Polymer Clay Especially Designed For Figure and Doll Sculpts
ProSculpt clay was developed by doll maker Jack Johnston especially for making art dolls. It is an excellent medium for sculpting doll house dolls and other miniature scene figures, including railroad figures. Like other polymer clays it cures at a temperature of 275 degrees (130 degrees celsius), and should be cured ten minutes for every quarter inch of clay. Unlike other clays it comes only in flesh colors, with a special tone for babies, and includes darker pigmented skin tones as well as a lighter tone for fairy folk.
When cured ProSculpt is a very strong clay, which allows you to create individual fingers and small details even in smaller dolls. The website, Johnston Original Art Dolls contains lots of good information and a forum for help making dolls with this clay. Tutorials on making miniature dolls and figures show you the correct proportions and methods of sculpting miniature figures with polymer clay.
Doll makers generally prefer softer, elastic polymer clays that blend easily with a brush or rubber tipped tool. Pro sculpt has these characteristics and is closest in working style to Cernit, another clay very popular with doll makers. The range of flesh tones available from Prosculpt is very good. Small 2 oz amounts of the flesh tones are available if you need to blend a specific skin tone. The clay will take paints and surface pigments (chalks, pastels) like other polymer clays, so overall color can be adjusted if you wish.
Using ProSculpt Clay
ProSculpt is a soft clay which does not require a lot of kneading. This helps to reduce plaques or moons, air pockets which can sometimes be trapped in clays kneaded for long periods. Like other polymer clays, if it is considered too soft, it can be leached by setting chunks of clay on paper to pull the oils out and firm up the clay. Even after leaching, ProSculpt is not a very firm clay.
ProSculpt is soft and very blendable, seams from molds or joins can be gently blended out with a brush or modelling tool without leaving joining lines. It cures to a natural, translucent, flesh-like color, which is less waxy or translucent than Cernit and closer to natural flesh tones than most polymer clays.
The clay can be repeatedly baked, so you can add details in subsequent layers, to avoid distorting your original sculpt.
Like other clays popular with doll makers, ProSculpt is very elastic and although remaining soft for blending, it holds its overall shape well. When pressed, the elasticity allows the clay to dimple rather than hold an exact mark, making realistic sculpture more natural than with some other clays.
Strong when properly cured, it does not shatter when dropped, but has a bit more elasticity than some other cured clay brands
Due to its soft nature, it is probably easier to use pro sculpt clay with an underlying wire armature depending on the figure you are working on. Use of an armature also helps to avoid distorting areas of your sculpt as you work.
From time to time the Art Dolls Site sell soft batches of ProSculpt for use with press molds.
Cost and Availability
ProSculpt is very popular in the doll making community, especially in North America. It is sold in 1 lb bars, listed as containing enough clay to make two 18 inch dolls. It is available in colors listed as Caucasian flesh, Ethnic Brown, Light, White and Baby. In the two oz bars sold for color blending, a black is also available.
ProSculpt is usually available for around $14 - $18 per pound, with 2 oz bars priced at $4.50 each. This makes it a bit more expensive than clays like Cernit, which are usually available for $13 - $15 for 500 grams and Preemo, which sells for $11 in one pound bars.(one pound is 454 grams). A smoothing oil or softener is also available to soften older clay, or smooth the surface of sculptures.
Is ProSculpt Clay Worth the Extra Cost?
If you don't like blending your own flesh tones, and want realistic looking skin without a lot of paint or surface work, ProSculpt may offer some advantages to polymer clay doll makers. It's handling abilities are very much like Cernit, but it comes in a wider range of flesh tones, especially designed to be close to human skin tones. Cernit and Puppen Fimo or doll Fimo, the two polymer clays closest to ProSculpt, tend to have bisque and porcelain tones for dolls, rather than trying to represent human skin. When cured, ProSculpt has a natural slightly translucent finish, which gives a pleasing complexion to most dolls. Its only downsides are its availability, which is improving with more dealers, and it's slightly higher cost. If you consider that achieving natural skin tones in regular polymer clay make take a lot of special blending, the cost of ProSculpt may not seem out of line. If you want dolls that look like porcelain or bisque, you may be just as happy with other less expensive polymer doll clays.
Doll clay does have different handling characteristics than polymer clay used for jewellery or cane techniques. Use the forums and expertise on the Art Dolls Site to help you explore this particular form of clay, or experiment with the tutorials on making dolls and figures from polymer clay. It is certainly an easier medium for a beginner than porcelain and it lends itself to individualized and character dolls similar to the ones found in Maureen Carlson's book Family and Friends in Polymer Clay.