Saturday, December 5, 2009

How to make your own Ball Jointed Doll

Obitsu Doll: Model Gretel
Photo credit:

Collector’s dolls make a wonderful Christmas present for someone special. If you can sew, you can make your own doll parts, construct your own custom doll and sew period costumes for it. I’ve posted the link to a doll-making lesson below.

For those of us who like working with draping, dolls are really useful for trying out new designs like Vionnet did. She would drape fabric on a 24” doll while working out the patterns for her draped garments.

I’ve been thinking of getting a doll for some time but it was hard to find one suitable for the purpose. Then I discovered Japanese dolls. After doing some research and lurking on doll making/collecting forums, I’ve settled on Obitsu, who make a ball-jointed doll with a soft torso, which makes it easy to move around and pose.

Proportions are 1/6 to 1/3 of human proportions which is ideal for experimenting. I was really excited to find the 1/3 version is 60cm, the same height as the one Vionnet used!

These collector’s dolls are pricey, and one could easily spend up to USD600 for a fully-finished smaller model constructed from Obitsu parts and hand-painted in the US.

So I wavered for quite some time on the pro’s and con’s of getting a (much cheaper) 27cm model vs a 60cm model. I’ve decided to go for it and get the 60cm Gretel model (shown above) from, which comes with assembled body and head; and add on a doll's wig and a doll's stand which I will need if I'm going to use the doll as a draping model.

This will cost around USD400, which is more expensive than what I paid for Sandy and Mandy, my dress forms! But hey, it's Christmas after all!

How to make Ball Jointed Dolls:

The easy way is to buy the doll parts, assemble them, paint on the face (or purchase a ready-painted doll's head) and add a dolly wig. There are loads of doll making resources on the internet, and doll parts on eBay.

However, to make your own doll parts, read on.......

Dollhouse Noah from Japan, who makes and sells dolls, has generously posted a step by step lesson on how to make and construct your own ball-jointed doll parts using styroform, sawdust and a bonding agent. You then string the parts together, do the finishing and add a doll’s wig.

Her instructions are in English and very easy to understand. So if you’re interested in trying your hand at doll-making, you'll end up with a 100% custom-made collector’s doll!

Take a look at a couple of the dolls she made below. Aren't they beautiful?

Here’s the link:

Photo credit: Dollhouse Noah

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