Art doll tutorial step 4

Tutorial: How to Make Your First Art Doll

Art doll tutorial step 9

Intrigued after reading Art Doll Quarterly magazine, crafter Dana McCranie sets out to make her first art doll—and shows you how.

I’ve been thinking about attempting my own art doll since the first time I read Art Doll Quarterly magazine. I love seeing these amazing creations come to life. Recently, I saw a tutorial for a doll in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine and decided to give it a try. It was not as easy as it looked in the magazine, but I learned several things along the way.

I don’t usually work with clay or paints, so this was way out of my comfort zone. At first I wasn’t that happy with the result because it looks nothing like what was in the magazine. Then I remembered that this is art, and it isn’t supposed to look just like the magazine version.

I wouldn’t try this project on a day where you only have an hour or so. It needs to be done in steps and I’m not going to lie, it requires some patience. But it was enjoyable, especially when I started to dress her up. She may not be what I set out to create, but I love her just the same. I hope you enjoy the creation of Bernice.


  • Art Clay that air dries (Paper Clay was recommended, but I couldn’t find it and went with art clay. It worked just fine.)
  • Newsprint and flour for the papier-mâché
  • Sticky tape and glue
  • Aluminum foil
  • Skewer
  • Acrylic paints and brushes
  • Plastic water or soda bottle
  • A sheet of card stock
  • Decorative paper and accessories for adornments


Step 1: First cut your plastic bottle to size. There aren’t going to be exact measurements as you’ll have to use your own bottle as your guide. The size of the bottle will determine the rest of the measurements. Once you cut your bottle, apply sticky tape around it.

Art doll tutorial step 1

Step 2: Form a head with foil around the skewer. Take your card stock and cut it to fit the size of the bottle. Adhere the card stock to the bottle. I then decided to add some clay to the inside of the bottle at the top and bottom to help steady the head and weight the bottom.

Art doll tutorial step 2

Step 3: Take the clay and apply it around the foil and sculpt simple facial features. When you are applying the clay and making the head, remember that the clay can be rather weighty. If the head is too heavy, it will overpower the base. Adding clay to the mouth of the water bottle will create the base for her head and neck. Once you have her face and hair, slide the skewer into the bottle and use extra clay to connect her head to the bottle. You may even want to remove the skewer at this point. I ended up having to remove the skewer and glue her head to the base. Place her somewhere safe to dry. I let Bernice dry overnight.

Art doll tutorial step 3

Art doll tutorial step 4

Step 4: Now it is time to dig into your papier-mâché. This is the perfect time to involve children in the project. Get your little critters to shred the paper and apply it. I made a mixture of half flour and half water and it worked well for me. I think it takes working with it a little to get your consistencies. You don’t want the paper to have too much water or be too dry. When my helper used too much water on a piece of newsprint, I’d apply a dry piece over it. If he didn’t use enough, I would heavily wet the next piece I applied.

Once you get the doll covered from her neck to the bottom of her dress, you will want to fashion some arms. I used twisted newsprint and attached it with my flour mixture and later reinforced the connection with a little clay.

Art doll tutorial step 5

Art doll tutorial step 6

Art doll tutorial step 7

Step 5: After allowing your papier-mâché to fully dry, it is time to get painting. I used a tan color acrylic and used other paints to get the color I desired. Paint her face, neck and arms. Then choose your hair color and paint her hair as well. Let the paint dry.

Art doll tutorial step 8

Step 6: Once the paint dries the fun really begins as you start to dress and adorn your doll. I used a piece of decorative paper I had from the company Mind’s Eye. I used that as her skirt and attached it with the sticky tape. Then I took some old mulberry paper I had in my stash to create her shirt and scarf. I applied the mulberry with clear glue. I also used a strip of mulberry to soften the line between her paper skirt and shirt. I added ribbon around her waist and a strand of pearls to her neck. I also found a great flower that I attached a mulberry stem to and glued to her hands.

Finishing the project is the most fun and I encourage you to use what you have. All the accessories I had were from Stampin’ Up! and I loved being able to use them in this project. After I stood back and looked at this little doll, all that was left was to name her. For some reason I thought of the show “Barney Miller” and the wife of Detective Fish. Her name was Bernice. My mom and I used to watch “Barney Miller” all the time together. So in honor of those nights of watching Barney with my mom and playing gin rummy, I give you the quirky and lovely Bernice.

Art doll tutorial step 10

  • Summer Huggins

    I love her smile. Very cute!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Summer. I think my husband brought more to this project than I did. We decided he should start working with clay more often. ;)

  • LIsa B

    Love the pearls!

  • Anonymous

    What a cute idea! This would be a good project for kids in Bible School.