Monday, September 17, 2012

Bratzillaz vs. Monster High feet

Bratzillaz dolls have actual feet, unlike Bratz dolls, and of course those feet are different size from any other doll. Monster High dolls come closest, but the arch in their feet is longer. Bratzillaz foot is also wider.

The photo shows from left to right: Bratzillaz, regular Monster High, Nefera.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

New patterns

Patterns for Monster High shoes and soles described in recent blog posts are now available on my web site.

Friday, September 14, 2012

More experiments with polymer clay

I was wondering if I could make something like the modified plastic castings in the previous post, but use polymer clay. I made a similar mold (only taller) using cardboard and cut pieces from the sides, so I could cut the clay after filling the mold.

Then I covered those openings with pieces of cardboard attached with adhesive tape. This helps in filling the mold.

When the mold was full, I removed those extra pieces.

Then I cut along the edges of the openings. That wasn't easy as the clay was a bit too soft even after a few hours in a fridge. Soft clay is easier when filling the mold, but makes cutting more difficult. The surfaces required some work after cutting to make them even.

Here are the soles after baking and removing the molds. I'm not quite happy with the shape, so I think these will have to be cut and sanded quite a bit. Still, I've got two soles of similar shape and size to work with, which is more than I could do without using molds.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Plastic castings

I decided to make soles for Monster High shoes using the plastic that is melted by heating (more details here). First I made simple wedge soles. I started by cutting the parts of the molds from thin copper sheet lined with packing tape.

Then I used pieces of the same tape to assemble the molds.

Here are the molds filled with hot plastic and waiting to cool down. The molds are attached to a piece of wood with double-sided tape to make sure they stay in correct position.

And here are the finished soles. This pale yellow is the original color of the E-Z Water plastic pellets.

Then I decided to experiment a bit and made molds for soles with separate heels for Nefera. I just modified the pattern I used for the polymer clay soles.

I was actually quite surprised to see that this worked. If it hadn't, I would have just returned the pieces to the melting pot for re-use. These soles are slightly darker than the previous ones, because I was running out of plastic and had to add a previously slightly overheated batch into the pot. Overheating makes the plastic get darker (and serious overheating makes it smoke and smell bad). The correct temperature to use is the lowest in which you can get the plastic to melt. My stove has a scale of 0 to 12 and setting 5 is just right for this.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wedge soles using polymer clay

I decided to try, if the method I've been using for heels would also work with wedge soles. I have previously made this kind of soles using E-Z Water plastic that needs to be melted. With the plastic, I used a metal mold, but as polymer clay needs to be baked in the oven, I used cardboard for these.

I started by making a pattern. These soles are for Nefera, so I had to start from scratch.

Previously, I have made the back of the heel curved, but this time, I decided to try angles.

When using metal, the insoles are attached with adhesive tape, but as these molds will go into the oven, plastic isn't an option. So, I cut flaps all around the insoles, except at the back, where there needs to be a hole in the mold. The flaps need to be narrow, so the curves will come out nicely.

The next picture shows how to glue the insoles in place. This can be a bit messy with glue spreading all over your finger tips, but fortunately, only the inside of the mold needs to stay neat.

Then it was time to test that the arch of the foot is correct. The additional piece of cardboard on the side of the mold is there to fix a small hole (that particular angle is a bit tricky and if you're not careful, there will be a hole there). Note the hole on top, behind the doll's heel. That hole is there to help you see when the mold is full. When pressing the clay into the mold, only stop when it starts coming out of that hole. Remove any excess before baking the soles.

Here are the molds filled with polymer clay and ready for baking. At this stage, you should check that the bottom is even and that the soles do not lean left or right. Check also that the insole does not bulge. It is easier to fix that at this stage, but you can fix it also after baking, just use a craft knife and cut off any excess.

Finished heels after baking.

Friday, September 7, 2012

More plastic

I decided to try the transparent plastic in Piggy's shoes. As usual, first I needed the insoles.

I glued fabric on them.

And turned the edges under the soles.

I'm usually not particular about the placement of patterns in insoles, but this time I made sure the they would be identical.

Then I cut wide straps from plastic, added strips of stickers, and applied glossy sealer to stop the stickers from falling off.

I made holes at the end of the straps as before and used double-sided tape to keep the straps in place before gluing.

I used one pair of the polymer clay heels just made. I applied one coat of glossy sealer, let it dry, added stickers, and then applied more sealer. The purpose of the first coat of sealer was to make the surface less porous and help the stickers stay in place.

I actually applied the last coat of sealer after assembling the shoes and hung the shoes to dry. The result is always neater, if you can apply the sealer to all necessary surfaces (sides, back, front, bottom) at once, but that means you need to figure out a way to place the heels/shoes to dry in a way that the wet surfaces won't touch anything.

Here are the shoes on 16" Miss Piggy.

For the previous post on using transparent plastic, see here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Making modeling clay heels

My main problem with modeling clay is that I cannot make two identical pieces without a pattern or mold. So, I have solved the problem of making heels by using a cardboard mold.

This time I was making heels for 16" Miss Piggy's shoes. The photo below shows the cardboard insole with an empty mold for the heel.

The hardest part is making the pattern for the mold. You can see the basic form below, but it is very much trial and error. Once you've got the pattern right, draw the required number of them on cardboard, fold the front parts as shown, and cut out the pieces. You can make the folds after cutting, but I find this order easier.

Curve the back and sides of the heels using a suitable round object, for example, a marker pen.Then glue the front as shown. The result is the neatest, if the lower flap (the one that goes inside, against the modeling clay) covers the entire width of the heel front. If it doesn't, you'll get a visible seam in the modeling clay (see the last photo of this blog post).

When the glue is dry, pack the molds full of modeling clay. Press it tightly to avoid any gaps, but be careful, so you won't crush the mold. When the mold is full, use a craft knife to cut off any modeling clay that exceeds the top or bottom of the mold, and make sure the form of the heel is the way you want it.

Bake the heels in the oven according to the instructions given in the packaging of the modeling clay you're using. After getting them out of the oven, remove the cardboard immediately (as soon as you can handle the hot pieces). If you let the pieces cool down, the cardboard will be a lot harder to remove. If you're going to cover the heels with fabric, leather, etc., you can also leave the cardboard in place (especially, if you have used leftover pieces of clay of various colors and want to make sure that won't show through the material used for covering the heels).

Here are the finished heels for Miss Piggy.

The top of the heel may be convex even when you have cut it before baking. If that is the case, just use a craft knife to remove any extra material. This has the added benefit that glue will hold better, if the surface is cut or sanded after baking.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Copying a real-life design

Some months ago, I saw an interesting design at a shoe store. I took a photo as I knew I'd want to try making these in doll size.

The first version is for Monster High dolls. I'm thinking of trying them for a bigger doll as well, because of the potential for better details.

I started by making the patterns. The pattern for the upper looks so strange that I actually had to write in it which way the sides are supposed to go. Next, I made the cardboard insoles.

Usually, I make the closing mechanism last, but this time, the shape of the upper made it really hard to get it to stay in the correct position for gluing, so I had to get it closed before gluing. It's a simple bead and hole mechanism again. That's easy to make and works really well with leather.

With that problem solved, I manage to glue the uppers in place (after gluing pieces of leather on top of the cardboard insoles).

Then I glued the straps to the uppers. The straps are from a card-woven band I used for another pair previously. I really wanted to have more straps, like in the shoes I photographed at the store, but the band was too wide for that.

Then I glued the straps under the insoles.

Because the materials used were quite thick, I decided to fill the gaps with leftover pieces to ensure that the outer soles would be even.

For the toe parts, I glued oversized pieces and trimmed them after the glue was dry.

Then I glued the outer soles in place.

I made the heels from round strips of wood, which I glued in place and painted brown. You can also paint first and glue afterwards, but when you glue the heels in place first, you can hold the entire shoe when painting, paint the entire heels at once, and it is easy to put them to dry so that the heels won't touch anything.

Here are the finished shoes on Clawdeen.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Transparent plastic

This was my first attempt of using transparent plastic for doll shoes. These are for Monster High dolls.

The plastic needs to be that soft and pliable, slightly stretchy variant. The piece I used was from a protective cover of a calendar, I think. The Create a Monster legs can be very handy for making shoes for the dolls, because they are easier to handle than the entire doll and more durable than plaster castings. The rows of pearls are sticker strips, which are easier to handle than separate stickers.

I started by making patterns for the required parts.

Then I made the insoles from two layers of cardboard and glued fabric on top.

This photo shows one finished insole and the other one waiting for some more gluing.

Cutting the upper pieces from plastic was a bit tricky as the patterns kept slipping from the plastic. I finally managed to cut all parts, but photographing them was the next challenge.

I didn't want totally transparent uppers, so I glued some pearls to the pieces.

Then I applied sealer to make sure the stickers won't fall off. Here are the pieces waiting for the sealer to dry.

When the pieces were dry, I used some double-sided adhesive tape to attach the ankle strap bottoms to each other. Then I made a hole to the part where they overlap. The toe straps also got tape and holes for the reason explained below.

Although double-sided tape is quite good at keeping the plastic pieces in place temporarily while you haven't glued the outer sole in place yet, I didn't trust it to be a permanent solution. That is why I made the holes in the plastic pieces. The holes need to go through the plastic and any tape there might be, so that when you glue the outer sole in place, it and the cardboard sole will be glued directly to each other in the places where the holes are. These "plugs" will stop the plastic pieces from sliding anywhere, especially as the outer sole and cardboard sole will be glued to each other on both sides of the plastic pieces. So, the plastic is locked in the correct position and cannot move anywhere.

For closing the ankle strap, I attached a small bead to the other side and made a hole to the end of the strap going across the ankle. I used transparent thread for the bead and secured the knot with glue.

This is the construction after gluing the outer soles in place.

My uncle left a big stash of wooden cigarrette holders and I've been finding various uses for them. This time I decided to try using them for heels.

I sawed and cut them to a suitable shape and used cardboard to close all openings. Before gluing the top shut, I actually filled the heels with sand to help them keep their shape.

Then I glued the heels in place and painted them.

Here are the shoes on my custom Create a Monster doll "Bee."