With a little bit of clay, glue, and dryer lint, you can make your own fuzzy figurines. The process is quick and simple, with endless applications.

In this tutorial, I will create a small clay figurine and give it a soft, furry texture by covering it in lint.

Materials

  • Oven-bake clay (or any kind of clay which can become hard, including Play Dough and air dry clay)
  • Shaping tools for the clay and lint
  • Dryer lint
  • Liquid glue
  • Paintbrush
  • Tray topped with aluminum foil, if you are using oven-bake clay
  • Markers/paint/pen/materials to add detail and color, if you desire

Step 1: Create the Sculpture

First, sculpt your clay into your desired shape. I decided to make a cat head, but I also molded a miniature sphere to use as a test surface. It only takes a little bit of clay to make a test object, and they are useful for testing your glue+lint techniques when the time comes.

Use lighter clay if using light-colored lint, and vice versa if you have dark lint.

Oven bake clay is stiff at first; you must work at it before it softens up.
Use your molding tools for fine details, but keep in mind that the lint will cover up any fine markings/textures in the clay.

Step 2: Harden

Bake your clay! Read the instructions on the package of your oven-bake clay for cooking time and temperature.

For my figurines, I put them in for ten minutes at 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3: Decorate!

Now you can add the lint to your sculptures. For this step you will need your lint, glue, paintbrush, and molding tools.

Tip: If you want colored lint, place a load in the dryer that is all one color. For instance, my blue lint came from drying a blue bath mat. Gray lint usually comes from multicolored loads.

Before you get started, here are a few tips:

  • You may need to wait between steps for glue to dry. Tacky, gluey lint sticks all too easily to fingers and paintbrushes.
  • Paint your glue on. Wherever possible, don’t use little dots of glue. You want the lint to adhere completely to every surface–otherwise, with time, the parts that aren’t in contact with glue may rub off.
  • Take your time.
  • Don’t be afraid to use your molding tools to attach the lint! Try to keep your fingers glue-free.

Testing your Techniques

First, I tested how the clay and glue reacted with one other. Thankfully, Elmer’s glue worked perfectly.

First, apply the glue to your figure.

Application Technique: Tapping

First, I tried TAPPING the lint to the clay. I dabbed the lint onto the clay many times and ended up with a very thin layer glued to its surface. (See below)
The result was velvety, but did not add much coverage or color.

Application Technique: Increase Glue Amount

On a different side of the sphere, I tried the tapping method again, but with a thicker layer of glue.
Thicker glue created a thicker swathe of loose lint. The appearance was almost cloudlike, but application was unpredictable.

Application Technique: Layer of Lint

The final technique I tried gave me exactly what I was looking for–a smooth, predictable, neat finish that clung to the clay while masking its color.

To apply a layer of lint, simply peel a sheet off your lint supply and place it firmly upon a layer of glue.

  • A thin patch of glue will not bleed through the lint, but this means it may not reach all particles of the lint, and rubbing could result in these particles flaking off with time.
  • A thicker patch of glue may bleed through to the top layer of lint, darkening and hardening it. To encourage the glue to bleed all the way through, you may have to press a molding tool to the lint. Be careful–it gets sticky, and if you accidentally put a finger on it, the lint might peel off!

Coating the Sculpture

I decided to do a design/markings on my sculpture.

Generally, lint application works best when you fasten the base coat first. You can always add markings and details after your largest layer is attached.

I started with my markings. This is fine, too, but sometimes the smaller details can get rubbed off as you work, and you may need to touch them up by the end of the project, which I did end up doing.

I started off tapping the markings onto the face, but ultimately decided that I had more control when I shaped the markings by hand and gently pressed them onto my glue patch.
  • You can always cover mistakes with more glue and lint. When saturated, the lint becomes very thin, so you can easily cover it with no ill effects.

Base Coat

Wrapping is effective for covering a large surface, and for a base coat, I recommend using this method of application.

  • Although covering over lint is fine, it can sometimes get messy. If there’s a spot on your figurine that you know is going to be a different color from your base coat, simply don’t put lint on it.

It’s a good idea to postpone gluing until you know your wrap will fit. Stretch it over your figurine, remove unnecessary pieces, and shape to preference.

Then, set the ‘skin’ aside, apply a thorough coat of glue to your figurine, and gently add the base coat layer.

After that, you can touch it up even more, by:

~ Flattening
~Tearing off stray pieces
~Gently rubbing/blending [with your finger] any overlaps between colors
~Adding extra glue where needed

Here you can see that my base coat has been added, but it needs some touching-up. I will have to add some extra blue to spots that my wrap didn’t reach. (Note the white patches on the left side of the neck, plus the spots between the eyes.)

Details and Decorations

Decorations are best added AFTER the base coat. They will stand out more this way, and can easily be glued straight onto your base.

Shaping your details before gluing allows for more control when applying them.
***Create a glue patch that will stick to the whole surface area of your decoration. I found that the stripes on my cat rubbed off if I only used a few dots of glue. I had more success using lines of glue.
  • TIP: To make a decoration blend better with its surroundings, gently rub its edges with your finger. This will mix lint particles together, smudging hard lines and flattening lumps.

When you’re done coating your figurine, you can add the tiny details.

Tiny Details

My sculpture required a little line for the mouth, some dots to represent whiskers, a pink nose, and two little green eyes.

Mouth: Tiny Lines

I rolled a minuscule amount of lint into a tiny rope. My sticky fingers rubbed off on the rope, which made it flexible and helped hold its shape. I attached it using a tool I’d dipped in glue. All I had to do was put pressure on the rope, rub/press the glue in, and let it dry.

Whiskers & Nose: Drawn-in Details

I used a black gel pen to make the whisker dots, and a metallic pink one for the nose.

For the whiskers, paint would have been too thick/dark/unpredictable. Marker would have been too big/too dark. Normal pen would have had a harder time getting on the lint.

Gel pen was just runny enough to come out with gentle pressure and leave light, delicate dots on the lint.

As for the nose, the metallic pen was the closest thing at hand, and it gave the nose a nice shine.

Eyes: Lint Dye

You can use anything to color your lint–a marker, paint, etc.

I used quill pen ink, which is vivid and potent.

Finished Product

Congratulations! Now you have your very own (homemade!) fuzzy figurine.


If you’ve made a fuzzy figurine, I’d love to see pictures! Email them to me at thematriarch@thedragonwriter.net.