Painted Cloth Doll Making

Prepping Your Cloth Dolls For Paint

I recently received a call from Christine P. from Michigan. It was great to have a chance to chat with Christine about several of my classes. Among other things, we were talking about painted cloth dolls. Christine has become interested in trying cloth doll making and has been researching it a bit. She mentioned that she had learned that she would need to gesso the fabric before painting it. I told her that gesso is good, but Helen Pringle’s “Miracle Messy Mixture” is better.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with “Miracle Messy Mixture”, it is a blend of equal parts of Liquitex Acrylic Gel Medium and Liquitex Modeling Paste. If you can’t find Acrylic Gel Medium you can substitute Acrylic Matte Medium. Mix up only a small quantity at a time, as it is fairly expensive and it begins to harden as soon as it is opened. Use the “Messy Mixture” instead of gesso, making sure to sand smooth between coats.

The advantage of “M.M.M.” over gesso is that it does not crack and dent as much if your doll is dropped, squeezed, or attacked by a heavy blunt object. Dents will very slowly raise back up. Your paint may crack, but the doll itself will survive rough treatment much better if you use this method rather than gesso. Paint can always be re-touched.

If you would like to read more about Helen Pringle and her dolls, look for these magazine articles:

The Cloth Doll, Spring 1988 issue, pages 8-11.

The Cloth Doll, Summer 1988 issue, pages 6-8.

DOLLS The Collector’s Magazine, March/April 1990, pages 75 & 76.

Better Homes & Garden’s Special Interest Publications Dollmaker, 1992, pages 53-57.

2 thoughts on “Prepping Your Cloth Dolls For Paint

  1. Actually Izannah Walker dolls were always painted with oils, which is what I use exclusively. This method will work with either oils or acrylics. The MMM is taking the place of gesso, which is what you use to prep canvasses, the doll is a three dimensional canvas:)

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