Fairyland BJDs

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I mostly focus on original one-of-a-kind dolls on this blog, but lately I’ve developed a love for Asian Ball-Jointed Dolls, so I want to share with you one of my favorite sites.

Fairyland dolls are beautiful and fantastically posable, but lately they’ve come out with some absolutely gorgeous fullsets (fullset dolls come with costumes, special paint jobs and wigs, unlike most ball-jointed dolls, which arrive naked and without eyes or wigs, ready to be customized by the owner).

I just adore the costumes on these dolls. The color scheme is perfect for winter and for their celestial/fantasy theme and the minute details are just amazing.

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Look, normally I’m not a pastel girl. But whoever designed these costumes is an expert in color theory, making their limited pink-purple-blue-white palette suggest fairy tales, magical fantasy, and the cosmos. I don’t know how you pile that much lace on a Fauntleroy suit and still make it clearly a little boy, but I think this costume pulls it off (though I might be inured to that sort of thing since I’ve been looking at lots of BJDs lately). The girl’s costume borrows a little from the Gothic Lolita tradition, but with a bit more 18th-century fairy tale style than usual. All those layers of lace and trim make her skirt look like a birthday cake. And the ruffles at her wrists are the perfect proportions. I can tell you from experience, that isn’t easy to do.

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Minifee Chloe, pictured above, is a 16-inch doll and has my favorite costume of this series. The layers of lace and ruffles combined with fantasy historical elements and delicate gold braid manage to be sexy without giving up any of the romantic charm of historical costumes. I also like the way the purple details punch up the white and mauve color scheme.

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Roke and Chloe Elf, above, are larger dolls, and hence have sexier costumes. I just love the floaty ruffles of Chloe Elf’s  skirt (though I think I’d like more coverage on the bodice!) and the lacy metal braid on her belt and bodice. Roke’s costume is what I call “Fashion armor;” his helm and leather corset might look sexy but wouldn’t do much else. I’m not sure if he’s wearing a skirt or a hakama, but I love the details of this costume, like the fur lining on his pauldrons and the iridescent paint on his helm.

Maybe I’ll do a bjd primer at some point. The hobby has enough jargon and unique traditions to be its own industry, or possibly a small country. However, the bjd industry seems to be thriving while other kinds of doll art are dying out, so I think it’s instructive to examine the best they have to offer.


Doreen Kassel: Pigs and other extraordinary creatures

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Happy New Year!

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This was too cute not to share. I love Kassel’s quirky subjects and the old-fashioned illustration sort of vibe they give off. They seem to be made of polymer clay and then painted, but the paint scheme is interesting; it’s over-highlighted, giving the effect of a washed-out vintage photograph, or an illustration in pastel watercolors and sepia ink. Her “about” page says she considers classic illustrators to be her influences, and I think it really comes out in her piggies and her “League of Extraordinary Creatures” series. I hope to see more of her work as time goes on.

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Forest Rogers — Fine art

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I’ve previously discussed the question of what, exactly, is a doll, and I’ve shown you an artist who is definitely making dolls, and an artist who is definitely making figurines. So today I’m going to showcase an artist who blurs the lines. Forest Rogers’ work is made entirely of hard media (generally polymer clay, although some of the larger pieces seem to be in air dry clay) and would definitely qualify as figurines, except for the judicious application of natural-fiber hair and occasional fabric clothing. The artist herself seems to have a fine art background, but she calls her work dolls and is a member of NIADA.

Whatever you call them, you can’t deny that her pieces are art. One thing that divides amateur artists from professionals, in my opinion, is the expressiveness of the pose. Really successful doll artists either understand that intuitively or learn it somewhere in their education. Rogers’ work is a prime example of the beauty that derives from the pose of the figure’s body.

Check out Forest Rogers’ work here and here, and her blog here.

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Marina Bychkova

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The exact definition of a “doll” is a topic of continuing interest to me, and one that will probably crop up in this blog from time to time. Today’s artist can be found both on Flickr and on her own web page, and on the Flickr site her significant other, Chad Isley, responds to a surprised comment about the fact that the dolls can move with this: “That’s why it’s called a DOLL. She doesn’t make figurines.”

But oh, if only all dolls looked like these. Bychkova’s pieces are made of porcelain and remind me of those gorgeous ball-jointed dolls coming out of Asia these days. The difference is that each of Bychkova’s dolls is completely handmade, including the fabulous beadwork on the costumes. I’ve done enough of this kind of work myself to be completely in awe of Bychkova’s skill and artistic vision. Porcelain is not an easy medium to work with.

Part of me agrees with Ilsey; despite the trend in the doll world to describe our art as “figurative sculpture” in order to gain more acceptance in highbrow art circles, there’s something different about dolls. Sculpture is just for looking at, but dolls are for touching. I think that’s the paradox many of us struggle with. I gave up the fight a while ago and started making fixed sculptures, but perhaps Bychkova will inspire more of us to experiment with the tactile, interactive side of doll art.

If you’ve been inspired, too, here’s a tutorial on sculpting ball-jointed dolls.

P.S. Sorry for the lack of pictures, but you’ll just have to follow the links to see more!