How to Make Porcelain Dolls
Porcelain dolls are generally associated with antique dolls. Manufacturers of today who make these dolls for collectors are making reproductions. Reproduction porcelain dolls costs much less than the true antiques. Many porcelain dolls that are made these days are made in China although Marie Osmond has a company that manufactures porcelain dolls in various sizes that range from tiny to extra large. There are a variety of styles and sizes that can be purchased. These include women, girls, boys and men. The head and limbs can be made of porcelain with a cloth body or the doll can be made entirely of porcelain. Each doll is customized with clothing, accessories and makeup. Making one of these dolls from scratch is a long, delicate and involved process.
Step 1 - What Type of Porcelain Doll?
Decide what size of doll you want to make: a girl, boy, woman or man. The size of mold you will purchase will depend upon the size of doll you will be making. You also need to decide if it will be entirely porcelain or will it be soft-bodied.
Decide what color the porcelain slip will be: white, ivory, flesh, pink, oriental, peach, brown or black. Porcelain slip is clay that is diluted and strained until it is consistently smooth. This is what will be used for all the porcelain parts of the doll.
Step 2 - Making the Porcelain Head
Make the porcelain slip according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pour it into the mold making sure it is completely filled.
Once the mold is filled, you will place it into the kiln and fire it for approximately 8 hours. Do not fire for longer as this will burn or crack the porcelain. Remove the mold from the kiln and let it cool completely. When it is cool, carefully remove the porcelain from the mold and sand it with ultra-fine sandpaper until all the edges are smooth. Wipe of any excess dust.
Step 3 - Painting the Head
Using a paint brush, paint the entire head with acrylic paint using the color that you chose for the doll. A second coat may be necessary to get the desired effect. Paint the lips, the fingernails and the toenails, and outline the eye. If you paint around the dolls eyes using a deeper color of paint with a fine paintbrush, you will get a dramatic effect. Place a clear glossy coat of paint over the lips to get the appearance of moistened lips.
Step 4 - The Accessories
Place the glass eyes into the sockets. Glue the false eyelashes above the eyes with a drop of super glue. The size of the false eyelashes that you use will use depends on the type of doll that you are making; children tend to have shorter and finer eyelashes than adults.
The hair can be from a wig that you purchased or you can paint the hair on. If you choose to use a wig, you will attach it to the head using super glue. If you are looking for a more realistic effect, you may want to root the hair by attaching it one strand at a time with a fine needle.
Step 5 - Assembling the Porcelain Doll
For this example, we have chosen to use a soft-body that is made with muslin. For a weighted doll you should place beans at the bottom of the body before adding the stuffing. Stuff the body with cotton batting or if you want to be able to pose the doll you will need to use armature.
Connect the arms and the legs to the body. You can do this by placing the limbs in the areas that are made for this purpose, or you can use glue or hooks to attach them. Sew the limbs in place. Dress your doll in the clothing that you purchased.
- Fired porcelain may change the color of the paint. You may want to test the paint on an inconspicuous area before painting the entire surface.
- Porcelain is fragile so be careful when handling the doll before and after it is complete.