How to Start A Sculpture, Doll Portrait Sculpting P1: Ideas, Polymer Clay Tools, Head Armature, Bake

But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore
she suffers so much more. Today I’m showing you How to Start a Sculpture
in Polymer Clay. I’m talking Inspiration, concept sketch, materials
and tools, and we’ll get started making the head. This is Certainly Caroline with more polymer
clay fairy tale nonsense. I’ll start with Inspiration
What inspires you? When Michael commissioned me to sculpt a mermaid
doll I was excited, but when I learned that she was a model and a mermaid herself, I was elated. I really wanted to try my hand at a portrait
doll. So, definitely, the first step to a great
sculpture, is just getting inspired. This is the first part of my YouTube series
on How to Sculpt a Realistic Mermaid Doll. I’m sharing so much information that I had
to split it up into a series. This video teaches how to start a sculpture,
and includes the how to begin the head. I’ll show you how to begin the face in the
next video. I’m honestly not sure I can make it look like
Michael, so if you give me your feedback as I make progress, I would really appreciate
it. Let’s move on to the second step to starting
a sculpture. Sketch it out on paper. Figure out what you want to do before you
do it. You need to decide on the movement of the
shapes, the gesture of the pose, and what’s the overall mood of the piece going to be? Will it be lonely? Hopeful? Lost
and bound? Or perhaps your creation will be dreamy. What story is your sculpture going to tell? A story about overcoming? Or the
weight of growing old? Or maybe your sculpture will tell of a quirky
romance. The
mermaid has this relationship with the water. Her hair and her hands are relaxed and flowing. Yet there’s this death-like stillness about
the water. And you decide on the proportions of your
doll befor you get out your clay with a sketch. Measure twice, cut once, right? Third thing you need to start a sculpture
is materials and tools. Since we’re starting with the head first,
I’m just going to go over the tools that I need for the head. I use my X-acto to take off little specks
of lint. And I usually like to do some carving after
the sculpture is baked. I use the long blade to lift the face from
the sculpting board, and I’ve got a number of wooden tools. Honestly, I don’t think these guys have a
name other than wooden tools. I actually checked once because I felt stupid
calling it ‘the wooden tool’. I believe it’s called a wooden tool. Wooden tool. My favorite one is thinner on one end than
the other ones. I use the paint brush to brush on clay smoother
before I bake. And with this tool, one side has a small ball
and the other side is a medium sized ball. And it’s great for sculpting the nose. This is my rubber tipped tool. On one end it’s pointy and the other end it’s
slanted. This one is my large ball tool. And finally, I wouldn’t want to try sculpting
a face without this tool. It’s a dental tool, actually. For a clay smoother, I use Orange Goop. And of course we need some polymer clay. I am extremely biased toward ProSculpt because
it’s the best polymer clay ever. Enough said. Before painting, I sand my dolls. I use liquid clay when I attach the face to
the ball of the head. And you’re like, I don’t know what she’s talking
about, and that’s ’cause I still need to explain it. And I definitely will in a hot second. My fourth piece of advice for starting a sculpture
would be to start with the part that’s most inspiring to you. Like for me it’s the head. Sculpting realistic dolls is a lot of work
and it can be intimidating to start, kind of overwhelming, like starting to pick up
an incredibly messy room. Five more minutes, and then pick up your room. For me, the head is the most enjoyable part
because it carries much of the personality of the piece, so I always start with the head. So, to make the head. Mind you not the face, that’s for the next
video. Some artists make their little tin foil ball,
add a layer of clay and off they go sculpting the face. They can do it without a hard surface to sculpt
the face on. If that works for them, then most likely everything
works for them. When I try that, the head gets misshapen and
I end up with tin foil showing in some places, and the skin all clumps at the back of the
head. It’s a mess. Worse than my daughter’s room. I’ve found two methods that I like for building
the head. We’ll creatively call them method one, and
method two. . For method one, I form the shape of a skull
with tin foil and then I cover that with a thin layer of clay. I smooth out a very flat, egg-shaped surface
for the face to go. And make a hole at the bottom for the neck. I bake it, and then I have a firm foundation
to sculpt my face on. I gotta pause here to enjoy the rain for a
minute. The only thing I like better than sculpting
on the front porch is sculpting on the front porch with my daughters while it’s raining. We always stop a minute to enjoy the fresh
smell, and the lovely sound, and, of course, the feeling of checking on your garden, and
getting just a little wet in the rain. For method two, I place a lump of clay onto
a wooden board that’s comfortable to hold. Since I used my hands to form the lump, I
need to scrape off a thin layer of to get to the clean clay. I cut off the side of the lump to make a very
rough egg shape. For method one, where you’re sculpting right
on your baked head, you’d begin the face in the same way as I’m showing you now, with
a lump of raw clay that you smooth into an egg shape. I’ll get more detailed about forming the face
in the next video. Using my wooden tool, I smooth out the rough
edges of the egg shape. The wooden board isn’t anything special. It’s actually trim from my dining room table
that always wanted to fall off. Once I’m done sculpting the face, I remove
it from the board with a long blade, and bake it. I just leave the face on the blade and put
it into the oven, with the blade and all. Then I make the ball part of the head separately. I cover a ball of tin foil with clay. I bake the ball, then combine the ball and
the face with liquid clay and some more raw clay along the seam. You want your ball to be up toward the top
part of the face, though there’s not a huge need to be exact because the hair covers up
a whole lot. Just, in general, keep in mind that the jaw
bone hangs down from the cranium. and bake again. Once baked, I cover the back of the face with
more liquid clay, and I add a bit of tin foil. The thickness of your clay shouldn’t be more
than a 1/4 inch, so think of tin foil as your friend. Haley, tin foil, Haley, tin foil, tin foil. Then I just add some pancakes of clay on top
of the tin foil, joining the face and the cranium. I just keep my oven going at 275 degrees during
this process so I don’t have to wait for the oven to preheat when I’m ready to bake again. This is actually a pretty quick and easy process
when you just keep your oven going. It takes 15 minutes to bake ProSculpt clay,
at 275 degrees, I’ll touch more on baking in a minute. You’re going to want to make sure your hands
are nice and clean before you start this step. I would recommend rolling a ball of scrap
clay in your hands to pick up the lint and the dirt. Or don’t forget, you can always use gloves. Something I especially like about ProSculpt
is that it comes basically preconditioned. With other polymer clays you have to kind
of knead the clay first to condition it to get it to that soft state that you can easily
sculpt with. I’m actually not affiliated with ProSculpt
at all, I just love their clay. Once I’ve smoothed it out pretty well, I bake
again. For a final round, I sand a bit first and
smooth on just a little more clay and bake it one last time. Welcome to my super small back porch and it
doubles as my baking room. I have a little oven I bought just for baking
my polymer clay and I keep it out here because I like to keep it in a well ventilated room. Don’t feel like you need to rush out and buy
a new oven for your clay projects, I just bake it often enough that it really made sense
for me to buy a seperate oven. I will say that you do need an oven thermometer,
however, even if you only bake polymer clay occasionally. You really have to keep a good eye on the
temperature of the oven because polymer clay can easily burn if you’re not careful, and
the fumes of the burnt clay are toxic. Which is kind of creepy, but, with a thermometer,
my polymer clay always turns out perfect when I bake it and I bake all the time. Follow your clay’s instruction on the package. I usually keep my oven at 275 degrees but
because I most often use ProSculpt clay. Also the baking times differ. So for ProSculpt it’s 15 minutes in the oven
at 275 and for Premo it’s, um, 30 minutes in the oven at 275, I believe. Next up in this YouTube series will be a tutorial
about forming the nose, and then a video dedicated to sculpting the lips & the eyes, and I plan
to keep going until the doll is complete. So Michael’s a YouTuber too, I’m going to
leave a link in the description to her channel. She’s got some great makeup tutorials that
you’ll love. So subscribe to both our channels and hit
the bell icon so you don’t miss anything.


  • Chelsea

    I have a chanel called susen czachorowski you did a good job

  • Aluna Fort

    Yes, this will come in so handy for this Christmas!

  • TheHokieMama

    I don't make anything with clay… but I absolutely love watching your videos! Thank you for taking the time to make them so fun! ❤

  • Michael Makeup

    I'm so excited!!!! ☺️☺️☺️☺️

  • Lizielim

    Great voideo!

  • Alesia

    I'm going to school and I can't see the video 😔

  • Neta McKinney

    Thank you thank you thank you!! I've been needing a great series of tutorials on sculpting! I love your style so I'm looking forward to creating with you!

  • AkameruKawaii

    Lovely video – your vids are always so relaxing to watch 🙂

  • Fancylooks

    You are so unique, calm and talented

  • Jenny Tyndale

    Awesome!! Can't wait for the next installment! 🙂

  • Jeanie EJ Ahn

    this is perfect for a beginner 🙂

  • Nancy Jones

    Once again, a wonderful, entertaining and creative video! I love it that you are going to make this mermaid fairy look like beautiful Michael!  Can't wait to see how it turns out!  You are so talented!

  • Bruno Holtz

    Woahhh, the production for this series is looking amazing, I'm loving it!

  • Joanne Carroll

    Wonderful, I can't wait for more .. & isn't Michael a beautiful creature too?


    You are one talented lady. LOVE LOVE LOVE

  • Butterflies&Fairies55

    Great inspirational video!!!! It makes me want to start sculpting again! I can't wait to see #2! Thank you!!!

  • Tzaddiel

    Omg Caroline I love this set of videos! This is awesome! And you Crack me up. You're hilarious. Thanks for sharing!

  • s f

    Beautiful drawing!

  • Chocolate Devil

    Thank you for doing this lesson so helpful ❤

  • Lena Christin

    wonderful voice and great video!

  • Raelei Romero

    awesome video ty for this tutorial <3. people normally put masking tape on the foil so the clay doesn't turn gray.. but thats just a tip 🙂

  • HentaiSweetie

    Polymer clay won't burn in the oven as long as you cover it with foil.
    Also just a suggestion but in a tutorial video is good to stay focused on what you're teaching. Not take breaks to show playing out in the rain or talking about other unrelated things.

  • Bob

    casually shows a piece of wood while my sister calls my dog a cucumber

  • Keepsake Crafts by Sandy Huntress

    I'm so glad you talked about squishing the head while sculpting. I thought maybe the problem was me, because I can't seem to hold onto the head while creating the face without making a mess of the skull shape. I forget what my left hand is doing, and there it goes….. I like your method and will try that the next time I make a doll!

  • CertainlyCaroline

    If you'd like to see the finished doll:
    Want to make your own mermaid?

  • Angelflys17 Rogue_Angel1 Twitter

    love you and you inspire me also Iam a mermaid artist have not wanted to create for a long time .However. you have shown many key steps I never tried before thank you these are lovely starting again big fan

  • K B

    Oh wonderful series! Is it ok to use a toaster oven instead for baking for this process? Or is the main oven all around better?

  • Depressed_Artist HMR

    This is deep. Omg I’m questioning the universe.

  • avalon //

    5:05 I thought it was just me! 😭

  • Pamela PGL

    Fantastic tutorials! Thank you!

  • Dawn Kennedy

    Does the clay you use have any translucent in it? I'm just curious, do you ever have problems with "plaquing"? I think that's what it's called, when the clay comes out of the oven with splotches everywhere?


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