Dobby the elf creature is always concerned of Harry's welfare and eventually sacrificed his life to save his friend. He's one of the well-loved heroes from the Harry Potter series and I thought of making a poseable art doll based on his character.
To make him, I used polymer clay to sculpt his face and limbs while making his torso out of needle-felted wool. This would make him lighter and with the copper wire as his armature will make it possible to pose his limbs.
Check out my 2 part videos on how I made him in time lapse.
Step 1: Materials
- Polymer Clay (I used Living Doll in Baby)
- Sculpting tools: blade, paddle tool, ball stylus
- Copper Wire
- Aluminum wire
- Aluminum foil
- Floral tape
- Felting wool - beige
- Felting needle and mat
- Cotton cloth - cream color
- Fimo dekogel
- White glue
- Rubbing alcohol
- Genesis heat set paints and brushes
- Wire cutter
- Drill bit
- Needle and cream colored thread
- Pipe Cleaners
Step 2: Making the Armature
To make the main frame of the body armature, cut the copper wire 2 times the length of your blue print doll and bend it in half. This is the vertical wire that will support the head and legs. Cut another piece that is the length from one end of the hand to the other. This is the horizontal wire that will support the upper limbs. I recommend that you add an extra inch or two to the wires just in case you want to lengthen the limbs. Using your sketch of Dobby, twist the vertical wire up to the end of the neck, then put the horizontal wire on that end and lift the bottom ends of the vertical wire around the other and back down again. After which, twist both ends up to the pelvic area of the body then separate both wires to become the left and right part of the leg. As for the horizontal wire, bend from the shoulders to become the right and left upper limbs.
The head armature is a ball of aluminum foil stuck on a piece of rod.
To make the fingers and toes less vulnerable to breakage, use aluminum wire for each finger and wind a thinner aluminum wire to hold it in place. Do the same with the feet, the difference is the wires are much longer compared to the hands.
WInd the aluminum wire along the length of the copper wire to make it stronger.
Bulk up the limbs with some aluminum foil then cover the whole armature with floral tape.
Step 3: Sculpting the Head
Wrap the head armature with clay until you get the desired size and shape of the head. Then mark out where the eyes, tip of the nose and parting of the mouth with a needle tool. Using a ball stylus, indent the eye sockets and place 2 balls of clay for the eyes. Then add the upper and lower eyelids and the brow.
For the nose, shape a long triangular pointed shape and add 2 balls of clay on each side. Put a wire through the tip of the nose then blend the seams.
Add some clay to the cheek area and blend.
For the mouth, add 2 arch pieces of flat clay for both upper and lower lips and add more clay to the sides of the mouth and chin area.
Blend all the seams and using a reference photo of Dobby, add in some wrinkles. You can also use a paint brush dipped in rubbing alcohol to smooth out the clay.
Bake the head to 130 degrees celsius for 20 minutes in an oven.
Step 4: Sculpting the Ears
The ears are flat triangular shapes with wire on one side and blended on the side of the head. Add details to the ear by adding a rod shaped piece on the top part of the ear and c shaped rod in the ear. Use a ball stylus to indent the ear canals.
Step 5: Sculpting the Upper Limbs
Cover the armature with clay and shape the muscles by indenting the clay. The first photo shows me shaping the deltoid muscle then the second photo I'm marking the line between the biceps (upper muscle) and triceps (lower). Place some thin snakes for the tendons of the hand and draw lines on the palms of the hand. Indent the nail bed with a paddle tool and after it's baked add nails on each finger.
Step 6: Sculpting the Lower Limbs
Wrap the leg armature with clay and a round flat piece on the knee area. Try to define the muscles of the legs by indenting the clay and adding to areas where it needs more bulk such as the upper thigh and the back of the leg where the gastrocnemius muscle lies. Pinch the back of the foot for the achilles tendon. Add rod shaped pieces of clay on top of the toes and blend. Indent the nail beds as well and nails will be added later on after it's baked. Add some detail markings on the bottom of the feet.
Step 7: Painting
I used Genesis heat set paints to paint Dobby but you can use acrylic or pastels.
For his skin and lips I used peach and pink colors to blush and brown to paint the shadows and creases.
For his eyes, I colored it white then with black paint drew the shape of the iris. Then colored it with green and some yellow. The pupil is black paint and I added a dot of white paint for the highlight.
Step 8: Needle Felting the Body and Clothing
Before making the body, attach the head to the body by using a drill bit then bulk the neck area with foil and cover with floral tape. Then cover it with clay and shape the neck muscles. Bake the whole doll completely for 40 minutes.
Now for the body, put glue on the wire and wrap with pipe cleaners. This will help the wool to stick. Then wrap the wool and needle felt it carefully to avoid breaking the needle. Keep on wrapping wool and needle felt it in place until you have achieved the form that you want.
His clothes are just 2 rectangular pieces of cloth and sewn on each side.