So my first handcrafted BJD is finally finished! She was started at the very end of March 2014, and was completed at the end of May 2014. Once she was all done, I finally named her Pru (Shortned from Prunus Avium – Sweet Cherry) ^____^ I’m so happy with her, she has one full outfit so far, with tights and two cardigans with pockets >_< so cute. I have made her 3 pairs of shoes, but have only photographed one pair so far.
Well here’s Pru showing off some of the poses she can do first *Warning* Doll nudity!
You can click any image to get a larger view ^_^
Finally here are a few photos of her clothed, wearing the wig I made for her. I do plan to make at least one more wig for her, with less bulk to it, since I fell victim to the common mistake of adding a bit too much hair to the wig >_<
So there you have her ^__^ She’s currently lounging around atop our dresser, amongst colourful Ikea doll furniture, and an adorable garden bench I picked up from our local church hall’s recent silent auction!
I’ve been adding all sorts of miniature ornaments and trinkets to her wee bookshelf (ooh! still have to make some tiny books!)and have some new bits and bobs to take photos of soon, but for now…that’s me all up to date!
For anyone reading the blog in sequence, everything up to now has been past tense, as my husband was tweaking my website whilst I sculpted Pru, so everything from here on should be more present tense!
Thanks so much for reading, please feel free to comment!
Well the doll was very nearly finished at this point, all the pieces were effectively finished, barring some minor tweaks around joints and the face. Ears were in place, and lots of fiddling around with the headcap interior had been done. I put a magnet and hook clasp into the headcap, which works, but isn’t very sturdy unfortunately, I will try something different next time round.
Here’s some final test stringing, she can hold poses beautifully, and can easily balance on one leg, and do suwarrico ‘cute’ sitting. The final steps then, were sanding with a high grade paper, and spray priming (and repeating as many times as needed to achieve a super smooth finish!)
I had decided to prime and paint my doll with acrylic paints, although in hindsight, I didn’t really need to do as much super smooth sanding as I did (since I wasn’t making her to be moulded and cast in resin).
Here you can see I improvised a stand to separate and hold all the doll bits on as I sprayed them, and the lovely grey colour of the primer. It’s a ‘Rustoleum’ car filler-primer, recommended by lots of doll makers for this purpose. The colour helps you to see imperfections that may be unclear when working with different coloured modelling materials, or semi-transparent ones. If I was planning to mould and cast my girl in resin, then this stage would be very important to achieve a smooth, castable surface.
After priming, I then used a flesh coloured acrylic paint to build up the skin tone using many, many, many thin layers. I was careful not to leave brush marks, or allow the paint to build up and change the shape of the sockets anywhere. After the acrylics came the body blushing, using dry pastels and a paint brush to lightly colour around the extremities, adding warmer patches of colour to the skin, adding realism. I used another ‘Rustoleum’ product, a clear protective top coat spray, in matte, between layers of pastel to fix them in place, and build up denser colour in areas where it was needed. Finally, I used very sharp watercolour pencils to draw in the lower eyelashes, eyebrows and lips, coating with a final layer of clear spray.
The face-up was essentially complete, though I did add home-made eyelashes too, using synthetic hair curled very carefully with hair straighteners. They’re ok, but only stuck in with PVA glue, so I could potentially peel them off and remake them in the future. (I’m far too stingy to buy proper doll sized fake eyelashes right now!)
Before I shifted gears and started sewing her some tiny clothes, I made her a wig! Using the same wefted synthetic hair as her eyelashes (unpicked from a weird elasticated hairy-hair bauble from Primark!!!) I sewed lengths of the wefted hair to a crocheted wig cap, which was in turn held in place by three velcro dots that were glued directly to her head, with the corresponding dots sewn to the inside of the wig. This makes styling and brushing and tying up her hair a lot easier!
Next time – final photos of the doll, the wig and her outfits!
The last parts of my doll to be sculpted were the hands and feet, partly because I was worried about how fiddly they’d be!
There was definitely some trial and error with both hands and feet, I drew up a plan beforehand, but didn’t fully understand the nuances of how these limbs would flow once attached…The feet weren’t too bad, they were perhaps a little too tall, and the ball too pronounced. Next time I would keep them quite low, and try to get more curves underneath – though it’s important to have the feet sit flat if you want your doll to be able to balance on them!
The hands look nice enough here, I built up the fingers on individual wires first, letting them dry before adding palms and rolling little balls separately. However once I tested them out I realised they were too ‘long’, they didn’t look right when the doll was stood and the hands were flexed to have the palms point at the floor, they looked like they were bending above the wrist :/
The hands I decided to remake altogether, since I thought they were also a smidge on the small size too…though I found It hard to know wether to proportion them against the size of the body, or the head, which I was deliberately making larger than it would be in reality. I guess I went for a middle ground in the end!
I was also working on my THIRD head at this point too! Having joined a forum for BJD artists, I was reading it every day, and quickly learning a lot more about how these dolls function, and how to sculpt for that function.
This time round I opened the head cap, removed the core, and then tried to focus on getting the blank base symmetrical and fairly smooth before rushing into sculpting features! Once I had the base looking good, I pencilled on her features, and got stuck in! I used a scalpel to cut out the eye holes roughly from the outside first, then built up some features, and used my newly acquired dremel-style tool to sand out spherical holes on the inside, to thin out the eye wells (to fit the eyeballs into). I don’t know how I would’ve finished this doll without that tool, it’s seriously handy.
I was using my usual assortment of toothpick/needle/proper sculpting tool to refine the facial features, but found the very best tools to be the tiniest sanding bits from the drill, used once dry, held manually in hand.
I was really happy with how she was looking already, definitely a keeper 😉
Thanks for reading!
The next thing I had to work on for my doll, was beefing up the arms and legs…they were just too skinny, and unfortunately this meant having to beef up the joints as well…not ideal. I just added a little at a time, and smoothed each new bump and curve with a wet finger. The paperclay takes new additions very nicely, and smoothes well with a little water.
I was delighted to be able to test string her at this point ^__^ I used a round elastic that was around 1mm thick, since it was all I had, and used snippets of cotton bud sticks as placeholders for the hands and feet. I hadn’t gotten as far as the neck hole on the head, so I couldn’t test it out yet.
Once I had gotten the joints and limbs to the same thickness again (and added some ‘padding’ to her booty and hips!), I gave her another go ^__^ I was really happy with how she looks here. She could even stand up alone on those little sticks!
Since the body was going well, I looked back at the head i was working on, and decided that neither the first nor second head were going to cut it! The first was too blehh, the second was maybe too small!? So I started yet another, haha! I went a smudge bigger with the overall size, knowing that I would be able to cut/sand it down to be symmetrical, and hoping it would look ‘cute’ and childlike, as I wanted. I had been obsessively reading posts in a forum I had joined for BJD artists (The Joint), and had a better grasp again of how the head should work, and be shaped. So the profile view shown here has a better looking neck hole curve. This took me up to the 21st April, and 4 weeks into my project ^__^
Next time – Hands and feet!
Thanks for reading!
Here’s some more about my process of making my first BJD doll ^__^
After splitting the torso, I was able to work some more on the second head that I’d started, and tried out some different methods of sculpting. I was finding it easier to sand away the dried clay to add definition and refine shapes, rather than to shape it too much with the wet clay. I was also wetting the dried clay with a paintbrush, and adding fine details with a large sewing needle!
It’s definitely helpful to do a few heads I think, There’s clear improvement from head to head, and so much to learn about how BJD’s work! Getting the cut of the head cap in the right place so you can still fit your fingers in for the eyes, but not so far forward that the seam is visible past the wig… Also for me, learning to slow down and get the base right before putting on the features. I found it very useful to try to get the featureless base sanded and symmetrical, and make sure the forehead is big enough (a common problem) before getting into the features. I would also strongly advise getting your eyes set in place early on too! Trying to shift an eye around after you’ve got the nose just night is a nightmare!
The arms started off pretty basic and thin. Drying out propped up in a pincushion until i could slide out the straw inner. I drew my planned cuts for the joints, but ended up cutting them further until they were quite flat – this was because the arms weren’t fat enough! The ball joints were the right size according to my plan, but they were too big to be worked into the straw-hollows :/ I have since decided that the shoulders are too angular too, the balls should’ve been placed more in line with the arms, instead of jutting out so much. You learn so much so quickly when you make your first doll!
The elbow, knee and hip joints started out as above, and were gradually built onto, and shaped to move nicely back and forth. Finally, I had also returned to the torso, and added a ‘nubbin’ to the front and back of the lower section, to catch the upper half onto when posing, to enable her to hold the most extreme forward and back bends more easily.
These took me up to the 10th April, so apart from hands and feet, I had most of my doll fleshed out (so to speak) in a little over 2 weeks.
Test stringing and ANOTHER head next time!
Thanks for reading!