“Kezi Felt Doll Project”
Kezi Matthews was one of the most creative doll designers of all times.
One of her many doll designing adventures included the creation of the “Edwardian Children Series”. These were handmade 18″ wool felt dolls made individually and consisted of press felt faces with jointed arms/legs and a swivel head.
Three Original “Edwardian Children Series” dolls (pictured above) are up for adoption (Sorry, Only One Left!) More information and pictures are available on this page - Kezi's Felt Dolls.
Also available were several unfinished bodies, heads and face masks hand crafted by Kezi. These limited number of items are available (update: all items sold out) to dollmakers as part of what we are calling the “Kezi Felt Doll Project” The goal of this project is for the dollmaker to use their own skills and creativity to turn these bodies, heads and faces into completed felt dolls!
Dollmakers involved in this project will start with an original felt face mask (or a completed head) designed and made by Kezi, a pattern adapted by Sherry Goshon for an 18″ doll to fit the face and general doll construction steps. This is a PROJECT and not a step by step pattern. Dollmakers will have to use their own skills and creativity to complete the doll as well as information shared here on the Cloth Doll Market Blog.
Felt Doll Project Blog
The blog below is to provide a working space for dollmakers who are working on the “Kezi’s Felt Doll Project” or just have interest in felt dolls.The project is split into several sections which are listed as Sub-Categories (ie Face Prep, Head Completion, Etc.) We have included general information, helpful photos, tips and ideas. At the bottom of the blog there is a comment section where you may share information or ask questions. From time to time we will incorporate tips and ideas into the original post.
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First you need a press felt face. We had a limited number of faces available at the Cloth Doll Market which are now sold out. You may also start with your own face or face from another designer. We hope to have more detailed information on making a pressed felt face in the future. But for now the discussion assumes you are starting with a pressed felt face.
The Kezi faces come in 2 stages of completing. One is already hardened with a combination of plaster and gauze. See picture above. If you have one of these faces you can skip on to the next section Head Completion (Coming Soon).
The untreated face (also call raw) you will want to harden so the face does not loose it’s shape or become dented by handling after the doll is complete. You could complete the raw head and stuff carefully but we do not recommend it due to the delicate face features.
Pictured below is what your raw face should look like before treated.
We are not sure exactly what Kezi did to harden the faces. The are hardened with a plaster and gauze inner. We have not been successful with this method so we are offering the following options and please feel free to add your ideas to the comments.
Suggested Method 1) Paper Clay Backing –
This is the method recommended by Sherry Goshon. You start by placing a think sheet of plastic wrap inside the face. You roll out paperclay very thin and lightly press in and let dry…remove and then lightly glue the paperclay to the inside of the mask.
The important part here and with any method is not to have anything moist touch the inside of the felt. If so I may discolor. Below is an example of what happens with something moist touches the inside of the face. This is from a face at was treated directly with mod podge. As you can see the moisture seeped through the face and discolored the forehead!
You may try other hardening substances that are moist as long as you have the inside of the mask covered with plastic wrap. Another idea is plaster cloth which we tried but the first attempt was full of wrinkles but with care should work.
Suggested Method 2) Seal and Harden:
This method involves treating the inside of the make with a sealant so you can apply an hardener without it’s moisture seeping into the felt and discoloring the face.
We tried to apply a number of hardeners directly to the inside of the face which did not work! We tried Mod Podge and Gesso directly on the felt with very thin coats. As you can see below it soaked in and discolored the face.
So… Please seal the face first. We tried two different sealers. One we found in the craft section of Walmart and the other was found in the paint/hardware section. The craft sealant we stopped using after we read the label which had the word “Cancer” in the caution. So please read the labels and wear a face mask when using any of these sprays.
HEALTH NOTE: Please read ingredients and always wear a face mask when spraying.
The sealant we used was found in the paint section and was Krylon ® – Triple-Thick Crystal Clear Glaze. There are a number of sealants available they may work.
What is important is you spray many (4 or more) very light coats to the inside of the face. If you spray too heavy of a coat the felt will get wet and discolor the front of the face. This is very important. Take your time and do very light coats with the face upright so no liquid pools in the nose or other features.
Once the face is sealed you may paint (several very light coats) the inside with Gesso or other hardener. NOTE: Make sure the face is sealed. You don’t want to put anything directly on the felt that is wet because it will soak in and discolor the front of the face!
- Have an idea? Please add it to the comments.
*** Key to hardening the face is to NOT let any moisture contact the inside of the face!
- Trim around the head leaving the neck fabric.
- Using the head pieces supplied in the pattern sew darts
- Now hand sew the back 2 parts of the head to the face.
- Next sew the back sides together leaving a small opening big enough to stuff the head.
- The bottom of neck is turned under about ½” over a piece of light weight cardboard. The cardboard is between the felt you turn up forming a study neck tube… it’s glued… Picture below show the neck with the head not sewn – yours will be sewn. This cardboard makes the neck study and is a tube ready for the base and joint.
- Before stuffing cut a cardboard disk the size of the neck tube/hole, cover it with felt (glue felt to cardboard), poke a hole in the center and insert the neck joint. Glue inside neck. See finished neck below. When you have completed your body you will be ready to connect the head/neck to the body with a doll joint…
- Now stuff the head carefully, hand sew the opening in the back of head and glue the ears on!