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Doll Making Hobby Inspires EPQ Project

Roslyn with Bard

Doll making is a favourite pastime for Year 13 Art, Photography and Textiles student Roslyn, and this hobby has also been the inspiration for her EPQ project “Creating a bespoke ball-jointed doll”.

Ball-jointed dolls (BJDs) are collectible items and can be very expensive, costing anywhere from £300 to £900. They can take years for sculptors to make, although Roslyn was exceptionally perseverant, practising her skills on base dolls before making her BJDs in about seven months.

Making the dolls is a complex process involving a number of steps including modelling the parts in clay, encasing them in silicone moulds and casting them in resin.  Holes have to be drilled in the joints and the parts are then strung with elastic which allow the joints to move. The dolls’ faces have to be removable so that any stringing issues that occur can be fixed.  After this comes the challenging task of personalising the dolls with hair, facial features and costume.

Roslyn said:  “It was a daunting and expensive process. I’ve never cast anything before and didn’t have the professional equipment some doll makers use to cast so I had had to use slow set silicone and slow set resin, angling the pieces to avoid any bubbles.”

To create her dolls’ faces Roslyn had to apply layers of sealant which allowed her to draw on facial features. She also made wigs for her BJDs, experimenting with a range of materials such as alpaca, yarn, mixed media and synthetic hair to create specific hair types. Utilising the skills she is learning through Textiles Roslyn made all her dolls’ clothing and found that working in miniature detail helped to refine her tailoring skills.

Speaking about her EPQ project, Roslyn said: “Doing this project has really helped me with my A Levels and it was important for me to be able to do something I enjoy. Being able to use my hobby for academic study has been great and I have been able to transfer skills that benefit my A Levels in Art, Photography and Textiles.”

When she leaves St Paul’s Roslyn hopes to do a Fine Art Foundation course at the London Art Academy in Southwark.

The pictures show Roslyn and one of her creations, Bard. She describes Bard as a clown mixed with Japanese influences. She based Bard’s face on Michelangelo’s David as she wanted to give him very defined, deep features.

Bard showing facial detail       Bard a handmade ball jointed doll

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