Looking for information about bjd designers

Sep 11, 2016

    1. I'm curious about the sculptors and designers who actually create bjd's for Asian makers. Are there any publications, blogs, etc. where buyers learn about the designing/ manufacturing aspect of this industry?
       
    2. There is a couple really good sites that have interviews with lots of different BJD artisans (doll makers, clothing makers etc)

      @Musume 's blog is great:
      My Dolly Adventures

      And there is BJDcollectasy too BJD Collectasy
       
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    3. Haru is a casting company who pretty much was the first to show pictures of the whole process and show a little more what's happening behind the scenes.
      They also created an own doll called Adori (which is his son in YoSD form).
      Here's their Flickr:
      Haru casting

      Lots of single artist companies tend to have blogs where they show off what they are working on right now, like Kana (Kanadoll, works for Bambicrony too) or Julia Cross (LLT).
      K A N A (@kana_bykana) | Twitter <- Kana
      Kana Doll <- Kana
      La Légende de Temps BJD | Facebook <- LLT
      J Baek <- Dollits
      Granado's sculptor Crocus also posts WIP on the company's FB page:
      Granado | Facebook


      In short:
      lots of companies are actually just one single artist, and they tend to share their WIP pictures and new dolls on their social media sites.
      In case of chinese companies it's good to search for Weibo profiles too.

      The companies that have more than one artist working for them tend to share less about the working process.
      You can sometimes be lucky and find a blog of such an artist, but they are often not allowed to share what they are working on till the company released the doll.
      It's always good to keep an eye on their social media.

      Unfortunately WIP pictures are usually what you can mostly expect.
      Companies tend to be pretty hush about what happens behind the scenes.
      We don't know how many of them actually cast the dolls, how many outsource the casting, how working conditions are (both in casting companies AND doll companies), how much they earn, if it's safe for the health, how many actually work for a company etc.
      We sometimes find out about such things when issues come up but most of the times things are kept in the dark.
       
      #3 Ara, Sep 11, 2016
      Last edited: Sep 11, 2016
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    4. Flickr

      I found this a while back on Pinterest and It really helped me understand what the process is like. I'm postive certain company's have more refined ways of mould making but it's an introduction on how to get from point a- point b.
      I took a course this year on toy making and how to design an action figure, aswell as talking to casting companies to make a mould and product line for you.
      From that I can tell you there are many different ways to start it all depends on what skills you have. Some make 3D models some make traditional sculpted models but each can result in a resin cast doll.
      Like @Ara said a lot of the big companies keep secrets, there has always been a mystery to doll making. Tips and techniques are learned in pursuit but never really talked about in openness.
      Doll making is a type of magic too me with all the beauty and mystery behind it.
       
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    5. Thanks for the links to blogs and your input. I'm enjoying hearing from experienced collectors.

      I suspect that the factory conditions are dangerous; resin is toxic, no OSHA/EPA standards. That's why they aren't made in America. In fact I can't think of any doll/bjd or toy manufacturing that happens here, it's all outsourced to China factories. Interesting that collectors seem to be upset over the copyright violation of recasts but not so concerned about unseen working conditions. No mystery and magic, it's only humans trying to make a living through their creativity.

      That said, there are talented sculptors imagining characters, keeping abreast on what sculpts collectors like, and the clothing and shoe designers. Maybe I'm off base, but bjd collectors don't seem to care much about what might be called "research" in the traditional doll collecting world. The more you know about how something is made and who made it the more it is appreciated.

      I really like my bjd's but it frustrates me that there's little real information other than advertising/website ordering. The fashion doll magazines just don't handle bjd's well. I don't care for the articles that are really a "storyline" for a doll, much like Robert Tonner has been doing for his products. With bjd's there's probably a language barrier as much as the bjd manufacturers can sell their products without needing the exposure.
       
    6. Actually I'd say BJD collectors know quite a lot about how their dolls are made, thanks to artist blogs and Flickrs as @Ara mentions above. Also, many collectors who are interested in the process try their hand at making their own BJDs. If you're interested, you can check out DoA's sister forum The Joint
       
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    7. First of all: there is not only the US in this world.
      There are actually options between US or China too just saying ;)
      More about that later.

      Resin is a popular material outside of doll making.
      This is true for companies AND hobbyists alike.
      Cosplay accessoires, miniatures (Games Workshop anyone?) and collectable statues/kits, props for movies, jewelry...options are vast with it.
      There's a popular US company that sells resin (and silicones and other stuff), called Smooth-On, too ;)
      Pretty much all stops of sculpting and casting that apply to a statue, jewelry or whatever, applies to BJDs too.
      Just the engineering is more complicated, and our parts need to be hollow.

      We still use it for dolls, despite other options being there, because it's the best material for what we want to be able to do with these dolls.
      It can be easily sanded, doesn't stain so quickly, doesn't get damaged through tight stringing, takes color well without it having to be permanently (like porcelain) etc.; unfortunately it still is dangerous to work with (both cured and during the casting).
      I'm also sure Volks back then picked it because they already had their kits and other parts made with it.

      Now about the US/China thing:
      no, not all dolls are casted in China.
      In fact, China jumped into the whole BJD thing a lot later than Japan (with Volks being the first, obviously) and South Korea (LUTS, Custom House...actually the majority of BJD companies nowadays).
      The linked caster Haru for example is from South Korea.

      The reason they are not made in the US is because it's not a western thing.
      Those dolls originated in Japan and spread to South Korea and later China, any western companies (be it America or Europe) came later and were inspired by already existing BJDs.
      The amount of US (and European) companies* is pretty small, and some of them still prefer to ship their parts to be casted abroad.
      Reason?
      There are resin casters in other countries too, BUT....they often lack the experience with dolls.
      A BJD has lots of parts that in the end need to fit perfectly, and just imagine how much space one SD doll takes!
      People have tried regular, non-doll casters and it was often pretty difficult, if not a total disaster.

      We are very much interested in it, however, this doesn't change that companies didn't want to talk about it :sweat
      Next to the language barrier it took a little till BJD companies picked up social media and started to realize that there is not just interest in buying dolls but also seeing WIP pictures, general talking about the production and so on.
      Lots of companies still don't have active/any social media accounts, keep in mind this is extra work!
      You need someone who speaks English well, takes pictures/videos constantly and takes care of the accounts; posting WIPs can be risky since you'll never know who picks it up, copies it and maybe sells it before you.
      If you are just four people who really, really need all their time just to handle orders you can't have one person sit down for that every day.

      I don't doubt there's some weird stuff going on behind closed doors.
      We still don't know how Soom is actually handling everything (do they have several casting factories, and are some now in China?), which companies actually do both casting AND the whole rest...and who's actually outsourcing their casting to professional companies?
      The whole casting thing is no witchcraft, as said it's something done in other industries/hobbies too, but except for Haru none of them really opened up yet.
      Why should they, we aren't their customers...BJD companies are!

      In short: we are interested, but companies never made it easy to tickle some information out of them.
      They are not "made in the US" because they are not originated in the west, and skilled casters who know how to handle BJD orders are still mostly in their countries of origin.


      *companies as in, mostly 1 man companies just consisting of the artist
       
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    8. Adding some sculptors:

      Gu Mi Jung's Instagram (Zaoll, Narsha, Alexdoll, Mydolling etc)

      YG Flux's Instagram (Dollsbe, some Lati sculpts, some Bambicrony, etc)

      Doi Shin of Shinydoll is on this forum, though he hasn't been on recently. He's an IRL friend of mine and he's not really on social media. He did used to post sculpting progress photos of Den of Angels back when it was allowed.
       
    9. Thanks for the info, its a start to learning more about these wonderful artists.
       
    10. Here on DoA there is a lot of information about resin dollmakers and the dollmaking process. (For what it's worth, I prefer "dollmaker" to "company," because "company" suggests Mattel-style corporate behemoths instead of the small ateliers that produce most BJDs. Sometimes I think the word itself is responsible for a lot of the assumptions about sweatshops, exploitation, and mechanized mass production that people import from the genuinely mass-produced doll world. But I digress.)

      The Wiki: DoA BJD Wiki | Den of Angels (Look around in the Wiki for the entries on individual dollmakers, all compiled by DoA members.)

      Various threads with discussion and information about the BJD "industry":
      BJD sweatshops?
      Trying to Understand the BJD Industry
      "Why are BJDs so expensive?"
      Why are bjds so much money?
      Why do people charge so much?

      And then there are the "research" threads, such as this one and many other threads in Photo Reference:
      https://denofangels.com/threads/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-sd-bodies.39768/
      There's still more "research" -- I think I prefer "knowledge," which covers the experiential as well as the researched -- in the various size-specific discussion forums, where knowledge is shared, tested, and accumulated. In practice, I'd say that most of us on DoA tend to gather knowledge deeply rather than broadly: for instance, we have members who know everything it's possible to know about Elfdoll, including a remarkable amount of inside information about the business and creative sides of that dollmaker. Then we have different members who are extraordinarily knowledgeable about other companies (Dollshe, Customhouse, Hypermaniac, etc., etc.) Because of this specialization, the depth of knowledge available in any particular cranny of the BJD hobby isn't always visible at first glance.

      Then offsite, a few sites to add to the links already provided:
      AnJonghaK (Dollstown), Flickr account: Dollstown .com
      Kreuzdoll (Chinese atelier), website with blog: Kreuzdoll
      Angelden (extensive archive of Volks BJDs up to a few years ago): www.angelden.net

      This isn't online, but Volks' Super Dollfie Encyclopedia (2006) contains photographs of the production area and profiles of some of the sculptors. Other dollmakers have produced photobooks, some with information about their sculptors, some with photos of their studios; Luts released a beautiful book called Memories in 2003 or 2004, for instance.


      Aside from the fact that, yes, I'm afraid you are off-base here, there are a couple of factors that might be worth considering. First, when did this research begin, in the traditional doll collecting world? I honestly don't know at what point, say, Kestner or Jumeau dolls were seen as something to collect and research in minute detail -- maybe it was immediately upon their manufacture, but what I remember of my doll history makes me think that the collector-focus might have come along later. Resin BJDs, as we know them here on DoA, have only been produced since Volks' first Super Dollfie in 1998. Second, the purpose of BJDs, from the beginning, has been owner customization and play -- not preservation in a pristine, permanent state. This is really not a corner of "the traditional doll collecting world" -- it's a different place, with its own customs and cherished values.
       
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