I always wanted to incorporate needle felting to my sculptures. So I thought why not make a creature doll. I decided to make a Star Wars creature and for me the cutest and memorable ones are the Ewoks.
This doll has sculpted polymer clay faceplate and limbs while his body and hood are needle felted wool. He turned out adorable. I just love how life-like he is sitting on the palm of my hand.
I hope you can try out making your own doll. May the force be with you.
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Step 1: Materials
- Polymer Clay (oven baked modelling clay) - I used a mix of Premo raw sienna and translucent color for the face and limbs. Burnt umber and grey for the spear.
- Sculpting Tools: Needle tool, Ball stylus, Paddle shaped tool, Silicone shaper
- Exacto knife
- Wire cutter
- Wooden bead
- Aluminum foil
- Felting Wool - Red and dark brown
- Felting Needle
- Sponge or foam mat
- Tapestry needle
- Embroidery thread
- Genesis heat set paints or Acrylic paints
- Paint brushes
- Fabritac Glue
Step 2: Sculpting the Head
To make the face plate of the doll you need either a wooden or glass bead as an armature that can be baked with the clay. Cover the bead with aluminum foil so that you can easily remove the bead after baking.
Press a piece of brown polymer clay on the bead and form a round shape for the face without covering the whole bead. (1st image) We will be removing the bead after the face is baked.
To sculpt an Ewok face, mark the horizontal and vertical center lines.(2nd image) Make an indent on the horizontal line and press a ball shaped tool for the eye ball sockets.(3rd and 4th images) Add a flattened oblong shape below and above the eye sockets and blend the seams to create the lower half of the face and the forehead. Place 2 small balls in the sockets for the eyes.(5th-8th images) Add a triangular shape for the nose and with a stylus make an indent for the mouth.(9th image) Place a small oblong piece that would fit in the mouth and with a needle tool make a line for the upper and lower lips and indent the sides of the lips with a ball stylus. (10th and 11th images) Depress the sides of the mouth to delineate the cheeks and chin. (12th image) Use a ball tool to indent the nostrils and lightly make a vertical line on top of the nose. (13th image) For the ears, make 2 triangular shapes, blend on top of the head, and hollow it out with a silicone shaper. I added more clay to the chin area and blended the seams. (14th and 15th images) Sometimes you need to add bits of clay here and there to get it right. Texture the fur into clumps first, then with a smaller tool refine the fur. (16th and 17th images)
Step 3: Sculpting the Limbs & Spear
Make 4 elongated shapes with tapered ends for both upper and lower limbs. (2nd image)
For the hands, cut 2 slits to make 2 fingers and a thumb. (3rd image) Taper each digit by lightly pressing and rolling between your fingers. (4th image) I curved the fingers and thumb for the left hand as he will be holding a spear.
For the toes and fingers, score 3 nails as shown. (5th image)
Texture the fur with a wire or needle tool and poke a hole on each end of the limbs.
The spear is made with a darker brown clay and a wire inserted to hold its shape. With a needle tool, make several line textures to the handle of the spear. The blade of the spear is grey clay flattened to a tear drop shape placed on top of the handle. Then roll out a thin snake of brown clay and wrap it between the blade and the handle. (9th image) Position his spear in his left hand. (10th image)
Score the sides of the face plate with a knife or blade to achieve a straight edge when the face plate is removed.
Bake the face plate, limbs and spear in an oven, based on your clay manufacturer's instructions. I used Premo polymer clay and baked mine for 130 degrees celsius for 40 minutes.
Let it completely cool before removing the bead and painting.
Step 4: Needle Felting the Body & Hood
Needle felting is also a form of sculpting but with wool. Your sculpting tool is a needle specifically made for needle felting. Poking your clumps of wool would ultimately make it solid and compact. Sculpting the wool to your desired shape is made by the areas where you most apply the needle.
For the head, roll up a piece of wool and needle felt it into a ball shape. (1st and 2nd images) Add more wool to the ball as needed until you get the size that would fit the concave part of the face plate. (3rd and 4th image)
The body is made similarly by layering the wool but with an oblong shape. (5th image)
Needle felt the sides of the head to the body to attach them together. (6th and 7th images)
For his hood, needle felt red wool to a flat rectangular piece and attach to the back of the head and body. Make another rectangular piece which would be attached later to the doll. (8th - 10th images)
Step 5: Painting & Assembly
I usually use Genesis heat set paints for painting my polymer clay pieces but you can use acrylic paints. I like to use the heat set paints because it's matte and I can move the paint around until it's heat set in the oven.
To accentuate the fur of the face and limbs, paint it with a burnt umber color then wipe the surface lightly with a cotton ball with a bit of rubbing alcohol to remove the paint on the surface but leaving the paint in the recesses or grooves of the fur. Then dry brush the surface of the cheeks, chin and forehead with a flesh color.
Paint the eyes black and add white highlights. For the nose and lips, mix a bit of pink to the flesh color. Add some dark shadows around the eyes, sides of the nose and around the mouth with black paint to add depth.
Glue the face plate to the head and the limbs to the body.
To secure the limbs further, thread a tapestry needle with an embroidery thread and sew through the holes of the limbs to the body. (4th and 5th image) Needle felt a piece of brown wool to the sides of the lower limbs to hide the attachment. (6th image)
Cut a strip from the rectangular piece and cut 2 slits with scissors for the ears and place it on top of the head. (8th and 9th image) Needle felt this in place. Cut another piece to cover the neck part and the holes of the upper limbs. (10th image) Felt this in place as well.
You have just made a an Ewok one of a kind doll!