Twist of Humor - Nancy Cronin
As polymer clay products surged onto the market
I was drawn towards resins. The ability to create a
silicon cast and replicate the fine detail of my original sculpts expedited the doll making process tremendously. My favorite resin product to pour is Porcelite. I make silicone molds and resin casting for many well-known doll artists throughout the country and Canada, helping them to reach a wider audience. Artists are able to offer limited small editions, which are not as costly as OOAK dolls. Gradually over the past three years, I have entered the miniature doll world. I think I have always been a miniaturist at heart. The reason I say this is because one day as I was looking through my extensive library of books, magazines and stash of materials and trims, they all leaned towards the mini doll world. I had an epiphany. The actual size of my pieces have been getting smaller and smaller through the years, their props, clothing and accessories were all on the small-scale side.
I have attended numerous miniature doll shows in the Massachusetts area over the past few years and brought along a few pieces to show the promoters to see if they thought my work is appropriate. In all cases, they were very eager to have me exhibit my work and purchase for their private collections. Hopefully, June 2005 I will be exhibiting in Sturbridge Mass, this would be my first official Miniature doll show. My most popular dolls are nude, and shall we say they are or the more mature side of life, referred to as “Slices of Life.” I have been doing doll show, for the larger cabinet size dolls, across the country for many years. Though my doll affiliation with AADA, Academy of American Doll Artists of New Hampshire, I teach sculpting techniques and help students assemble Porcelite kits to create finished dolls during WOW, “Week of Workshop.” WOW offers classes in many different mediums and level of abilities, taught by outstanding artists from all over the country and Canada. WOW is hosted in Concord, New Hampshire and has run for the past 7 years. Also, I teach in Europe, at a castle in France, every other year and will return in March of 2006 for another session. Lifelong friendships which I have developed over the years through different art mediums, artists techniques, venues, with students, teachers, clients and promoters, has brought immense benefits to me professionally and personally.
OK, Let me address the mold making and resin
casting first. As with any process there is a
learning curve involved and special equipment
needed. First, I sculpt the master in polymer clay.
Sometimes I sculpt just head, hand, and feet
and assemble the doll using a wire armature.
Other times as is the case of my nudes I do full
body sculpts. The next step is to make a silicone
mold over the master. I mix 10 parts silicone to
1 part catalyst. Then degas the mixture in a
vacuum chamber. Silicone is flexible so in most
cases I only need to make one cut in the mold to
release the master, with the more complex
poses many cuts are needed. I love the challenge of getting good molds from some of my complex dolls. In 24 hour the mold is cured enough to make a resin casting. I have two types of resin I use; P1 is and has the look of Porcelain. This is my favorite resin. The other is P180 and has a more translucent look to it. I like this for African American dolls. The mixture for P1 is equal parts A and B. I then degas the mixture in the vacuum chamber, pour it into the mold, and place the mold into a Pressure pot. After 8 hours, I pull a little doll from the mold. Porcelite resin gives the artist freedom to produce any number of editions of original work. It can be pigmented, painted, and machined. Results are precise duplicates of the masters with finger print integrity. The castings are dimensionally stable and will not shrink. They also have high impact strength, good abrasion resistance, and excellent tensile strength. There you have it, a brief overview of the silicone mold making and my work in creating resin castings using Porcelite products.
Yes, I do dress some of my dolls. First, body parts are placed onto a diagram that is suitable for the doll and I assemble a wire armature, Next, I pad the body out with unrolled cotton balls. Using white glue, I moderately coat the cotton, and shape with my hands until I get the correct body contour. After the glue is dry, I cover it with floral tape. On the nudes, oil paint is used to paint the face and other body features that need blushing. Occasionally, I will use dimensional glitter paint to give a little lady a bit of modesty, as in the “Fanny Pats Lady.” As for dressing my dolls, I mostly glue.
“Motorcycle Momma” evolved, my husband of 26 years and I have been riding a motorcycle every summer for the past 20 years. We love it, but as we all know the mirror does not lie and we age, still young at heart, even if not in body. We still ride today. The idea for Momma came from the scantly dressed babes we use to see in Laconia NH at the motorcycle races. Today, most of the older women are wearing the same type of clothing they wore 20 years ago. I love going, the event offers such a wealth of inspiration. Everything and anything could happen there and still does.
Here is a picture of husband, I call this one "My Hero.” A bottle of wine a hot summer day around the pool a camera and it was easy to get him to pose. The terry cloth towel is a baby washcloth from the department store’s infant section, a great place for miniature scale bath and linen items.
“My Lady's Hat” happened as a result of an online miniature doll contest, perhaps it was Dana. Same fabric contest is a great competition, everyone receives same fabric packets and the individual creativity is amazing, I would encourage everyone to participate in this type competition when offered. It takes your creativity to a new level, working with selected fabric, trims, and supplies you would normally not use. (see this photo at top of article)
“Hoola-Hoop,” this playful woman returning home from shopping, saw some unattended toys laying around and could not help trying to see if she could still gyrate her hips and spine to keep the momentum going. (see this photo on FF1 cover)
Over the past twenty-five years, my style and medium has gradually evolve: learning, experimenting, and miniaturizing my doll art. Originally a soft sculpture artist, I began creating character dolls from nylon stockings. It was a great beginning, learning to manipulate material, wire, and stuffing to produce an armature, creating a variety of poses. The doll developed from the inside support structure through to a personable finish doll. Needle sculpting 50 to 60 dolls later I found Super Sculpy, a polymer clay. I made OOAK larger dolls for years. This medium allowed me to directly sculpt the character faces and personalities into the clay. Again, learning through trial-and-error the process of modeling, baking, painting, and assembling developed with practice and patience.
Nancy will be teaching at:
We thank Nancy
for her time in sharing her talents with us this issue.
For any questions, contact Nancy at
Here is an example of her 1/12" resin
kits for sale.