Fluffy bunny art doll; A self portrait

Danita Art Making Dolls Why How To Make Dolls Tutorial

I like to read old doll making books because they have techniques for doing everything by hand (I’m old school like that) and I came across this quote.

It really hit a string for me, because it encompasses everything I believe about making my own dolls. Mass produced items have a perfect quality about them, but to me, they are soulless and nothing more than a pretty thing to look at.

That is probably the main reason why I very rarely repeat an artwork, not even if it’s a commissioned piece because someone missed the original work and they would love to adopt a piece just like her.

Danita Art Doll Process Dollmaking Techniques Vintage Dress pattern handmade

That refusal may sound as stubborn or pretentious at first sight, but there is a real practical reason why I can’t do it. Not even if I wanted to do so.

You see, I put a piece of my soul on every single doll I make. A tiny drop of my awareness and my mindfulness goes on each of them, and with that, all my emotions, feelings and thoughts will shape them. That’s why I can’t do it. It’s impossible to reproduce the moment that inspired them, they are a little moment of my life , frozen in time.

That is why I love my process, where I get to choose every single detail of the dolls I make, from the fabric of the dress to the buttons that hold the doll’s arms.

I set out to make this one a very pretty girl, but I really wasn’t aware of what I was making until the very end. All I knew is that she was going to be very special.

Danita Lace Vintage Doll Paperclay Handmade How To Process Dollmaking

Each element is carefully chosen with the doll’s personality in mind, and I can swear to you that they talk to me about what they want to wear, how they want to look and everything they want to be.

I knew that I wanted her to be vintage looking, and when I found the bunny rabbit fabric hiding on my closet, I knew it was perfect.

Danita handmade Wool Felted Hair Doll Handmade OOAK

We tried different hair colors, different clothe styles and different haircuts until we were sure that’s what we want. It’s an exhausting and repetitive process sometimes, because the doll is not sure what she wants to be, and I am known for starting all over again if I am not satisfied with an idea.

Danita Doll Art Handmade Hair Wig Dollmaking Techniques Tips Doll Making Eyes

Other times, everything just flows, the doll and I are sure of what we want and it’s only a matter of finding the right materials and textures for each personality. This little girl was just that, perfect.

Felted Wool Danita Bunny Rabbit Ears Black White Fluffy Cosplay Miniature Handmade

But… Something was amiss, and suddenly I knew what it was. She wanted to be like me, and I realized I was making a self portrait, so I used wool to felt fluffy bunny ears and she was ready.

Danita Art Handmade Art Doll Paperclay Ceramic Toy cosplay Anthropomorphic Toy

See what I mean? She’s perfect! And so lovely, that she got adopted right away.

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.

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.

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!

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.

 

A new doll is being born

Danita Art Doll handmade Alice in wonderland handcrafted big eyes doll toy

Remember how I lately I have been obsessed with Alice in wonderland? The last product from that obsession is this beautiful Alice doll!

Let me share with you how she began and the steps I followed to let her come to life in my art studio in the course of a week.

Danita legs from an original handmade art doll

I started out with her legs this time. Not my usual way, but for some reason I had striped socks in mind and that’s how started.

Danita Doll Original head handmade big gray eyes handpainted

Then, I sculpted the head using paper clay, then I painted her big expressive gray eyes using my favorite mixed media techniques.

Danita doll art work in progress, showing her handmade skills on her art creations

Then, I worked on her underwear. Totally handmade, I cut the fabric with my own patters and sew everything to perfection using hand and machine techniques. Once I am happy with one piece of clothing, she can wear it!

Danita WIP Work in progress art doll

See what I mean? Here she is in progress as she now has her beautiful head and her hand painted legs attached to a torso. Excuse the mess behind! I like to have everything at hand and sometimes I do runs to my favorite stores to find the perfect fabric or accessory.

Danita handmade doll art Alice in wonderland WIP work in progressThat’s where I found the perfect accessory for her neck collar. Some lace applications over her striped blouse that I made from a fabric scrap I collected from a thrifty store and she is looking great!

Danita Alice wonderland handcrafted handmade art doll work in progress WIP

Now she has arms I decorated with lacy sleeves for her blouse. At this stage, I really did not know who she was going to be, but I already knew she was going to be a beautiful handmade girl.

Danita doll art handmade work in progress WIP hand crafted blue skirt

I had a great idea next… A blue skirt with soft flowing fabric! Yes! that is what she was going to wear over her super cute underwear. She is finally taking form, but still there’s a very important detail missing.

Blonde Hair Curly Danita art handcrafted doll toy Alice in Wonderland

The hair! I started rummaging in the collection of materials I keep for my handmade dolls, and then I came across this beautiful curly blond hair. Once I saw it I immediately knew who she was going to be… Alice in wonderland!!

Alice in wonderland Danita handmade art doll WIP work in progress finally completed

And once I knew who she was going to be, I knew what to do with her. she was going to wear a big black bow on her hair, and she was going to have the “Drink me” bottle in her hands.

Artful Blurry Bokeh Danita Doll Alice in Wonderland in a Garden with clovers and red toadstools

All that was left was to take her official photos. The white clovers on my garden are blooming now, so it was the perfect setting for her! And she was ready!

Would you like to see more pictures of her and maybe adopt Alice so she can go live with you? Head out to my official online art gallery at danitaart.com and see the rest of the photos and her adoption page, and don’t forget to let me know what do you think of her her in the comments section 🙂

 

First day of Spring brought new friends to Danita Art!

Beautiful handmade Kokeshi Wooden Dolls are made by Danita to celebrate Spring and the coming of Easter with this little cute bunny rabbit figurines. Perfect for your Easter egg hunts!

You know I am always looking for excuses to create little wood kokeshi dolls collections! They are perfect because I love working on projects at the time and I rarely revisit them once they are done. So, these collection are perfect for me because I can make a collection while keeping them fresh and exclusive, and it’s always such a thrill to work with them. I love to make each one individually unique, with it’s own personality.

And today that it’s the first day of Spring, I decided to create a pack of wild Easter kokeshi bunny rabbit dolls, and they have made my shop their home while they are waiting to be adopted. don’t worry, they may be wild but they can easily be tamed with love and candy bribes. They are already taking over my heart, and I am sure each one of them will steal your heart too.

But you may wonder, where do they come from? And how are they made?If you’d like to see how they are done, follow me down the rabbit hole to find out how they are made 🙂

Everything starts with wooden peg doll blanks and some modeling clay to start sculpting the ears. Make sure you make little fluffy bunny tails too!

Danita paints by hand all her amazing kokeshi dolls to make each one of them unique and beautiful.

Once you are ready, you need to pick up a nice set of colors for them. Since I work with my kokeshi dolls as a collection, I like to choose a consistent palette of colors. You can use simple craft paints for the initial base and then with some of my favorite paints from Golden and Liquitex for a beautiful, high quality look.

See what I mean about picking a consistent color palette? They are very colorful, but each one of them is going to have a distinctive personality based on how I sculpted their ears and the colors I chose for them.

Now it’s time to start adding details and working on their faces. I used a polka dot pattern for their bunny suits because I thought they looked too plain and after I was done, I attached their bunny rabbit cotton tails with crafting glue.

The fun part begins! I get to draw their faces with my favorite stablio pencils and some of my mixed media secret sauce to give them that vintage look that I love so much. I like them to look like if they have been living hiding on my garden for a long time and I just discovered my new friends.

Now, they are getting ready to choose their outfits with silk ribbons they helped dye by hand here in the studio and they will be wearing them proudly when they go back to the Danita forest to dwell and have lots of fun.

And then, after they chose their scarves and I tied them in a neat bow, they are more than ready and eager to hop out to the forest for their final photo shoot so they can be adopted.

They are very shy…. So it took some time to convince them to come out of hiding in the clover fields of my mini backyard forest.

But they warmed up and once they realized the camera was not going to do anything to them except making them look gorgeous, they played along nicely.

Here they are! Enjoying a beautiful afternoon and going about their bunny rabbit business while I enjoyed their antics.

Now it’s time to choose your favorite and adopt one (Or all!) of them. They are a little wild and shy, but you can tame them with love and some candy, and they will be super happy to live with you.

 

Beautiful art from the heart: The official blog.

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