Canadian doll designer Dale Zentner is known for her BJD fashions. Her creations have been featured in publications such as Haute Doll and Doll Reader. Dale sells her ball-jointed doll clothing through her online boutique, Pink Grapefruit Fashions and blogs at http://dalezentner.wordpress.com.
In early 2010, Dale set out to create her first paper-clay BJD. With Ryo Yoshida’s book, Yoshida Style Ball Jointed Doll Making Guide in one hand, and a translation from Den of Angels in the other, Dale began the intricate processes of creating a BJD from scratch.
She drew the figure, cut a styrene core, applied the paper-clay, removed the core, sculpted and sanded the clay, added the ball joints, strung the figure together, added two torso joints. Of the process, Dale writes “Lots of tweaking going on. Tweak… sand… tweak… sand ….string ….correct …again and again. Must be like making a movie… about take ten it comes together.”
Upon completing the sculpt, Dale transformed the ghostly figure into flesh and blood with oil paints and named her Amelia. Dale created jewelry, clothing, and shoes for the finished figure. Dale writes “I know she is just a doll or piece of art but I’m in love with the magic of creating.”
This Fall, Dale used her experience to create Bianca, her second ball-jointed doll, with improved joints and more refined features. “I’m very proud of these dolls. It was a great challenge to make them. I had to learn to work with a different clay (La doll), sculpt a whole figure, make those crazy ball joints work, and paint with oils. They are more difficult and time-consuming to make than my polymer clay dolls, which were on a cloth body, didn’t have joints, and needed minimal painting. I still have lots to perfect with the paper-clay dolls but that will be done over time.”
Creating clothing for her dolls is Dale’s favorite moment in the genesis of her characters. “Once a doll is made and the paint is dry, she needs to be dressed. I love natural fabrics. I hunt for velvet dresses or skirts, beaded saris or other interesting clothing to transform into outfits for my dolls. The fabric has to have the right weight so it drapes well. If it has a pattern, the scale has to look right on a 1/3 scale doll.”
She pays attention to every detail, from the detailed headpieces down to the the hand-made shoes. “Hats are also fun. I’ve made straw hats from scratch using straw braid. Ultra suede and wool felt is also very useful for hat making.” She crafts her BJD jewelry from semi precious stones and glass beads. She often uses Japanese Delica seed beads in her beadwork. For shoes, she makes the uppers with a variety of materials such as recycled kid leather gloves, trims, ultra suede. She makes the soles and heel from polymer clay, which she paints.
Of course, the experience would not be complete without a photo-shoot. In the rooms she created for the dolls, Dale brings Bianca and Amelia to life, giving us a window into the charmed lives of these two sisters.
Through the frosted glass, we see two sisters of exquisite beauty, connected souls.
At other times, alone and pensive.
Like variations on a theme, sisters share a common origin, and at times even clothing, but remain uniquely different.
When they’re apart, their dolls play sister games.
And they occupy each other’s thoughts.