Welcome To My Sculpting Tutorial

How I Got Started  

(feel free to skip this part.   I'll never know)


I began sculpting about a year and a half after I discovered reborning.  I completed my first one in August of 2004, or thereabouts.   My first inspiration was "Annie" by Petra Lechner.  I saw the OOAK on DollFan and couldn't stop thinking of her.  I somehow *knew* that I could sculpt, too.  My first "teacher" was Ans Werker.  I bought her tutorial book and found that Ans was more than willing to email me and critique my work.  She helped me so much and I'll always be grateful to her for that early help.

I used to lurk a lot on the Sculpting Forum at DollFan.  I learned a lot there, from many different artists.  Once I began sculpting for Pat Secrist, I got some of the best training for professional dollmaking available anywhere in the world, IMO.  I took it a step further in 2007 by attending a 3 day sculpting seminar with Philippe Faraut (thank you to Bryn Middleton and Elaine, for encouraging me to attend one of Philippe's seminars - you were right!).  Philippe's teaching really kicked things up a notch or two for me and I highly recommend his seminars to anyone, beginner or advanced.

So...in the interest of "paying it forward" I've shared these tutorials with you in the hope that it may help you a little on your journey to discovering sculpting babies from clay.  Feel free to leave me feedback as to how this page has helped you or how I can improve it to help you more.

Due to the high number of detailed photos, this tutorial is very graphic intensive and may take about forever to load on dialup.  Go get a cup of coffee and a snack then come back for Page One :-)

I added a lot of hyperlinks, too, since I now sell lots of great sculpting & dollmaking stuff in my online store, HunnyBuns Reborn Supplies.

All photos and layout are the property and design of HunnyBuns Nursery, SSStudio, and Stephanie Sullivan. 

You do not have permission to swipe these photos for personal or commercial use without my written permission.

Happy Sculpting :-)

(last updated July 2012)

What you need to get started: 

* A few lbs. of polymer clay (Super Sculpey, Living Doll, Prosculpt,  FIMO, or other easy to use polymer clay.  I do not recommend Cernit for beginners!  But it's supposed to be the strongest clay once baked.  It's good mixed with some of the other clays as it eliminates most of the "moons" which are small C shaped white marks in baked clay.  Super Sculpey is the worst offender)

*Various clay sculpting tools (purchase at any arts and crafts store or at HunnyBuns Reborn Supply) and even household items as crochet hooks, knitting needles, exacto knives, butter knives, soft paintbrushes, crewel or needlepoint needles, drinking straws, etc.  (You will never view items again in the same way once you begin sculpting.  Everything is examined for sculpting potential!)

*A smooth, clean hard surface to work the clay on

*A sculpting stand is a must for larger sculpts.  Small ones are nice too!  I have several in various sizes

*a box of disposable baby wipes

*Foam Sculpting Armatures or Secrist vinyl head armatures (both of which I sell at HBRS) or aluminum foil & masking tape to make your own

*A white or light colored shirt or smock.  Lint will end up on your clay, count on it.  White and pink lint is invisible, all other colors will show.

*photographs of babies for reference

Things that are nice to have on hand:

*Acrylic clay roller or pasta machine (use only for clay)

*Food processor (dedicated to clay use only) Not shown here but great for mixing two clays or re-moisturizing dried out clay ( mixing in Sculpey diluent, or liquid Sculpey and grind the heck out of it)

*A cake decorating stand (like a lazy susan) Wilton makes one, and I love mine.  Available wherever cake decorating supplies are sold.


Lesson 1 - Sculpting "Michael"

Lesson 2 - Finishing Touches "Michael"

Lesson 3 - Sculpting "Hope"

Lesson 4 - Full Sized Arms and Legs

Lesson 5 - Sculpting a Mini Baby

Lesson 6 - Larger Mini "Emily"

Lesson 7 - Making a Sock Body

Lesson 8 - Applying Hair


Baby Proportions & Mapping

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I prefer Prosculpt or Living Doll polymer clay. I have also used Super Sculpey mixed with Prosculpt or with Cernit. This is Prosculpt fresh from the pkg. It should be easy to break off a piece, soft and easily workable. If clay dries out too much it's crumbly and dry.  You can knead diluent or Liquid Sculpey back into it to make it usable but it's a PITB :-/ That's when you need a small food processor.

I really love the pasta machine! What a difference it makes kneading out and flattening your clay. GET ONE! Here I'm just rolling out the first piece to get it smooth and flat to apply to my foam head armature.

I use the thickest setting for this, #7 on my machine

I like using the foam head and limb forms.  Ignore the roll of tape- it's just being used as a stand.  High tech polymer clay sculptors always use the most impressive of tools :-)

The foam forms shrink when you bake them down to about 25% original size. Remember to build enough clay on your sculpts so that the remaining "shell" is strong enough. 1/4 inch minimum!

Just a side view.  You can see how it's being applied.

Just keep rolling out sheets and applying to the form til it's all covered with approx 1/4 to 3/8 inch thickness of clay.

All covered...let the smoothing begin!

I use several different tools to help smooth the clay.  This is a wooden Kemper tool that I use a lot

No...I'm not whacking the head with a stick.  This is an acrylic clay roller which does a real nice job of smoothing.


Ok, reasonably smooth.  Don't knock yourself out at this stage.  Smooth, with no air bubbles, and all segments connected and firmly pressed down to the head is what you want.

Time to start building the face!  There's no real rhyme or reason in the way I start.  You could just as easily start with the nose.  You want to remember that an infant's face is mostly contained within the lower two-thirds of the face.  The entire upper one third is forehead.

Adding lips and a nose.  Yes it seems like I'm adding a lot of clay but remember a baby has a fat face.  You'll see later on, I have to add even more as I go along.

Ok now this is an open-eyed baby so it's time to set and adjust the eyes.  I use glass eyes.  There are some silicone and plastic eyes that are said to withstand the heat of baking polymer clay.  The only ones I can vouch for are Secrist and Real Eyes brand eyes.  They can be baked for up to 20 minutes at 275*F.

~~If you are bored already and want to have some fun, click on this photo and select it so that it turns into a negative.  The eyes do something really strange!!  LOL...moving on now....

Notice the two little lumps set into the outside corners.  This does two things.  It prevents air pockets from staying behind the eyes.  And I've used them to "shim" the eyes into perfect alignment.  Nothing worse than a cockeyed baby.  Slightly cross-eyed might be ok since that's normal but remember that your eyes might just shift a tiny bit during baking so get them aligned as perfectly as you can now.

Adding eyelids and brows

Now, I've sculpted one side down for you so that you can see the progress but still compare to the building part.  You see once you get it smoothed down you don't have that much clay there.  Why did I do this?  Because I saw someone else do it and I thought it was cool.

Working the other side now.  You'll be surprised how difficult it can be to get both sides of the face to match!  At least I was.

Making sure the jawline is filled out enough.

Looks ticked off to me.  I guess I might be too with someone poking and smashing my face all around.  Don't worry baby, it gets better.

Ok, the basic face is done for now.  On to the Eyes, Nose & Lips!


This is the end of Page One of the Sculpting Tutorial

Page Two   continues with finishing this baby I named "Michael"

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