Monday, April 8, 2013

08 Joint Design Nº 152

This is what I have done, so far; and what I still have to do, as far as joints are concerned. The green circles indicate ball joints that I have already roughed-in. The red circles indicate ball joints that I still need to make. I still need to cut the skull cap for the head, cut the elbows, and cut the knees and ankles. I may need to make some carving wax balls and mold them for some of those joints. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Ryo Yoshida's book, Yoshida Style Ball Jointed Doll Making Guide, has more actual information about designing ball and socket joints, than the chapter on designing ball and socket joints in Martha Armstrong-Hand's book, Learning To Be A Doll Artist. The thing is, Yoshida is making a OOAK BJD with air-dry clay, and Martha is making a slip-cast porcelain BJD. The main issue is the material that the doll is made of. In the end, however, it still comes down to doing what Martha says to do when designing ball and socket joints, and that is to experiment, and try different things.

The first thing we must study and decide about is the extent of movement desired.

Hard work awaits us. Drawing helps, but actually playing with the three-dimensional parts and feeling the pieces might lead you to a better solution. Don't be discouraged if you find you have to try several solutions. The big problem is that we have to work on all parts more or less at the same time, roughing out the forms and gradually refining them.

Everything should look organic and possible, even though we'll end up with hard porcelain shapes, unlike our body where flesh gives when we bend or sit.
~ Martha Armstrong-Hand, LTBADA, p.69

One way to test the size of these openings is by riding various size rings on the ball endings of the middle part. (Curtain rings or bent electrical wire can assist.) On the other hand the cups or sockets of the chest and hip piece must be shallow to allow for arm sockets and leg cups. Room must be allowed for stringing.

There comes a time when talk just delays action. We have enough pictures worth at least a hundred words each with which to encourage you to cut and trim, add and subtract, starting with the middle piece and fitting chest and hip piece roughly over and under it.

When I first began my joint designing adventure I collected different sizes of wooden balls and tried them out in different sized sockets to determine shoulder and hip joints. Now I make drawings of the whole construction and find balls that fit the size of my drawings. For further assistance I have made a number of ball molds, so now I can cast balls in [carving] wax, ready to weld to arm or leg pieces.

After deciding on ball and socket size, it helps to focus on one thing at a time. Work on a shoulder joint with concentration until you like it, then see how it works. Duplicate it on the opposite side, check front and back position, then look at the rest of the body so far. How high or how low are the shoulders?
~ Martha Armstrong-Hand, LTBADA, p.70

How broad are they, and do they feel right for the age of the person? Maybe the neck should be longer or shorter. Walk away; look at people or your pictures; try to research one problem at a time.

I came to my shoulder blade solution of half ball with socket in the chest piece after many simpler trials. I would advise you to start with the simplest solutions first. Having so many choices seems to add to the initial problem solving, but as soon as you understand the material you are aiming for (porcelain in my case), you'll find solutions quite limited. That applies to cloth, wood or hard-molded substances as well. Since I don't know what your experience is, I can only encourage study. Bravely invent and experiment until the joint does what you want it to do.

If you encounter a serious problem and need a break, by all means take one. In my experience, carrying [doll-making] problems around in your head will occasionally lead to an out-of-context eureka! But these revelations usually come after intense involvement and testing.
~ Martha Armstrong-Hand, LTBADA, p.71

I mentioned before that our choices are limited due to the material we employ. Not only do we have to consider the hardness of the porcelain compared to the flexibility of our flesh and make make room for a proper bend, we also have to allow for a pour hole in every part we create. This determination will grow out of experience with porcelain slip casting and cleaning; the size of the piece will help you understand the wall thickness necessary for good joints.

Every joint has to be viewed from an aesthetic point of view, the extent of function, and the practicality according to the material. With all of the above information and a few sleepless nights we can now begin to refine every joint and start testing with elastic cord or suitable springs: first the simple movement, then gestures or activities we like to present. This should be one of the most exciting moments in our creating: playing and imagining situations and acting out stories.
~ Martha Armstrong-Hand, LTBADA, p.73

WOW !!! That is pretty much the essence of what Martha has to say about designing ball and socket joints for a porcelain BJD. Not much to go on, is there? Compare the above with what Ryo Yoshida has to say about making ball and socket joints. These are the captions under very detailed step-by-stpe photos.

This is the elbow. Make it so the ball is hidden.
For the neck, make the ball so it is slightly larger than the neck cross-section.
So that the hip balls follow the line of the body, make them the same diameter as the cross section of the thickest part of the thigh.
In both the shoulders and hips, if you make the balls the same diameter as the thickest part, they will follow the line of the body.
Fill the wrists with soft clay and make round hemisphere shapes.
Check and adjust the size so that it makes a natural line with the arm from the front and side. If it's hard to build up clay on to the hemispheres, it's OK to make them just with clay in the same way as for the ankles.
Carve the foot down with a rasp until level with the center line of the ankle.
ADVICE: The center line of the joint is the center line of the ball!! Let's make all of the joints so that, as far as possible, the center of the ball will become the center of the joint. Please fit to the leg and decide on the size of the ankle ball, taking note of the line of the leg from the ankle.
~ Ryo Yoshida, YSBJDMG, p.47

See what I mean? There is more constructive how-to joint information on one page of Yoshida Style than in a whole chapter of Learning To Be A Doll Artist. However, the things that Martha has to say must be taken into consideration because of the material the doll is being made of, as well as the process of mold making. For example, Yoshida is not making any molds of the doll parts, so he does not have to design pouring holes for each part.

This is one reason why I am keeping a detailed doll-making journal. Okay, so this is where I am. I have procrastinated long enough about cutting the arms and legs for making the elbows, wrists, knees and ankles. Now it is time for some action. Since Yoshida has more concrete advice about where to cut the knees and elbows, I am probably going to follow his suggestions for the first cuts, while trying to keep Martha's advice in mind at the same time. Yeah, that sounds like a good plan.


Learning To Be A Doll Artist: an apprenticeship with Martha Armstrong-Hand.
Martha Armstrong-Hand.
Livonia, MI: Scott Publications, 1999.
ISBN: 1893625044

Yoshida Style Ball Jointed Doll Making Guide.
Ryo Yoshida. Translated by: CAMBIRD and SUZANNE B. at Den ofAngels.
Tokyo, Japan: Hobby Japan, 2006.
ISBN: 4894254603

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