Feb 062012

This is Naomi, my Steampunk themed doll.

 She now looks totally different from the original doll I started with…

Wanna know what all I did to her? Well… continue reading.

First off… I gave her a body transplant.  The original doll had been a thrift store find, and not so gently played with either.  Her feet and hands had tooth marks :(.  She also originally had the twist ‘n’ turn body style, and I wanted to use a belly button.  So in order to do that I had to remove her head.  Not an easy task… but do-able if you take your time.  Dramatic Dolls has a great tutorial with pictures on how to do this…


Valkyrie of Legendary Tutorials also has a post here on how to remove her head too.  BTW… if you haven’t signed up for that forum yet, do so.  Best place on the web if you want to learn and share techniques for customizing dolls.

Ok… now that we have her head off, on to the next step.

Her hair.

Being that my doll was not so gently used, her hair wasn’t in the bestest shape either.  Oh well… I wanted to reroot her anyways.  But before we can do that, we need to get rid the original hair.  To do that, you must first give her a pixie cut… as close to her scalp as you can.  She should look like this when your done…

Got that done?  Good.  Now go get yourself some tweezers… and a crotchet hook to if you have.  Reaching from the inside of her head, pull out what’s left of her hair.  Each and every plug.

Is she completely bald yet?  Good.  Now the next step.

You are gonna need some hair.  For Naomi, I used nylon hair that I had purchased from restoredoll.com.  But I don’t recommend this type of hair for barbie… it may be fine for the bigger girls, but in 1/6th scale I found it to be a little too coarse.  That’s just my opinion.  Their saran however is awesome.. or you can get nylon or saran from mylittlecustoms.com.  I have a blog post here regarding sources for hair… http://reflectionsbyice.com/wp/?p=8.  Where you get it from is totally up to you.

Got your hair?  Good.  Now onto the actual reroot.  There are lots of tutorials out there on how to reroot a doll.  My little customs has some really good video tutorials of various different methods.  I use a slightly modified version of the knot method, which is explained here.  So pick a method you like, get comfortable and fly at her.  Come back when your done.

Done?  Awesome!  Give yourself a pat on the back!

Now you may want to put her head back on her body.  That’s up to you.  I tend not to as I like having the body and head separate as I work on the costume, hair & face.  I stick her head on the end of a wooden spoon, and then have a table vice my son made to hold that.  Works great while working on her hair.  I will jump from working on her head to working on her costume… depending on my mood.  So if you want to do the same, go ahead.  This is one of the reasons why I keep her head off until I’m almost done.

I worked on her hair next. I wanted it to be pulled up, and then to have lots of curls/ringlets hanging down. So what I did was section her hair off into 3 ponytails; one at the nape of her neck, one a bit higher up at the back of her head, and one at the crown. Then I sectioned each pony tail into 3 or 4 sections and rolled them up onto straws, using a lot of hair gel & rolling papers (you can cut pieces of tissue wrap instead) to keep the ends on the straw…. like this:

Once you have all her hair rolled up onto straws, it’s time to dunk her into a bowl of boiling water, making sure to submerse all of the hair for about 15 seconds.  Immediately after doing that you need to dunk her into a bowl of ice cold water and just let her sit for a few minutes.  That’s what sets the curl.  Tracy Farrant has an awesome tutorial on how to create spiral curls that explains this process much better than me.

Before I remove the straws on her hair I usually remove her face paint.   I just find it easier to do while her hair is contained in the rollers.  I use nail polish, but you can use regular acetone found at most hardware stores, and cotton balls & swabs to do this.  Oh, and elbow grease.  Don’t let the acetone/nail polish get on your doll’s hair or body… it will melt it.  Really!  To get the paint out of the little nooks, wrap a tiny amount of the cotton around a toothpick.  Works great.  Once you have all the paint off, go wash her face with soap and water.

Now you should have a blank face all ready for painting…

I use thinned down acrylic paints to repaint my dolls.  Over the years I have slowly increased my supply of golden fluid body acrylics… they are pricey, but I love how vibrant their colors are.  You can however use the cheaper paints found at Walmart.  They work fine as well.  No matter what kind you use, you will need an extender/thinner.  I use golden’s fluid release mix with water as per it’s directions.  Check out Laurie Leigh’s blog for a supply list… http://laurieleighart.blogspot.com/2010/10/supply-list.html

As to how to repaint, I follow a couple of tutorials.  One of them was done by my mentor, Legends by Valkyrie.  She did a bunch of awesome tutorials on how to create a woods fae here… http://www.dolls-n-daggers.com/Dolls/OOAKliale.php#MakeHer.  She also has another basic repaint tutorial found here that is great.  Then there is Laurie Leigh’s free repainting lessons which is fantastic.  I also HIGHLY recommend purchasing Laurie Leigh’s tutorial cd’s.  I bought this one and believe it was one of the best investments I’ve made.  I learned a lot from it and I feel it shows in my repaints.

Ok… where are we at now?  My back is killing me, so I think it’s time for a break.

I’m back.

Here are the patterns I created to make Naomi’s corset, mini skirt and ruffled bustle…. Steampunk Fashion Doll Patterns

In another post here, I talked about how I antiqued the eyelets I used for her corset, boots & hat. I was amazed how well using ammonia fumes work to antique brass!

To create Naomi’s top hat, I followed a tutorial written by Tom Banwell on how to create a people size steampunk hat. I took his pattern that was posted there and increased it by 125%. Could have been a smidgen bigger but it works.

I braided together strips of ribbon to wrap around the crown, and then used this tutorial on how to create the bow on the back. For the bow making tool, I made my own using a wine bottle cork and a needle stuck into it. While you are making one for the hat, make another one to be used on the parasol later. Then I used bits and pieces from watches to decorate it.

To create her spats (boot covers), I followed this tutorial…


It’s people size again, but the technique will work in 1/6th scale. I cheated on her shoes and just used one of Mattels. *blush*

To make her fishnet stockings… check this place out: http://www.perestroika.ca/html2/her_tights/her_tights.php

And to make her parasol… go read this tutorial: http://www.minidolls.com/Tutorial/closedparasol.shtml

On mine I used a shish-kabob stick as the handle cut down to the size I wanted. Then I painted it black, wrapped wire around the point and then slipped bead spacer findings over top. Instead of just a 1/4 circle, I used a full circle… a small plate works great to create the pattern. Just poke a hole in the center of the fabric and pull down the shaft. Then gather the fabric around the shaft and wrap a ribbon around it about an inch from the edge. Decorate with another bow you made from the above tutorial link on that.

Finally… her stand. I wrote a tutorial on how to create that here. I covered this one with black leather.

Have I missed anything? Questions? Feel free to ask.

If you do make your own steampunk doll… I would really really REALLY love to see her! Really! Just comment here with a link. Please!

  16 Responses to “How to create your own Steampunk themed doll”




    Oh, I see I’m entering a whole new realm of doll here! Fantastic!


    Beautifully done! I LOVE doing doll make-overs and I have been wanting to do a steampunk themed one. Thanks for the tips on where to look.


    Thankyou for sharing this. Now I`ve got a new hobby. She is sooo lovely. <3


    I just wanted to tell you that there is a much easyer way to take your head off with out breaking it! :)
    all you need is a doll of coarse and a blow dryer! just heat her head up and pop it off! I have done it many times it will not harm your doll I promise! :)


    Wow really nice. I realise this was a year ago, but if there was a possibility you might reply i wanted to ask. How exactly did you make the fishnets? Im assuming they have a seam at the back, but what material did you use (from socks or gloves or what?) and how did you sow it? Sorry I’ve been crawling all over the web looking for a tut and im coming up empty.


    Wow. I am so jealous of your talent! I am going to attempt my own, but I am sure that it won’t be anywhere near as lovely as yours!


    Beautiful work!


    Great job. Is there any where that I can purchase a Steam punk Barbie?


    THANK YOU!!! I have been looking for something like this for what feels like forever (probably only a few days,) but nothing like this and the best part is you have given such beautiful clear instructions and done so without asking me to pay you anything. THANK YOU for sharing your talents with us, and for being so awesome! XO

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