Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ball-Joint Dolls: A Lolita's Best Friend?

Dolls and Lolita go very well together. In part because the Lolita aesthetic can be described as “doll-like.” I consider myself a doll collector before a Lolita, and as a result, my dolls get preferential treatment over my personal wardrobe.

I’ve been collecting for about two years now, and I have seven dolls in my collection currently. “Ball-joint” refers to the actual jointing of the doll. Each part has a “ball” and a socket for that ball to go in. The pieces fit together like a puzzle, and the doll is held together with cord elastic that is strung throughout the doll.The result is a highly pose-able and customizable doll. The entire thing comes apart and can be modified, customized, and put back together.

I have seven dolls, but I’m only going to truly talk about one here. That’s because she is the only one that has a proper Lolita wardrobe. I’ve had her for about a year now, and I have slowly

built her wardrobe from both new and second-hand pieces. Her name is Rose, and she was made a part of a line of dolls by Volks (the first company to make BJDs) based off of the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo.In other words, they are made to be little Lolitas.My Rose came with an absolutely gorgeous dress set made by a team made up of staff from both Volks and Baby the Stars Shine Bright. Volks has worked with BABY before my doll was made, and they have since worked with them. They’ve also made collaboration dolls with h.Naoto and Alice and the Pirates.A different type of doll, called Pullip, has worked with Angelic Pretty and recently, Innocent World to make lovely Lolita dolls. You can see the result of their collaboration with Innocent World here to the right.

Ball-joint dolls are known for being very expensive. And that is true, they are not the price of an average Barbie. Why is this? Well, it's because they cannot be mass-produced like other dolls. Each one has to be finished, painted, and put together by hand. You must have a skilled worker to do all of this. So when you order a doll, it is made by hand and will have imperfections. These imperfections are why many doll owners come to love their dolls. But just because they are made this way doesn't mean you have to break the bank to own one. There are many affordable dolls on the market, such as ones made by the company Bobobie. They make a lovely doll for an affordable price. My first doll was actually a Bobobie. Pullip is another affordable doll. They are not quite the same as a ball-jointed doll, but they are quite lovely and somewhat pose able.

Anyhow, this is my doll. As I said before, her name is Rose. I got her last year in March from collector. I am at least her third owner, there may have been more owners before. She was made in 2008 and sold in Kyoto at a doll event. She is very beautiful in my opinion, and very suited to wearing Lolita fashion. Her style tends toward a very classic aesthetic, and her favorite pieces are ones with roses on them (because that is her name). Ball joint doll owners tend to give their dolls back stories, personalities, preferences, original names, and even family members. Rose here has a younger sister named April. She also wears lolita from time to time, and likes the sweeter prints. Right now, she has a dress covered in cakes, though she has no shoes to wear with it. Rose was the seventh doll I'd ever purchased, and has been the most expensive one yet. Even though she has had many owners, she is in very good condition and thus has retained her value. Her clothes were made as a collaboration between Volks (the doll company) and Baby the Stars Shine Bright, as I said before. This resulted in an extremely well-made and detailed ensemble that fits her perfectly. At one point, I believe this dress was also sold for human sizes, but I haven't been able to find proof of that ever happening. A more recent collaboration resulted in this doll, named Lieselotte, and this dress for the human owner. They aren't exact matches, but you get the idea.

If you would like to see more of Rose, you can see the whole shoot I did with her here. My camera had died, so I took these pictures using my iPhone. Please excuse the questionable quality. If you would like to learn more about Ball-joint dolls in general, Den of Angels is a fabulous forum with all the information, photos, and answers you could want. And if there is something you can't find, you can ask on there and people will help you! If you'd like to ask me questions about Rose, my other dolls, where to get Lolita clothing for dolls, or really anything else, you can ask away on my formspring. Until next time!

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