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Assembling a Doll
Broken Fingers
Dolls without torsos or legs
Inserting Wires / Wire Armatures

Mini Cloth Dolls
Pipe Cleaners



Doll head, hands and feet
polyester batting
T shirt material (use a thin one)
Hemostats or tweezers
5 pieces of chenille stem
invisible marking pen (optional)
Aleens Tacky glue
Monoject 412 glue syringe (optional) Sure makes life easier though can be purchased
at Wal-Mart - they come with tiny bottles Aleene's glue

There are directions for a shoulder plate type of doll and a torso type of doll-use whichever one suits what you have.

Please read all the directions before starting. Let glue dry completely between each step. I use the hemostat or tweezers to put the polyester stuffing in the body. Please do not pack the stuffing heavily as or you will break the body seams open. Darts may be omitted to make the body fatter but the darts sure make a cute figure.

Fill the feet with glue and put 2 pieces of chenille stem in them. Set aside and let dry. Fill one hand only (does not matter which one) with glue and put the last piece of chenille stem in it. Let dry.

Before you cut the body out carefully cut the dart out of the paper pattern on the solid line. DO NOT CUT THE DART OUT OF THE CLOTH. Pin the body pieces to the T-shirt material making sure the stretch of the material is from the sides (It will stretch this way <--------> and NOT this way |.) Cut out the body pieces. Mark the dart with the invisible pen and take the pattern off of the cloth. Leave the cloth pieces together and turn the piece
over and lay the pattern down on that (you will have to turn your pattern piece over)
and mark that dart. Take the fabric pieces apart and put glue the darts. Let dry.  Glue the front of the body on the dotted line only. Let dry. Glue the back of the body on the dotted line  only .Let dry. Turn the body right side out by inserting your hemostats or tweezers up from the bottom and grab the top front seam.  Gently pull down until the body is right side out. Open up the legs and put a line of glue down the backside of one of the legs. Lay the front sidepiece on top of the glue and press then
do the same on the other leg and let both dry.

Lay one of the legs of your doll on a ruler and decide how tall you want it.  Women
are usually between 5" and 5 3/4 inches tall. Men are usually 5 3/4 to 6 1/8 inches tall. Set the head at the top of the ruler and put the foot at the measurement you want. Lay the body on top of the doll so that the breast part is lined up with the breast part of the porcelain piece. Mark the leg length so that there is about 1/8 of an inch overhang on the porcelain piece. Cut both cloth leg pieces that length.

Bend the top of the leg chenille stems over a little bit and insert the legs into the body from the bottom of the leg. Make sure you get the feet on right (left on left and right on right). Keep the body material on the outside of the leg and overlapping the porcelain by about 1/8 inch. Glue cloth to porcelain. Raw edges can be covered with silk ribbon if desired. Let dry completely!!

Lightly stuff body to the top. Fold arm chenille stem over the top of the body and adjust length. Elbows are usually right at the waist but I have found it is better to make the arms a little longer. Also make sure you have the arms and the proper side (right on right and left on left) Bend and position arms until they look right to you. Adjust the length and allow enough chenille stem to insert into the other hand. Cut the chenille stem and put glue in the other hand and insert the chenille stem. Let dry. Wrap the chenille stem with T shirt material overlapping porcelain about 1/8 " on each arm and glue. See arm diagram next to shoulder plate. Let dry. Fold arms in half and poke a hole in the material at the fold. Slip the hole over the chenille stems of the body and sew or glue the arms to the top of the body.  Make sure the arms are even on both sides and be sure to fasten the arms in the armpit area too. Trim the body chenille stems to fit up into the head of your doll. Try the head on to make sure it will fit well. Then fill the head with a lot of glue and insert the chenille stems up into it. Make sure it fits down well onto the body. Make sure the legs are even and adjust them now if needed. Let Dry

Lightly stuff body to waist or edge of torso. Trim off chenille stems to fit the doll (all the way into the head for some dolls and even with the top of the cloth body for other dolls) Put the head on top of the body and insert the arms chenille stem into the armhole. Make sure you have the right arm on the right side and the left arm on the left side. Adjust the arms until they look right to you. Elbows are usually at the waist but I make the arms a little longer. Bend and position the arms as it will help you decide the length Cut the chenille stem allowing the amount of length to insert into the other hand. Glue the other hand on. Let dry. Cover each arm with T-shirt material overlapping the top of the porcelain about 1/8". Insert extra material into the body at the armhole. See diagram next to torso body. Put lots of glue into the head and put on top of body. Tuck the fabric body inside the torso.  Put glue into each armhole and make sure that the arms are even. Put glue around the edges and up into the torso piece. Make sure the legs are even and adjust them now if needed. Let dry.

pastel chalks or powdered makeup can be used. Most dolls come already made up with china paints but appearance can be changed by adding rouge or eye shadow. I use a small cotton swab or a brush and then set it with porcelain mist spray. A matte pastel spray can be used. Hair spray makes it shiny.

Broken Fingers/ Bisque
Can you just glue it on and put a ring over the place where it is cracked?  Just a thought. Or maybe you could even position something in her hand to hide the missing finger.

Broken Fingers/ Greenware
If you try to glue fingers back on greenware, it will make a mess and fall apart in the kiln when you fire it to porcelain. My suggestion is to throw the piece out - you will spend more time fixing it than making another.
Whui in Paris

Broken Fingers/ Greenware
This works if you are dry cleaning.  If the finger came off while cleaning, use some distilled water to make a loose paste (reconstitutes it into slip) of some porcelain that has collected on your work surface... or sand some off an edge where it will not be noticed. If you have some of the slip, that will work too. Wet the hand GENTLY-NOT TOO MUCH OR IT WILL TURN TO MUSH and use the "slip" like glue to attach the finger. Let set up a bit and then use a tiny brush and distilled water to smooth it. If you are using SFGW method, there is an additive (to put in the water) you can get at the ceramic store to make a slip the same way. Very useful to fill holes and pits in badly poured SFGW. Havenít a clue as to the additive's name as I don't use it but know some of the big doll studios do.

Broken Finger/Greenware
I agree... the work involved in repairing a broken finger is greater than just making a new one.  However, if you are referring to a broken finger while it is still in the greenware stage, it can be repaired by wetting both ends (where the finger will touch the hand and the broken end of the finger). Hold the two piece together until they "stick"... then, add a bit of wet slip spread over both pieces to further secure them.

It 's not as easy as it sounds.... much easier to just start all over.

Doll without torso or legs.
What you need is a stuffed body. It's simply an empty bag you fill with something to attach the head and body parts. The wires run through that so the doll will pose. You sew darts in the "bag" to give it shape.

Doll without torso or legs.
Are you able to stick a wire into the shoulder plate... or is the shoulder plate kind of "plate shaped"? If so, perhaps you could fold a pipe cleaner in half (with the folded edge facing down) and then bend out the top ends to fit across, inside the shoulder plate. Glue the ends down.... one end facing one direction (inside the shoulder plate) and the other end of the wire facing towards the other end... (kind of V shaped wires). Glue thoroughly...

Push a separate wire (one end of wire into one arm, the other end into another arm.... Be sure to measure wire so arms are correct length (if no holes in arms, try drilling holes.) If that won't work, wrap wires and glue around top of arm. Then glue that wire across the inside of the shoulder plate (as you did for the body wire.)

Then when dry, spread glue all across inside shoulder plate (over the V-shaped wires and the arm wires, press cotton into it to fill in the shoulder plate with cotton.

The protruding wire can be the body wire. (Make leg wires by pushing another wire through the loop at the bottom. Twist tightly to hold in place.

At this point you can either make a cloth body that would begin at the shoulder, go across to include the top part of the arm, and contain the whole of the leg. If you use a cloth body, you can glue a frill of lace above the doll's knee (that will make the cloth body look like pantaloons)... and you can make leather shoes and the cloth part of the legs can be the "stockings".

If you make a Sculpey body you can build the body over the wires. Pose the body as you want it before baking. Also, I would use Diana's suggestion of first making a rough shape of the torso and limbs from a twisted strip of kitchen foil so the doll will not be so heavy. Then build the Sculpey over the foil. Before baking the Sculpey, make sure you have applied glue under the Sculpey wherever it meets the porcelain part of the doll. That way, when you bake the Sculpey the glue will hold the Sculpey part of the doll, to the porcelain part of the doll a little better.

The most secure way though, I think, is to make a cloth body and glue the cloth body over the porcelain parts.

If you want the doll to be pose able, Shape the foil and Sculpey or the cloth body, only below the elbow, and below the knee. The rest of the limbs' wires can be covered with a strip of quilting filler, strip of nylon stocking. or something that will stretch.

I just love the elastic that House of Caron sells. It
seems to hold up pretty good. If you are making an all
bisque doll, itís a good idea to permanently set little wire hooks (I use small nichrome wire and rock hard
putty) into the arm and leg openings before assembly.  This way if the elastic ever gives @:^0 it can be
easily replaced, and even easier if you sew your costumes rather than glue.
Lucie @:^)
You know there are other options besides metal feet... I have thrown away all of my molds for hands and feet I didn't find "normal" looking.  None of my kits or dolls come with hands and feet that are too small or can't hold anything, or have fingers that are not separated. UNLESS I want to put together a doll that is just standing around not holding anything, not being particularly expressive - I use the great hands of Gina  Bellous and Theresa Glisson. For the other dolls I do have some non-holding, non-expressive hands. I think I threw away about 45 or 50 molds for terrible hands and equally lousy feet/legs.

90% of my dolls stand without doll stands as I very carefully balance them when putting them together. Some need a little help so I use round metal circles glued to the bottom of the feet.... in fact RED the belly dancer in red on my website, is actually standing on ONE leg which is gled to a metal disc... She is perfectly balanced...

Personally I don't use the metal feet as I like my porcelain feet too much - they are more normal in skin color and texture, you don't have to paint them, and I can do lots more with them.... i.e., graft them onto great thighs, etc. I did try a pair a long time ago, and was very disappointed with them.

Inserting Wire
>>How do you insert the wire?? Some of the dolls I have to redo have no sleeves so I can't have anything on the outside of the is a crawling toddler in a playsuit and the other is a ballerina with straps<<

If you are making an all bisque doll, its a good idea to permanently set little wire hooks (I use small nichrome wire and rock hard putty) into the arm and leg openings before assembly.
Thanks, jo

Setting in wires
I use another technique that I have had great success with for setting tiny wires in arms (and legs) for stringing -- baking soda tapped down in the
cavity, insert tiny wire loop with ends extending down a bit, then a drop of Super Glue or Krazy Glue -- you know, that stuff that sticks your fingers together. Some sort of chemical reaction takes place -- there is a bit of heat -- and it dries permanent and forever, trust me. I'm not usually allowed to use Super Glue unsupervised, but honestly, it does work very well. Just use a lot of caution, and work on a covered surface -- I put down a sheet of aluminum foil.

Wire Armatures
I use wire in some of the all porcelain dolls I make. I use them as "u" shapes and insert them into the arms if they are full porcelain arms and into the legs if they are full porcelain legs. I pour the limbs solid, cut off the extra bit of porcelain so that the part of the limb that will connect to the doll is flat and insert the wire right after I take the doll
out of the mold. I dip the wire into liquid slip before I put them into the limb so that it has an added "hold" on the limb and won't come out later after the doll is fired. After the doll is fired and painted I use elastic to string the doll running the elastic through the wire u shapes in the limbs.

Wire Armatures
I use what is called "High Fire Wire" at my local ceramics shop. Its 24 gauge and comes in a coil. I don't know if it's really nichrome wire or what. :) Yes I cut off the little ball at the end of the arm or leg. If it's a large ball shape that can make it by drilling a hole in it, I do that instead and then work on the body for it to fit. For the wire method I leave the hole in the body small enough just for the wire to fit into so that I won't have a lot of play with the limbs. Pouring the limbs solid has never been a problem. Of the adult molds I have, the ones I pour solid are the arms of the parker Levi fashion ladies and the fairy lady arms. They are pretty small so they have never been a problem. I have never poured any of the others solid since they are so easy to drill holes in. As for the kids and babies, I always pour their arms and legs solid and use the wire (unless I want them with armature of course). No I don't use anything against the body. It's not a bad idea though, now that you mention it. I have never had a problem so far. When I dress the dolls they usually have sleeves that get gathered and tightened around the arms so that the porcelain pieces don't touch anyway. Having them strung with elastic makes it so much easier for me to dress them (just my opinion). You have to remember that I have only been dressing dolls for about three years, so I'm a long, long way from an expert!! :)

Another thing you have to remember if you do decide to try the wire is that in the arms you have to place the wires in a vertical position for stringing and in the legs you have to have them horizontal. If you don't you will have a standing doll sitting with its arms straight out. LOL!
Also make sure you don't push the wires in too far or they will come through the other side and look awful. That's why I dip them in slip before placing them. It makes them sturdy, and since I blush all of the body parts I can be pretty rough with them. I use hemostats to hold onto the wire while I blush with a makeup sponge. I push and flip them all over the place and the wires still don't come out.

Wire Armatures & Assembly
You need to push holes into the shoulders of the doll (while it is in the greenware stage) so the wire can pass through it to the other side. If you inserted the wire before firing, it would probably burn away while in the kiln. or at least be badly damaged. So the holes are developed in the greenware stage, but the actual assembly of the doll body parts is not done until after all of the firing has been completed.

I use good quality pipe cleaners for wires because they are fuzzy and soft and will move smoothly (also they glue better inside the arms etc because of the fuzziness)

I've not had good luck with pipe cleaners so I make little armatures with galvanized electric fencing
wire. It is strong and stable and readily available in our rural community.  It is thin enough to bend easily but strong enough to hold any pose!

For the armatures of my "Fuzzy Pets" (my miniature dogs), I use a medium size covered floral wire. It works great, when covered with clay.

Wire Armature
I have found that bell wire from the hardware store, which is available in several gauges, resists breaking far better than pipe cleaners.

Wire Armatures
I was thinking of using the copper wire from leftover scraps that my electrician used. When you cut it open you find copper wire that is >>

That should work just fine. I've used electricianís wire before and it's just a little hard to pose (wire is stiffer), but the pose stays in place very nicely.  I think it would be a good choice.

Wire Armatures
The nichrome wiring is easy to use. I just cut it with old scissors, and bend it round into a tiny loop, leaving a little tail at the end, using the same scissors. Twist the two ends together.  Make sure that your elastic will fit through the loop, and the loop will fit in the socket of the torso etc. Then fix it in place with some slip before the greenware has dried. It's a good idea to keep checking the limbs fit in the sockets. The wire becomes hard in the firing. Let us know how it goes.

Mini-Cloth dolls

I recently purchased a pattern for some dollhouse sized cloth dolls Ė the instructions were to trace the pattern onto the cloth and sew around the outline....I was reading from another list about printing onto cloth by ironing freezer paper to the cloth and running it through the printer...then I had an idea! What if I scanned the doll pattern to the printer and had it print on the non-slick side of the freezer paper? Then I can cut out the pattern - iron it onto the cloth and sew around the pattern ...I've used this technique with larger doll hands with individual fingers and it worked very well...

Well, I'm happy to report, that it works great! Some of you may have already discovered this time saver, but it was new to me! Now I don't have to spend as much time tracing the patterns to the freezer paper - and that leaves me more time to practice making these little creations! :-)

Mini-Cloth dolls
One thing I learned from the Carol Duval Show that works is to use a rubber stamp...
they were using it to make faces and heads for dolls, also making small stuffed dolls.... but you can also use the technique to make stuffed animals for your dolls to hold, crib toys for babies, all sorts of pillows... All you have to do is use a fabric type ink pad. One of CD's guest artists doesn't even turn her dolls, just sews around the stamped image, cuts out and seals the edges with acrylic paint.
Sammy (I'm a girl) Smith

Pipe cleaners
The pipe cleaners that I use to assemble my dolls are either the fat craft kind (extra large) or reg. craft kind.

I have been making miniature dolls since 1975 and have always used pipe cleaners for armatures. I have never experienced any problem at all and (shudder) I still have some of my first dolls, which are just fine as far as the armatures go. The painting is something else about which I do not want to speak *g*.
Perhaps the brand of pipe cleaner might affect how long they last. I have always bought direct from a manufacturer in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where I buy 5,000 at a time.

For many, many years, pipe cleaners were the standard wire...still is for many people... Atkinsonís "Making 1/12" scale Dollhouse Dolls" shows how to make a doll with them. There is, however, a big difference in the quality of the wire between the inexpensive craft pipe cleaners and the better all cotton pipe cleaners. At one time I used only the better quality pipe cleaners. Now I use one pipe cleaner augmented by a second sheathed copper wire. Wire loses strength when twisted, so keep the skeletal wires straight and bind together with another wire. Interestingly, Susan Oroyano notes in her latest book that one should not twist the wire.

Pipe cleaners
There are pipe cleaners and there are pipe cleaners. Do not use the craft pipe cleaners as the wires inside of them are very, very weak. Then go and visit a pipe store. You can get regular pipe cleaners, and you can get another brand that is a heavy-duty pipe cleaner. Inside of the fuzz are barbs. When you double this particular pipe cleaner, you get the strength of 10! I mean this. As for the regular pipe cleaners, double them up too. Twist them around one another. The only time Iíve had pipe cleaners break on me, is when you deliberately bend them back and forth in a rapid motion. This will break any pipe cleaner. And tell me, why would you deliberately bend them back and forth in a finished doll?

I fill the arm or leg with glue and jam the pipe cleaner all the way in side. I let it dry overnight. The next day or whenever, I put my doll together. When I put the legs into the body of the doll, I fill that hole up with glue soaked cotton balls which hold the pipe cleaners in place and fill up the body making a solid armature inside. With the arms - if Iíve made the armhole too big, I also fill it with bits and pieces of glue soaked cotton balls. Iím the cotton ball queen!!!!! This make a very very solid armature. Then I wrap in cotton balls, and when everything is dry I dip my finger in glue and make a ďskinĒ over the cotton ball. This defines and shapes the limbs too. That is my armature but everyone does things differently.

Depending on the size of the holds in the arm and in the torso, I either use one pipe cleaner or if the holes will manage it, two pipe cleaners wound one around the other doubling the strength of the pipe cleaner. I normally use a doubled one for the legs. One end in each leg, the rest crammed into the body cavity.
Georgina Hanford Simmons-Gagnon

Pipe cleaners
I have been working on a Flamenco dancer for days, red silk dress, black lace and she was coming out great. Even her wig!! Well while I was wigging her I thought one of the arms felt loose so I just gave it a little tug and OUT IT CAME WAAAAA. All that work!!. I donít really think it was the pipe cleaners, I bought the good ones from a tobacco shop but I do think that I didnít use enough glue. I know some people put a dot of super glue into the armatures but I am always afraid of the wire breaking on the pipe cleaner and then you canít remove it. I soaked the arms in really hot water (micro waved them in fact) and they pulled out easily. Now I have to make a new sleeve (luckily I have enough silk). What I wanted to know from you is do from you is do you use super glue inside the armature? Do you think I should super glue it when I put it back together?

Pipe cleaners
I use three pipe cleaners wrapped together for the legs and 2 for the arms. If they are to big for children I use 2 for the legs.
Michelle Geoffrion-Mahler

Pipe cleaners
My personal favorite for obvious reasons (itís so easy! ) is the pipe cleaner method.  The body parts are connected with the pipe cleaners and then wrapped with strips of cloth until the desired shape is achieved. I use a self-adhesive bandage - brand name CO-FLEX. It comes in different colors including white and tan. I especially love it because itís so stretchy. It lets me put on  layer upon layer without creating bulk and the result is a nice firm body that  will pose nicely.

I also use the pipe cleaners to put the doll body together and I love the ones from the tobacco shop too-so much stronger.  I also have to agree with Gina-they hold up just fine unless you were to purposely bend them in the same spot over and over .These dolls are meant to be little pieces of art and treated accordingly. Most of the time I will have a certain pose in mind for a doll and I arrange the draping etc. around that pose. I spend a lot of time draping the fabric to try and make the clothes hang in a pleasing way so even though the arms and legs are technically still poseable after completion I never do this because I feel it would ruin the appearance of the doll. I think the dolls much like all miniatures are not really meant to be played with but displayed and admired. Viola I couldnít agree with your motto of Ďdo it until it looks rightí more. Who cares how something is Ďsupposedí to be done as long as the desired effect is achieved.  I donít think I would last long in the sort of teaching environment.

Pipe cleaners
I use good quality pipe cleaners for wires because they are fuzzy and soft and will move smoothly (also they glue better inside the arms etc because of the fuzziness)

When putting the armature of your dolls together, make sure if the doll is to be carrying something, to make the arms a little longer. Also, if the doll will be sitting in a chair, you probably will need to make the legs a little longer. Sometimes perfect scale looks odd to us so use your best judgment.

Finger Positioning
The fingers are on all of my dolls. They start out in "flat" position, then with smooth sided needle nosed pliers, I position each finger, paint and the fingers won't break! I have men's and lady's hands.  They can be seen on my dolls at my site:
I also have half inch hands with fingers.
Laurie Sisson

I have found that you have to make the dolls arms a little longer or they cannot hold things right. I used to make them in proportion but it was hard to have the nanny hold the baby etc. If the arms are a little longer it makes a difference in being able to position them.  Porcelain dolls come in all shapes and sizes. The dolls of mine that are to hold things have arms about 1/4 inch longer than normal. Most of my dolls elbows are at the waist.


First I'd like to point out a couple of things well worth paying a little special attention to when putting together a doll.


The dolls are so small, there just isn't a lot of room for errors. A good rule of thumb to remember is, that a 1 inch scale doll will stand anywhere from about 5 1/4 inches to about 6 inches tall. (Depending on gender, smaller of course if they are children.)

The arms outstretched to the side should be as wide as the doll is high. This looks a bit funny in the assembly stage but will be very realistic once the clothes go on. I have ripped off perfectly good sleeves, torn out the arms and readjusted the length because they were too short. I think if they are a bit too long it can be hidden but if they are too short it just looks strange. I've got a big piece of cardboard onto which I have drawn different sized crosses. Now according to what size my doll will be all I have to do is lay it on the corresponding cross to make sure I keep the proportions right during assembly. The legs are more forgiving that way, as long as the height of the doll is right.  The other thing I've had trouble with is getting both legs just right, so that if the doll is positioned upright in the stand, the soles and heels of the shoes both touch the base without the figure getting bent into a crooked angle. I really haven't found any certain way to achieve this, except to just play around until I'm satisfied.
Teens, of course, come in different sizes just as real people.  But do remember that the children of today are the largest since the beginning of man's evolution. In Victorian times, people were mush shorter than they are today, generally.  Of course there are always exceptions.  But when making dolls, consider what time period they came from to consider height.

In medieval times a man was on the average 5' 5" tall. If you ever get a chance to see a real suit of armor you just won't believe the small height. Being as most of the dolls dressed today are Victorian, they would be smaller than our contemporary teenagers.
Mini Hugs
Bev in Colo


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