Make Animal Doll Heads with Air-Dry Clay

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These doll heads are easy to make with my Air Dry Clay recipe

In this post I show you how easy it is to make hollow heads for dolls or puppets, using a sock, some rice or wheat, a plastic bag, plaster cloth, and DIY air dry clay.

Each head will be an original sculpture, but they’re fast and easy to make. Each doll head will have it’s own personality, and you can even make one with the colors and patterns of your own dog, cat or bunny.

Or make a portrait of your friend’s pet for a  gift!

The full instructions for the dolls, including a pattern for sewing the cuddly soft bodies and clothes, are in my book How to Make Adorable Baby Animal Dolls.

how to make baby animal dolls
Kitten doll with DIY air dry clay head and soft huggable body.
Bulldog puppy doll with DIY air dry clay head.
Bunny doll made with DIY air dry clay.

How to Make the Baby Animal Doll Heads:

Make Animal Doll Heads with Air-Dry Clay

1 Pour 1/4 cup of rice into a baby sock.

Tie off the sock armature to hold the rice in.

2 Squeeze the rice down to the toe of the sock, and tie off with a string.

Make Animal Doll Heads with Air-Dry Clay

3 Pull the sock over the neck of a weighted bottle and secure it on with plastic tape.

Add plaster cloth to the doll-head armature.

4 Push the rice around inside the sock until you get an egg shape (for a bunny) and then cover the sock and a short piece of the neck with plaster cloth. Allow the plaster to harden for an hour or two.

Pour the rice out of the doll-head armature.

5 Remove the rice, sock and plastic bag from the inside of the head. They can be used again to make another doll head.

Make Animal Doll Heads with Air-Dry Clay

6 Press a very thin sheet of Silky-Smooth Air Dry Clay over the plaster cloth. (Or use DAS clay, if you want). Allow it to dry overnight.

Make Animal Doll Heads with Air-Dry Clay

7 For the eyes, muzzle and nose with wet air dry clay. Before adding the new clay, brush a mixture of glue and water over the dry clay to make sure everything sticks together.

Cut out slots for the soft baby animal ears.

8 When the air dry clay is dry, cut slots for the ears if you’re using soft ears like I did in my book.

Paint the doll head and add the ears.

9 Paint the doll head. When the paint is dry, pull the soft ears through the neck and up through the slots in the head.

Make Animal Doll Heads with Air-Dry Clay

And finally …

Put the neck into the opening at the top of the soft body. Use strong upholstery thread to tighten the fabric around the neck so it can’t slip off.

Make your doll a dress or a pair of overalls, and it’s ready for a hug.

Click here for the recipe for the silky-smooth air-dry clay mentioned in the video.

And click here for the video showing how those cute little toes are made.

If you have any questions about the process shown in the video, be sure to ask.

And if you already bought the book and you’ve made some baby animal dolls of your own, we would love to see them.

I want to thank everyone who helped me choose the cover for my book – your feedback was really helpful to me. (Covers are hard!)

My baby animal doll book is available on amazon.com

Make Animal Doll Heads with Air-Dry Clay

13 thoughts on “Make Animal Doll Heads with Air-Dry Clay”

  1. Hi Jonni, I have never worked with paper clay and stumbled upon your video and it looks so much simpler than some of the others I have seen. Quick questions though, the plaster cloth..? is that something you make or buy and what do you use to wet it with? and also I read another recipe on here and I am not sure if it is the air dry recipe but you mentioned you used one roll of 2ply angel soft toilet paper, so for the recipe link above, would you use the same? if not is there any way you could tell me how many rolls you would use for this recipe? thanks sooo much. You are so very talented!

    • Hi Natasha. The plaster cloth is something that you can get in a hobby store, or you can buy it online. The cloth has powdered plaster on it. You dip it in water, lay it over the form, and it gets hard in just a few minutes. The air dry clay can be made with any brand of toilet paper, but the amount is different from the video you saw. The recipe is on this page. Have fun!

  2. Hi Jonni
    Thank you for your wonderful videos. I am making a doll ( like the Blythe dolls ) but 3′ tall not only 12 ” tall. They have very large heads. I have started making the head with paper strips over a balloon. Once l have it stronger and more to shape l was wondering if I could use your paper clay over the top of to get a smoother more detailed finish? I wanted to end up with a super smooth surface but am not sure how to achieve this. I would be so grateful for any help you could offer me.
    Many thanks
    Wendy Melbourne Australia

    • Hi Wendy. Yes, you can add a thin layer of the air dry clay over your paper mache. The clay isn’t very sticky, so use white glue diluted with water to brush over the paper mache, to make sure the clay sticks. You can also dampen your finger with the diluted glue and lightly glide it over the clay after it has been applied, to make the surface even smoother. Once it dries, you can use fine sandpaper, if you need to. If you do sand, be sure to use a mask to keep the dust out of your lungs.

      Good luck with your project. And be sure to show us your doll when it’s done.

  3. I am new to your work and to doing paper mache. I love your website and the beautiful work you do!! I am interested in the concrete/outdoor developments so would appreciate any videos etc you may like to make. You have a great teaching style and the website is so full of information-thank-you so much Jonni.

    • Thanks, Sue. The concrete experiments will have to wait until the weather warms up again. This summer, every time I thought up a project, it started to rain. I tried working in my studio, but the cement dust ended up everywhere. Next year I hope to turn the garage into an outdoor studio, so I can get back into it.

  4. Jonni, get well soon. This is the season for all ailments so be extra vigilant. Thank you for the video on how to make your baby animal dolls. Your instructions are so well done.

    • Thanks, everyone, for your kind thoughts. I’m already getting better, and I should be back to normal tomorrow. I think I picked up a bug when I went to the production of Frogz at the university. Hundreds of kids, of course, so one of them was bound to be harboring germs.

      Speaking of Frogz, does anyone know why they called the scene with the giant iguanas “Alligators” in the program? I saw the production days ago, and it’s still bugging me. (Probably a symptom of mild brain fuzziness, which is, I hope, temporary.)

  5. I love your books, videos and website inspiration. Most of all though I appreciate your generosity and sharing. You are a bright light in todays troubled world. Thank you and feel better soon.

  6. Hi Jonni, Many thanks for this video. It has encouraged me get on and order your book, which has been on my wish-list for a long, long time! I do hope you feel better soon. Have a quiet, lazy weekend. Cheers!

  7. Jonni, I hope you are feeling well soon. You should curl up with a good book, a cup of tea, and a comforter even when you are feeling good. It isn’t lazy. It is re-charge time.

    Take good care!


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