What are BJDs, or Ball-Jointed Dolls?
Wikipedia defines a ball-jointed doll as any doll that is articulated with ball and socket joints. Particularly when using the acronyms BJD or ABJD, it usually refers to modern Asian ball-jointed dolls. These are cast in polyurethane resin, a hard, dense plastic, and the parts are strung together with a thick elastic, making them fully articulated and highly poseable. Most BJDs are anatomically correct. BJDs are readily customizable. BJD face paint is referred to as a faceup.
There is a sizeable international community dedicated to the hobby of collecting BJDs. The largest English BJD forum on the internet has over 22,000 members as of 2009.
Sizes of dolls:
Large full size dolls, sometimes referred to as SD size from the Super Dollfie size range, are around 60 cm. Roughly 1/3 scale, they usually represent fully grown teenagers or adult body types. There is also a range of even larger full size BJD, from about 70 to 90 cm tall.
Mini size dolls, sometimes referred to as MSD size from the Mini Super Dollfie size range, are about 40 cm tall. There are two major categories of minis: those that are roughly in the same scale as the 1/3 full-size dolls and meant to look like children, and mature or slim minis which are meant to represent fully grown adults that are in 1/4 scale.
Tiny BJDs are under 30 cm tall. They are available in many different types and scales. Some tiny BJD are made to look like toddlers or babies next to full size dolls, these are about 25 cm (10 in) tall and are somtimes referred to as Yo-SD size after the Super Dollfie size range. Even smaller childlike dolls, tiny tinies, are usually not made to be in scale with any larger BJDs. A few tiny BJDs have mature bodies and are in the same 1/6 scale as fashion dolls like Barbie, about 21-30 cm tall. Humanoid anthro animal BJDs are usually in the tiny size scale.
Ball-jointed dolls are initially modeled in a substance such as clay. The hardened clay body parts are used as patterns to form silicon rubber molds for multiple parts to be cast in synthetic polyurethane resin. Cured resin has a hard, smooth, porcelain-like feel, but is less brittle.
Most regular edition BJDs come assembled and painted but without clothes, while full set BJDs, which are often limited, include clothes. A few BJDs are sold as bare unassembled parts in a kit, similar to a garage kit.
OOAK dolls are sculpted as One Of A Kind dolls by Doll Artists. Doll artists also make Limited Editions of BJDs they have created.
Most BJDs tend to have at least 13 points of articulation at the ankle, knee, hip, wrist, elbow, shoulder and where the head joins the neck. They may also have one or two joints through the body, making 14 or 15 points of articulation. If double joints are used at the knee and elbow, for better poseability, the number of points of articulation can climb above 17. About the least number of points of articulation for a BJD is 9: knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, and head. Most BJDs are able to stand on their own without a doll stand.
A good overview of what is involved in making a ABJD is the best way to get started. There are several sites which explain how an ABJD is designed and made.
- How to make the sphere joint doll for beginner is a Japanese doll artist's site that has plenty of photographs documenting the creation of a BJD.
- Thaasa's Diary is a collection of photographs documenting the creation of a BJD, and Shiny Doll is the doll company of an engineer who designed the Thaasa BJD.
- This is an English translation of Russian tutorial on how to make a BJD.
- An English translation of another Japanese BJD tutorial.
- This well-known Japanese BJD tutorial is in English.
There are many steps to creating a BJD. I will try to document my own progress in this blog.
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