Monday, 10 June 2019

New Address

Hi there! I'm still blogging and you can find my newer blog posts at:

See you there!

Sunday, 24 February 2019


Hair, the crowning glory... if the hair on your art doll is off, people will notice immediately. Every time I start a project, I find myself looking for new methods to try or improve what I'm already doing. I'm currently working on a pair of Asian art dolls, twins, and I needed really straight and shiny black hair. So far, I've had difficulty making natural fibre super straight so I tried synthetic and that worked really well. But working on synthetic was different from natural fiber so I had to do the rounds of research again to double check that I was using it right. That thought led to this post...  a collection of videos and/or tutorials I've found helpful, which hopefully, you're here because like me, you like to study different methods to finish your projects.

There are a great many materials that can be used for doll hair from synthetic to natural fibers. It's easy to get lost in the choices and, trial and error can be taxing on the budget too. One very useful video I found is from Sugar Charm Shop – she has amazing tutorials on a variety of sculpting subjects but since we're talking about hair, she has a just as amazing overview of the different materials available out there, what's in her collection, where she bought them and what she uses them for: 

Sugar Charm Shop on hair 

I prefer to use natural fiber but I like I mentioned earlier, I recently tried synthetic hair for the Asian dolls and I loved how synthetic hair was shiny and super straight. Before I used it though, found this delightful Youtuber, Dollightful, discussing how to weft, make a wig and style synthetic hair:

Dollightful on wefting synthetic hair, making a wig cap and wig

Wigs are great especially if you're afraid of ruining your doll or if you want to change the hairstyle later on. I ended up following Dollightful's wig tutorial for practice but in the end, I chose to glue the synthetic hair directly on my Asian dolls. 

Another method I found is rooting. The first time I saw this method of inserting hair on raw polymer clay was in an IG post by Michael Zajkov. It's like rooting reborn babies (lots of other samples out there, just linking this random video for easy reference), except using raw polymer clay. Michael Zajkov inserted each strand into unbaked clay in a circular pattern. That's dedication – no wonder his dolls look so gorgeous!

Michael Zajkov's rooting method. 

I made a small head and tried this method but boy oh boy, it's a painstaking process! I need a ton of  practice before I can really do it successfully. I also found a reference of this method in Glass Attic. If you go there, click or scroll down to "hair", the site has a lot of tips on different materials and methods, also in using polymer clay to make hair, which I will do in another post. They also have tips on what needles to use if you're trying this rooting method. Glass Attic is a great reference, it's a repository of knowledge from a lot of artists, unfortunately though, when I tried some of their links they led to dead ends. Fairys N My Pond combines the first two methods and roots (or in this case, felts) the wig:

Fairys N My Pond's felting wig process

My preferred method of applying hair to art dolls, is gluing the material directly to the scalp. First, you prepare small batches of hair and glue the ends (the end that goes in the scalp) together in what is called a weft. Once you have enough wefts to fill the head (and make the hair as full as you want), identify the hairline and start gluing each weft on the head, making sure to cover the hairline marks while going around the head in a circular pattern, working your way inwards. 

If I remember correctly, I first saw this method years ago from the MadSculptor, Mark Dennis who sparked my interest in art dolls and who've I've greatly admired since I discovered his work years ago. Mark Dennis does not seem to make wefts though. He glues the cut strands directly to the head. He has a step-by-step in photos in his blog: 

The MadSculptor's blog talking about how to apply hair.

This method is clearly illustrated in the following video (hair work starts around timestamp 3:33) by Celodonia Studio:


Celedonia Studio sculpting a fairy

April Jensen starts off her hair slightly differently; she puts a couple of wefts/plugs up front first to frame the face. I have yet to try this and I definitely will because it does frame the face so nicely!

April Jensen's hair tutorial

If you like Angora Goat Mohair, Tibetan Lamb Mohair, combination and the like, but you're not sure you want to invest in it or if you want to try the process first without wasting the pricey mohair you just bought, practice first with yarn. Yes, yarn! HeXtian shows us how those long, thick, twisted fibers can be turned into the light and hair-like consistency of mohair. This makes yarn a great option for practice before you break the piggy bank and splurge on pricier materials. On the plus side, this video is great for styling too. HeXtian is like a real-life hair stylist at work. I learned a lot just watching her.

HeXtian using yarn for hair

While in a workshop with Wendy and Toby Froud, I used a full piece of mohair with hide on the art doll I made. The art doll had a monkish hairstyle, starting almost by the ear and going round, leaving the top exposed. The hide worked well for that project but I find that it does not usually work with all, so you do have to experiment and see which fits the bill.

This post and most of what I've learned would not have been possible without all the generous artists who share their own methods – you're absolutely fantastic! Thank you!

I hope you found this post helpful. If you know of a free tutorial or resource for sculpting art dolls, let me know so I can add it to this collection or future posts. Good luck! 

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Matching His & Hers Philippine Mythology Mugs

Perfect for Valentines, birthdays or anniversaries, I give you the Maganda and Malakas mugs! They are matching His & Hers mugs with silhouettes that will face each other.

In Philippine mythology, a bird split a giant bamboo in half and out came a man and a woman. He man was named "Malakas" (Strong One) and the woman was named "Maganda" (Beautiful One) and from the marriage of these two came the human race.

In one veresion, the middle says, 

"Mahal Kita
Walang Iba"

which means, I love you, nobody else. 

In the black and white version, it says 

"Malakas at Maganda

which means "Strong One and Beautiful One, Forever."

For literal translation, the text say "Strong and Beautiful, while there is life."

Malakas - Strong 
at - and
Maganda - Beautiful
Habambuhay - a contraction of "habang may buhay" which means (habang - while, may - have/has, buhay - life) - While there is life

In this context, I chose to interpret this as "forever," when love lasts more than a lifetime. Many cultures believe in a version of afterlife or even reincarnation, and I choose to believe that "habambuhay" is life in all versions, therefore, forever. 

Perfect for lovebirds out there! This illustration is my own design and printed on the mug by a production partner. Currently available for oder in my Etsy shop:

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

A Christmas Story inspired ornaments

When I first watched "A Christmas Story", I always loved the image of Randy, all bundled up in winter clothes! That's how I always feel during winter. To share that memory and the fun of this beloved movie with you, I made Randy Christmas ornaments in the same outfit!

There are only three of these this year, each is individually made and all of them are unique and one of a kind. Check them out at my store.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Halloween is Fast Approaching

We're coming on one of the most enjoyable holidays again... Halloween!!! If you need some creepy decor ideas, I have a great Pinterest board on uber creepy decor. Since it's my board, I have to say, I personally love this collection I've curated over the web.

Of course, if you need more ideas, come and check out my shop too, specially my signature creepylicious bottles. I also have other curio items that would be just as creepy! They are sure to add that extra kick to your Halloween decor this year! Check them out here. 

Monday, 29 January 2018

Cooking with a Palayok

This is something I've working on for some time now – Filipiniana themes for my Etsy shop and yes, they are now available. I have my illustrations on mugs, throw pillows, phone cases and tote bags. 

I took a video of the throw pillow and showed it on my IG, it's super fluffy and feels smooth to the touch, you can watch it here: Cooking with a Palayok Throw Pillow Video.

I drew this design reminiscing about my childhood. The first pot of rice I ever cooked was in a toy clay pot, or rather, a miniature clay pot. Miniature clay pots were popular when I was a kid and we mimicked how grown-ups would cook in my grandma's kitchen. So there we were pretending to cook using shredded leaves and water when my grandma's sister passed by. 

She said go and get the real thing so you can learn how to cook! And we did. The rice didn’t turn out  edible but I was a kid cooking with real rice with real fire for the first time, so much fun!

Throw pillows:

And Mom's the Best
My Wife's the Best Chef

Sunday, 25 June 2017

How I make Fairy Doors

For the June Program of the Northwest Polymer Clay Guild, I was asked to present how I make fairy doors. This is still very much a sculpting program but canes can also be used to decorate each piece. If you are a caner, you can finish the door or the door frame (or both!) with canes.

There are probably many ways to make these tiny whimsical creations and what I have here, is what works for me. At the meeting I presented three styles: one closed door and two with working doors (you can open and close) using two types of hinges.

Closed door

1. Decide on a design. If you want your door to be symmetrical, I find it best to use a pattern. I included three sample patterns here that you can download for your own use. If you want it smaller, just reduce the size before you print it out.

2. Cut the door frame first, lay it flat on your conditioned polymer clay (three to four layers of conditioned polymer clay at your machine's thickest setting).

For the first sample, I am using this simple rectangular door design.

This is another frame design I love. 
If the overall shape is not to your liking, you can easily make your own pattern; simply fold the paper vertically and cut so it comes out symmetrically. Or if you don't want it symmetrical, like those cute weirdly-shaped doors, just cut the door shape you want then follow the cut you made to make a frame. If you want this to be a working door, one miniature hinge on the lower side would work. Pin type hinge will not work for this.

This is a simplified hobbit house door, patterned after Bilbo Baggin's house. After you print this and cut your clay, search for a picture of Bilbo Baggin's house to get the details right. For a working door, you can use a miniature hinge, not the pin-type hinge.

Hi-res door patterns (made for letter size paper). If you want the pattern smaller, reduce the size before you hit the print now button.

2. Condition the polymer clay of choice. I like to paint my doors because I like the effect – it seems to have more country charm. If I'm painting the piece, I will take this opportunity to clean up my workspace and gather all my scrap clay – it's a great way to use up those small leftover bits from previous projects.

That said, I also like to use colored clay; it saves a lot of time coloring and it also gives a cleaner, more polished look.

After conditioning, make four nice flat layers at your machine's thicket setting and lay the pattern flat. Cut the door frame first. For a closed door, you can use two or three layers for the door frame. Then just subtract one or two layers for the door (if you have a two layer door frame, then one layer for the door or three layers door frame then two or one layer for the door). By cutting them separately, I make sure that I have a thinner doorway, giving the finished piece depth. 

I'm using four layers here. I laid the door frame pattern flat before cutting it out.

If I'm making a fairy door that does not open, I'll make an extra layer of clay and roll out a piece big enough to use as backing to these two pieces (to cover both door frame and door) and give it extra support. This does not have to be thick, even the thinnest or second to the thinnest would do. Fit the door inside the frame. Push the edges of the doorframe towards the door carefully to connect them, careful not to distort the shape. When they are sticking together, put them on top of the backing. Check the edges and cut any excess.

3. Decorate. I love using pebbles or bricks for door frames for that old country-house fell. If I have more scraps of colored polymer clay, I would blend this in with a beige and gray carefully as not to mix it too much. I want specks of color to show up since natural pebbles have specks in them too. Then take small round pieces of different sizes and attach them all over the frame. For the door, use your tools to create wooden patterns.

Real pebbles versus my dirty clay pebbles used to decorate the door frame.

4. Add other features like a peephole (small cookie cutters work really great for this), door knocker, metal bars, nails, hinges, door knob, keyhole, etc. Depending on your design and theme, you can also add a lamp, a mailbox, flower pots, etc. when you create the floor or threshold.

5. Bake. Let it cool and paint. If using colored polymer clay, I would use the same steps except of course, instead of using scrap clay, condition the clay color of your choice. You can use skinner blend to give it depth and other effects without applying paint to it. You can also use polymer clay canes that has already been prepped (cut and flattened).

Samples of a closed door using polymer clay canes as decorative items. You can also use a layer of canes to decorate the the frame or the door itself. Here, I used colored polymer clay for the door with skinner blend.

Opening doors: Pin-type hinge (same style used for miniature wooden dollhouse doors)

1. Follow previous steps to create door frames and doors except, do not create an extra layer for flat backing. It will not be necessary since we want the door to open. Real doors usually open inwards but for our fairy doors, we will make them open outwards.

Because we need to add hinges to make them working doors, I would make both frame and door thicker like four layers and three respectively.

2. For the first opening door, I used a jewelry pin with a flat end. There will be two pins, one at the top and one at the bottom. At the top, the flat end will be embedded in the top door frame and at the bottom, the flat end will be embedded in the floor.

These are jewelry pins. They can be a bit soft and easy to bend. You can also use ordinary wires, just create a loop at the end to go inside the polymer clay so it is not very easy to pull out. 

3. Create a floor and decorate. I would use three to four layers at the thickest setting. Embed the flat end of the wire on the floor.

4. Bake frame and floor first. Measure your door and cut the clay. Adjust the door to fit the baked frame. Lay your door on a piece of paper with the edge folded to cover the right side. Carefully lay the fitted door flat and slide it from the bottom. The paper should help slide it in. The pin at the top will create a hole in unbaked door. Slide the floor from the bottom and the pin will also slide in the unbaked clay. If you have the edge of the paper hanging on the right side, you can pull this up and check that your door opens and closes. Decorate the door and bake.

The red door is a skinner blend of red and black, making the lower portion darker. I used a small butterfly cookie cutter to create the top hole. Using the same cookie cutter, I cut from a layer thinner of translucent polymer clay and fit it in the hole to create the small window.

5. Carefully slide the door in the frame, keeping the hinge holes aligned with the pins. Add polymer clay and liquid polymer clay to the bottom parts of the frame and then slide in the floor, sliding the pin inside the bottom hole. Bake. And there you have it, an opening fairy door!

This would make a great shadow box. Just add the walls and floor at the back, and then you have a fairy door shadow box which you can decorate with photos or floral polymer clay canes as a miniature garden. So many possibilities!

Opening doors 2: Miniature hinges

1. I bought miniature screws off Ebay and gave the attendees a pair of the butterfly ones. Making this door with real hinges is pretty much the same as the one using metal pins. Details like the screws are really awesome! 

Your door and frame should be fully decorated but unbaked before you apply the hinge. Do one side first, I opted for the door side first. Remember that your doors should open out, so test that the hinges open out. Carve out a little notch, big enough for the hinge. This will embed the hinge in the door (and later, the frame) so that it does not stick out. Put liquid polymer clay on the screws before you embed them to help keep them securely in place. 

2. The hinges were attached to the door then baked. In this photo, I slid the door in the unbaked frame to test the fit. I opened the door, which took some maneuvering because the hinges were a bit stiff. Adding a little oil to it helped a lot. Then the the other set of screws were embedded to the unbaked door frame side. I slid a plain piece of paper in between the door and the frame to avoid any possibility of touching while they were in the oven. I did not want to risk the two merging together even for small areas. After that's done, then the only thing left to do is to color it, unless you used colored clay, then in that case, you're done!

3. If you're making it into a shadow box, I would bake the shadow box portion separately. Assembly and bake it first then attached the finished box to the finished fairy door.