Whoa…when I started this series I clearly forgot how much time tutorials take! Goodness.
But finally (FINALLY), the final installment on making makeunder/rescued dolls. This tutorial covers my very simple shoe-making process.
For the first part, a tutorial on repainting makeunder faces, go HERE!
For the second part, a tutorial on making simple dresses, go HERE!
And for the third part, a tutorial on making shoes, stay here.
- Polymer clay in whatever color you want your shoes to be
- Preferably use Fimo clay or Sculpey Primo (the good stuff)
- An exacto knife (or any sharp knife)
- A marker or pen for rolling clay
- A pen or pencil or paintbrush
- Rubbing alcohol
- Hot glue gun (preferably high-temp gun but a low-temp gun should work fine)
- Cooking oil of some sort, or vaseline.
- A doll (duh)
FORMING THE SHOES
Here is the clay I’m working with. The clay on the left is Fimo, and the clay on the right is lower-quality Sculpey III. I wouldn’t recommend the cheaper Sculpey III – use Fimo or Sculpey Primo or something. The higher-quality clay doesn’t pick up fingerprints as well, and it’s stronger so small children won’t break the shoes getting them on and off.
Not many people know this, but I used to run an Etsy shop making tiny clay cupcakes and cakes. I ended up featured on Anderson Live! I had a shop in Etsy for a little over a year before I grew bored with the venture and stopped. But, working with clay so often gave me a head start on making shoes and other doll props with clay, so now I can pass on a bit of my clay knowledge!
Some Polymer Clay Background
If you don’t know what polymer clay is, it’s a plastic clay that hardens when baked. The higher-quality clay (Fimo and Sculpey Primo…anything that’s not the cheapest kind) is pretty sturdy stuff, but it becomes fragile and brittle if it’s too thin or if it’s baked improperly (not enough baking time or too much). It has to be baked on glassware, nothing else!
A note on choosing a color: this clay LOVES to pick up dust, and unless you want to spend half an hour sanding your shoes down after you bake them, I wouldn’t recommend using white or any other light color of clay for the shoes. It’s for your mental health, really.
Conditioning the Clay
Before you start working with clay, you should condition it first. ‘Condition’ is just a fancy way of saying you need to warm it up. Work it around with your fingers, smoosh it, roll it out and crumple it up…just get it nice and kneaded. Working with clay that is warm (literally warm, cold clay is rock hard) makes everything so much easier!
Once your clay is conditioned, roll it in a ball between your palms and then form it into a sort of log shape, shown above.
A note on surfaces: clay likes to stick to things, especially rough surfaces. For this project glass or tile is the best surface to work on, but you can make do with wax paper, aluminum foil, or just being really careful on whatever surface you have available.
Cut the log in half with an exacto knife or something sharp, then roll the two halves into balls.
Form the Shape
Now you’re ready to start forming the foot shape!
Here you can sort of tell the shape I was going for. I went with little booties with a rounded toe, although you can see in the left photo that there is a right and a left shoe, which I made by rounding the toe box out more on one side of the shoe.
The right photo shows the ankle. You can make yours shorter or taller depending on how you want your boots to look – but you can’t go too tall without making the boots fragile.
Making the Hole
…That sounds weirdly dirty. No. Just doll shoes! That’s all!
Take a pen, pencil, or the end of a paintbrush and smoosh it into the ankle part on the boot you just formed. This is the hole for the doll’s leg pegs to go into.
Work the pen around, making sure to stabilize the boot with your fingers as you work so the ankle doesn’t get too misshapen. If it does, just mold it back into place.
You want the hole to be a bit larger than the doll’s legs. The legs should fit in there with room to slip around.
Now take a new ball of clay, get it nice and warmed up, then form it into a ball.
Roll the ball out into a long, thin rope. My clay rope (on the left) is about half the width of an exacto knife or pen.
Making even ropes out of clay is actually harder than you would think. Try to make it as even as possible by using your fingers to roll instead of your palm. Use both hands and roll slowly to prevent the rope from flopping around.
Now take whatever you want to use to roll the clay out and gently roll over the rope, working to make the new width of the rope even. I rolled this out with an exacto knife.
This flat rope is going to be the ankles on the booties! If you want taller booties, make the rope taller or wider, just remember it can’t be too thin – polymer clay (even Fimo and Sculpey Primo) isn’t the sturdiest of stuff when thinned out.
Cut two length of the flat rope, and gently wrap each one around the ankle part of the boot bottom you formed earlier. Then take your pen or something that fits into the hole of the boot and use that to help press the two boot parts together (with the pen on the inside and your finger on the outside of the boot).
Smoothing it Out
If you’re like me, your boots are a mess of fingerprints by now. If this was a crime scene we’d be screwed. CSI would love us. There are a couple ways to smooth everything out.
First, you can just lick your finger and use that to smooth out the clay. I normally don’t do this. You can also dab your finger in baby powder and rub it on the clay, using the baby powder as a film between the clay and your fingers to prevent more prints from showing up as you smooth the old ones away. I don’t do this with boots because it’s a bit messy, and because it doesn’t work very well with dark colors (baby powder is white, after all).
So…get some rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip.
Dip the Q-Tip in a healthy amount of rubbing alcohol and start rubbing the fingerprints out.
Bake according to the directions on your clay package. I bake mine for 15 minutes for every quarter inch of clay there is. So I bake my shoes for 30 minutes. It’s better to err on the side of overbaking, underbaking will only make the shoes brittle.
Make sure you bake on glass, nothing else!
After it’s done baking, let the shoes cool before you pop them off the glass bakeware.
Making the Leg Peg Hole….Things
Get out that glue gun and get it warmed up. While you’re waiting, put a bit of cooking oil or Vaseline onto a paper towel and rub the doll’s leg pegs with it. They should be coated in a thin layer of grease (not so much that it’s just dripping off, though, so don’t just dip the doll’s legs into oil).
Fill the holes in the boots part way with hot glue. I normally fill the boots up to the line where the flat rope is wrapped around. Be careful not to over-fill, you don’t want the glue to spill out everywhere.
IMPORTANT! Before you stick the doll’s legs into the glue, WAIT for 10 seconds or so for the glue to cool a bit. You may not have to wait at all if you’re using a low-temp glue gun, though.
Now, after you’ve waited for a few seconds (if you have a high-temp gun), carefully insert the doll’s legs into the center of the glue, pushing down until the pegs are fully covered.
If the doll’s legs aren’t perfectly straight, you may want to insert one leg at a time, instead of doing both at once.
Now let the glue dry. I normally let it dry COMPLETELY before removing the doll, so I let them sit for at least ten minutes or so. To get the doll out, start by twisting the shoe around the leg to loosen it up, then pop the leg out.
Decorating is always the best part, for everything.
I painted these shoes with acrylic paint, but you can do lots of different things! You can wrap ribbons around the part that I painted, you can glue bows on, you can cover the whole damn thing with glitter if you want!
You can also use thin foam sheets to cut out a sole for the shoe, if you like.
After painting these shoes I coated them both in super thick varnish to make them super shiny. Then I put them on our makeunder model, Andy!