Grace of Jpop Dolls has ‘a thing about hair’. Due to frustration with the doll wigs that were available at the time, she started Jpop dolls seven years ago. For Grace “(A doll wig) has to look proportionate to the face, and there were very few out there.” It took quite a bit of experimentation for Grace to perfect the sewing techniques required to make the wigs to her specifications. “The wefts are sewn thinly and close together for a natural appearance.” she explained. Grace was also determined to make wigs that could be re-styled for different looks. This took some time as well, and the wigs from Jpop dolls not only can be re-styled but can be easily smoothed if they become mussed or frizzy. According to Grace “If a jpopdolls wig gets mussed or frizzy, a comb and some cold water will make it like new again, just wet, comb, and dry. Few companies can say this.”
Jpop dolls was originally a part-time business, but with the expanding demand for the company’s high quality wigs, Grace eventually quit her other job and made it her full-time occupation. The company employs 3 or 4 people in the US and the wigs are manufactured overseas. Grace is also a BJD consultant to Monique Trading and Jpop carries Monique wigs on their site as well. The retail online site of Jpop Dolls currently carries not only wigs but doll shoes, glass eyes, patterns, and doll fashions including outfits from AnotherSpace and Dollheart. Last September the company was honored to become a retailer for ShinyDolls. According to Grace, “I approached Shin with my ideas for Shinydoll and he seemed pleased so he allowed me to become the USA distributor.”
ShinyDolls are elegantly crafted BJDs from Japan. The company makes bisque and resin versions of the dolls. The dolls are all female, and the meticulously constructed Thaasa body is famous for its pose-ability. Grace states “ShinyDolls are superior in the doll world. First the resin is a pure quality, it feels heavier than some dolls. The body itself is created by Shin, who is not only an artist but also an engineer. The body is so well balanced that you can comfortably sit a large doll in your hand. The posing is wonderful, no kicking or abrupt movements, the doll will stay in whatever pose it is put in.” In addition, the company has distinctive facial sculpts. While large eyes are common in the BJD world, Shin prefers more natural proportions to his doll features. “Shin creates faces that he feels reflect the emotion of the owner. As he says ‘DOLLs do not have to have big eyes. Small eyes tell you the messages. Doll face reflects your minds. When you are sad, dolls look sad..’ ”
In addition to offering basic ShinyDolls for purchase to collectors, Jpop has also been offering something special. The company has been commissioning talented face-up artists and designers to create one-off ShinyDolls. Grace stated “I felt that Shin’s dolls were truly “art dolls”, meaning they are like a perfect canvas, so much potential in each face, more than highly stylized dolls.” The OOAK dolls are sold with one-of a kind face-ups, and a change of wigs. Some have been sold with outfits. Eight dolls have been created so far. Grace described the artists involved. They include:
Cristy Stone: “…whose style is sensual yet very soft. Cristy is not only a talented faceup artist but a designer as well. She has done two Akane dolls for us, yet each one was totally different from the other. We will ask her to do another doll this year.”
Val Zeitler: “Val is an incredible artist that usesa variety of different chalks, water color pencils, and Liquitex Acrylics, plus several coats of MSC for her haunting face ups. She has also now created 2 collections for Dollheart that sell like wild fire.”
Kaye Wiggs:” Kaye is such an amazing artist. She uses a variety of chalks, pencils etc… in her work as well. She captures the young fresh spirit of every young girl in her painting. She is working on a new doll, and I hope we can get her to do another girl for us too.”
Jay Searle: “Jay’s work is unmistakeable. She is a self-taught artist, her dolls remind me of old world paintings. She did the Nanae Head and brought her to life. She is multi-talented, having a background in dance, writing and performing in theatre.”
Ravendolls: Raven has been in the BJD world since the beginning. In a quote from From Ravendolls “I’ve been painting dolls since I was 12 years old, I started with antique reproductions. So when the bjd hobby came along it was second-nature to me. I also love the far-eastern origins of bjds.I grew up in Seattle and there were always plenty of Japanese antiques around; we had Japanese friends and ate Japanese food. I grew up watching anime on TV, so when the BJD came from Japan I immediately understood and loved them”
Tracy P: “Tracy has done our latest OOAK doll from head to toe, with light freckles. Tracy is also a talented clothing designer. Her work is well known in the BJD world.”
Pepstar: “Pepstar’s work is highly valued in the doll world. Her dolls have sold for thousands of dollars.”
The next doll released will be from Ashley of Gardenofdolls.
Ashley, Gardenofdolls: “Ashley has a background in fashion design and is also a self taught artist. She has not only done face-ups but created her own line of BJDs; PpoPpo, and Nabi Kiss.”
Recently ShinyDoll added two new dolls to their lines which Jpop Dolls will soon carry. The dolls have a new ‘Pricco’ body. The two new heads are called Kaoli and Saoli. Gardenofdolls are also carried by Jpop, and the new doll by Ashley, Nabiya, will be added to the site this fall. Nabiya will be 43cm with a smaller face frame than Nabi Kiss, along with double jointed limbs. Jpop dolls also continues to expand their own lines. Grace added “We have loads of future plans for the company, including a clothing and a fabric line.” I love working at Jpop Dolls, and I hope that the love shows in the colors and styles I create.
Photos above from top: Shinydoll Akali by Val Zeitler, Akali by Kaye Wiggs, and Yuli by Tracy P.
Jpopdolls – Company Website