Sunday, September 20, 2009

Messy Mix Tutorial

Excerpts from The Cloth Doll, Summer 1988, by Helen Pringle:

When the entire head of a large, heavy cloth stuffed cloth doll is painted, permanent damage can result from an otherwise minor accident, and can leave permanent dents. Because the paint was applied directly to the cloth, the paint had soaked through and stuck to the stuffing inside.

...after trial and error and experimentation, the problem was solved with'Miracle Mess Mixture' - a mixture of one-half modeling paste and one-half acrylic gel medium, applied in multiple thin coats to the doll head and arms before they were painted.

Helen used Liquitex Modeling Paste and Liquitex Acrylic Gel Medium. Buy small volumes of each, as the paste begins to harden once it's opened. Use a good brush and save it just for the mixture. Helen prefers a 3/4 inch soft nylon "exploded tip" brush as it minimizes brush marks.

Mix one part paste to one part medium in a clean, small glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Add water sparingly, a few drops at a time, when the mixture begins to thicken. Adding too much water will result in poor adhesion which will eventually crack. Once the paste has been opened and partially used, wipe clean the top edge and lid of its container to avoid dried bits falling into the remaining paste. Before replacing the lid, cover the mouth of the jar with plastic wrap. Mix only the amount you can use within a few days.

Work quickly. The mixture begins to dry when exposed to air. Swish the brush in water if it gets clogged and press out the excess water from the brush. Allow the first coat to dry for a couple hours before applying the next coat. Then allow 1 hour drying time between coats. Apply a minimum of four coats. After the second and subsequent coats, sand carefully with medium sandpaper or a flexible sanding pad to eliminate brushmarks and rough spots. Wear a dust mask.

If the head will have a wig, you don't need to sand that portion of the head. Also, you can build up hair by applying extra coats to that area.

When coated to your satisfaction, paint with either oils or acrylics.

Disadvantages: Once the first coat is on the cloth and dry, the shape of the head cannot be changed.

Advantages: The coated head always remains flexible and the undercoating adheres to the cloth and remains on the surface, rather than soaking through and sticking. Clean up with soap and water.

The purpose of this method is to prolong the life of the paint and to help avoid permanent dents. It is not meant to imitate other materials or mediums.

In my experience, after applying the first couple layers you can smooth out some of the brush strokes with a light spritz of water and smoothing the surface with your fingers - do this while the Messy Mix is still a little damp.

If your doll's hands look flat and unnatural, you can put a little curve in them and the Messy Mix will help hold that curve.

2 comments:

Robin's Egg Bleu said...

Great information, Deanna!

littlebitwired said...

Thanks Deanna, It's a technique I've never tried. Great information!