twigling | How We Make Dolls
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How We Make Dolls


Mindset, Inspiration & Creation Process

Between the sculpted details and the organically engineered articulation lies a fine equilibrium.  twigling attempts to convey realistic surface detail that focus on character over ethnicity or gender, with subtle and graceful articulations that allow natural range of motion without detracting from the sculpture. The components of ball jointed dolls are rigid, despite an illusion of softness. This limits the range of motion and the apparent visual realism as the doll is posed and her parts repositioned in relation to each other. The challenge is in finding a compromise between these factors during the design process, giving natural appearance and illusion of gracefulness even when the anatomy is not 100% accurate.


With a distinctive aesthetic and the dynamic vibe born from the fusion of diverse ethnographies, the Artifex Kindred balance stylised characteristics with relatable realism, so that you are able to empathise and bond with their apparent humanity, even if they can never really be anything more than simulacra of real beings.


At its heart, the desire is to make the world a more beautiful place, not simply making figurative representation of what is considered beautiful, but pushing the boundary of what we are taught to think of as beautiful, beyond the mere aesthetic aspect and beyond the binary concept of gender. Our goal is to create something that surpasses the purpose of a fashion doll, instead a tool for empowerment, fulfilment and achievement. We are inspired as much by nature and fantastic arts as we are by real heroes, and work to be conscious of not simply representing the body as an object to be desired, but rather admired.


What makes good design great is trying to think beyond the familiar. Rather than copying the output of peers and competitors, we endeavour to create solutions that are ahead of the curve, and work to continually improve on the products and services that we offer, as well as the techniques and materials used.

approach final

Master parts are built from a mixture of air-drying paper-clay and two-part epoxy. Clay is used to rough-in a structure, which is carved into shape once hardened. Material then continues to be added and subtracted throughout the building of the piece. The materials each have their limitations and qualities that make them suitable for the creation/destruction process. Paperclay is light, inexpensive and easy to carve. It is therefor used for adding volumes specifically where it will be necessary to remove material later in order to adjust the shapes. Epoxy clay is more costly, heavier and harder; best used for thin parts, details and friction areas where more resilience is desirable.


Taking advantage of new technologies, and fusing them with traditional hands-on techniques, we are expanding slowly into digital sculpture and use 3D modelling, scanning and printing as tools in the construction and editing process. Current 3D printing technology is not adequate nor cost effective for reproducing finished dolls. But to rescale in size or alter proportions, to make the ball joints and sockets uniformly round or to make theoretical changes to a sculpture with the option to easily save reiterations or undo, without compromising the original sculpture, 3D proves to be a very useful tool. However, the agreeable imperfections, subtle asymmetries and tactile control maintained while working with ones’ own hands cannot be negated. Even printed pieces are often cut, carved, sculpted over and reconfigured before reaching the finishing stages.


Once nearing completion, the parts are alternately coated with grey primer and polished with fine-grit abrasives to unify and ameliorate the surface. When finished to satisfaction, the original parts are sent to one of our experienced manufacturing partners who make molds and reproduce each piece in polyurethane resin. Molds are made from synthetic rubber, and only permit a limited number of hand-crafted reproductions to be pulled before they are worn out and must be replaced. Polyurethane resin consists of two liquids, that when mixed in their correct proportions, harden in a chemical reaction, and must be poured into a mold before it solidifies.


Using high quality materials and artisanal manufacturing techniques, the dolls are essentially hand made and in relatively small production runs, which ensure that we keep a close eye on the quality of the output and easily make corrections and improvements between each production run. We are currently investigating the possibilities of using more sustainable and environmentally friendly resins for reproduction.

Zen & The Art of Articulating Dolls Using Ball Joints


Would you like to learn more about how to articulate a sculpture with ball joints?


In this free download PDF, twigling shares the story of how she got started and explains how to design articulation for dolls.

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