How to Make Plastic Dolls
The art of dollmaking has expanded in the modern age, from traditional cloth and clay creations to durable, plastic-based vinyl and resin figures. Although many hobbyist dollmakers have, in the past, remained wary of working with the chemical processes required for plastic dolls, the increased availability of materials has opened up many new possibilities. Hobbyists can now combine their sculpting skills with the molding and casting work of the art world to create professional-grade plastic figurines.
Draw an in-scale design for your doll on a sheet of paper. Include a design element for attaching the head to the neck. Usually, this entails a hole in the base of the head and a rounded ball on the end of the neck that will pop into the hole.
Recreate the general shape of the body and head, separately, out of pieces of tinfoil. Cover the tinfoil with Super Sculpey clay, until you have a thick enough layer to sculpt with. Sculpt your desired facial and body design into the clay. Do not forget to sculpt the hole at the base of the head. You should make an indentation there into which you can fit the neck top snugly.
Place the clay doll onto a baking sheet and bake the doll in the oven, per the packaging instructions. Let the doll cool completely once it is finished, then sand down the clay until it has a smoother appearance.
Create a two-part mold for the body. Build the walls of a molding box for the body out of blocks such as Legos, or pieces of cardboard, making sure that it gives the body a clearance of 1/4 inch on all sides, top and bottom. For the bottom of the box, use a flat sheet of modeling clay.
Mix together a batch of silicone RTV rubber and catalyst, following the packaging instructions. Fill half of the molding box with rubber mixture, then press the doll body into the rubber so that the bottom half is covered. Press wooden craft balls into the rubber around the body. Let the rubber cure overnight.
Take the craft balls out of the cured rubber. Mix together another batch of rubber and pour it on top of the cured rubber, covering the doll body completely. Let this batch cure overnight, then separate the mold halves and remove the doll body.
Repeat the molding process for a two-part mold on the head 1. This mold will create a positive impression of your neck hole, as the rubber flows into the indentation you made in the head. Carve a pouring hole into the end of each mold with a razor blade 2. Fit the mold halves together with rubber bands.
Mix together a batch of resin and catalyst, following the packaging instructions. Pour the resin directly into each mold until the molds are filled. Let them cure for a day, then take the mold halves apart and pull out the doll pieces.
Sand the pieces smooth, if desired, then paint them as you like with acrylic paints. Fit the head onto the body.
When working with resin, wear latex gloves, safety goggles and a vapor respirator. Also work in a well-ventilated room. When sanding resin, do so underwater or while wearing a particle respirator, as resin dust is toxic.
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- The Prop Builder's Molding and Casting Handbook; Thurston James; 1989
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- When working with resin, wear latex gloves, safety goggles and a vapor respirator. Also work in a well-ventilated room. When sanding resin, do so underwater or while wearing a particle respirator, as resin dust is toxic.