FAQs

Clay tips

POPULAR QUESTIONS

I would say the easiest clay to find (should be in any craft store) is FIMO polymer clay. You can try color Flesh Pink #43. You can create a complete figure out of this clay without mixing it with anything else. I myself use it quite often. I like mixing my clays with each other for different color or effect (translucent or opaque). Be careful using a lot of translucent clay, because it creates moonies (tiny white patches of trapped air), they are difficult to fix. But if you try FIMO just as it is, you should not have any problems, especially if you follow the instructions on the back of the packaging for baking. I also like adding Cernit clay to it, but it’s not necessary.

Polymer clay is a wonderful medium, and I got hooked on it as soon as I tried to make one face. Although it was horrible, lol, I didn’t give up. It’s a lot of hard work but lots of fun as well! Since then I have been experimenting a lot and creating quite a variety of different characters. (Please visit my Galleries to view samples of my work.)

If you are interested in making a one of a kind figure, I recommend starting with a mermaid, because you don’t need to worry about making feet and legs. Besides, it’s fun painting the tail and adding lots of sparkles and glitter.

Inside of each doll there should be a wire armature, which is pretty easy to make. I use mostly 18-16 gauge aluminum wire for my dolls from 5 to 7 inches. If the doll gets bigger, I get thicker and more sturdy wire, say for 8-9 inch figure, I use 16 gauge wire, for 10-12 inch I use 14 gauge. For smaller dolls like 5-11 inches you don’t need to put wire in the fingers, just need to be careful when shipping the doll. It’s a whole separate topic on shipping.

If you do not want to buy FIMO, there’s another clay you can try, it’s Super Sculpey or Living Doll by Sculpey. Another popular clay is Premo by Sculpey. It has beautiful Soft beige colour and Transluscent  Frost. Make sure you condition the clay for a few good minutes. It means squash it in your hand for 5-7 minutes, until it becomes pliable. 

Conditioning is the process that makes polymer clay ready to work with. Most conditioning is done simply by working the clay with your hands until it reaches a good working consistency. The warmth of your hands combined with the physical process of stretching and compressing the clay changes its texture, making it softer and more pliable.

Conditioning clay softens it, making it easy to work with and mold. It also makes the clay stickier and less brittle, letting you roll thin sheets without causing the clay to crack and break.

Some clay brands so soft out of the package that you’ll be tempted not to bother with conditioning, but you will find that taking the time will improve both the workability of the clay and the strength of your fired pieces.

The simplest way to condition polymer clay is to work it with your hands for several minutes. Take a chunk of clay of a size you feel comfortable working with, half an ounce to an ounce or so, and begin squishing it between your fingers. As the clay warms and softens, start rolling it between your palms info a snake shape. Then move your hands against each other in a circular motion to compress the snake back to a ball. Repeat this process several times. How Long?

The time can vary depending on the type of clay you are using, your style of conditioning, the amount of clay, and the temperature, but usually it takes something between three and ten minutes.

This answer will depend on the type of doll you would like to create.

Here’s what to consider before choosing your clay for a BJD doll making:
 
1. The size of the doll
 
In short, all is good for air dry clay. Any size. Period. It handles well, dries, sands, it is strong after air drying. Paints beautifully. Another matter – polymer clay. Here’s something to think about. If you are making a doll for yourself or a one of a kind – and, most importantly,  5-8 inches tall, not larger – go for polymer. Lots of body parts can be made solid and then drilled afterwards. 
 
Keep in mind that when working on polymer, in order to continue sanding and refining body parts you need to “soft bake” the clay. It means that baking in between the stages at a lower temperature. Which, in turn, leads to a lot weaker clay, so it needs to be handled with care. This is necessary for the entire project until the peaces are ready to be baked at full term. So, if you have a very large doll, on one hand you might like the idea of larger pieces in your hands, you can see more details and take your time working on it. However if you prefer to finish your pieces in “one seating” kind of approach, then you would be more interested in making a small doll (8 inches the tallest). 
 
2. Time limit
 
If you are on the time limit and would like to finish your doll in a shorter period of time, you definitely don’t want to wait for the moisture to evaporate from the clay for a few days at a time. So, polymer is definitely your friend here. You can finish a lot of pieces in a day or so, before you get to refining them. Again, considering the size, it helps to have a small size doll. 
 
3. Finish of the doll
 
If you would like to try sculpting and just doing it for fun, try polymer clay, because it requires a bit less sanding, especially on the face. it also doesn’t require painting, just blushing. Air dry clays like Creative Paperclay, LaDoll, Premier, LaDoll Premix, etc. require painting if you are working on a one of a kind piece. They can be easily painted with acrylic paints to create a beautiful finish. Polymer clay has a nice finish on its own. You can just blush the doll for added dimensionality of the doll and add details, but it doesn’t require complete coverage. (See my doll making tutorial “I WANT TO BE BJD” for details). 
 
4. Production or One of a Kind
 
Very important point – what are your plans for your doll? Are you making a One of a kind art piece for yourself or for sale or you are considering to cast a few more dolls out of your original in resin or in porcelain? This can also dictate your choice of clay. A lot of times when pieces are going into casting it is easier to make them in air dry clay, because adding and taking away process is a lot faster and easier. Polymer clay requires heat curing or baking. Air dry clay is just it – air dry. Also, if you are considering giving your piece for casting to another company which will make your dolls in resin, they might have requirements, some do not accept master originals in polymer clay. 
 
5. You preference of clay
 
This one is a really simple choice – which clay do you like to work with – it that option!
 
So here you go, try and have fun! If you have any questions, take my class or send me your questions I can share my experience with you. Hugs, Elena
clay tips