Altered art dolls have been around for many years in many forms. I’ve always loved creating them with small, inexpensive, and recycled materials.
In this blog, I’m going to take ordinary recycled shipping tags and turn them into wonderful gel printed art dolls. Let’s get going!
Print on both of the sides of your tags with whatever colors and patterns you like. Allow the tags to dry completely before moving to the next step.
Here’s where the real fun begins!
Lay out several of your gel printed tags, each with the better side up – usually you’ll find you like one side of the tag better than the other. This will be the body of your art doll.
Embellish the “body” with whatever other elements you’ve collected. Stickers, decals, scrapbooking doodads, etc. Let yourself play and work fairly quickly, without judging or being too critical of what you’re doing.
You can strategically place some of these embellishments over areas of the “body” that you don’t like or where there’s a bare spot. Your dolls are meant to be fun and funky and that means they’ll be somewhat imperfect.
Now, start playing around with your collection of faces and see which one suits each “body” best. Embellish the head and face as you like. Based on the weight of the material the head is made of, determine how you’re going to adhere the head to the body. If it’s ceramic or clay, for example, you’ll want to use a strong adhesive like E-6000 or Goop. If the face is paper or some other lightweight material, you can often use white glue. Be sure to set aside the tag to dry completely after gluing.
Will your art doll have arms and/or legs? They don’t have to, but if you’ve got some interesting metal findings or old jewelry bits hanging around they make fun “arms” and “legs” for these dolls. Measure down the sides of the “body” to where you’d like the “arms” to hang from and make a small mark with your pencil. Then, using the small hole punch or an awl, pierce that mark. Do the same along the bottom of the tag for the legs, spacing out the holes you make so that the “legs” hang properly and equidistant from each edge of the tag.
When you have the front of the doll embellished, the head on, and the arms and legs done, turn it over and make sure the back of the doll looks pleasing. Then, using some decorative thread or fine ribbon, glue on a hanger for the doll, placing it somewhere along the back of the head.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to make these art dolls. It’s whatever suits your taste or whimsy at the moment. Go mild or wild, it’s up to you!
Here are some examples of my gel printed altered tag art dolls. For each one, I’ve described the unique items and processes I’ve used to create it.
“Baby Soul” got her name from the little face cabochon I reclaimed from some junk ceramics I was given. Her face is mounted on another salvaged ceramic piece and her collar is a reclaimed scrapbooking flower. The large heart on her body is another gel print and I also used an old puzzle piece, stamped with the word “soul.” Her “legs” are old earrings and I used a star-shaped punch to make the holes for the legs to attach to the body. I chose not to add arms to this doll because I liked it without them.
“Hope” is made with a rubber stamped face that I embellished with markers and glitter. The gel printed body is covered with recycled scrapbooking elements and office supplies. Her arms are made from funky findings and her legs are old jewelry wire filled with assorted buttons.
“Beloved” has a salvaged clay cabochon face, mounted on a reclaimed ceramic heart that was jazzed up with glitter glass and a small crown punched from gold paper. The double layered hearts on her body are two different gel prints, highlighted with an old puzzle piece that I stamped with the word “beloved.” She has recycled earrings for her legs and no arms by design. I especially love this art doll because I really disliked how the tag turned out after printing but I persevered and the final product turned out just great!
This art doll has a rubber stamped image for her face that is embellished with markers and doodles. Her collar is another gel print, embellished with white gel pen. The body is covered in recycled scrapbook elements, old office supplies, and rubber stamping. Her arms and legs are made from old jewelry wire that is embellished with salvaged beads.
This tiny art doll is only about 4” high overall. The head is made up of a stamped moon face on chipboard, surrounded by a salvaged metal finding (the crescent moon shape) and an old scrapbooking flower embellishment, which has sparkles because I added rhinestones to each petal. The arms and legs are made with old jewelry wires, salvaged beads and some repurposed metal findings for hands and boots.
- An assortment of shipping or decorative tags
- Gelli Arts® gel printing plates
- Assorted acrylic paints
- Texture tools, stencils, etc.
- Various glues: glue stick, white glue, gel medium, E-6000, or Goop
- Small hole punch (1/8 inch) or awl
- Small pliers
- Assorted embellishments – stickers, decals, recycled scrapbook doodads
- Old buttons, old jewelry pieces, metal findings, jump rings, etc.
- Faces for your art dolls – these could be rubber stamped images, cabochons molded from clay, hand drawn faces on heavy cardstock, altered magazine photos, vintage images, etc.
I hope you find the above examples inspiring and that you have tons of fun making these little art dolls with your gel prints. The sky really is the limit and you know no bounds but your imagination.
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