LEWIS GOLDSTEIN, "THE DOLLFATHER"
ORIGINAL DOLL SCULPTING CLASS:
SCULPTING THE HEAD OF A CHILD
1. Moist, light colored pottery clay. I recommend a stoneware (high fire) clay with a smooth texture (no grog or sand). It can be bought in 25 lb. Bags at your local ceramic supply store. It should cost from $6 to $8 a bag. It will remain workable as long as it is kept in a sealed plastic bag and kept in a cool, dark place.
2. A couple of plastic or wood modeling tools. I use two tools in all my classes called, Duron Modeling Tools #401 and #403. They are available from Sculpture House in New Jersey. Call 609 466-2986, or fax 609 466-2450, for their catalogue. These tools are $1.25 each and are all I use.
3. A wooden sculpting stand: Cut a 6" square piece of ¾" plywood. Drill a ½" hole in the center. Then glue a 6" long piece of ½" diameter dowel in the hole.
4. A gallon size, plastic bag to cover the head when you take breaks.
5. A water mister to keep the head from drying out while working on it.
6. A small cat's tongue brush (No, it is not made from real cat's tongues!), for smoothing out details.
7. Drywall sanding screen for de-lumping your doll head when the sculpting is done. (No, it cannot be used to remove cellulite!) This can be bought at your local hardware store.
STEP 1: Make a ball of clay about 4" in diameter and then elongate it into an egg shape. (If it helps, close your eyes and think about chickens laying eggs. Some of my students make clucking noises and that seems to help. Once we make a good egg, we sit on it for three hours and it hatches into an original doll head. I share this to remind us to have fun with this and not take it too seriously. After all, we are playing with mud. I call it "Muditation."). Add a second, smaller piece of clay to the back of the head towards the top. Then add a cylinder of clay for the neck. Smooth it all together and put it on the stand. (Photos 1 - 3).
STEP 2: Add clay to the top and back of the head to better approximate the shape of a child's skull. From the profile view, the length of the head from chin to top should equal the depth from forehead to back of head. Take a caliper and measure the length of the head from the chin to the highest point on top. Find the halfway point and draw a horizontal line across the front of the face. This is the eyebrow line for the child. Then divide the bottom half of the face in half again. This second line is where the bottom of the nose will come. Now, with your thumbs, press in the eye sockets just under the eyebrow line, on either side of the central vertical line. Be sure to leave enough space (at least ½") between the eye sockets for the bridge of the nose. Young children have wide, flat bridges because their bone structure has not developed yet. (Photos 4-9).
7. 8. 9.
STEP 3: These six photos illustrate the steps we follow in building the child's nose. First, a small ball of clay is place just above the bottom of the nose line. The top of this ball should come about half way between the bottom of nose line and the eyebrow line. If it comes higher, then it will be too large. The tendency is to make the nose too large. Smooth the ball into the face and shape the center portion of the nose. Be sure to work the profile view as well, making it look cute from both sides. Smooth all the edges into the face. Add two little balls of clay on each side of the central stem for the nostrils. Place these up against the face and about even with the bottom. There are always variations of placement and these must be noted if you are doing a portrait. I am giving you some general procedures to follow and you can vary them at your own discretion. Smooth the little balls onto the nose and face carefully with your flat tool. Just move as much clay as needed to get a good bond, being careful not to flatten out the nostrils too much. They should definitely look like they are part of the nose (as opposed to a couple of warts), but not disappear or flatten into the face. Again, shape them from both side views as well. (Photos 10-15).
STEP 4: The mouth is next. In my experience as a teacher, the upper lip is both the most difficult part to describe and for many, the most difficult to sculpt. We do the upper lip first and then the lower. First, draw a line for the mouth opening. This should be at least ½" down from the bottom of the nose. I have drawn the line to extend past the nose on both sides and slightly turned down. This is common for a baby or young child as the cheeks are so fat that the mouth gets scrunched in between! I use my flat tool to dig a groove where the line was drawn and then I push the lower lip area in, making the doll look buck toothed. I make a coil of clay that is fat in the center and pointed towards each end (It should look like a garden slug. We who live in the Pacific Northwest know this shape well), and place it below the nose and along the mouth opening like a mustache. The top area of this slug is pushed up to the center of the nose and the top sides are pushed up and out towards the cheek areas. Then the lower part of the slug is shaped as the actual lip area. By pushing up gently in two areas below the nose where the lip turns up. This creates the bow shape of the upper lip. Then a gentle indentation is made just below the nose and just above the lip with the round ended tool. (If you do not have the tools mentioned in the supply list, you can use the rounded end of a brush handle for this step). From the side view, the upper lip can slant forward from the bottom of the nose, but not out as far as the nose. Babies and little children have protruding upper lips, while adults upper lips come straight down from the center of the nose when viewed from the side views. (Photos 16-20).
The lower lip is made by adding a fatter coil of clay below the upper lip and smoothing it down in the corners into the face and tucking the clay into the chin area on the bottom. From the side view, the upper lip should stick out further than the lower lip for children. This is because the lower jaw grows more slowly than the upper. (Photos 21 & 22).
STEP 5: A roll of clay is added below the face along the neck, and then three balls are added to the cheek areas and the chin. These are all smoothed on to form the cheeks and the chin. More clay usually has to be added to fill out the roundness of the jaws on both sides. The chin should be cute and round and tuck in below the lower lip. From the side view, the chin should be recessed a little behind the lower lip, again because the lower jaw has not developed. (Photos 23 -25).
STEP 6: Because we have added length to the bottom half of the face, we have to add an equal length to the top. Measure from the chin to the eyebrow line. This measurement must equal from the eyebrow line to the top of the head. Determine how much height to add and build up the top of the skull. Be sure that the highest point is towards the back of the head, not the front. If the front is made too high, the doll will look like Frankenbaby! You will also have to build out the back of the head and round the forehead forward. Little kids have nicely rounded foreheads while adults foreheads are flatter. This happens when kids go to school and are asked questions. They get them wrong and hit their foreheads with the palm of their hands. After twelve years of school their foreheads are flat and they are officially adults! (I think this is a very logical theory). (Photos 26-29).
STEP 7: Jeepers, Creepers, where'd you get those Peepers. I like to use the cheep, flat backed, plastic eyes when I sculpt my dolls. They are the easiest to push in and still have the proper roundness in front so that our eyelids have the right curve to them for fitting better eyes into our greenware. The center of the pupil comes to the bridge of the nose, so I hold a ruler across the face at the bridge of the nose and scratch a horizontal line across each eye socket. I place the eyes at equal height (easier said than done), and with the space of a third eye between the two eyes. Then I push the eyes into the sockets so that from the profile view, the front of the eyeball sits well behind the bridge of the nose. For the lower lids, I add small coils that cover the lower whites of the eyeball from corner to corner. The very bottom of the iris should also be covered. If the whites of the eyes show on the bottom or top the doll will look frightened. I also add a coil of clay to build up the top of the cheek. These coils are smoothed into the cheek and shaped along the eyeball. The lids curve should follow the curve of the eyeball and there should be no space between the lid and the eyeball. (Photos 30-34).
The upper lid is made by adding a coil that is fat on the outside and thinner towards the inside and placed over the outside, upper area of the eye. It is then pressed down inside to the eyeball and angled up and out to form the eyebrow ridge. The excess at the top is smoothed up into the forehead, and the inside edge is shaped and pushed right up against the eyeball. The shape of the eyebrow ridge and curve of the flesh above the eye can be seen well in the profile view. (Photos 35, 36 & 37).
STEP 8: The front of the ears come to the halfway point between the front of the forehead and the back of the head. The top comes to the level of the eyebrows and the bottom comes to the level of the bottom of the nose. To make a simple ear that will accommodate a two piece mold I start with a coil of clay shaped like a question mark. I make both of them at the same time the better to end up with the same size. I place them inside the lines drawn on the side of the head. I place the earlobe just a bit in front of the line, a little forward of the top of the ear. This coil is smoothed on without losing its shape and some extra clay is added to the center of the ear. Then a couple of grooves are made in the inside to suggest some detail. It is kept simple. (Photos 38-43).
STEP 9: A coil of clay is added around the neck about ½ inch below the chin. This is smoothed on and will be the flange on the doll head that the cloth body will be attached to. The extra clay below the flange will act as the pour spout of the mold. The top of the head is sliced off at an angle to allow for insertion of glass eyes. It is also easier and safer to fire the porcelain casting lying on the flat, top of the head. Then I let the head stiffen up over night so that it is what is known as "leather hard". It will be stiff (no danger of pushing it out of shape) but still moist. With a piece of dry wall sanding screen, I sand off the lumps on the larger surfaces of the doll head. The sanding screen will leave scratches on the surface that can be smoothed with your finger or a sponge and a little water. Use only enough water to smooth without remoistening the piece. To smooth smaller areas with more delicate detail, use the cat's tongue brush and a little water. Now the head is ready to use to make a mold. Keep the head leather hard for the mold making process. Do not let it dry out as that makes the mold making process more involved and difficult. (Photos 44, 45 & 46).
Please feel free to write me with your questions or with special problems or requests. I also travel and teach classes and would be delighted to send you information about how you can set up a seminar
in your home or studio. Information is available on my how-to videotapes
as well. Call, fax, write or e-mail:
Lewis Goldstein, The Dollfather
PO Box 3381, Helendale, CA