Monday, May 30, 2011

Waiting for Dolly Weather

I used to live in Southern California, and I never realized until moving to the Rocky Mountains how much I took the frequently nice weather for granted. What, you ask, does this have to do with Ball Jointed Dolls? I shall tell you.

To paint/blush a bjd, you need nice dry weather so that the spray sealant can be used without clouding up or flaking once it's dry. The Rockies have lots of that dry weather, right? In theory.

Yes, it's usually drier than the back of the AA Wagon up here. You can dehydrate things just by leaving them out on a plate for a few hours. I have to buy body lotion as a necessity, like soap and shampoo... BUT the factor that slows me down is that stuff won't quit falling from the sky!

When I got here in late Winter it was snowing, and I knew that would clear up come Spring, so I waited, took pics of the dollies in the snow, and enjoyed the stuff. I never had snow around when I was a kid, so I think it's pretty fun. Now that it's supposed to be Spring, and the temperature is over 50 F outside, so I can go out without freezing- Yes, I'm a Southern Californian- it's quit snowing and started raining... and raining... and raining. People up here call this climate a desert. I call Shenanigans. I'm from SoCal. I know deserts. A desert never has rainfall 5 days out of 7 for nearly 2 months straight. A desert never has steady flooding and dams being stressed and reservoirs filling. "Desert", my little pink foot. Hah.

When it's raining, I cannot go outside to do resin sanding and carving. (Which needs to be done outside, equipped with a respirator, as the resin dust is messy and bad for you) I can't spray any sealant, since with all the moisture currently in the air outdoors, the sealant will cloud and ruin my blushing job. It's dry as ever indoors but you can't use the sealant indoors, obviously- Fumes.

The only thing to do, it seems, is sit back, do dolly sewing and take photos, and wait for the rain to stop and Summer to come.

BJDs as Therapy

Someone said "When you play with the doll, like when you take care of a small child, you heal the child you were and that is still in you."
I hadn't been able to put that idea into words myself but that's so true. I've often mused how Pip, with her dark brown hair and huge round blue eyes, looks very much like a four year old me. I've often called her an expression of my inner child- my eternal elfin child avatar. Through her, I get to have those happy little childhood moments and joys that heal me as an adult.

This is a very personal topic to me, and the biggest true reason behind my involvement in this hobby. BJDs have been one of the several good things keeping me afloat, one of my rays of hope that gets me out of my bed and my house and comfort zone to meet new people and make new things.

I live with Chronic Depression. It's kind of like a cancer or leukemia of the soul. It comes and goes, is beaten into remission and then flares up again. If you don't take care of yourself, it can even be very physically harmful, and for some people fatal.

When it's bad, I always find comfort and actually beneficial therapy in playing with my dolls. I discovered Ball Jointed Dolls over a year ago, and I think I was searching for something artistic and childlike that would let me draw out the innocence and strength I had as a child. Modifying and customizing these dolls is an amazing therapy. I find that doing faceups and making clothes for them is comforting to me, because if I have made something so beautiful, it must have come from inside me, and it shows me I am beautiful inside. I find that "taking care" of my dolls (Keeping them out of sunlight, making sure they are safely stored when not in use) reminds me to also look after myself, keeping me eating regular meals and sleeping decent hours. This hobby gives me something to do when I just can't sleep, and something pleasant to think about while I fall asleep. It gives me a safe common ground on which to meet total strangers and make new friends and feel comfortable doing so.

Having the distraction of the hobby gives me something pleasant to think about instead of spiraling into unproductive thought patterns or fears. Making things for the dolls is a therapy stronger than any medicine for calming and centering me, letting me be productive and creative and strong. Anxiety is hard to fight without something like dolls to ease it and redirect that energy in a healthy way. Even my somewhat skeptic family sees how happy the dolls make me and has come to accept their positive influence on my health as something worthwhile.

Friday, May 27, 2011

About Lir

Prince Lir

Company and sculpt: SOOM Lupin
Height: 63cm
Resin colour: NS
Modifications: Shortened neck
Faceup: Me
Eyes: Masterpiece Afghan 13mm
Wig: wool roving, made by Me

Name (and nicknames): Lir (the doll itself is known occasionally as Mister Scruffy)
Age: 23
Birthday: in the Autumn
Family and/or relationships: Father: Gahaeris (dcs.), Mother: Elaine (dcs.), Brother: Cai (dcs.), Sister: Elinore
Pets: A raven named Scratch
Personality: Calm, curious, mild, compassionate, soft spoken, introspective, capable of being brave
Hobbies: wandering, reading, studying histories and records,
Likes: Time alone or with close friends, long journeys, riddles and mysteries, books, his family
Dislikes: shallowness, rudeness, useless noise, flattery, cruelty
Other/misc. facts: Believer in lost causes, likes the Lady Rowena very much.
The scar on one side of his jaw was not given by some sworn enemy's cursed blade- it's the result of a fledgling Scratch the Raven trying to peck at Lir's eye. That's how Scratch got his name.
He calls his sister Elinore the pet name "Linnet Bird".

Short bio: He left his castle home, going out alone as he often did, but this time he stayed away for two years, chasing rumors of a hidden record, an ancient text. He found it, and followed the advice of a blind poet to sail to an island ruled by a cruel lord, where he rescued a slave who could read the words written in the book. Then he journeyed home, hastened on his way by rumors of war in his father's kingdom. Nothing could have prepared him for what he would find on his arrival.

About the Doll:
Lir is a sculpt called Lupin from a company called Soom, based in South Korea. Like most Ball Jointed Dolls, he was handcast in polyurethane resin from molds taken from an original artist's sculpt.

Lir was the very first BJD I ordered, and I found him by hunting through websites for a masculine yet young and handsome face on a sculpt. I didn't want another anime-faced "bishounen". (That's Japan-Fan talk for Pretty Young Man, usually quite androgynous and effeminate) Stylized Beauty has its appeals, but I prefer a certain amount of realism in faces, and manliness in men. I wanted to make dolls that were a bit different.

He's had that extra long Soom Super Gem neck shortened to give him the proportions I wanted him to have. The Super Gem body that Soom makes for their 63 cm male dolls is lean but muscular, a beautiful sculpt if not the very best at posing. He stands very well, even unsupported. I got him with the exquisite jointed hands Soom makes, and they are incredibly gorgeous in expressiveness and engineering. I can't imagine this doll without them, because they do allow him such a great emotive range, and he's an emotional sort of character.

When he arrived he looked like this:

Those incredible eyes of his are Masterpiece Eyes, in the color "Afghan". The faceup (BJD Hobby Talk for his face painting) is the faceup that I ordered him with, because at the time I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to do faceups myself. It was very nice, admittedly, but I decided I wanted eventually to do my own faceups, so later I repainted his face myself.
His wig I made by building a felt wigcap in the shape of the hairline I wanted, then gluing dabs of wool roving onto it a little bit at a time. Eventually he'll get a custom fiber wig that will be in roughly this same style.

This is how his face looks now. I did this faceup myself. Eventually I may redo it yet again, but this is good for now. He's wearing the same eyes as before, but this shot doesn't catch all their colors as well as that other one. The bird there on his shoulder is supposed to be his pet raven, Scratch. He's dressed in his rough traveling clothes.
I haven't done a shoot with him in a while, and I owe him one as soon as I finish his new courtly clothes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quiz thing- If your Dolls could speak

If your dolls could speak, or for some reason had to have actors to provide voices for them, who would you pick?
Just gonna answer for the Court, as trying this for all the dolls would take a while.

My gang, let's see... All of the Court should technically have British-like accents, with a few exceptions, seeing as they are from a world based on medieval Cornwall, Wales, Sussex, Wessex, and so on. Time to hit IMDb!

Lir, His Majesty, should have a tenor-baritone range, quite soft spoken. Almost never raised, but very commanding in certain tones. Joseph Fiennes could do Lir's voice very well.

Kevya... Low tenor, informal tone. His accent isn't quite English. It isn't quite anything really. You'd have to mix Gaelic, Spanish and a little Hebrew or Arabic to get the correct cadences and sounds for his accent, and it still would be a little off. He belongs to a people who have their own language in the Medieval Fantasy world I've made, and it's got a lot of Semitic language rhythms to it, but since my second language is Spanish, some of the vowels are particularly Italic/Romance based. (*NERD*)
However, I'm not sure who I'd pick to be his voice actor.

Lady Rowena is a second soprano, and probably sounds a lot like Kate Winslet, circa Sense and Sensibility.

Princess Elinore ...Not sure. She hasn't been around long enough for me to figure out who I'd have to voice her.

Winter, the Harpist... Tenor, a singer's voice, fine elocution, prone to a sardonic edge. David Tennant ( 10th Doctor, BBC's Dr. Who) would do an amazing job here.

Donovan actually sounds a lot like Ewan MacGregor, when that actor isn't covering his native Scottish accent quite so much as he typically does.

Sir Malcolm Owen- Gerard Butler. Resonance, man, resonance.

Mathonwy, the Scholar, should probably sound a bit more Welsh. Not that I really have a clear idea of how it sounds, but he should. And he's a tenor, nice and clear, good vocabulary, excellent diction. No idea who'd play him. Someone Welsh?

Siofra the Fae should have a melodic, sensual Alto, with a gaelic sort of lilt to it. Laura Fraser, who played Kate the Ferris in A Knight's Tale, would be great for this role.

Monday, May 2, 2011

On the Meanings of the Dolls' Names

The court:
-Lir- A name of a sea deity and several kings historical and mythic.
-Rowena- Used/possibly coined by Sir Walter Scott for the lovely Saxon love interest/heroine in "Ivanhoe".
-Mathonwy- A king in a Welsh myth I read. I decided the name was awesome and needed to go to a character of mine, someone with gravitas.
-Winter- what it sounds like, a nickname acquired from his silver hair and charming temperament. His real given name is Aeron, which is said roughly as EYE-ron. It's Welsh too. Apparently in Welsh mythology Aeron was often portrayed as a masculine deity of some kind or another. It might mean "Berry".
-Donovan- According to "Behind the Name", The given name Donndubhán is made of the Gaelic element donn "brown" combined with dubh "dark" and a diminutive suffix. So, little dark brown [guy]. Sorta. Not very descriptive, as my character Don is neither dark, brown, nor has he been little since he was wee.
-Malcolm- From the Gaelic Mael Colum, servant of Colum. Again, this has no bearing on the character.
-Elinore- Whoo boy. From "Behind the Name": From the Old French form of the Provençal name Aliénor. It was first borne by the influential Eleanor of Aquitaine. She was named Aenor after her mother, and was called by the Provençal phrase alia Aenor "the other AENOR" in order to distinguish her from her mother.
-Siofra- One of the Gaelic words for Fairy.
-Tiarnach- from Irish Gaelic tigern, meaning "lord".
-Kevya- means No One or Nobody in a Constructed Language of mine. Story reasons for this.

Not part of the Court:
Copernica: I feminized the Latin name Copernicus. Original meaning has something to do with goat horns, I'm sure. My intent was referencing the astronomer by the name.
Stella- Star. Like twinkle twinkle.
Apple- Well duh.
Pip- a seed, very small, as of a grape. Fitting, since she was the first Tiny sized doll I got.
Nikos- A pet form of Nikolas or Nikolaos, which is from Greek νικη (nike) "victory" and λαος (laos) "people". Victors, or victorious people?
Sorrel- a woodland plant, looks shamrocky. Also a color of horse, a burnished brown.
Timmany- She insisted this was her name. I'm not gonna argue with a jet-lagged fairy.