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Sculpting a Santos Doll Form in Clay

I’ve been busy in any spare time I can grab, filling the long winter moments working on things for my spring collection and the up-coming Nada show. One thing I’ve been concentrating on is my handmade Santos cage dolls. I think dolls are one of those things you either really get into or not. I am not a doll person per se, but I really enjoy sculpting. I was an art/theatre major before I went to the fire academy (which is a whole ‘nother life story, which, ironically enough is haunting me a bit now, but that’s a tale for another day as well.). I always start with constructing an armature when sculpting a Santos doll form in clay.
Santos Doll armature

 Then I add layer after layer of clay. As much as I enjoy the process, I must admit, when they start to look a bit human sometimes they creep they h*ll out of me. Just like doll heads. I know some people really love them. Good for you. Because those things freak me out too.
Sculpting a face
 I work on their base features like the eyes and nose when sculpting a Santos doll form in clay.
Santos doll face sculpted
 It takes me about 8 hours to make each one, start to finish.
The back side of a santos doll head in clay
 I smooth as much as I can and then comes the part I scream and cry at.
A face sculpted in clay for a Santos Doll
The face.  Once I start on the facial features I am committed to finishing. I can’t stop because they clay has to stay wet the entire time I can spend hours just working on eyes and lips. AAARRRGGH!
Face sculpted in clay
I tweak and tweak and tweak until I get her mostly where I need it to be pushing the clay around; then I can work on refining later. It’s strange and amazing to me how their personalities emerge even before I start painting. I hope you enjoyed seeing how I work in sculpting a Santos doll form in clay. See more about making your own here.

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  1. Wow, it is looking amazing, you are very talented! I love ‘dress forms’ or ‘dolls’ whatever you want to call the ‘body’ and alter them with paper and found objects. Can you email me where you obtained your base?

    I look forward to watching your progress!


  2. I also love them, and i too would like to know where the basis body comes from or do you do it yourself! So amazing can’t wait to see the finished santo!!!

    thank you


  3. Are you kidding me, you make these? Please show us a picture of a completed doll. As if I wasn’t already totally impressed with you…wowee lady!! 😉

  4. Ok, swear to me that sometime over a margarita you are going to tell me how a girl with talents like this…ended up in the fire academy??? Lol! Now THAT is going to be good, I just know it!


  5. Jen that is amazing! Oh I wish I could do that. I want one exactly my size. Oh, I have a thousand questions for you now.

    YOU are amazing!

  6. Oh GF, you are talented! I love what you are doing there. Funny that it creeps you out, does it feel like you are making a real person? Only this one will not live and breathe? Or maybe they do when you are sleeping? Sorry! Do you name them?
    I hope you post a photo of the finished product.

  7. I’m one of those people who loves Santos dolls…..and also happens to love doll heads in general. I so appreciate the work and love you put into your sculpture….the face is wonderful. I look forward to seeing her completed.

  8. I think you did an Awesome job. Just the other day I was reading your blog and thought wonder what base and medium you use to make the dolls. Enjoy!

  9. Wow – what a process! You are so incredibly talented! And I am with Mary – haha – would love to know how you ended up at the fire academy!

  10. I’m with all of the other ladies, way impressed! Sculpting always intimidated me, not because the forms make me nervous but because it looks SO HARD. The way you describe the process makes it sound similar to painting where you build up layer by layer. I’m still not going to try however 🙂 I can’t wait to see her finished. Have fun!

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