Antique 12" Santas:
They're Not Just Dolls, They're An Adventure
When Professional Dollmaker Lee Feickert talks about making
Antique Santa Claus dolls, she calls it one of the biggest
joys in her life. "Each year I look forward to the adventure
of making a new Santa character," she says. Her most rewarding
adventure won her the Rolf Ericson Award at the Doll Artisan
Guild International Competition For Outstanding Dollmaking.
And now this 16-year dollmaking veteran shares her award
winning techniques with you in "Making An Antique 12" Miniature
Santa," Volume 9 of The Master Dollmakers Video Instructional
Series. This multi-volume video instructional course features
expert instruction by some of the country's top dollmakers.
In this latest volume you'll also learn how to create a Woodland
Santa, transform Father Christmas into the Ice Palace Santa.
The video begins with an in depth look at the tools and materials
you'll need. You'll want to pay close attention because the
Santa dolls you'll be creating require quite an array of tools
and materials, from greenware mold, to paint, to a variety
of brushes. And since you'll be focusing mostly on creating
a Woodland Santa, you'll also need a series of items commonly
found in the woods. If you have trouble finding any of these
items, simply refer to the source list provided at the end
of this video.
Once you gather your materials, your next step will be to
clean and prepare the greenware. Next you'll add age lines
to the face, hands, and feet to give your Santa character.
While many of the molds you'll be using already have age lines,
your job will be mostly to accent those existing lines. But
in case you happen to use a mold without age lines, Lee gives
you a great tip for creating them from scratch.
It's critical to watch each detailed step in the process.
That's why you'll be thankful that the camera zooms in right
on the action to let you see exactly what's going on. Throughout
the process, Lee reminds you to use a soft touch so as to
avoid cracking the delicate greenware.
Once the face is done, you'll work on the hands and knuckles,
always remembering to smooth and soften the greenware and
remove the harsh lines, using either a piece of nylon cloth
or a sponge as you go along. And although you might prefer
to put boots on your Santa, Lee says "If you have a Santa
who's had a long, hard night you might want to put his bare
feet in a tub of water." In that case you'll also want to
add age lines to his feet to make them more realistic.
Once the greenware is clean and the age lines have been added,
you're ready to mix your paints. Although you can use either
oil, water, or glycerin to mix with dry paint, Lee says she
prefers glycerin because it allows the paint to move smoother
over the doll's surface and it's an easy cleanup.
Painting is done in three steps. The first brings out the
details and age lines on the face, hands, and feet. The second
highlights features such as eyelashes, lips, and eyebrows.
The final painting stage covers the rest of the doll and brings
Santa to life.
But couch potatoes beware! In order to paint correctly you'll
have to develop hand/eye coordination. And for this you'll
have to perform Lee's pull-up exercises to strengthen your
hands and fingers. In fact, Lee advises you to do this exercise
throughout the day...even while you're at the grocery store.
Besides developing hand/eye coordination, one of the keys
to learning how to paint correctly is to relax. "Breathe"
says Lee. "It's very important to breathe at this point."
And it's also easy to relax when you have a teacher like Lee
leading you every step of the way. Her easy going manner and
obvious love of her craft are contagious.
Next comes the armature, or skeleton, for your doll. Using
wire about the thickness of a coat hanger you'll measure and
cut to create the armature. Once the legs and arms art attached
to the armature, you'll wrap the body using cotton batting.
After the body is completely wrapped you'll use hot glue to
attach the head and shoulders. Now your Santa is ready to
But wait! You're not done yet! After showing you how to make
a stand for your Woodland Santas, this comprehensive video
also teaches you how to cut and sew the clothes with which
you'll dress your Santa, including pants, robe, and hat. Then
you'll add Santa's signature white hair and beard. From there
all that's left are the finishing touches such as Santa's
basket and hat decorations.
Once your Woodland Santa is complete, you'll also learn how
to create an English Father Christmas, and then transform
this Santa into an Ice Palace Santa. "It's very simple to
vary your fabrics and your accessories to make a different
Santa," Lee says. "Just use your imagination."