An Elf Is Born – Hair and Makeup

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polymer clay elf frizzy hair top viewWith the sexy Christmas Elf sculpted, baked, and covered in mohair, she’s ready for her beauty treatment consisting of a hair styling, paint manicure, and paint makeup. If you want to see how she was created see the previous posts:

Styling the Elf’s Hair

Tibetan lamb hair behaves very much like human hair, or should I say like unruly human hair (like mine).

After allowing the elf’s hair glue to dry overnight I subjected her to the ‘royal hair treatment’. This consisted of washing her hair with my personal shampoo and conditioner. Thankfully, years of dealing with my personal frizzy mop has taught me how to control messy hair.

Polymer Clay Christmas Elf washing hairPolymer Clay Christmas Elf wet hair

I gave her a teeny bit of leave-in conditioner and moose for good measure. I combed her hair using a toothpick and small comb then set her aside to air dry.

Polymer Clay Christmas Elf back Polymer Clay Christmas Elf hand back

Blushing the Elf

The elf was sculpted from a blend of different flesh-toned clay colors. However, if you look closely at your own skin you will see that the color is not the same throughout.

However, if you look at your own skin you will notice that certain areas, especially where blood flows close to the surface, are slightly pinkish. This includes your forehead, nose, cheeks and chin, knees and elbows, hands…

‘Blushing’ is a painting method that adds a very thin layer of darker paint to these areas, giving the sculpture a ‘flushed’ look. Once I get better at this and perfect my technique, I may create a detailed tutorial.

Here’s a quick overview of the process. I mixed brown acrylic paint with water to get a very thin mix with a runny consistency. Using a paintbrush I painted each body part with a small brush then immediately wiped it off with a paper towel. Most of this mix came off, but the paint did stay in natural joints and crevices of her skin. A subtle amount of paint was absorbed in each layer. While tedious, the results are nearly life-like and provide so much depth to her carefully sculpted features. Notice these in areas of the elf’s face, hands and knees.

I repeated this ‘blushing’ using red paint on the face focusing on the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead

Painting the Final Details

The elf’s face was detailed with acrylic paint starting with the eyes.  I used a mixture of green and brown paint to outline the iris, then filled in the iris by alternating thin lines of yellow and green strokes. I’ve never used this technique before and alas the effect doesn’t show. I will practice this again so keep an ‘eye’ out for my later posts.

Polymer Clay Christmas Elf hand frontI finished the eyes with black paint for the pupils.

Using a fine brush I added black eyeliner and brown eyebrows. The eye-shadow was painted in layers using watered down green paint. I used a very slightly watered down red paint for the lips, and stronger red paint for her Christmas-colored nails.

Here she is, not perfect, but complete. I am quite proud of myself for completing this sculpture given the great amount of detail and weeks of work invested. Your feedback and critiques will help me improve my skill, so please leave a comment below letting me know what you think of both the sculpting process and tutorial style posts.

Polymer Clay Christmas Elf hand side

Polymer Clay Christmas Elf side Polymer Clay Christmas Elf hand top


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  1. Gabriele says

    oh…..oh….oh….I love her. You are amazing. My most favorite things in the world are gnomes, faeries, elves, trolls, etc. I’ve haven’t “clayed” in about 10 years and am in the process of moving. Everything is packed 🙁 I usually work with paper but I wanted to see what was new in the polymer clay world. Then I found you. I want to learn how to do this. After I read everything from you, where do I start? Do you have a book? Yes, you are amazing. Thank you!

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