I use the following items to make my dolls. I have two coffee cans taped together that I use to make the torso. I use empty room air freshener spray bottles to make the legs. I have used index cards and toilet paper rolls for the arms. I prefer the toilet paper rolls since the arms tend to be more even around than they are with the rolled index cards. For the legs and torso I wrap ads that come in the mail around the coffee cans and the air freshener bottles.
Torso – using the coffee cans, wrap newspaper ad around the coffee cans. Dip paper into the starch and start wrapping around the cans. I recommend removing the coffee cans right away so the paper does not harden onto it. To remove it carefully push the coffee cans out to preserve the shape of the body. Then set the torso piece to the side to dry. I recommend leave it to dry for at least 30 minutes before touching it again. After leaving this to dry for 30 minutes add a second layer and set aside to dry.
Neck – Using 2 index cards, dip one edge of the index card into the starch and then attach the wet end into the top of the torso piece. Next using a strip of paper place onto the torso and index card to attach the pieces together from the outside. Set this aside to dry.
Legs – using an empty air freshener can, wrap ads around the can and paper pache around the can. Once covered carefully remove the can by gently pushing out the can. Then set the leg pieces to the side to dry for at least 30 minutes before doing anything with them again.
Arms – Attach two toilet paper rolls together. Slightly angle the top roll. Paper mache around the rolls and set aside to dry.
Head – Use a round balloon and paper mache around the balloon and set aside to dry. This one takes longer to dry than the other pieces. It likes to roll around due to the weight of the paper you’re adding. So I recommend putting paper mache on top of balloon, turn around and place it on bottom of balloon. (Unless you plan on leaving the balloon in it, do not cover the bottom of the balloon.) Once covered, let this dry for about 2 hours. Add your second layer, and let it dry for another 2 hours or so. (I like to do three layers).
Once fully dry and hardened, you can cut the bottom of the balloon to pop it. Hold on to the end of the balloon as it deflates so you can pull it out, otherwise it will fall into it.
Adding Feet – . If I have some cardboard available I will make feet with that. If I do not have cardboard I make feet using index cards. Once I have a shape formed (a rectangle shape) I attach it to the legs with paper mache, and let it dry. After it’s dry I do a 2nd layer and let that dry.
Adding Hands – I use pieces of streamer to make the hands. First I wad some up and dip into the starch and attach it to the arm piece. Using small pieces of the streamer, I roll them up and dip one end in the starch the attach it to the balled up piece for the fingers. Let that dry, then using small pieces of paper paper mache around to secure the hands and fingers.
Attaching the Head – I attach the head to the neck piece with paper mache. Using strips wrap around the bottom of balloon and neck piece. I wrap around a few pieces then leave it to dry. After letting it dry some I add more strips to reinforce and strengthen.
Adding facial features – After the head is dry and secure on the body. You can add facial features. I add ears, nose, lips and chin by using wadded up streamer. I dip the wadded streamer into starch and attach it to the head and then paper mache around those to form the shapes of those facial features. For eyes, I have used doll eyes and I have also used eye clip art to put eyes on my dolls.
Finishing up – Decide what character you’d like to make and then dress and/or paint it accordingly. I have made characters based on my favorite books and favorite types of characters in movies and TV. For dressing my dolls I have used scraps of materials, paint and decorated duct tape. For the skin tone I have been using Americana Natural Buff paint. (Although I am showing the product from Amazon, I purchase this paint at Michael’s. It’s only $1.29 for a 2oz bottle at Michael’s. For other painting I use CraftSmart Acrylic paint. That is my preferred brand. I also purchase this paint at Michael’s.
There are different options that you can use for paper mache. I prefer using Sta-Flo Liquid Starch.
Other options for materials for paper mache include a mixture of water and glue or a mixture of flour and water.
Here is my finished product. It was a Joe Kenda doll.
The only downside of these dolls are they are not very durable. They break easily if knocked around. But they are a lot of fun to make.