration style, I read about the wonders they can do so I gave the ones I got another go. And you know what? I loved them! I loved them so much that I ordered five, and then I ordered a tin of 24 and now I ordered a box of 72 and I wish they sold boxes with more colors.

Danita unbox and test of Derwent Inktense 72 color pencil artist grade box

What makes them so special that I changed my mind and I love them so much?

Well, they are not like ordinary watercolor pencils, they are heavily pigmented and produce solid color layers. Their secret is that when you add water, they do not release watercolor pigment, instead, they release ink, and it becomes permanent when it dries, so it opens the possibility of working with layers that remain when you paint over them, giving you a range of creative choices that are impossible to reproduce when you use plain watercolor. Once they dry, it’s done and will remain bright and undisturbed and will not mute or muddle when you add pigment over them.

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I experimented and I found that the only way to mute the colors is to control the amount of water you use when you lay your initial layer, and it’s very important to keep them wet as you work with your painting, and you must make sure not to add too little water, because if you did not dissolve all the pigment, it will activate once again when you add water and your next color and will mix. It happened to me while I started to work with them. It can be a blessing or a curse, and will puzzle you when you use them for the first time.

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There are several ways to work with them. You can touch a wet brush to the tip of the color and then use it as a regular watercolor over your paper for a permanent wash or an under painting. You can also use them as regular pencils and then fade the lines with a clean brush as you spread the color on the paper. And if you are daring, you can dip the tip on water and then draw with them as the water dries on the paper.

Danita tests derwent inktense color pencils

Each technique will give you a very different result, and a wide range of possibilities that you will be able to incorporate as you get familiar with them.

I tested how they mix with each other too and I used the different watercolor techniques for the sake of science… and fun!

Dry on dry, dry on wet, wet on wet and mixed separately on a metallic palette yield different results, all of them beautiful and fun to do.

A review of derwent inktense color pencils by Danita Art

No matte what technique you use, you can always pick up the excess and cleanup using a very absorbing paper towel to pick up the water and try to erase the color or reduce the intensity.

Color sample tips of Derwent inktense color pencils

One of the secrets to use the derwent inktense color pencils that you need to be very aware of is that what you see on the tips is not always what you get, so I will advise you to create a sample color chart for each color so you know how they look when they are wet, and how they dry and with how much intensity and value each color renders.

Danita uses derwent inktense color pencils to create a color chart

Start with a strip of watercolor paper and write down the number and name of each pencil in the order they are in the box, and make the commitment to keep the box tidy in order to be able to reuse your chart.

Danita reviews derwent inktense color pencils in a color sample chart

Take each color and draw a few lines with a fading intensity towards one side of the paper, so you get nice gradient chart for each color. Then the fun begins!

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Apply the same amount of water to each line and create the intensity gradient to see how transparent the color becomes, and keep on doing it for each color on your set. Be. Be careful not to mix each color with the next,  Because you want each color to be try to the intensity, hue and value in your chart. The end result is a very beautiful color chart you will keep as a reference as you work with them in your artwork.

Derwent Inktense color sample chart by Danita Art

All in all, these color pencils are now a permanent part of my arsenal of art weapons whenever I have one of my art attacks. They are way above what I was working with before with watercolor pencils and I can definitively recommend them to use as the main focus of you art, or as accents like I use them when I create the faces and big, beautiful eyes of my handmade art dolls.