Andrea, also known as elisa_maza has been painting face-ups and tattoos and modding dolls since 2006. She has just released her first doll head named Raven. Andrea has always been artistic, and she rarely goes for more than a few days without sketching. Born and raised in Germany, Andrea went to art school and also worked for a time in an animation studio there before eventually moving to the United States.
Andrea was never a big doll fan. “I always liked having what I call “intricate smaller versions of cool people”… I never liked dolls much, because they usually looked like chubby children and only wore dresses. Barbie dolls were alright, but I preferred model kits and action figures. When I learned about BJDs, that of course blew everything else out of the water, because here was a beautiful canvas with almost endless potential for customization.” Her introduction to the dolls was through Aimee Major who was the original owner of the popular BJD forum Den of Angels. The dolls that interested Andrea most at the time were from Dream of Doll. ” The first doll that truly got me into the hobby was Dream of Doll’s Shall – I saw the pictures of the fullset, and it totally blew my mind how real and beautiful and unique she was!” A bit shy about ordering a large doll, she eventually purchased a DoC Si on a girl body, a doll she still owns today (although the head is now on a MiniFee body.) Since then, Andrea explains, “My collection has evolved a lot over the years as I explored my story-lines and my tastes, but now I have a very solid “family” that I love dearly.” It wasn’t long before she developed an interest in face-ups and modding dolls.
According to Andrea, “My first attempts (at face-ups) were pretty horrible, but I suppose it could have been worse. I was very lucky to have made some very awesome friends in the hobby, so between dolls I bought for practice and them letting me play with some of theirs, I got better. I opened my face-up commission thread in 2006… hard to believe it’s been that long! Looking back on it, I really wasn’t good yet back then, but I am very grateful to everyone who supported me! By now, very few of my friends’ dolls don’t have my faceups, and only one of my own doesn’t (my BW CP dreaming El, his Luts default is just so pretty).”
Angel Toast has become a very popular face-up shop. The business has always been run through a commission thread on Den of Angels. “My modding and face-up shop I run exclusively through DoA at this point, and will continue to do so (separately from the store). I might take orders through my portfolio website at some point in the future, but for now I enjoy the ease and security of the forum.” Andrea will take on any doll size. “I really don’t think I have a preference as to what size I like to paint… though it can be tough to do the really small ones (like Pukis or MiniGems), but I love the variety really, which is part of what makes doing commissions so much fun.” The shop takes on approximately 14 commissions a month, depending on the complexity of the projects. Angel Toast takes on many modding commissions from simple to very elaborate. “The most popular mod is probably opening dreaming or sleeping eyes… and elf ears. I’ve done various other things though, from modding “feathers” onto a doll’s forehead and ears, to adding a tuft of “fur” to a Pipos tail… claws, restorations of broken noses or damaged eyes… I’ve made necks longer or shorter to make heads fit… and lots and lots of sanding. The hardest mod I did, well, I relive it every now and then really. Opening sleeping eyes on heads that have no eye-wells is a terrible chore, haha… It requires so much dremeling, with nothing to go on as far as placement. So I have to be really really careful not to damage the head by breaking through in the wrong spot or something like that, while still ensuring that eyes will fit into the head and the eyes have a pleasing shape. So yeah, that’s a tough one.”
Soon Andrea was thinking about how to approach the logical next step. “I knew that I wanted to continue working on BJDs for as long as possible, and I had to make up my mind about how seriously I was going to take it. Sculpting my own molds really was the natural next step for me. I’ve always loved sculpting as well, though I hadn’t done much of it since High School. I still have a big clay bust of a boy from a friend’s original story that I made back then, and I dug him out and set him by my work station as inspiration. ” Andrea joined a BJD sculpting forum and began to learn more about the sculpting and casting process. “Creating a BJD is an insane amount of work and learning… I didn’t know anything, so there was a lot of research involved. Not to mention a LOT of trial and error. I made a lot of silly mistakes during sculpting, mold-making, and casting. I had joined Armeleia’s Artist forum “The Joint” when it was started, and I’m highly grateful to everyone there for being so helpful and inspirational! Never give up, never surrender. It’s very satisfying every time I figure some other little thing out, and I’ll probably never stop giggling like a school girl or doing the victory dance around my workshop.” She adds, “One great thing about the BJD world is that you don’t have to be a huge company to take part in the hobby – one of my greatest role models, for example, is MigiDoll. I absolutely adore Migi’s molds (I have 4 of them), and admire the way she started so small and still handles everything almost all by herself. The artists are not as removed from the hobby as they are in other areas like comic books or animation. As a new artist, you can always look up to someone and say, “I remember when they were small. I can do this if I work as hard as they did.” ”
The first doll head for the Angel Toast Doll Shop, Raven, has just been released. “Raven was very much a “close your eyes and leap” kind of sculpt. I didn’t plan, I didn’t draw, just got a Styrofoam ball and a packet of LaDoll clay and started to sculpt what my hands wanted. Logic came in later (as in, size of the neck hole, eye-wells, head-cap mechanism etc). But his face apparently was just the face of my soul at the time, or something like that… funny, several people have told me he looks like me. Including my mother!” More doll heads are being developed. ” Hawk is in the sculpting phase, and about, I would say, 80% finished. His face stands, but there is a lot of detail work and sanding and smoothing that goes into making a useable master sculpt from which to make a mold. Hawk is Raven’s older brother, and more mature and a bit less… serious. I am doing drawings for my big girl, Robin (note how these guys get more planning than Raven did ^~). The twins (2 MSDs, Finch and Sparrow) are more of a concept in my head right now, but they’re just waiting to jump onto paper as soon as they can fight their way to the front of my mind. No idea what will come after that, but I think I have my hands full for the moment. I do know that I want to make a body eventually as well.” The bird names for the sculpts developed by accident. ” I think it’s because I named Raven, and saw how melancholy he was turning out… so a more mature and more ‘spunky’ character came into my head, and he became Hawk. And it just went from there.”
Andrea’s collection includes 11 SDs (1/3 size), 3 MSDs (1/4 size), and 4 Tinies. While she loves BJDs in general, her favorite size is SD. “I do prefer 60cm dolls, though I have three 45cms and three Tinies. I just like the SD size… for me, they’re the perfect size and weight to carry around and cuddle.” Many of her dolls become characters of a narrative. “The first dolls I owned have created their stories, and as the stories evolved, it was a mix of “I love this mold! I need to make up a character for him!”, and “I need a doll to fit this character”. I like it better when the doll creates the character though… it makes for a more complete creation in the end, if that makes sense. Finding a doll to fit an established character is more work, and those characters tend to go through several molds before I find the right one.” The tiny dolls are the only exception. ” my Tinies don’t fit into any storyline. And they don’t have to… I like to dress up my Tinies in whatever I want, and it won’t bother me to go “out of character”. My big boys tend to be very particular about their styles, since their characters are so intricate at this point.”
BJDs have inspired other creative endeavors. Andrea states, “Over time, BJDs became a driving force in my life. They were my new creative outlet in more ways than one. My own dolls inspire me to write and draw, and doing commissions drives me to work hard and become better. The hobby has been really good to me in many ways, and I feel very fulfilled every day that I get to create beautiful things and make people happy! Painting BJDs, I can use every aspect of art that I enjoy: technical skill, knowledge of color and dimension, and most importantly the creation of characters and personalities. In the end, art is always about a story for me.”
Photos above from top: Winnie Dee Ai = photo by Zeroislove, K-doll Kasis – photo by Leeloo.
(Note: This is a new version that corrects a misspelling in the credits.)
Video Photo Credits in order of Appearance:
Dollmore Kara Klum Elf by Zeroislove
MigiDoll Yuri by Zeroislove
LatiDoll Lobelia Owned by Blyss Photo by Sagejupiter
Leeke Eiden by Zeroislove
MigiDoll Miho Vamp by kitchybaby
Luts Wintery by Simybee
Unoa Lusis by fuminshou neko
K-Doll Kasis by Leeloo
Volks Kun Owned by Leech Photo by Sagejupiter
WinnieDee Ai by Zeroislove
MigiDoll Jina Boy by Zeroislove
Soom Namu & Volks ShiroT by Zeroislove
MigiDoll Vamp Miho by Zeroislove
MigiDoll Miho by Zeroislove
Angel Toast Raven (4 photos) by PerceptionCrisis.