Even though I design and make cloth dolls, I haven't really gotten into the world of doll collecting. My joy is in the creation, not the collection of dolls. So, I wasn't really that aware of the whole world surrounding ball jointed dolls (known as BJDs). I first became aware of these pose-able dolls, mostly originating in Japan, China and Korea when Patti Culea created a cloth version of a ball jointed doll.
But I later started to appreciate ball jointed dolls for the delicious costuming and the expressive poses that their jointed bodies allow.
I wanted to do a round-up of free BJD tutorials, but in looking around the web, I found that I hadn't the least idea of what BJDs are actually about. Here's what I learned:
- when you buy a BJD they usually come to you bald and undressed and you have to dress them yourself
- people regularly completely take apart their BJDs, repaint the faces, put in new eyes, re-wig and dress them
Who knew! Well maybe you did, but I didn't.
I don't think that I'll be getting into BJDs in a major way. I have too much love for cloth dolls, but I found a number of these tutorials really inspiring and most of these tutorials will easily apply to cloth dolls.
If you want some more general information about ball jointed dolls, read this article. I found this article illuminating.
Ball jointed dolls can be very expensive, so one option is to sculpt your own. Dolly Daydream shares how to sculpt a BJD doll with this tutorial.
This tutorial takes you step by step through the creation of a BJD doll in air-dry clay. The tutorial is in Russian, but if you use Google Translate you can translate the instructions. Having said that, the photos are so good and so plentiful, that you almost don't need the words.
Moulding - Note: You can use these techniques to make moulds for clay faces to be put onto fabric doll bodies as well and even cover the cast face with fabric.
You can make moulds of your sculpted BJD doll, here's a tutorial to show you how. I love the idea of using lego as a mould boxes.
Smooth On has got a great PDF document on the various ways to create moulds and casts, plus several how-to guides for casting. Just follow the link to download the PDF or see the complete list of tips.
Read this article on BJD Collectasy on how to make eyes for BJDs (or clay or cloth dolls for that matter) out of air dry clay.
Wigs and Hats
Make a woodland fairy crown with this video tutorial from Nankatts as featured on BJD Collectasy (the actual intro is quite long, but stick with it as there is a tutorial that follows):
Learn how to make a moss wig or hat for any type of doll with this tutorial on BJD Collectasy. Is that not the cutest thing for a fairy?
Another hat perfect for elves, is this simple elf hat tutorial from Gracefaerie Designs.
Since BJDs are meant to have their wigs changed regularly, most BJD wig tutorials are for a proper removeable wigs (not something we often see in cloth doll making), so this tutorial by Martha Boers shows how to crochet a wig cap and then apply mohair to it. The finished wig is size 6 and adorable.
Use a crocheted wig cap to create a synthetic hair wig, in a variation on the mohair wig with Martha Boers.
Martha Boers give us a tutorial and pattern for making a fully fitted Tibetan goat hair wig. Sometiems Tibetan goat hair can be difficult to get to fit to the head properly but this method would work wonders.
Make woodland fairy wings with this video tutorial from Nankatts as featured on BJJ Collectasy (the actual intro is quite long, but stick with it as there is a tutorial that follows):
Martha Boers shared a tutorial to make some simple, but darling fairy wings on BJD Collectasy.
Martha also has a variation on the simple fairy wings with this gorgeous stitched and painted wing tutorial.
Martha Boers also shared a tutorial for making textured fairy wings on her own BJD site Antique Lilac.
Learn how to distress fabric to create a tattered fairy skirt with Martha Boers on BJD Collectasy.
Make a simple no-pattern doll dress from a hankerchief with this tutorial from Grace Faerie Designs.
Make a Mardi Gras Mask with a video tutorial from Martha Boers as shared by BJD Collectasy:
I've only just scratched the surface of looking at tutorials for BJD dolls and as you can see, there are plenty. Some of the techniques are quite different from what you see in cloth doll making, but most are completely applicable to any style of doll making. I can see myself haunting a few BJD sites from now on.