I have been making a couple of portrait fashion dolls (think "Barbie style" dolls) or action figures as custom gifts for female friends of mine. I have been using different clays (self hardening and polymer types) and different techniques for the joints (copper wire, elastic bands, RC-model ball joints) . I made the gift discribed in this Ible for a male friend, modelling it after his gorgeous wife. I presented it as a kit allowing him to build a model of his ideal woman.
From other polymer clay doll making projects of mine I learned that the colouring of washable ink felt markers is easily removed with water and soap from (Fimo brand) polymer clay . This allows for application and complete removal of many different colouring schemes again and again (different clothes, make-up, body painting).
Step 1: Materials
Step 2: Determining Dimensions With Sketch and Armature
I made the "armature" parts in Fimo. Although the manufacturer warns against to long baking times, I never had any trouble with baking Fimo several times, with intermediate cooling down. I made the mistake of making the "armature" parts in the base colour, not the final skin colour. At one point sanding the part made the base colour re-appear. Fortunately, the colour difference is small, but it is better to use the final skin colour for the armature. The balls are attached to the knee of the upper leg parts, the upper arm elbows and shoulders and the neck. Note the shoulder ball is attached towards the side. The upper arm part should be exactly the desired length. The other parts have one end that can be easily adjusted later on.
Use a second magnet to align the magnets. I put the north-south axis in longitudinal position to achieve the highest strength in the position standing upright. You might choose otherwise for the arms.
Bake the parts with the magnets in place and aligned as shown in the picture. The cylindrical counterparts I prefer to put in later (see step 5 and 6). After cooling down, check if the magnets stick to the parts. If not, re-attach them with a little superglue.
Step 3: Sculpting the Limbs
Step 4: Sculpting the Rump and the Head
For the shoulders I made round cavities with a countersink drill bit after baking (see step 6). Actually this allowed for baking the rump and the upper limbs at the same time, as I did not need to push fit the rump on earlier finished counterparts.
For the head I first only sculpted the skin coloured part, with eye sockets made with a tooth pick. You can wrap the baked and sanded rump with foil to allow fitting the head, but again I chose for drilling a cavity after baking the head.
When the skin coloured part of the head was I continued with eyes and hair. For this figure, to be coloured with felt markers, I only make the white of the eye, by pushing a white ball of Fimo into the socket, flattening it only slightly. Not adding an iris, eyebrows or lip colour will allow for different colours and to some degree even facial expressions to be applied with felt markers.
Step 5: The Hip Joints
Getting the rump and upper leg outside surfaces fit will take some more sanding, but that will be done after the joint magnets are in place. Find the middle of the flat face of each upper leg parts and drill a hole with the diameter of the magnet and just deep enough for the magnet to sink in it half way. Glue it in place using other magnets to align the polarity. I used superglue. In the rump drill a hole at least deep enough to take a magnet and half of another one. Don't worry if it is somewhat to deep, the magnets will keep together. Actually I put a small piece of paper between the magnets, when carefully gluing the each rump-side magnets in place with superglue. When this piece of paper is removed afterwards, this makes the hip faces will touch sooner than the magnets touch each other, otherwise this could lead to a to large gap between the body parts. Of course it is best to use only thin paper, to keep a short distance and thus high attraction forces between the magnets.