As mentioned in my last post, I am going to completely change the method of armature creation I have previously used for the foil and tape method. I will put a step by step comparison of the two with pros and cons once I have completed this doll and will know for sure what I like about each method and which I prefer.

But here is a run down of the armature for Anemone

Step 1 – Bend the Armature Wire
Using 18g wire I have created three parts, the legs, the arms and the neck poll

As always I use my figure cheat sheet to make sure I get my proportions right. This is something I have created in word with a doll for each inch ranging for 3″ to 8″. This doll will be 8″, so I am using the largest figure. If you would like a copy of this you are welcome to download it here.

All three pieces of wire can be taped together now with foil tape

Step 2 – Support
In this particular case the legs will not be supporting the piece, therefore they only need to be a single piece of wire. The arm however will be the spot where the doll is secured to the flower. So I have measured a piece of 3/32″ tube from her palm to just above her elbow.

Then I cut back the arm armature till about the elbow, insert the tube over the arm wire (which is a good fit for the 18g wire), then using the guide sheet I make sure the arm is the right length and crimp to hold the pieces together (you can also use a bit of glue and/or foil tape to ensure they stay together)

Step 3 – Add the Tinfoil
Once you have your required rod pieces in place you can start adding tinfoil to your piece. This will bulk up your piece allowing you to use less clay (which saves you money, but also means the clay wont be as thick which lessens the chance of under-baked clay that can crack in the future).

Make sure the foil is pressed hard as you can. Avoid too much in areas that are small, such as the wrists and ankles which I leave tinfoil free

Step 4 – Pose and Wrap in Masking Tape
At this point you can start wrapping and posing the doll. I wrapped the torso, then posed the legs and arms before wrapping them.

I made sure I covered all the wire with the tape, including right down to the wrist and ankles.

Step 5 – Cover with TLS
After the doll is all wrapped I have covered the doll in TLS – Translucent Liquid Sculpey. This will give me a better bond between the tape and the fresh clay.

I just brushed it on, gave it a give dry with my embossing gun, and then popped it in the oven for 15min to finish it off

Note: I found the TLS tended to peal off, so I no longer bother to coat the tape – I just add the clay directly on the tape

And that’s it, you now have one posed and bulked out armature waiting for you to do your magic on and bring it to life.

The next step will be getting the base ready. I usually do this last, but I need this doll to sit nicely on the flower, so I will complete that first and then sculpt her in place. I also have a nifty idea in mind to keep her and the flower working together…so watch this space 🙂

Comments and questions are welcome as always

There are 6 comments for this article
  1. dollartbyjulie at 10:24 pm

    Hi Elizabeth. I replied to your email, but it bounced back. I have changed the link to the armature file so hopefully you can download it okay now. Regards – Julie

  2. Shelly at 4:48 pm

    Hi Julie!

    Your armature tutorial is well-planned and I really like your method! Of late, I’ve been toying with the idea of the foil and tape method. My sculpting teacher don’t recommend the foil and tape method because floral tape has wax in it and when it’s heated during the bake, the wax melts. Sometimes it causes cracks and the wax drips out of the sculpture. And that the clay will stick if you are patient and don’t trap air in the clay. I am not turning my back to what I have learned from my teacher, but I’ve seen so many professional artist do this method and SUCCEED. I would start by playing around, using your tutorial and see how it goes. I’ll let you know! Oh, BTW, when are you making her base? I am an avid ooak ethereal/fantasy base creator and always make them for my fae folk and whimsical characters.

    • dollartbyjulie at 11:01 pm

      Hi Shelly
      Thank you for your lovely comments. I have found that the clay makes the tape sticky, but I haven’t see it cause any problems. And as you say – many of the top artists use this method. Everyone has their own methods, and in the end you need to find out what works for you. I find myself changing my methods as I go, I still use the wire and tape, but a lot of my methods have changed so much I should probably post a new tutorial.

  3. Danile at 12:10 am

    You do amazing work! Thank you for this post. I use the foil method when making my armature cores, too but I don’t always use the tape. Compressing the foil tightly, and then pushing the clay on so that it fills in the tiny, wrinkled texture of the foil core helps get rid of any air pockets. However, when I do use the masking tape, I found that the tape has sufficient texture to allow the clay to grab on and hold. I haven’t experienced any issues with the clay making the tape sticky, but I use polymer clay, so that may be why. When I make hand armatures, I use cloth covered floral wire, where the cloth covering has the texture needed to allow the clay to stick, but I like the idea here of using TLS to coat the bare wire, for when I can’t get a hold of the cloth covered kind.

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