Home | Previous

Info doll making

This site is about African doll making. I like to tell you about my inspiration and what kind of materials I use. But most of all I like to show you the results. On the next pages you can see and read more about it.

A workshop hand made paper brought me in touch with paper and the possibilities. One of the other participants had already a lot of experience making dolls with paper and was willing to give a workshop to show us how. Following the workshop I made a few paper dolls myself but the use of paper soon became less satisfactory, I decide to use fabric instead of paper as you have a lot of possibilities with all the different textures, patterns and colors.

The possibilities

You can make dolls for in- and outdoors. The difference is the kind of coating you’re using. For an indoor paper doll you can use wallpaper glue or cooked starch. When you choose to make a fabric doll you need polytex or paverpol for the coating. For an outdoor doll you use polytex with an activator to make the doll weather resisting so you can leave it outside in summer- and wintertime.

Materials doll making

Paper waste

The paper you require could be anything like computer paper, tax envelopes, paper napkins and egg boxes etc. Don't use glossy paper because it is difficult to dissolve in water. Mix the paper with cotton pulp to get a firmer texture of the paper. Cotton pulp should be obtained from specialist suppliers. If you use hand made paper for writing mix the pulp with wallpaper glue else you can't write on it. If necessary you can glue the paper later on.

Don't use crepe paper the colour is coming off and it makes the pulp very messy. Experiment with different kind of paper and choose for your self, which paper and colours you like best.

Paper pulp

Tear the paper waste into little pieces and put it into water. Let it soak in hot water for one night. If you're not that patient you can cook the paper waste for half an hour. Put some soda in the water it makes the paper smooth. Blend the pulp in little quantities in a blender just for a little while such that you still can see the paper texture.


Use a lot of water in the blender and less pulp.

Hand made paper

Pour the pulp in a container and stir it with a spoon so it will be mixed very well. Scoop the pulp out of the water with a sieve and let the water out. Turn over the sieve and put the pulp on a thick cloth, cover it with another cloth. It is a handiness to evenly spread the pulp on the sieve and flick the sieve placing the paper on the cloth. Press the layers of paper and cloths between two pieces of wood and apply weight by standing on it.

Press the paper very hard between the cloths to get the water out as much as possible. It is easer to press several layers of cloth and paper at the same time. When most of the water is out hang the paper and let it dry. When you want to make paper with relief only make one at the time and don't press it together with other paper.

You can use all kind of materials for decoration such as cotton, little pieces of fabric, seeds, tissue paper, hair and paperclips etc. You can mix the decoration with the pulp in the container or put it in the pulp later on. If there is any pulp left store it in the freezer for a next time. Don't dispose the pulp into the sink as it will plug. You can make postcards, Christmas greetings, vases, party invitations or other objects.

I show you a shell. The paper pulp is pressed on the shell and left to dry. If you varnish the object you can use it as a snack bowl. The possibilities are endless.

Return to dolls