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Lady Jelena is costumed in a circa 1883 Ball Gown made of silk and embellished with lots of embroidery and lace.

This article explains the making of the breastplate and her other sculpted parts.

Sculpted Parts

The completed sculpted parts for Lady Jelena prior to painting. This includes the head with a breastplate, her hands and her sculpted legs and 18th. century boots. The pieces shown here have been sculpted in ProSculpt ( a polymer clay by Jack Johnston) and painted with gesso using Robert McKinley's technique described in his book - Dollmaking - One Artists' Approach.
The primary reasons I choose to use Robert Mckinley's book - Dollmaking: One Artist's Approach as a reference was his technique used to produce the shoulder plate. Most polymer clay dolls seen today do not incorporate a shoulder plate. Since Lady Jelena was to have a low-cut ball gown as a costume, I wanted to incorporate the breast plate as shown in the following pictures.
And, his book outlines the use of gesso and acrylic paints over polymer clay.
Since this was my first polymer clay sculpt, I really didn't keep it as clean as I should have.
Using the gesso and acrylic paints covers up the blemishes in the polymer clay.


Making the Breastplate Armature Early in the design phase, I decided the size and proportions I wanted for Lady Jelena. Along with considering the pose and the type of body, I decided on a cloth body with a wire arameture which would allow for posing her graceful arms and hands. I constructed the body from muslin, added the wire armature and fiber fill. This allowed me to begin construction of the breastplate. I covered the body with saran wrap and added a layer of Aluminum Foil on top of that. I cut pieces of muslin to approximate the size of the breastplate I wanted and began layering the muslin on top of the aluminum foil, molded tightly to fit the curve of the body. There are three layers of muslin. Each cut, then saturated with elmers glue, placed on the foil on top of the body and allowed to dry. The three layers allow you to "graduate" the design without a build up of material in a certain area. This technique provides a very molded shape to your design and allows you to take advantage of akward poses, etc. The specific details on how to accomplish this is shown in Robert McKinley's book - Dollmaking - One Artists' Approach


The Sculpted Breastplate -Once the muslin pieces are allowed to dry, I applied approx !/8" thick Prosculpt over the breastplate armature,. As you can tell from the picture, the head and neck was already sculpted and cured. I attached the cured head to the breastplate and carefully sculpted the neckline, then propped it carefully in preparation for the oven and cured the pieces together.

PLEASE NOTE: One thing I really learned here about oven cured clay..it WILL crack it there is undue stress during the curing process, or if it is removed and stressed before cooling completely. Prop your pieces gently with cloth or fibre fill before baking to the manufacturer's instructions. Make sure all heavier parts are supported so they do not "stress" other areas and make sure the piece is completely cooled before you handle it, try to fit it on an armature, etc.


The finished head with the breastplate .
. This is the sculpted head, together with the breastplate. Notice that I've made holes in the lower part of the breastplate for joining the breastplate to the body.


Her Hands -Just a sneak preview of her hands. I think they're very graceful..befitting a Lady Jelena!


Her Boots -Lady Jelena's boots are sculpted in the circa 1800s fashion, to enhance her ball gown. And, no, she's not pigeon-toed!

Related Pages:

Making of her undergarments

The completed doll, with the costume


Michelle Lightner

 Dollmaking BookYou can purchase Robert McKinley"s book - Dollmaking: One Artist's Approach

Original Watercolor Paintings

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