So in a couple of conversations with Firstborn Son about my work, he has urged me to do some blog posts which describe the process of creating a doll. At first I resisted because I am still pretty new to this field, and I do a LOT of experimenting. And some of my experiments make me feel a little bit foolish afterward because in hindsight, well DUH, obviously THAT was never gonna work! And why would I want to put all my vulnerability out there in the world for everyone to see and laugh at? But Firstborn Son says no, really, I should try it. People will find it interesting, he says. No one is going to judge you. And Firstborn Son is a pretty savvy guy.

So okay. Even though I feel a little bit like I’m standing up here in my underwear, I’m going to share some of my recent experiments. Let me know what you think!

Here’s what happened: after I finished Contemplation I realized I wanted to do some more contemporary figures. I thought it would be fun to depict some of the sort of people you might see in a coffee shop. I sculpted a couple of heads (more on those later).

Once I got the heads done, I was ready to move on to the hands. But in order to do the hands, I need to know how they’re going to be posed and what, if anything, they’ll be holding. Well, obviously, they are going to need some coffee.

So I made a coffee cup. It was pretty easy. After a little experimentation, I had the right shapes. The cup is made from a sheet of Bristol board and the cardboard sleeve from a pizza box.


I glued the sides of the cup together (I didn’t take a picture, but you can probably figure out how that worked!), then put glue on the tabs for the bottom.


I inserted the bottom:


And pushed it around and fiddled with it until I had it where I wanted it, let the glue dry, and — voila! — a paper coffee cup!


As I said, that was pretty easy.

But then I had to figure out how to make a lid. And that was the hard part. Coffee cup lids are really complicated!


I puzzled over it for a while, and then headed out to A.C.Moore for some inspiration. (I wonder what they think of me when I go into a craft store and then just wander s-l-o-w-l-y up and down the aisles like a zombie!) Anyway, I was pretty pleased when I found these little jars of paint that had lids that were almost exactly the right size for my coffee cup. They were really cheap, too — something like 99 cents for five of them.


I cut the lid off one of the jars and trimmed off all the little protrusions that were sticking out of it, made a hole with a needle I had heated in a candle flame, put a coat of white paint on it, and it was perfect!


There was just one teeny, tiny little problem.

It didn’t look a thing like a real coffee cup lid. And that just wasn’t going to do.

So next I tried making one out of polymer clay. . .


It sucked.

Maybe if I made it a little bit simpler . . .


Nope. Still sucks.

So this time I went to Michaels for inspiration, and wandered s-l-o-w-l-y up and down the aisles. I came home with a whole bag full of stuff and did some more experimenting. And here’s what I ended up with:


Not perfect, but definitely the best one yet. Wanna know how I did it? Okay, I’ll tell you. In fact, I’ll write a whole tutorial for you!

Ahem. My first tutorial on art doll and miniature making. (Since this is now a tutorial, I’m obliged to use the imperative case.) Pay attention!


 You need two round templates. One needs to be exactly the same diameter as the rim of your cup, and the other slightly smaller. It’s easiest if you can find templates that have an edge, as you will see. In my case, the little paint jar from my first experiment was perfect for the larger template. I ran a Sharpie around the edge:


And made a print of it on a piece of Bristol board:


If you can’t find something with an edge, you can use a button or a coin or whatever you can find, and just trace around the outside of it.

Cut that circle out just outside the lines. You want it to be slightly larger than the rim of your coffee cup.


Now you’re going to use the same template to cut a circle out of a piece of craft foam. Again, having that edge made it easier, because I could use it to impress the circle into the foam:


But again, you could trace around the outside. This time cut right on the line.

Now center the smaller template inside the foam circle and either impress it or trace around it. I used a pastry nozzle for my second template.


Make two of these:


And use a sharp craft knife to cut them as in the photo below. (I know, they’re a little rough. I could spend the next two hours trying to make perfect ones, or I could go ahead and write this tutorial. You get the idea):


Glue the one with the D-shaped cutout to the Bristol circle, and glue the ring on top of that. Then trim away most of the excess of the bottom circle, leaving just the tiniest little lip:


Now measure the height of the two foam pieces, and cut a strip of paper that size. Mine was just over 1/8″.


Glue the paper around the edge of the foam pieces to disguise the seam and make everything look nice and smooth:


You might want to put some weight in the bottom of your coffee cup to give it some stability. I squirted a little bit of hot glue in mine. Then I hot-glued the lid onto the cup.


And it was done! It’s not perfect — the lip on the bottom is simpler than the one on a real lid, and I haven’t figured out how to make the hole in the top. But the overall impression is pretty good, I think.

Whew! Look at that — I survived standing up in front of everyone in my underwear! Maybe I’ll do this again!