Gen. Info. .... YouTube, etc.
Aluminum foil (some with wire)
Wire + other materials
Mesh, screen (wire)
Paper-based products
...paper pulp, papier mache, paper clays
...cardboard, cardstock
Polymer Clays
Misc. materials

Stands - Bases
Websites & Books

(removable, dissolvable, meltable armatures are on a separate page-- Armatures-temporary)


(solid & permanent materials inside clay items for structure, strength or shape)

General Info

Every doll (or figure) doesn't need to have a complete armature. fact, European doll artists tend to make dolls without armatures
... US artists seem to prefer armatures.... I think both ways are nice depending on the doll. Kathndolls

I don't know if the term "armature" refers only to strengthening structures which are left in an object after curing.
....Most of this page concerns those which are left in, but here is some info about those which are used only to bake on, then removed afterward (perhaps called a "form" instead of an armature?
(see much more on this in Vessels > Removable Armatures, and in Vessels-Rock ) lightbulbs or glass xmas ornaments (often round) can be used as armatures which are later broken out or left in (see these categories for examples: Christmas, Covering > Glass, Sculpture > Websites).
....for info on using film canisters or small cutters (petit four) to make small lidded containers (pendants or not), in Vessels > Removable Armatures (removing before baking completely)
I use toilet paper rolls (if they are somewhat small) or you might try smaller cardboard rolls from gift wrapping. I manipulate it into an oval shape and cover with a layer of heavy aluminum foil, tucking the ends into the inside and securing with masking tape. If you have craft sticks (popscicle type), cut a piece and wedge it into the top and bottom to retain your oval shape. Works like a charm. You can then add you top and bottom with a line of TLS and raw clay. Michele
use teflon baking paper rather than tin foil to cover a simple form. You can reuse it and it doesn't stick like paper does and doesn't get ridges like foil does. The (paper-covered) cardboard tubes will then slide right out and you can remove the teflon. You can get large sheets in cooking supply stores. Lori Greenberg
These round and other shapes are made on solid forms (a plaster shape that I made, and a real gourd). The technique is related to Dustin's rock purse forms. The whole object is covered and baked. Then the clay skin is sliced and taken off the form in halves. The halves are glued back together with TLS and this shape is then covered with a decorative layer of clay. I believe that I can make all sorts of complex shapes that integrate together to form very large sculptures that would be quite structural and 100% polymer! James &
(see more on cutting open baked shells in
Vessels-Rock > Large Rocks, and Vessels > Hollow Forms)
...I use some balsa wood (to get an oval shape)...easy to saw and manipulate. I cut 2 pieces from a rectangular rod, and 2 from a rod that was curved on one side and flat on the other (a "half round"). The result was an oval vessel shape. Tricia
Marie's lesson on putting a raw clay face, tummy and feet on an acrylic-painted wood dowel as a body (with Weldbond)
(see more on wood as an armature, or covering wood, in Covering > Wood)

stiffened lace (or cheesecloth or other fabric?)
.....these can be used with a stiffener like Aleene's or a thick sugar-water solution to create shapes (freeform or created over forms) after drying... could we use something like this technique to create lightweight, hollow armatures?
cut lace a bit larger than outside of your form... cover the form with plastic wrap, then dip the lace in fabric stiffener, and place over form... allow to dry. (from Karen AZ, re plastic egg halves)
... for creating hollow beads or hollow vessels (small or lg), see Beads > Hollow, and also Vessels > Hollow and Closed Box Construction

....(for using softenable or meltable or dissolvable removable armature materials such as cornstarch packing peanuts, cornstarch clays, even vegetables, etc., see Armatures-Temporary)

YouTube ....(or other free video sharing sites)

Aluminum Foil ...and metal sheets (some also with wire)

Nora Jean's lessons on various alum.foil armatures
....very simple alum. foil armature, posable (and mixing skin tones for covering it)
....simple aluminum foil armature, covered with muscles and skin, or no muscles, (& head): (leaf-shaped cutter used on sheet of skin clay for applying bits of skin)
...strips of aluminum foil are gathered-folded lengthwise, then twisted to make armature pieces for body

Charlotte's lesson on aluminum foil center for body, then adding head, etc., with more clay,2058,9561,00.html

Nora jean's lesson on covering alum foil for heads
Christel's lesson on aluminum foil center for head, adding rough shapes, then covering with a sheet of skin

LynnDel's lesson on covering a crumpled aluminum foil egg form with strips of clay from noodle cutters, then slices, in
Kids & Beginners > Working with & Teaching Kids). . . one tiny pin hole needed!

Dawn S's lesson on making male and female clothed bodies for cake toppers
.... she bends a stiff wire in half, then crumples a long alum foil "cone" over most of the wire (leaving top loop of wire extending at neck, and the two wire ends extending from bottom to place into a base later)
... the figure with trousers has very long wires extending for separate legs

Marcy's sort of lesson on making a 6" male and female cake topper, each on small base
... groom has two (straight, dressed) legs & shoes (connected) formed over two lengths of wire (top of wire extending from top of legs)... baked first... then torso added so legs wouldn't lean in baking... chest and arms added
...female has a large cone of alum. foil, topped with polymer chest/boobs, neck and head
..I have put the bride and grooms on wooden bases and then plastic wrap between the base and the cake.....there was one cake that had 7 different "sculpts" that had saran under each one.
...And one bride and groom were on a metal candle base (white...with small frilly edging).
...You can also create the figurines on wooden dowels to be placed down in the cake and then removed after the festivities. Jan
...Check out for Lisa Calhoon's more personalized cake toppers. Kim2

(..for many more lessons on sculpting with armatures, see below... and also in Sculpting > Websites. . .)

"Crafting Foil Cores" by Katherine Dewey...a 6 full-page illustrated booklet -- $5.50
...."Inside most structures is source of inner strength, a framework or skeleton. Polymer clay sculptures of 1/12th scale and smaller often need a bone or two, stiff metal bones that keep spines straight and limbs from buckling, but not much more than that.... Larger scale pieces require more support. ......tightly packed aluminum foil offers a solution. Foil cores replace clay, reduce the weight and shorten baking time." Katherine
...There's much more to this subject than meets the eye. Andrea

Aluminum is an excellent material to use ... it is soft, maleable, and oxidizes slowly enough that your (object) will survive decades. Katherine

You can just use cheapest aluminum foil you can find as an armature under clay
....pleat, fold, compress --and then even hammer-- the foil into the shape you need
....if you don't want to sculpt directly onto the foil, you can cover the foil armature with a layer of clay as a base... bake it... then go back and cover that with your final clay
...this is the technique that Katherine Dewey uses for her fantastic sculptures
......she has two excellent books out on sculpture plus some pamphlets (see below). Patty B.

solid-clay shapes or sculptures over 1"- 1 1/4" in thickness may not cure all the way through in the oven ( and may also crack during baking)
so you should definitely use a foil core (....e.g., if your doll's head will be 1/8th scale or larger)
.....with a baking time of 20-30 minutes for every 1/4" thickness, using a foil core makes practical and modeling sense
.... and also one of the best modeling clays out there (Premo's flesh) can't handle the necessary longer baking times without excessive darkening or scorching . Katherine Dewey.

I want to suggest you try a tip that the Creagers' share, and I now use when sculpting heads in pc (to avoid cracks).
....for the armature, use aluminum foil and hot glue underneath the clay !
.....cut several pieces of foil into small squares
.....make a small foil ball .....add a bit of hot glue on its outside
.....then wrap that ball in one of the foil squares tightly around it while the glue is still hot...your fingers will get warm but will be ok.
.....Repeat this procedure until your armature is the size that you want it.
........just be sure to wrap tightly on top of the hot glue, eliminating any air pockets.
When you bake your sculpted heads, the hot glue between the foil will soften and 'move' with the baking of the pc, thus eliminating any cracks. I haven't had any cracks since using this technique. Dianne

I do quite a bit of full body sculpting. I use tin foil on the inside--- sometimes wire... but recently I've tried Jodi's technique of hot glue inside tin foil. That makes it pretty stiff and it also gives the clay the opportunity to shrink or expand in the heating/cooling process. Great idea Jodi!!!!!

I'm doing it the simple way, using crumpled aluminum foil over wire, then securing it with layers of hot glue between layers of foil.
..... I compact the foil on a black rubber work mat, pressing with the back of a spoon to avoid burnt fingers.
......I'm using dual -temp glue sticks with the glue gun set on low.
......This method also makes it easier to "sculpt" the foil and glue armature... and also the top layer of foil stays put when you apply clay also seems stronger than foil alone....this works so well . . .

want to see examples of aluminum foil used as armatures under polymer clay?.... aluminum foil and disposable chopsticks are my best friends when it comes to building up a structure. Nora-Jean (Dworkin the Gnome, The Leopard Man gone... search now at

When I work on my figures, I make the armature of foil, cover it with clay, and bake.
....but I leave wires for the arms and the head hanging out
... I then make my head separately, poke a hole where it fits on the wire all the way up through the neck to the top of the head (I do this before trying to place it on the figure, I get less distortion on the head that way).
...Then I place the head on the armature wire, leaving some wire sticking up through the top of the head ( I use this wire to move the head, by moving the wire and not touching my work, while postioning it.)
...... If I know where I want the head to be and am satisfied I won't change it, I bake it here so as not to smuush it...... If I am not sure, I will leave it unbaked and use the wire as a handle to position the head, but it is easy to mess it up if it is unbaked.

Josh's aluminum foil armature, covered with white Sculpey (bulk, or SIII?) and baked... lg iguana
my warning after having things crumble that were only 2 years old is don't use bulk white Sculpey (in the box) as a (solid?) armature for the other clays just retains too many plastisizors and it will cause your figures to rot from the inside out (even when I had overbaked it trying to get it to the hardest i could)…many of my small figures and a few intricate peices have just crumbled to Sculpey rot. faun (???)

example of aluminum foil armature being used under just part of a bas relief (to save clay and make lighter weight), then covered with a sheet of clay (also lesson)

Maureen Carlson's lesson on making a very basic face shape with aluminum foil (hemisphere with added bits for nose, etc.)
... gently covering with scrap clay layer... pressing Wireform over the scrap layer... adding the skin-color layer ...adding clay pieces for nose, lips, etc.
(she makes a face surrounded by leaves for hanging on a wall),1789,HGTV_3237_4009535,00.html

(foil armature in a mold to save clay?)
...what if a double-slab of clay were put into a mold, then filled the depression with crumpled foil wrapped in scrap clay? Kim K.

I solved the problem of my wings breaking off by reinforcing the back
....I used a piece of thin brass sheet (any metal would've been fine) and cut it to just less than the size of the back of the butterfly. Then I flooded the back with 5 minute epoxy and clamped it to the metal. I was lucky in that all I had to do to the front was reapply the varnish over the clay/pearlex surface. Alan V.
...I also have some pins that may have the same problem.... Sue

(...for cutting, preparing and covering or painting aluminum flashing (aka tin flashing) , see Covering > Metal)

WIRE + OTHER materials

plain wire used for an armature is too slick and thin to allow the clay to grab onto it very well.
...can twist two or more wires for more tooth
...or wrap florist tape or aluminum foil around it (or paper tape-- or masking tape?)....
...I use "floral wire" for armatures. It is already-wrapped, linen-covered wire that florists spiral around long-stemmed roses. You can find it at (crafts stores) in their artifical flowers section. It's about $.99 for fifteen 18" pieces. They have different gauges.

The armatures in my figure are wire wrapped with fusible fleece.
...(after baking and before dessing) The head and hands were covered with Apoxie Sculpt air dry clay (before adding final polymer clay?) ...(while Apoxie isn't as light as foil, there's no chance of getting a trapped air bubble that will later crack clay, and Apoxie is ROCK HARD when it cures). DivaLea

Patricia Rose's lessons on making a wire armamture, then wrapping ropes of clay around the wires

Monica's lesson on making fairly realistic figure with simple head, hands, feet, body (cork & wire & string armature)

Susanna Oroyan's lesson on making a doll body armature from wire (20-gauge craft wire for dolls under 12"; 16 gauge wire (available in hardware stores) those over 12"...(she wraps with masking tape/2-ply baby yarn/fabric/ribbon)... must have Acrobat Reader to click on the diagrams,1789,HGTV_3242_1370477,00.html

you can also buy several wire armatures for figures... pre-taped ...or pre-taped, clay-covered and baked
... figure armatures range in size/height from tiny (1/5 -2") to large (22-24")
... also "mermaid" style ( on Enter... then click on Wire Armatures or Pre-Baked Armatures)

FaeryForest's lesson on making a 13" armature with wire, tape, aluminum foil
Teri Cardinali's wire-wrapped metal armature for 4" figure (on Kathndolls' page) (website gone)
Tommie's saga/lesson on making a dragon with brass rods, wire, floral tape, alum. foil, etc., and the new Kato Polyclay (gone)

lesson on armature beginning with aluminum foil and wire held together at places with duct tape
... newspaper and masking tape was used for filling out the body , and papier-mache to form "skin" for any "flesh" areas that would be seen bare
...clay head, hands, feet later taped, and/or hot-glued, and then papier-mached onto body
lesson: feet, hand, whole body, from plaster gauze or over other armatures

(see more on using plaster gauze in Heads-Masks > Masks > Making a Mask with Plaster Gauze

Chucks photos & lesson on his armature support set up and sculpture staging (then click on Sculpture)

Peter Konig's excellent and thorough lesson on making a creature from a drawing
... very detailed photos of creating an armature from wire (joints are wrapped with Devcon solid epoxy for strength bec. he makes large sculptures) ...techniques for creating very wrinkled skin
...good tip: in one photo, he shows using a cardboard "stencil" of his (same-size) drawing to create the exact size and shape for the body of his clay sculpt (while creating it on the armature, by continually holding it over the clay he's put on so far until it's large enough (5 pages)

fireEyes' lessons on dragon shapes (bodies, heads, eyes, feet&claws, Eastern/Western style); drawing, but applies to sculpting too

twisted wire + cloth tape + polyfill padding sheets (+ some epoxy clay) to make a flexible puppet

. . . figure sculptures (may) start with a metal wire framework attached to a wooden base. This frame is called an armature. Aluminum 18 inch diameter is commonly used, but copper electrical wire ( 10 or 12 gauge) is good. Steel coat hanger wire is good and commonly found, but is hard to change shape (especially during the sculpting process, if you need to adjust your figure's pose.) . . .You can attach the bent foot portion of your wire skelton to a wood base by drilling multiple small holes through the wood on either side of the foot wires and using smaller "U" shaped wire looped over the foot wire with the two ends extending down past the wood bottom enough to twist them together for tightness. 3 or 4 of these per foot should do the job. The Dane

I've been told that you can use the aluminium ground wire sold by Radio Shack as armature wire for small figures. Donna
Yep, dead-soft aluminum grounding wire is the same stuff as the armature wire sold in art supply stores. Costs even less at ham radio fests, but may not be available in as wide a range of thicknesses. I got a big roll of it for a buck at a ham-fest. Halla

(I don't know anything about toxic gases with galvanized wire, but this is not my favorite wire for doll armatures. The problem with this wire is I believe that it has a steel has a "memory" and once you bend it, it wants to stay in that position. I really prefer a wire that is more flexible.) . . .
. . . I like aluminum or copper wires. My favorite is tin-coated copper- it's stiffer than plain copper- so a gauge of "12" can support a doll of about 24".
wire would need to be pretty thick for a doll of that size. For smaller dolls I like Aluminum.
--I also use floral stem wires for small dolls- usually 16 gauge.
--Really, except for the toxic question... which I know nothing about.... any wire can be used. Kathndolls

My tree branches are made of twisted stainless steel or brass wire coated with JB Weld (an automotive epoxy made to withstand high temperatures) for texture, and inserted into aluminum tubing where the branches are thick, also coated with JB Weld. Katherine Dewey

~The telephone wire most of us use is 25-pair centrex. Inside the gray sleeve you have 50 little, solid copper wires coated with PVC. The clay bonds to that very nicely and the coating behaves in the oven just like the clay does. Other, thicker, phone wires often have a different coating that doesn't stick to the clay or they may not be solid wire so they won't hold position well. Halla (see more on telephone wire in Wire)
... telephone wire is not strong enough for good (large) armatures, IMO. I don't make *really* small scale items, so telephone wire is very likely strong enough and small enough for those--just not for 10-12 inch dolls! . I just buy wire at the hardware store---cheap, ugly, metal that's strong and doesn't show.Sarajane
.... I find for very small critters, telephone wire works well when twisted. It's especially nifty for fingers, even if you're using larger wire for the body. . . . The last doll I made, (the for hand) I twisted the wire armature so that the wrist was a loop. Then I pulled 3 short wires through, folded and twisted them for the palm, for a total of 6 ends. I separated those into 4 finger wires and twisted the remaining two together for the thumb. Worked out very well if I do say so myself. I was using telephone wire, (
which as most of you know, is coated with pvc and therefore bonds with the clay), and I was able to trim the finger lengths easily before applying the clay. Halla
......for more on making armatures for hands , see
Sculpting/Body & Tools > Hands

Yes, that is a great site with one exception -- because Dan Simmons creates work that will be molded and wants it to look unform in color (he uses Super Sculpey, a clay that can scorch a bit) he underbakes. As a result, his sculptures don't have the durability that Lori Peters and her husband are seeking. ..Use a strong clay, either Premo (my favorite), Fimo (not the new Fimo Soft), or Cernit, and bake at the recommended baking temperature for twenty minutes for each quarter inch of thickness. Compact foil armatures (egg shaped) inside heads can reduce weight, save clay, and baking time. For armature in arms and legs, foil over wire for large figures or wire alone for small figures. Brass rods are the best as they oxidize very slowly, are very strong, yet easy to bend. If you want a strong, but hollow shoulder and bust, drilled to fit onto a cloth body, reinforce it by using wire mesh, or mesh cloth (see below in Mesh) in between two layers of clay. Adapting Kathleen Dustin's interior mold technique for the torso allows you make a jointed, but completely polymer doll. (hand)

Armature is the key to a strong sculpture. Modeling components, such as limbs or torsos over an armature provides a good foundation for your work. Use a good armature material. Brass rods made by K & S Tubing are stiff, yet easy to cut and bend, and available in many sizes. You can find them at any good scale model shop. They also sell steel piano wire, hard to cut but oh so strong. I use a wire cutter like a pipe cutter for steel. Grip the cutters firmly and spin it around the wire four or five times, then snap the wire in half for a clean cut.

. When twisting one wire, I use square wire and a small electric hand drill. Works perfectly, both of them. . . This is also a good method for making aramature wire that will hold the clay.

I like to use wire for the trunks or legs, the arms like a T at the top , and then the head, and shoulders go on top of that. Body parts are padded with aluminum foil in the broader bits . . . then for bigger pieces I use paperclay in a layer on top (basically it is "Lint In A Box" that you mix with water, and it dries to paper mache. You can sand it, make it very smooth, and clay is a breeze to put on top of that. It bakes well. Sarajane

...I've done fairly large pieces starting with papier (paper) mache (newspaper strips coated with flour mixed with water and a bit of salt). I prep the dry paper mache form with two coats of white acrylic paint, then a coat of Sobo. I then cover the entire piece with a thin sheet of white Premo and bake it. This process creates a great tough form that can take a lot of experimenting. Then the fun really starts with the colored Premo clay, texture, etc. Diane V.

Rachel Friedman showed me the papier mache technique they use at her sculpture/welding class. (She is covering a large, wire-covered structure made from pieces of wood, sheep.) They use strips of those blue "towels" sold for cleaning up around the shop or for automobiles, dipped in a 50-50 solution of water and white glue they are softer and easier to drape than newspaper strips, as well as being convenient and strong. (After that has dried, I believe they )After that has dried, I believe they use spackle and filling compound (from the paint section of hardware stores) to make an even smoother outer coat. This is very strong when completed, especially over wire. Diane B.

I also say a mention of someone using papier mache to create a form, then cut it in half to use as an armature and mold for anything. Lynda B.

To use a glass ball or bulb (or wood ball,etc) as a form over which to create/sculpt a figure or head, see Covering > Glass Balls & Lightbulbs, and Christmas > Glass Ball Ornaments

"Great Stuff" is an expanding foam (polyurethane) used for insulating and sealing for pipes ...very inexpensive and goes a LONG way......It comes in a spray can with an extruding straw ...when you spray it it expands, and goes from a foam to hardening like compressed foam. (Walmart or Home Depot and even a few drug stores).... I used it today because I made a clay house with a hollow cone roof and the cone was forcing the walls to cave inward. So rather than trying to make the walls thicker, I filled the inside walls with "great stuff" and it held perfectly and still remained light (it did balloon upwards like a pie rises but was east to cut off). After trimming, it made a perfect dome shape that worked great for holding up some of my pieces (I do suggest playing with it because it does expand and if you are working with something thin you may want to hold it in shape for a little while or keep checking it.) It dries so nice too, very smooth & non-poreous ...can be painted & sanded. Jade
...can be flammable above 240 degrees (info and many uses!)

~my little guys are made from a wood egg, covered with floral tape (it makes the clay adhere better to the wood). The wood egg gives it a nice weight so its not as light as some other materials. Karen

The polymer clays are good for making your original. They are however only as stable as your armature. If there is a sizeable difference in the expansion coefficient between the clay and the armature you may get some cracking.

How do I get a smooth surface to work on with the foil alone? Lets say I'm working on seems hard to get the polymer clay 1/4 inch in all areas, for an even firing.
...Well it is darn near impossible to get the clay the same thickness all over ... especially if you are doing something like 'boobs'...obviously there would be thicker areas with more clay applied...and that in itself should not cause cracking. . . . As far as smoothing just really have to work at it...if you use the hot glue technique...make sure that you lay the foil on and work out wrinkles with a flat tool..kinda of like 'burnishing'...this will help to smooth wonderful. Jodi

Cracking comes up from many different reasons...a too flimsy armature (i.e. armatures moves and allows the sculpture to flex) armature....a too rigid armature (does not allow the sculpey to contract when cooling)....baking too long or under baking... when you are doing something like a bare 'chest' you want to make sure you do not make the upper chest near the throat to the cleavage) too is so easy to crack the upper chest and then all is ruined. ... Jodi
(see more on cracking in larger solid clay forms, in Heads > Cracking)

After your sculpture is finished and ready for the oven, focus on potential weak spots. Keep in mind that gravity coupled with momentarily softening clay (part of the fusing process) can create stress at the base of a figure, causing fragile limbs (even pre-baked thoroughly armatured limbs) to fracture. This is especially true if the armature is not a single unit, but a series of components held together with clay as my figures often are. Katherine

~my warning after having things crumble that were only 2 years old: don't use Sulpey (plain white Sculpey in the box) as a armature for the other clays it just retains too many plastisizors and it will cause your figures to rot from the inside out even when I had over baked it trying to get it to the hardest i could…many of my small figures and a few intricate peices have just crumbled to Sculpey rot. Faun

. . . from 6" to 12" tall tend to droop or slump down into the base as they can get fairly heavy, even with a wire+aluminum foil skeleton. . . .
Sounds like your putting too heavy a layer of clay onto your armature. Working in a warm studio and /or overworking the clay can also contribute to this. Put the piece away in a cool place for a while. I like to have more than one project going on at the same time, that way I can let one rest while I work on another. Here are some tips on keeping the clay on your armature. First use the heaviest wire you can for the basic structure. Nothing worse than having an armature bend while you're working on it. Add aluminum foil to bulk out the form. I spray the foil with adhesive first to help it stick. I then cover the foil with self stick aluminum tape. You can get this at the hardware store in the stove and fireplace section. Wrap the armature with thin wire to give the clay something to hold onto. A bare piece of wire is pretty smooth. I sometimes use string or thread for this on smaller pieces. Wrap the string and hit it with a little super glue. This hardens the string and gives the clay something to hold onto. Next, clean the armature with alcohol to get rid of any oil from your hands. I then coat the whole thing with Sobo glue.. . .
... Now here's how to use that pesky variation in clays to your advantage. Use the sticky clay as your first kinda thin coat on the aramature. Let it set a while in a cool place for a while, then bulk the piece out with the more firm clay. As you work up to the detailed areas mix your clays to fit the application. Remember to always condition or work your clay before you use it. Robert Houghtaling

. . . or you might cover the armature with a thin layer of clay which you bake before beginning to sculpt in earnest . . .

~If you make a figure out of sculpey and keep a heat-gun handy, you can heat sections of the figure AS you build him and save yourself the trouble of an armature. The technique works REMARKABLY well. it saves propping them up in the oven, and the heartbreak of splitting. The cook may not be complete <always> but you'd be surprised how this material TRANSMITS heat throughout its structure. Heat a foot and the WHOLE THING hardens. I doubt you get maximum strength (could repeated partial baking be a problem?), but it's perfect for small original sculptures with protruding parts.The only thing you have to watch for is NOT to overheat the thin parts or they'll scorch and even burn.. so 'waft' over it.

always plan for some kind of mechanical armature to connect them unless you plan to use glue (or maybe even when you do use glue.) I used phone wire, which as most of you know, is coated with pvc and therefore bonds with the clay. A short length is baked into the back of the rose (or whatever) leaving maybe a quarter inch sticking out. This quarter inch is embedded into the object you are attaching it to, and baked in place. (I generally use Zap-a-gap anyhow, just on generapl principle... you can bake it, as long as you don't tug on it until it cools.)

For shoulder sockets, you might check out fishing swivels. It's a bead between two wire loops. The loops can be turned individually. The shoulder "muscle" over the arm socket might just be so thin and delicate that it would have to be made out of something other than clay. Maybe belt lining (available at fabric stores) embedded in the clay.

I used chain like the kind used in pull chain lights. You know the kind that looks like tiny balls or BB's? They migh be too big for your dolls but it was also embedded right into the joints. I am going to try this on my marionettes next…

Could anyone share with me their techniques for making joints in miniature polymer clay dolls (5-6" or smaller)?
. . . I have spent a lot of years researching the best way to make dolls house doll joints and all the results went into my miniature polymer clay dolls book. I can't really cover it in detail here but here are a few pointers to help you along:
1. Use a stronger clay then Sculpey III - Fimo flesh 43, Premo beige with white added so it is less translucent and dark, or else a doll clay like Puppenfimo. Sculpey III is just not strong enough for this.
2. Do not carve holes after making - far easier to make holes etc while the clay is soft. And see 3:
3. Make holes through the limbs with a fine knitting pin before baking - think of the little limbs as tube beads. Make corresponding holes in the body. Then thread pipe-cleaners through so they are completely posable too. You glue the ends of the pipe-cleaners into the tops of the lower legs, the tops of the lower arms, and then thread on the limbs, then glue the other ends into holes in the body.
You are using large doll techniques with your rubber bands and hooks - fine for large dolls but difficult at 1:12 scale or smaller. Try the pipe-cleaners! Sue Heaser

~Is your figure clothed?? It is a good idea to get as much of the clothing on as you can before putting on the arms and the sleeves. For example if my figure is going to have pants,I put them on first, one leg at a time. Then the shirt, I put on the back, one side of the front, then the other. I add the pocket, the collar, the belt adding my details along the way. NOW I am ready for the arms and the sleeves, I put the arms into the sleeve. Leave the shoulder holes open, fix the cuffs, bend them into the right position, now slide them on the armature wire. If I don't have wires for the arms, I slip the handle of a paintbrush down into the sleeve, and press the arms only to the elbow, against the unbaked shirt. This gives the strength. After that I finish the seam around the upper arm.

~I will attach a photo of "Harry the clown". in his case I made the armature with no arms, no head (just the wire) and his legs with his bare feet. I didn't add wires for the arms because I was going to have them close in, and the clay for the clothing would be attached to the sleeves, I felt this would be strength enough. Otherwise would put one wire all the way through the torso, but with no clay on it. I baked my form. I added his shoes stockings and baked again. After that I made the head and added it to the armature and baked again. Now while working on his clothing I could hold him by his head and his feet and not mess up my work. He looked like a little naked man, really skinny with bony knees and his shoes and socks on! Next came the clothing, and after them the arms, I baked again. Very last I painted the face, and added the hair and the hat. Jenny P?

OH yes, when working this way make your armature skinny, the clay takes up a lot of space and it is really easy to get bulky looking. Jenny P,

I do things just a little differently... this depends of course on the size of your figure. I use brass rods usually for the armatures. I use one for the 'spine' leaving wire going up through the top for the head to fit on. Spooky

I do the head first and use that to measure out the proportions for the rest of the body. I make the legs and feet on brass rods, then the arms... once I have all the pieces made, I start to attach them. I tend not to bake it until all the pieces are one due to the modeling that I do to get a proper body shape.

The key to this is having a clay that is firm enough to not take fingerprints easily and not go out of shape easily. This is by leaching the clay until it's firmer. Then I bake the piece and add the clothing once it's baked. Now depending on the figure I will bake it armless... add the clothes and then attach the sleeved arms to the figure and rebake the whole thing on a bed of fiberfill. All of this depends on what you are doing and how big it is.. for bigger pieces you have to use the foil or you will use far too much clay and be afraid to bake it long enough.

For hands I have a full armature including fingers that i make.. and of late, if I am not doing shoes.. i do a similar armature for the feet. If people are interested.. and I get a camera someday... I'll post a lesson on the site on how to make the delicate armatures for hands and feet.

To give you one opinion about armature wiring fingers:
1. I rough in my fingers without wires. It's a lot easier to control the process this way. Don't get too carried away with detailing thou, you'll be mushing them later.
2. Then I take a wire thin enough to not be bulky when doubled up and twisted together. These twisted wires I cut extra long for each finger.
3. Then push the extra lengths just under the finger bases into the palm. Make sure the angle of the wires corresponds to the angle of the finger anatomical spread.
4a. MUSHING! After making sure the finger wires are just shy of the clay finger tips, center the wireon the clay finger and press it flat onto the wire.
4b. Roll each flattened finger between your thumb and index finger (of your hand). There you have it!
5. If the rolling action makes clay tips too long, roll it gently pressing the clay cylinder towards the palm and the piece will shorten itself. roll opposite direction for lengthening them.
6. Posing fingers. take your finger nail and crimp finger with wire inside where you desire bends in the clay. Take care to study the pose in your own hand as you make adjustments to the knuckles and digits. Study the proportionate lengths of fingers and tumb to each of their neighbors. Look at the overall set of masses in the general atitude of the hand pose both palm and wirst and digits! You always have yourself as a terriffic hand model in yourself.
Well, now that we've "fingered everyything out" just be careful how you bake 'em! They could burn before the rest cookies are done! Use a temp that's about 225 degrees F. for this problem. Then cover fingers and other thin extension parts lightly with aluminum fiol shiney side out for the final bake at 250 degrees F. Sincerely, THE DANE

~telephone wire works well when twisted. It's especially nifty for fingers, even if you're using larger wire for the body. . . . The last doll I made, (the for hand) I twisted the wire armature so that the wrist was a loop. Then I pulled 3 short wires through, folded and twisted them for the palm, for a total of 6 ends. I separated those into 4 finger wires and twisted the remaining two together for the thumb. Worked out very well if I do say so myself. I was using telephone wire, (which as most of you know, is coated with pvc and therefore bonds with the clay), and I was able to trim the finger lengths easily before applying the clay. Halla
......for more on making armatures for hands , see
Sculpting/Body & Tools > Hands

I often have read that you can bake your projects more than once. That is, a first bake, (add) more clay, then a second bake (add) and so on
. . . and how you make the unbaked clay adhere to the baked clay?
....No, usually it needs some help. This can be structural, like being partially surrounded by clay, or by using some kind of armature like a piece of toothpick or wire, etc., to join the pieces. It can also be "glued" on, or some combination of the two. The best gluey things to use with raw to baked polymer are liquid clay (preferably translucent), Sculpey's Diluent, or Krazy Glue (or another super glue). They make very strong bonds, probably in that order of strength. Some of these may need to be
propped in the oven since they may not hold instantly...

When you're putting pieces together of, say, a teddy bear... do you bake the pieces seperately then glue them together when they're done, or do you stick them together while they're soft and then bake them?
....That isn't a dumb question at all; in fact, it can be rather tricky.
There are many ways to keep parts together with polymer clay. In general though, the smaller the piece, the fewer extra steps need to be done.
Some pieces (e.g., a chunky teddy bear figure) can be put together simply by pressing the pieces together --and here's the kicker-- *as long as there is sufficient contact between the two pieces,* and not too much stress pressing them apart. Think of the join between an arm and a shoulder. The arm can simply be pressed to the body as long as most of its length is also positioned/pressed to the body. If your design calls for less contact, then you'll need to do one of several things when joining the raw parts:
--make the top of the arm convex and the insertion area concave to increase the connected area
--or create a concave groove, etc.
--use an connective armature such as a toothpick piece, a bit of telephone wire or wire mesh or bent wire, a bit of cardstock, scrunched aluminum foil, floral taped wire, e.g., which can be inserted into both parts
--rub a bit of superglue, Diluent, or liquid clay onto the connective armature before inserting --rub a bit of Sculpey Diluent (or liquid clay) onto the surfaces, let tack up, then join (the part may have to be propped while baking depending on the angle, etc.)
--create a mechanical hold by having one bit wrap around another in some way, or maybe a piece of clothing or other accessory can act as a connector
--do two or more of the above
Pieces can also be added later. If joining raw to baked, the glue or other technique you use will have to be stronger, or you can use a preinserted armature in the baked piece to help hold the raw one, or you can use lots of clay to smooth over the join. Roughing up one of the surfaces can help too. Diane B.

see more in Glues > Some Bonding Methods

Go ahead and bake the torso, leaving the armature hanging out, then you can add the rest and smooth in the seams.

And what about the baked portion, wouldn't it get overdone since it has already been baked?
...No, it never gets overbaked when reheated as long as you are careful of the temperature. It should never exceed the recommended temp. . . . Also, since the lighter colors of clay and translucent
darken at the higher "regular" temp --over 225 degrees--you have to take into consideration the temp you want to bake at in the first place, i.e. how much translucent or light color you have.

About Bonnie Bishoff -- to make lampshades, she covers a bowl or box or other object with foil, then Vaseline as a release agent. The reason for the Vaseline is that the clay sticks to it, doesn't slide around, then slides off very easily after baking. Randi

making big heads & other items. . . .~Build your head over a hollow papier mache form, but do NOT use the flour based paste as it will bubble in the oven. Instead, use strips of paper soaked in gesso. You can apply these over a balloon, letting each layer dry before the next layer is applied. I've built several masks in this fashion, using a gesso based papier mache covered with polymer clay (usually Super Sculpy). Katherine Dewey
...or use strips of plaster cloth

dissolves in water. . . ever tried "salt clay" as an armature--or even "bread" clay?

The thing of interest is that I used an (tilted back) egg shell as a core for the head/neck. This makes for a very light head. . . After forming the neck, which is hollow with walls only 3.16" thick, I used my Dremel tool with flex cable to cut out the part of the shell inside the neck.. . . Now you can place a finger inside the skull and touch the inside of the top of the skull (like a finger puppet). . . .I have been thinking of cutting the eye holes out and putting the eyes in from the inside. . . . Along with the nose, the cheeks, chin, and forehead are buildup from the egg shell. The side and back muscles of the neck were also build ups. . . If I do this again I will add the muscles before the face details. Lysle
...The egg is going to make the temple area of the head protrude farther than natural. Our heads are a flattened egg shape. Maybe you could shave this area down??? 10more

"Shrink Plastics" (PolyShrink, etc.) are very compatible with clay; after baking they shrink to one thickness only but are stiffer than the same thickness of polymer clay, so might be used as a "stiffness" armature
. . . already-shrunk Shrink Plastics can be baked with polymer clay; the low temp. of polymer baking won't affect the SP. ..unless the piece is mechanically held on or in, pop it off and glue back on.
loads of great photos, ideas & *lessons at
general instructions:

lesson on making a very simple figure from wire and two or three pieces of corrugated cardboard
(not an armature exactly though)

(Figure Dane, on armatures:)

I can help you out with the straight clay figure sculpting frame. I make an armature support system to be used with aluminum, 1/8th inch diameter wire from the art supply store for $$15.00 PPD. Go to my website for a complete line of polymer clay sculpting videos (enclosed is a price list.

1.For unjointed full clay polymer figure sculpts, take wire and make a basic skeleton frame that is just a little undersized for not poking through the armature. The feet can be open loops that are attached the a wood base with small wire looped over this foot wire and with drilled holes on each side of the wire twisted together underneath the wood. I use 3/8 or 1/2 inch thick plywood (it doesn't wrap like real wooden boards).

2. You'll need cut off pliers and needle nose pliers for cutting and bending this frame. I use aluminum wire meantioned above, but copper elecritcal wire is also good for smaller 9 ich (1/8th scale). For up to 15 inch figure use 1/8th aluminum. for larger figures use 5/16ths and so on. Steel coat hanger is OK to start a practice piece with, but is hard to bend.

3. Make an open loop for the foot mount frame that goes up to a pelvis bed and converges with the other leg wire here and twists together to form a spine. These wires can then diverge at the shoulders to finishe the arms (don't do hands yet, let wire just fly by for later hand finger wires.). Add on a twisted attachment to spine wire for head. Remember to make joint bends just under where they should be for full clay coverage.

4. Depending on figure's scale, there may be some areas of the figure that could be over 1 inch thick. In all these figure parts bulk armature out with a little tin foil (polymer clay won't bake inside over 1 inch thicknesses).

5. Pose your wire frame. If it's a sitting figure, support seat is needed out of wood. My armature support system kit is a wooden base predrilled on center with a 1/4" (10/24 thread) all thread rod 12" long and sticks through wood bottom. Good for figures up to 1/5th scale (14.4"). With nuts at the top & bottome of plywood base and steel rod ending just above the waist, all the clay weight is on the rod and off the clay, which can get stressed as you add weight to it. Aluminum 1/8th wire for 1/9th to 1/5th scale figures is triple coiled at top of rod and crimped HARD to from threads in the aluminum coils, making it a removeable sculpture. Any pose is possible with this steel rod as long as the figure's wieght is centered over the rod.

6. For the steel rod wire configuration, the triple coil froms the spine. Then take enough to do a continuous (both legs) wire which I double wrap around spine wire bottom & crimp and add epoxey putty for strength.

7. Do likewise for the arm wire.

8. you are ready to add your polymer clay. Depending on if the figure is to be molded or one-of-a-kind doll. you may elect to use super sculpey translucent flesh tone clay for realism or paint the whole thing, but that is another story. ENJOY! THE DANE


Amaco (Paragona brand?) makes two types of WireForm wire "mesh"
...(NOTE: the terms "mesh," WireForm," etc. may be used loosely below for the woven and expandable versions, and also for other types of metal mesh)

1.....WireForm Woven Metal Mesh is woven (leaving tiny square holes) just like window screen (except it's made from copper, brass, etc.)
2.....WireForm Expandable Metal Mesh is expandable ...produced from a sheet of metal into which the holes have been punched (leaving diamond-shaped holes)
..........each row of holes is offset, so that when you pull from the opposite sides, the holes open and it easily expands and stretches in all directions (though it stretches most side to side, and less from top to bottom --when you pull from top to bottom, you're actually closing the holes). Donna Kato of the kinds that Donna used on the show was "Sparkle Mesh" (the smallest grid size).

Each type of WireForm comes in various colors ...metallic, and non-metallic colors from some suppliers)
...each type comes in various grid sizes

The mesh can be cut with scissors, or a tissue blade! (just the finer mesh?) Barbara McGuire

When you put together your clay-mesh-clay sandwich, you can still stretch it a lot.

...LOCAL: hobby stores and some craft stores
...ONLINE: ....Amaco: ...Polymer Express 800-844-0138
...Dick Blick, MisterArt, utrechtart, etc.

To make a box, wire mesh can also be covered with clay (one or both sides)
....cover a length of mesh with slabs of clay... decorate it while flat.
.........then I underline the mesh with another slab of clay, embedding the mesh.
........ you can then bend the piece (over a right-angle ledge) into a box shape
....or you could create the box form in one piece, and then fold it together into a box shape
(it's quite rigid after baking when done this way). Barbara McGuire

Barbara's lesson on making a 3 1/2" high, rectangular vessel, by embedding WireForm, bending the clay-wire sandwich, joining the loose sides, baking, then using bottom of the form as a cutter for a bottom piece
... but pattern pdf gone, so don't know where to bend the 3.5" x 7.5" strips to get a box that 's "square at one end and rectangular at the other end"... does she close up on end of this rectangular tube?? or something),,HGTV_3399_1370901,00.html

(see more on making boxes in Vessels)

Also good for making items like miniature landscapes, tunnels, houses, etc,
...Donna Kato's lesson on making cylindrical candle holders (or could be vessels) ...with split, rolled top parts using embedded WireForm
...Lisa P's lesson on making cylindrical pencil cup by covering the exterior of a wire mesh cylinder & liquid clay,,HGTV_3236_2313116,00.html
Barbara McGuire's lesson on making a plate using a sandwich of clay and mesh; edges are bent up if desired after decorating but before baking,1158,CRHO_project_13579,00.html

masks ...It's very nice for masks; that's how I used the sample I was given. K. Dewey
(see more on making masks in

hanging items.... wire mesh of any kind embedded in clay would distribute the weight too...the stress of the hanging wouldn't all be solely on the spots where the loops or wire attach since they could be fastened to the wire mesh and protrude through the clay to the back or wherever for hanging on nails, etc. (and they shouldn't pop off).

other kinds of metal mesh

metal window screen (not the non-metal screening, if you want rigidity)
....can be used as a form ...or can be sandwiched inside the clay
....polymer clay is even stronger if you enclose a piece of screen .. it also avoids multiple baking.

hardware cloth comes in various grid sizes, wire thickness?, and final rigidity (usually between 2 to 8 openings per lineal inch).
... two sets of steel wires placed perpendicular to each other (square holes) and welded together hardware stores, often the 1/2" and the 1/4" grid is available
I've been using the 1/4" size hardware cloth as armature for a long time, to give added strength to pieces that may be subject to stress. .......sometimes I've had trouble with Sculpry cracking when used over mesh, so now what I do is cover the mesh with a very thin first layer--trying to use up that ugly pink "super sculpey"--then partially cure it (about 10 minutes), & proceed to cover it with what is to be the final color. Works great & is *cheap*.

other sizes and types of wire mesh, wire netting, wire cloth, etc., can be found at hardware stores or specialty stores, or online, as "chicken wire" or other fencing for animals, for beekeeping, for regular fences, and other uses
....most is rigid and a thicker gauge wire, but some is smaller and more supple

BOOK: (not necessaily polymer oriented though)
# 5151 Magic with Metal Mesh & Wire, by Jana Ewy (jewelry, candles, accessories, etc.) $12.99

PVC pipe & plastics
(most of this is actually about "covering" PVC)

(see also Beads > Bead Rollers > Trough > Making your own)

. . . . how does it actually work as an internal armature though??

Cuts can be made in PVC pipe:
.... crosswise, use an inexpensive PVC pipe cutter (a ratcheting scissor type tool) or a saw (sand to smooth if using a saw)

...lengthwise, use a hand saw with fine teeth (see Beads
> Rollers >Making your own for details), or use an electric saw, with the pipe held in a vise or jig

all about the material PVC (polyvinyl chloride)

However, a bit of PVC pipe baked unsupported on its side can easily go out of round. It does seem to soften and slump slightly in the oven, much as the clay itself would at the same thickness. Helen
... the PVC distorted just a little at265-275 even though I was standing them on end to bake. ...For pieces less than 1 1/2 inches long the distortion was so minimal as to be virtually unnoticeable, but for pieces in the
2 - 4 inch range I began to notice the slumping and warping. Sara Jane
...I use PVC pipe a lot. Larger pieces unsupported will slump a bit at the PC temperature. I make supports by packing in wet newspaper
....This (cylindrical) box was made around a small section of PVC pipe wrapped with paper, and then removed...Heather
...PVC pipe (the white stuff) can slump and/or burn at polymer clay baking temperatures. . . and is affected by heat and light. Some will behave well; some will crater (?) on you. There is also a question of fumes, to which I have yet to get a straight answer.

....I recommend using the gray PVC pipe--? (is this true though? ...see disc. we had in rec.crafts –DB) There is a small difference in price, but it is negligible. Judith
. . . they are marked CPVC (they are more beige than grey, however, but not bright white like the PVC.) ....these CPVC fittings are thinner walled than the regular PVC and they also distorted a little in baking.
. . .Since I don't believe I ever ran a batch with just the CPVC and no PVC, I can't really tell you if the fumes are the same for both, but I remember there being even sharper fumes when I was baking the CPVC fittings. They were fun to use, but I think you need really great ventilation. Sara Jane in NC

While making small castles, I recently baked lots of pieces on PVC pipe (265-275 F, checked by thermometer)...there was a very significant outgassing of objectionable fumes, such that I was really uncomfortable baking indoors even with good ventilation. I don't know how toxic, but the fumes were certainly unpleasant and sharper than clay fumes. Sara Jane in NC

But you can also get solid PVC rod in the diameters you mentioned and while it still has the potential to bend or sag, at least it won't become on oval instead of a circle. Chief

Instead, I finished the project using copper and galvanized pipe that I sprayed with ArmorAll as a release agent, then removed after baking. Best part was that I could reuse those pipes over and over. I would only recommend using PVC if you have outdoor baking facilities or are comfortable baking at temps of 250 F or less, which I don't feel gives quite the strength I like. Sara Jane in NC

"tool holder" swap --covered cylinders of PVC (will be glued together to a lazy susan)

I bought a variety of shapes that all fit together to make a really cool candelabra with two long curving arms to hold tapers and a larger-diameter candleholder in the middle. All of the plain, straight-sided cylindrical pieces were okay, but the curved pieces STRAIGHTENED OUT in the oven, cracking all the polymer clay (which I had spent all afternoon working on!). It not only cracked, it came off in big pieces and was just lying there on the cookie sheet around the perfectly straight pipes.I did learn a few useful things from the disaster:
1. Don't use
curved tubes of pvc. (I think these were supposed to be water supply tubes for a toilet.)
2. If there are tight joints between pvc pieces, put them together before you bake them or they may not fit together after pvc has softened and cooled. (I did do this much correctly.)
3. It worked okay to lay the piece down on its side on a bed of fiberfill. Suzanne

(see also Covering > Plastics > PVC)

other plastics can be used as internal armatures or forms as well
... some will melt at our baking temps, some won't melt, some will begin to droop if not covered (clay and aluminum foil both seem to buffer them a bit)
for all info about baking over various types of plastics, see Covering > Plastics

lesson on using a plastic soda bottle as a body, with clay head and hands (plastic not baked?)

PAPER products:
Paper Pulp + Papier Mache + Cardboard & Cardstock

(for much more on paper-based forms like cardboard, cardstock, papier mache, see Covering > Papier Mache, etc)

(for much more on paper clays and papier mache, see Sculpting > Non-Polymer Clays ... and Heads-Masks > Masks)

Since paper-based products like paper clays, papier mache, cardstock, cardboard, etc., are dissolvable in water, they could also be dissolved out of baked clay items after having been used as a form
...for more on removable armatures, see Armatures-temp

paper clays, paper pulp, etc.

many lessons for sculpting, covering, etc., using Creative Paperclay

paper clays can be colored by mixing with acrylic paints (gray paper clays will give more grayed colors than white paper clays though)

....simple paper pulp like that for making homemade paper (paper & water)
....paper clays (paper + water + flour or another "adhesive")...homemade or:
........two purchased brands or paper clay are:
........Celluclay (white or gray dry lint--add water)....& "Creative PaperClay" (white, wet--water already added)
....papier mache (strips of paper soaked with an "adhesive" like flour or starch)

basically, Celluclay is "lint in a box" that you mix with water... then it dries to smooth papier mache can be made
very smooth.. can roll it out into sheets once its mixed well, and allow to partly dry then cut into forms too like thick paper (good for add-ons, but dont use the pasta machine, too much water). ...a rolling pin and parchment sheets or plastic board works well. can also use it as a final coating over wrapped armatures
......e.g., do it over rocks and cut it off, etc.
...once it is dry, it can be sanded, carved, etc., and of course, covered with clay!
... it bakes well too. Sarajane

...lightweight ...long life span
...will accept various media like paints, colored, pencils, etc well
...can finish varnish or paint to give an even more durable finish
...can add fillers such as dryer lint, etc., for more strength

can use a variety of papers... for example:
....newspaper, tissue paper, corrugated paper, cardboard egg cartons, junk mail (plain & glossy)
....newspaper = coarse pul.p.. thin paper like tissue or toilet paper = fine pulp, porcelain-like finish

Regular paper can be broken down by tearing it into shreds, and soaking in hot water (can use a blender too).
...pure cotton or linen papers work best because they lack lignin (which can contribute water resistance)
.. paper products & cardboard that contain
glue or kaolin (clay coating like for magazines?) do not break down well in water
Papers that tear easily tend to make short, easily liberated fibers and work best.
Homemade paper clay will quickly begin to
smell and sour so it should be used soon after making, or stored in a freezer.... adding antibacterial agents to the paper slurry may also be helpful (i.e. chlorine bleach).

Besides strips of newspaper soaked with paste, the following method has the addition of wallpaper paste which gives it more cohesiveness and allows you to build up specific areas more easily than having to build forms out of balloons or cardboard.
....lesson: (begin with plain paper pulp):
......tear up any type of paper:
........envelopes (minus the cellophane), newspaper, paper sacks, computer paper as well as colored paper such as construction paper, crepe paper, etc.
…....all junk mail works nicely as it is usually printed on less expensive paper.
…tear into about 2" squares
…put about 2 packed cups full into a blender (about 1/2 full with water)
blend the paper until it is mushy
…then drain the pulp through a mesh strainer or a piece of window screen
…….repeat until you get as much as you need for your project
...Now add either pre-mixed wallpaper paste or buy the dry powder that can have water added to it. (I prefer commercial wallpaper paste besides the fact it is all ready to use is that it has additives that discourage mice and insects from wanting to eat it! After all, flour is food, isn't it?) don't need a lot of the wallpaper paste, but you need to mix it in well…. gloved hands work well to mix or expect to have to wash frequently.
…if you should decide to use flour paste instead of wallpaper paste, then I would suggest adding a few drops of Wintergreen flavoring oil to the mix to deter spoilage.
…....also with the flour paste, if you refrigerate the pulp as you add layers, it will not sour as quickly. can speed drying by placing the piece in the oven on a very low temperature ...however, if you dry it too rapidly, it will tend to buckle.
....the pulp will keep for a few days if refrigerated
...after drying, it can be dry sanded, gently.….and like polymer clay, the more smoothing done before drying means less sanding
......however, if you want to be able to paint the final layer, consider using cheap paper towels for your final 2 layers. (...or if making the plain pulp only, use only white paper for your last batches).
...You can color the paper in the pulp with the aforementioned construction or crepe paper, but you can also add tempra powder, cold water liquid dyes (Rit dye) or even acrylic paint.
......another thing you can add is any of the mica powders such as PearlEx or Powdered Pearls....and glitters! Patty B.

when covering paperclay with polymer clay, it's vitally important to DRY the paperclay (or papier mache, etc.) THOROUGHLY first.
... if you do not, the under paper clay can mildew and
eat through the polymer
... or at the very least mildew-stain the polymer and long term cause lots of problems (since you essentially sealed a moist product into a hard substance)...(even oven-baking the the polymer will not dry the paper clay inside)
... Bob McKinley began to dry the paper clay in the oven on a LOW heat to speed it up... but still would allow a few days to be sure.... Jodi Creager

another good thing is that when you put on new layers of paperclay, it blends together (to itself) really well.
I really like the feel of paperclay while I'm handling it
.... but don't like it when it dries on my hands! .Euuuuu! ...Donna in Mt.

after paperclay is dried and very hard, should I cover the paperclay with sobo (white) glue?.... let that dry, and then apply polymer clay? Susan
....Was wondering what your reason for applying the sobo glue first??? To help it stick better...or to seal the paper clay??? I would not see where this would be necessary.

( has it been a tried and true method.... I know Bob Mckinley used paperclay exclusively before he began working in SuperSculpey (Van Craig too)
.....his first dolls were made in Celluclay (the grayish dry paper clay)
.... he would build his armatures from cardboard which was filled in with the Celluclay
.......let it dry thoroughly...and then apply his SuperSculpey
.......(bake?), sand, apply a coat of gesso as a primer, and then paint!
... Jodi Creager

Paper clay does make great armatures
... I put it over wire and aluminum foil, then use polymer clay over that to make things like mermaid tails, dragons
...its also lighter weight. Sarajane

I would think you could use anything (including paper clay) over aluminum foil.. is a very sturdy under medium if used as I make armatures with the aluminum foil and hot glue. ....Several of our students work exclusively in paperclay and they use the foil and hot glue method now as their armature base....when making paperclay dolls. Jodi Creager?

I've used paperclay in making miniatures as well...
....I've made an Egyptian scene where I covered all the walls and floor with paperclay, and then textured it to look like stone.
Donna in Mt.

armatures under the papier mache such as balloons are fine if you want a hollow form.
.......also, you can buy craft mesh at most craft stores or use aluminum window screen or hardware cloth for larger constructions.

...or you can make a box, a purse, a figure, armature etc., and then cover it with the clay …e.g., a huge Santa standing on your front porch made with paper mache with face and hands sculpted from polymer clay or a huge ornament to catch the eye. Patty B.
....we usually made fantastical masks using it (see more in Heads > Masks).

using your paper mache, you can build sturdy forms to cover with polymer clay that won't collapse (I think this is the method Diane Villano used to create a Big Bead series… one was a bear made to look like turquoise) Patty B.
...Yes, Patty, you're correct. ...and here's another piece with a papier mache armature
....the fish is 12" long by about 6" high ... the papier mache is incredibly sturdy.... I painted it with white acrylic
....and added an underlayer of white polymer before the final decorative clay layer. Diane V.

a friend of mine made a giant sheep in an art class from "papier mache"... it was intended to sit outdoors allow people to sit on, so it had to be very strong (and waterproof).
Rachel first constructed a wood frame, which she covered with chicken wire, I think. For the next layer (the "papier mache"), she used those blue "shop" paper towels (on rolls) which the art department there felt were extremely strong, as well as clothlike and very drapable (less sanding too?). Don't remember what kind of liquid she used for the adhesive. (After it dried, she painted, etc., and did all the finishing).
....I still remember the tip about the blue towels though because they can be less work than having to use lots of strips ...not all that expensive either....don't know if they could be turned into a paper clay by blenderizing like other paper products but might be interesting. DB

As a mold for the paper clay, I used a plastic dress form that I got at the dollar store.... (so the armature for the body was made out of paperclay). Gwen

cardstock & cardboard

Polymer clay is very strong, but it is even stronger if you enclose a piece of cardstock file folder that is covered with a layer of Sobo or any PVA glue.
...If you cover the cardstock with the polymer clay without the PVA glue it could separate later on?
...the result is a very lightweight and strong armature, and you can handle well.
...the beauty of using the file card stock on the inside is also that it can prevent multiple baking.
...I used the file folder for the mask swap.... the clay is Sculpey III (#3 pasta machine)'s great to use in this way because the cardstock supports the otherwise fragile Sculpey III clay.

using card stock stiffened with cyanoacrylic glue? (superglue) as an armature for thin areas like ears and other areas
....(like Katherine Dewey suggests in her book 'Creating Life-Like Animals in Polymer Clay')
....cut the cardstock into the shape you want ... then cover it with a thin sheet of polymer clay on both sides (the extra clay can be quite easily torn away). might also try coating the card first with TLS, or some PVC based white glue like Sobo, to get a better grip for the polymer clay.
........ I don't know how well it would work for larger objects, though. Christina

sinilga's mini "photo album" pendant used discs of cardstock ....a baked embellished clay disc was glued to the front and back pieces as "covers", and a photo was glued to each interior disc (or could be transfers, or decoupaged--- and disks cold be clay instead of cardstock)
...... she put a sheet of glass over the disc so could see shape and size for making the clay the right size, then baked on glass, and glued onto cardstock discs... discs held together by decorative cording through holes in top

I've been using thin (strips of) lightweight cardboard shapes cut out of cereal boxes, etc., sandwiched with thin clay sheets (covering each piece with Sobo & letting it dry first) as armatures to add relief bits to basic clay-covered forms (for noses, etc.on my larger masks); these have adhered just fine to the raw clay already on the forms as long as there's plenty of surface area for contact. ....The largest single piece I have used so far is about 1" by 5".
....I like them because I can also make the sandwiched clay "wrap" and curl following the contours of the mask, but I can also get them to curl away from it....they're strong but flexible this way, but index cards and cardstock alone are not quite strong enough for the masks and small relief sculptures I'm making.(I made the mask with a thin sheet of clay over plaster cloth forms first). Sid
... (he will add samples of these at his site soon? )

Josh's card stock & white glue armature for fish fins, etc.

(2 layers + liquid clay...One thing I do for stiffness is roll out my clay for pendants at the thickest setting on my pasta machine, then another layer just a little thinner and glue these 2 together with liquid clay.... will make it a little firmer. Anyway it works :o) ...the closer I am to 1/4" of thickness the better the piece turns out. Nancy)

(see more in Covering > Paper Products)


Sculpey or SuperSculpey (cheaper) or any brand of regular polymer clay could be used as a permanent armature, then covered with a decorative layer of a strong clay brand after baking
(...the baked parts could be attached together in various ways to create items which can then be covered... or the individual covered clay parts could be covered then put together)

Sculpey's UltraLight polymer clay can be used for a lighter-weight armature, which could also be covered with a decorative layer of strong clay after baking
....hollow baked shapes of regular polymer clays could also be used to make lighter-weight clay armatures (see Beads > Hollow for starters and basic ideas)


When "covering" with polymer clay, many other bakable materials can be used as permanent armatures too:
....metals & alum.foil... glass & ceramics...some plastics ... wood ...air-dry clays of various types, etc.
(for info on all those, see Covering)

I made that mask with a thin sheet of clay over (thoroughly dried) plaster cloth forms first. Sid
... (he will add samples of these at his site soon? )

For use with cardboard or papier mache, packing tape (brown on a roll) works wonders as a bond ....or as a hinge
...I use it for armatures along with cardstock. Sarajane H

for more strength in thin items:
I've found that using a strong clay (not Sculpey) which is thinly pressed/cut, and fully baked (maybe even longer than usual), will stand up to a surprising amount of everyday treatment - such as use as jewellery, or even ornaments on childrens' schoolbags. Alan V.
....another thing that makes a good "strengthener" is an outer coating of liquid clay (see Liquid Clay > Strengthener)
...or mix a little of one of the stay-flexible clays like Bake and Bend in with your regular clay could also consider encorporating fabrics or threads (into the petals or wings) - make sure the sort you use doesn't melt at baking temperatures of course.
....after my success with (real, not synthetic) silk pongee (normally bleached and is sold to silk painters) in the liquid clay transferred wings, I even tried teasing/chopping up scrap bits of the silk and encorporating them in ordinary clays for strength....It does work quite well as long as you don't overdo it and add so much that it can be seen (actually, the texturing can quite be a pleasing effect) - the added strength can be very handy in pieces likely to be used in more 'hostile' circumstances like childrens' toys or jewellery worn by younger people etc etc. Alan
(.....for tips on how to package items for least breakability in the mail, see Business >Miscellaneous >Shipping)


You can (attach them before or after baking), depending on the shape etc. of the pieces. If you are going to bake them together you should probably make some sort of armature between the base and the legs of the figure. This could be a stiff wire going through the legs into the clay. Be sure there is a bend or hood at each end of the wire so that it won't slip out after baking. Metal doesn't adhere to the clay. Then, when you bake it, prop it well on all sides so it doesn't slump in any direction. If you attach it to a stand after baking, bake the stand first, then make the figure and be certain that it's feet or wherever it will be resting is flat so that when you glue it, it will have a sturdy place to rest. If the feet happen to be lumpy or rounded, then just sand them until they are flat. If the feet or other support are quite small, it would be best to attach before baking. Dotty

For ease of attaching a sculpture to the base, as suggested, provide either thin brass rod or stiff wire sticking out of the base clay (which is covering epoxied-together washers for weight). This wire can then receive your hammered foil and/or wire armature. .. . .I would most likely cover this armature with a thin layer of scrap clay and bake it, then add the final layer. Multiple baking will help prevent having to bake a very thick piece which might cause the cracking. Also, because this would then most likely be over 1/4" thick in its final baking, I would then bake for an hour. Patty B.

(see also Dane's description of attaching an armature to a wooden base above)
(for sculpting stands, see
...Sculpting-Body > Tools > Support Stands)


Barbara’s armature for dragon

many lessons on heads, faces, features (eyes, etc.), and armatures fr. various participants at NoraJean's swap page

~The best resource for armature-making that I've found was an article in "Modeler's Resource" magazine, a publication targeted at "garage kit" model enthusiasts. Leslie


(see also: Armatures--temporary for dissolvable, meltable, or otherwise removable armatures and formers, Sculpting, Structures, Vessels, . . . .)