Natural BJD

Aug 15, 2020

    1. I wanted to know if there are other people who like to or would want to use natural, eco, sustainable, or animal-friendly materials when creating their doll rather than using materials that are unnatural/synthetic.

      Like instead of hair made of synthetic materials, getting hair that is instead made of mohair, angora or alpaca. Also instead of using fake crystals, fake shells, or other fake things just using the real thing instead. I've been thinking about using real dried flowers on my bjd and real bug wings, using real butterfly/moth wings for a fairy doll. Clothes/fabrics made of natural materials like cotton, organic cotton, wool, and etc.

      What i mean doesn't apply to just clothes or accessories either, but also products used for sculpting, painting, face-ups, body blushing, coating, sealants since i don't want to use non-eco and toxic stuff on my dolls. Or any eco/animal-friendly/natural alternative versions for these things.

      Materials such as natural fabric, paper clay, air-dry clay, wax, wood, porcelain, natural hair, natural yarn, natural wool, and natural felt I would like to know if anyone uses for their dolls as well. Also if anyone uses plastic-free materials, natural pigments, and loads of other materials that are cruelty-free, animal friendly or free of animal testing. Shoes or glue made of natural materials. Just for the record, I am not vegan/vegetarian but i do like a lot of vegan/vegetarian things and i very much care about being eco and animal friendly.
      #1 Mayflower, Aug 15, 2020
      Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
    2. I prefer natural fibers for wigs. Synthetic hair doesn't feel as nice or style as easily for me.

      I have been wanting to cut back on synthetic fabrics due to what I have learned about microplastic pollution, but I haven't yet made it to 100% natural.

      I haven't tried more eco-friendly paints yet.
    3. i'm interested in more sustainable materials, but they tend to be pricier than what my wallet can handle. i'd definitely like to cut back on the amount of synthetic materials i use, though. i wish more companies used environmentally friendly materials on their dolls and accessories!
      • x 1
    4. I prefer natural fibers for wigs, I'm just not at the level of wig-making where I'm comfortable buying them yet for my own use. I do have a couple, though! Made by other people of course. My favorite fiber is soy, it's super soft and 100% sustainable!

      As for other fibers, I guess it depends on what you mean by "animal friendly". If you mean that no animals were harmed or died for the production of the items, then alpaca and mohair are probably the best way to go, since those are sheared and the animals are not skinned. Tibetan lamb, on the other hand, is usually attached to a leather hide. Wool would be animal-friendly as well, I suppose.

      This is maybe getting a little rambly, but as someone whose other hobby is collecting dead stuff, I know that the definition of "ethical" items is really, really subjective. Is it okay if the animal died a natural death? What counts as a natural death? I suppose these are things you'd have to consider, and then you'd have to ask the seller of the materials about the circumstances behind them. Even if the person labels their item as "ethical", that might mean something different to them.

      Phew, okay, on a more practical note: if you decide to use actual butterfly wings for a project, I'd suggest encasing them in resin or some other kind of sturdy material, since they're incredibly fragile and they shed scales.
    5. Hmm, but is their a more eco alternative that's transparent that can also be used to harden and encase the wings? It did occur to me I would need to use something to harden them that was transparent but i didn't know what was good to use.
    6. Hmmm... I'm not familiar with anything that's all-natural. Maybe it could be dipped in clear wax? Though wax isn't very BJD-friendly.

      A little bit of digging later, and I did find a company called "EcoPoxy" that makes eco-friendly resin coatings. Could be an option?
    7. Paper could be made to look very much like real butterfly wings using printing, pencils, watercolors, etc. and might be a good alternative.

      I thrift almost everything for my dolls. About 1/3 of my BJDs themselves (counting heads and bodies separately when I got them separately) are secondhand. For me, this satisfies my desire to be eco friendly, as the items are already made and "discarded" in a sense, and I worry less about what materials they're made of. I thrift most of my yarn as well, and use it to make wigs. I can't recommend thrifting enough for anyone who wants to be eco friendly but has difficulty obtaining natural/organic materials for any reason.
      #7 CaladhielTan, Aug 15, 2020
      Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2020
    8. I try to keep my hobby completely animal-friendly (I'm vegan) at least- but that means NOT using mohair etc as there is usually cruelty involved in the farming and harvesting of it.
      I would love to try soy fibre wigs in the future though to try and cut down on synthetic materials, but it is hard to find things though without it all getting too expensive.
      Using real insect wings sound horrific in all honestly and removing those insects from the environment would do harm to the natural eco system. I like the paper suggestion above though.

      I've seen people using recycled things and things found outside and managed to make some lovely custom items for their dolls so that might be worth a shot.
      I think a lot about being eco friendly would be about reusing things, finding items second hand, making things yourself from natural fibres etc
      Unfortunately it is hard to be completely eco friendly but the more people that try the better :)
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    9. So, you want to use materials that are cruelty free and be as animal friendly as possible and then you want to use ACTUAL butterfly/moths wigs as decoration for dolls?

      • x 7
    10. This is 100% me too. Zero animal products are allowed on my dolls, including the art materials too: no crushed bugs for pigments. My personal feelings are I am not convinced there can be any such thing as ethical exploitation of animals, and even if there can be, I cannot actually know whether what I purchase animal-product-wise is ethical. This is a slight tangent but yeah, I agree with this!
      Using “natural” things for your dolls is not necessarily eco-friendly if it involves direct harm of natural things (like the butterflies!!).

      I similarly minimise wastage as much as possible, and the second-hand market is a fantastic way to make sure that items get new homes and aren’t sent to landfill. I am very pleased that BJDs already come in very minimal packaging; cardboard box with no plastic ties. Imagine if they were packaged like playline dolls!
      • x 2
    11. My thoughts exactly. I'm vegan since birth however, and terrified of bugs; I would never want to consciously harm any living creature, even if I find them scary -- even their dead bodies scare the freak out of me, so repurposing a dead bug would be a huge no for me. But maybe I'm just freaking old weirdo. DX
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    12. I prefer natural fibres for clothing, and I like and use natural fibre wigs, but also like some of the "synthetic mohair" ones. I prefer real leather shoes (especially as some of the expensive faux-leather ones tend to flake after a few years). I eat the meat, I might as well make use of the skin, after all. I wear it myself so have no objections to my dolls wearing it.

      I there were viable non-toxic sealants and the like for faceups, I'd give them a try. We're a bit stuck with the resin though. There are porcelain BJD's, but they tend to be more expensive, and I have off-topic dolls made out of all sorts of materials, but until the BJD companies as whole start making alternative and the prices are affordable, resin seems to be it. I mean, I love the beautifully articulated wooden dolls by places like Xenis, but they aren't as poseable as resin BJDs, so there's a limit to how much I'm willing to pay for them.

      • x 4
    13. I've thought a lot about plastic waste as someone who would one day like to sculpt a doll actually worth molding and casting. (Luckily my handmade dolls are no where good enough to even start studying how to mold and cast them haha)

      But this thread reminds me that I'll probably look into using something like Padico's Modeling cast to make copies of my hand sculpted dolls one day. (Though of course they'd be off-topic for the forum...). I won't really care what happens to things I make after I'm dead, so it seems fitting that they be made of something that can eventually break and erode back to dust.
    14. What they've already said... buying natural fur with the fur still attached to the skin is not exactly animal friendly, is it? I mean, an animal is killed so they could collect that hair. I honestly don't know what else to say :/
    15. Yeah, well, sometimes, just sometimes, animals are killed for eating. I'd rather use as much of an animal as possible (including fur/hide and other things) than just have an animal killed for its meat and everything else tossed in the garbage ...
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    16. @Khell That’s a bit neither here nor there to what Naisha said. Somebody who refuses to purchase that product likely also doesn’t eat meat. It also means anybody making those decisions is not going to be swayed nor cares that yes, humans in a general sense eat meat and kill animals. That really isn’t relevant. It’s about your own purchasing decisions and what choices you yourself feel comfortable making.

      So back to the topic of the thread, technically if OP wants to use dead butterflies and lamb skin, it’s all up to them! It’s just that that is not necessarily eco-friendly if the goal is... to be eco-friendly. Especially the butterfly part. That isn’t... a typical animal industry byproduct. Animal pelts, you may be able to “justify”, so long as you know the farm they come from covers its own environmental impact, and makes use of every part of the animal. That’s something very difficult to know. To be eco-friendly is to minimise your impact on the environment, and sourcing something like butterfly wings is not particularly compatible with that.

      I don’t want to focus on that wing thing though, but I do want to say @Mayflower don’t mistake natural for better/more friendly. It’s true that plastics are a big problem, but there is also good in man-made materials, and these days more plastics can be broken down and recycled than ever before. Some synthetic things are no good and we shouldn’t encourage them, like disposable single-use packaging, but other synthetic things are good (for starters, we are all on a forum for dolls, one of those very things. But also: silicone! For medically hygienic applications in hospitals and also in the home such as dish washing pads.). In addition, some natural rocks you may use for your dolls, or similar materials, are a finite resource, and have huge not eco-friendly industries around mining them. It shouldn’t be about what is natural, but about what is responsible.
      #16 nattherat, Aug 15, 2020
      Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
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    17. It's possible to source butterfly wings without doing harm, but I suspect on the very small scale OP wants to do it at, it's not very viable. There's a local jewelry and art maker that uses real wings in their art, but they have a contract with a butterfly farm and only use the ones that died naturally after living out their full natural lives.
      • x 1
    18. For me, there has to be a trade-off if i can't get a product that's both eco and animal friendly it has to be at least one of them if it can't be both or just a natural material. There is not always cruelty in the sourcing for animal hair but i think it's important to ask the seller before buying. So even if it isn't cruelty-free or animal friendly, being natural and eco-friendly is still good. Also, it's not like I planned to go hunting for cute butterflies and moths and kill them, i planned to buy wings online after checking with the seller to see if they died a natural death/natural causes first.

      Like someone else mentioned on this post, I mean that no animals were harmed or died for the production of the items, or died a natural death before buying the product. It is possible to get butterfly and moth wings from sellers who pay attention to things and will sell butterflies they found that died of natural causes and etc. And i will repeat what vicemage said :

      It's possible to source butterfly wings without doing harm, and only use the ones that died naturally after living out their full natural lives.
      #18 Mayflower, Aug 15, 2020
      Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2020
    19. Have you looked much into secondhand markets? They may contain things like synthetic fiber, but you wouldn't be feeding demand for new products. Likewise, scouring thrift shops, your stash, or things you might otherwise discard (cardboard boxes, spent glue sticks) for craft supplies can also be eco friendly, though not necessarily have the aesthetic you seem to want.
    20. Natural things are often eco friendly in that they are not made of unnatural synthetic man-made materials and can often be compostable and biodegradable. A lot of natural materials do not harm the environment as much as materials like plastic for example which is not natural. And no one said anything about harming the butterflies to use their wings.

      Do you use organic leather or vegetable tanned leather? I'm okay with not getting porcelain bjd's at the moment but i would want porcelain accessories perhaps. I think that as clumsy as i can be sometimes, i'd just have some kind of accident with a porcelain bjd and end up breaking something. But i am looking into eco resin doll companies at the moment as well.

      I didn't say i'd be willing to buy fur that's still attached to the skin or the hide, but even if it isn't exactly cruelty-free or animal friendly it is still a natural material which isn't entirely bad and might just have to be a trade-off.