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Creating LifeLike Figures in Polymer Clay by Katherine Dewey - Book Review How to Make Realistic Human Dolls and Clothes

Updated on October 22, 2015
Polymer clay can be used for all manner of lifelike sculpture. With Katherine Dewey's techniques, you can learn to sculpt virtually anything you see.
Polymer clay can be used for all manner of lifelike sculpture. With Katherine Dewey's techniques, you can learn to sculpt virtually anything you see. | Source
5 stars for Lifelike Figures in Polymer Clay by Katherine Dewey
Creating Lifelike Figures in Polymer Clay: Tools and Techniques for Sculpting Realistic Figures
Creating Lifelike Figures in Polymer Clay: Tools and Techniques for Sculpting Realistic Figures

Filled with tips and techniques for creating realistic humans and clothing from polymer clay, this book is a must-have for budding polyclay sculpture artists.


Once upon a time, the mention of polymer clay evoked nostalgic recollections of summer camp and kids’ crafts. The colorful, plastic-based clay presented the perfect medium for a child’s imagination to soar. Today, with more specialized formulas and a wider range of tools available, polymer clay has finally begun to gain recognition for an even better use – as the most versatile artistic medium for the imaginations of crafters and artisans all over the world. Polymer clay can be easily manipulated to simulate any kind of fabric, semi-precious stone, and even fur and skin. The sky is truly the limit once you’ve learned some of the techniques for realistic polymer clay creations.

Getting Started

Have you ever suspected that you don’t have artistic talent? Chances are, you just haven’t found the right medium yet. Millions of artists can’t paint or draw, but show extraordinary talent in other areas. If you’ve ever used polymer clay to make beads for a friendship bracelet or for those cutesy little frog sculptures, then the techniques contained in Katherine Dewey’s Creating Lifelike Figures in Polymer Clay: A Step-by-Step Guide lie within your grasp. With a little expert guidance, you might be amazed at what types of sculpture you can do.

Book Highlights

Creating Lifelike Figures in Polymer Clay kicks off with step-by-step instructions for building the human form. This includes clear instructions and detailed illustrations to help you achieve the proper proportions in a range of popular scales. Dewey includes helpful tips for changes you need to make to create sculptures depicting different ethnic backgrounds, ages, fitness levels and poses. The instructions will teach you how to make anything from tiny 1:64-scale humans to the hugely popular 18” or larger art dolls.

Artists spend amazing amounts of money on fake doll hair (whether it’s the good old acrylic variety or an alpaca’s trimmed locks) and glass eyes in order to create a realistic look in their art dolls and sculptures. This is great if it’s the way you want to create, but you can get super-realistic results without such expenditures. Katherine Dewey offers some extremely useful tips on how to make beautifully expressive eyes with only clay and paint, and hair with only a bit of sisal cord and dye.

Ever wonder how to achieve a realistic cloth look using polymer clay? That, too, will be explained to you in Creating Lifelike Figures in Polymer Clay. Dewey offers tips and tricks for producing a number of textile textures, cuts for period clothing, and practical instructions that can be used for any clothes from the Renaissance to the space age.

Artdolls: Basic Sculpting and Beyond
Artdolls: Basic Sculpting and Beyond

Move beyond human figures to the diverse (and potentially lucrative) world of art dolls with this top-notch book from artist Jack Johnson.


Reviewer’s Critique

The only true barrier to ownership of this book, for many people, has been the price. It’s out of print and in high demand, so prices in the Amazon Marketplace run to $100 or more. Can’t pay $100 for a book, no matter how useful the information? Lucky for you, it has now been re-released with a different cover, but the information remains identical – and the price runs closer to $20. Yes, there is no difference between this book and Creating Lifelike Figures in Polymer Clay: Tools and Techniques for Sculpting Realistic Figures. Provided you’re not a book collector, this is a perfect economical choice.

Of all the instructional polymer clay books on the market, this is by far one of the most practical and useful for the sculptor or the beginning doll artist. This is a valuable addition to your collection that will, no doubt, remain in use as a reference for quite some time to come. Beyond this, you may also get a lot of use out of Katherine Dewey’s Creating Lifelike Animals in Polymer Clay. For those heading the art doll route, consider also acquiring Jack Johnson’s Art Dolls: Basic Sculpting and Beyond. Once you’re ready to really make a business out of it, Johnson’s The Advanced Art of Making and Marketing Art Dolls is an invaluable resource.

If you want a way to get into the true, detailed art of polymer clay, this is the way to do it. Sculptures such as this are not only a timeless treasure for you or your family, but may sell for even hundreds of dollars on the collector market. There are few types of polymer clay art that will be quite so rewarding and lucrative for the artist who loves intricate detail, and Katherine Dewey offers herself as a very qualified teacher in the techniques that you’ll need to master.

I hope that this review has been helpful to you, and that you find the path to your truly unique artistic expression. Are you a polymer clay artist, or hope to become one? Please leave a comment below telling us a bit about your art, and your single favorite tool or technique for working with polymer clay. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review and comment.

Not sure which clay you need? Watch this video to help you choose.


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