Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How to Paint a Wooden Saint Doll

Many of you have told me how you are organizing a saint doll exchange! I think that is fabulous. So fabulous that I've put together another resource to make your exchange even better. Here is your step by step guide for painting a saint doll.

Step 1: Design your Saint

Before you begin painting you'll want to figure out what you want your finished doll to look like. I always start by trying to find examples by checking the following places:
If I can't find any I'll do a quick google search for images of the saint. Then I research the saint to find out what symbols, colors, or features I want to include to help the saint be identifiable.

Next I draw out a rough sketch of the saint, so I have a template to follow.

Bean is receiving her 1st Holy Communion this year, so I decided to paint a Bl. Imelda who is the patroness of a fervent first communion. Her incorrupt body is dressed in an all white habit and there is a wreath of flowers around her head, so I sketched those into my doll. I also included the symbol of the host because of what she is the patroness of.

Step 2: Gather your Supplies

Now that you are ready to paint you'll need to following:

To buy:
Wooden dolls
Acrylic paints
Metallic gold paint (optional)

What you probably already have:
Water in a cup (for rinsing your brush)
Paper towels (for drying your brush)
Paper plate (for mixing paint)

Step 3: Start Painting

When I paint multiple saints, I do all of my saints at once, step by step. So, I'll paint every saint's skin, then every saint's dress, then every saint's cloak, etc. I think this is faster than doing one at a time. In general, for the base of the doll I do things in layers, so I don't have to do a detailed job with every color.

Finally I add on the details and symbols. This is where the optional gold paint comes in handy. I think the shiny gold adds a little bling and saintly glow.

I always do the eyes last to make the saint "come alive" as the kids say. Boy saints always get dots, girl saints always get eyelashes. This is the simplest way to make eyes for someone of my ability. Pal once asked why the girl saints are always praying. I guess that's what closed eyes means to a four year old.

A few tips and tricks:
  • Don't use a sharpie! It will bleed when you spray the doll with the finish.
  • Rinse and clean your brush often when doing detail work. Your brush will start to get a ticker line as you add on more and more paint.
  • If you mess up when painting on dry paint, grab a damp paper towel and wipe it off right away. Usually you can clear the mistake without having to repaint the area, but that can't always be avoided.
  • Experiment with the back of your brush or toothpicks for very fine details.
Step 4: Finish Up

Spraying your dolls will help them hold up longer. Don't over do it however as the finish can run on your dolls and leave a yellow spot. It's better to do two light layers than one heavy one if you think you might get spray happy. Just let the first layer dry before you add a second.

When your dolls are dry, write the name of your saint on the bottom of the doll. You might think you'll never forget them, but some dolls can look pretty similar if they are from the same religious order!

Happy painting!

Be saints, it's worth it!


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