Part of the process of making a BJD is standing back and looking at what I am doing. That is what I am doing today. I try to do a little bit of work on my doll every day, but every once in a while, I stop and take a moment to just look.
Because I do not have another large BJD project going on at this time, I have saved the oil-clay figure, made with Prima Plastilina Nº 2. If I make a horrible, unrecoverable mistake with any of my carving wax parts, I can simply make another hot-pour moulage mold of the respective oil-clay doll part, and cast another carving wax part, then try again. Hot-pour moulage, is part of the alginate family of mold-making materials, but is reusable. Click on any image to enlarge it.
I am fairly sure that as I gain more experience, I will not need this safety net, and I will be able to start a second project while working on the first one. I really like oil-clay for several reasons, including the fact that it is reusable. Oil-clay is very beginner-friendly. It responds to the touch so nicely. It is soft enough to build-up large forms fairly quickly. It does not harden nor dry out over time. It does need an armature and modeling stand to support it while modeling the figure. An oil-clay figure is too soft to be able to tension it with elastic or springs, or refine it to a high finish. So that is why the oil-clay figure is removed from the modeling stand and cut apart for waste molding.
Carving wax is also reusable. Carving wax may be cast in waste molds. The waste molds can be water-saturated plaster shell molds, as described in Learning To Be A Doll Artist by Martha Armstrong-Hand; or silicone rubber waste molds, as described in Pop Sculpture by Tim Bruckner. Carving wax can be melted and cast in molds, drilled, carved, cut with a saw or chisels, machined, and welded, as well as added to, using hot tools such as a wax pen or metal wax tools and an alcohol lamp. Carving wax is also hard enough to be tensioned with elastic or springs. Being able to test-string a BJD is a very important part of the BJD-making process. Carving wax can also be refined to a very high finish. Personally, I think that working with carving wax is very similar to working with PU resin, except that it is much easier to work with carving wax. I must admit that my experiences working with PU resin are not doll-related, but the PU resin objects that I have cast in silicone rubber molds, are much more difficult to work with than carving wax.
I placed the carving wax doll parts together, just to give myself a better idea of where I am, and what I need to do. Actually, I know what I still need to do, in the back of my head, but it is still handy to have a diagram that I can look at. I have used different colors to indicate what I have done so far, and what I still need to do. The most obvious thing is that the elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles still need balls and sockets. I am slowly figuring out the hip sockets, but at least the hip balls have been made.
I am loosely following Martha Armstrong-Hand's method of making a BJD, as described in her book, Learning To Be A Doll Artist. Martha's method of making a ball-jointed doll figure closely resembles the methods of traditional sculpture. It requires me to know, or to learn, many different Art and Craft Skills, including
- Planning and Drawing (see link to the HPC below),
- designing and making an armature to support modeling clay,
- modeling a figure in clay,
- making plaster waste molds,
- making and casting carving wax,
- working with carving wax,
- designing ball and socket joints,
- refining carving wax to a high finish,
- making production molds,
- casting the final doll in the production molds,
- finishing the cast parts,
- curing the cast parts,
- finishing the cured parts,
- painting the finished parts,
- suedeing the finished parts,
- assembling the cast parts with elastic, or springs (tensioning),
- making hair and wigs,
- designing and making clothing,
- designing and making shoes,
- designing and making accessories,
- posing, then photographing and displaying the finished fully-articulated ball-jointed doll.
The finished ball-jointed doll is a Multi-media Figurative Sculpture that may be used as a mannequin to design 1/3rd scale fashions, as a photographer's model, an artist's model, or displayed as a Sculpture in its own right.
Finally, I would like to point to this Human Proportion Calulator for Artists which I have been playing around with for a couple of days now. Below is a screenshot of what the calcualtor came up with for proportions for my BJD.
A work of art is first cloudily conceived in the mind; during the period of gestation it stands more clearly forward from these swaddling mists, puts on expressive lineaments, and becomes at length that most faultless, but also, alas! that incommunicable product of the human mind, a perfected design. On the approach to execution all is changed. The artist must now step down, don his working clothes, and become the artisan. He now resolutely commits his airy conception, his delicate Ariel, to the touch of matter; he must decide, almost in a breath, the scale, the style, the spirit, and the particularity of execution of his whole design.~ Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) from Essays In The Art of Writing.
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