TOOLS & RECORDING GEAR
ART DOLL MAKING TOOLS
Beige Super Sculpey's long been my polymer clay of choice for art doll making. I like the firmness and consistency- it's not too soft like the classic white Sculpey and not too firm. I find that it warms as you use it, great for fine, delicate details, but if you let it sit for a little bit and you can work on bigger areas. With the way I work, massing-out a head with tinfoil, I find that I can get 5, even 6 head sculpted from a 1 lb. package of Super Sculpey, but if you find yourself doing a ton of polymer clay art or if you want to share the hobby with family and friends, the 8 lb. package of Super Sculpey might be an economical choice.
One mistake that I made repeatedly was that I kept buying plastic sculpting tools- I must have gone through 3-4 sets of those things, pieces would break-off of my most used tools and I'd buy another set. Save yourself a fair amount of time, money, and headache and just buy yourself a set of steel sculpting tools to work polymer clay. You might spend twice as much on this set of tools than you would've on a plastic sculpting set, but in the long-run, this is one of those things where it's worth it to spend a little more. There might be some distinct use for the plastic tools, but I've yet to encounter it.
I use a range of gauges of armature wire during the course of my process for making art dolls. The following are my most commonly used wire gauges (the larger the gauge number, the thinner the wire):
While working with aluminum wire, you'll want a pair of pliers and a wire cutter. If you don't have them at home, you're likely to be able to get them at a second hand store or you can find craft/tool kits that have these tools plus others for usually just a few dollars more or you can purchase the two tools on their own.
Plumber's epoxy is used in my process of art doll making to create a chest and pelvis block similar to your rib cage and pelvic bones, just on a tiny scale. Oddly enough, I've a favorite brand of this stuff that's beneath the surface- I've used a few different brands and I've found that I prefer the consistency of Oatey Plumber's Epoxy. I think it holds it's form a bit better before it's fully gone through it's chemical reaction (It sets in about 5 minutes and I wouldn't handling it much longer than 3, maybe 4 minutes).
I use upholstery foam to mass-out the front and back form of my art dolls. The smallest depth of foam available through Amazon.com is 0.5", which may be right for some art doll builds, but if you were trying to make a smaller figure, you might want to look for a 0.25" thickness foam in your area at a local upholstery shop, craft store, or snip away at the 0.5" foam.
I use two part epoxy resin to attach the upholstery foam I use to mass-out my dolls to the plumber's epoxy that I make the character's torso and pelvis block from. It's important to use this in a well-ventilated area and not handle it with your bare hands as it may be toxic. I prefer to buy the kind that comes in two separate tubes because you want the resin and hardener to be in roughly equal amounts, which can be difficult if you buy the kind that comes out of a dual chambered syringe.
Aluminium tubing is used in creating the art doll's form arms, which also house the wires for their paper tape hands. It comes in a wide range of sizes and you might want to keep different thicknesses around depending on the size puppet you're looking to build- brawnier or larger characters are likely to have thicker forearms-to-wrists than a leaner or smaller art doll build. My average characters tend to use K&S stock #1111 or #1112.
Cutting the aluminium tubing requires a tool to cut it cleanly. You can use a hacksaw with a blade meant to cut metal, but I like to use a tubing cutter as this has the least chance of crushing the tubing as I make the cut.