Polish doll artist Marti opened her international shop Marti Presents in January of this year. Two dolls were originally released, 56 cm tall Rin Sakurato and Babette. They were recently joined by Palageya Anushka. Currently, Marti is working on a new doll, Akie Sakurako, a big sister to Rin, and on a new product, Make your Own MP Doll kits.
Q: Marti, can you tell me a little about your background. How did you become interested in making dolls?
A: I’m graduated from art academy here in Poland and my major was graphic art and illustration. I’ve started my BJD passion over 7 years ago. I’ve saw a photo of Volks F-16 girl online and fell in love. I’ve started sculpting dolls many years ago, but my first try was a failure , so I’d given up. I’ve started thinking of it once again over a year ago, designing my first doll and making all concept. Then I’ve meet my friend Alice who collaborated with me and made the first sculpt. Thanks to her I’ve learned many things about sculpting and figured out how to make Ball Jointed Doll that will work. Now I’m making new molds on my own, but probably we’ll collaborate more in the future as I really love her work. The molding and casting process was really hard. I’ve almost give up many times. I’ve learned it by trying ,and it took me over 3 months of working every day to finally figure out how to make a perfect cast.
A: My first doll was made in clay, then I painted her white with acrylic. She was a part of my school project back when I was on my first year of the Art University. It was my first experience with ball jointed doll making back then and as you probably can guess, the doll wasn’t looking well. I had no idea how to make one at that time and all my work was nothing but a guess. But it was a good start, and during next years I’ve learned a lot about doll anatomy, making process, materials and so on. I’ve also learned a lot about sculpting and human anatomy. It altogether helped me in future dolls projects. To be honest my first attempt was a full scale failure, but also a valuable lesson.
Q: Did you have much experience in sculpting before trying dolls?
A: Before making my first clay doll – no. I had no idea about sculpting. Then I’ve took it seriously and was learning sculpture for about 5 years. I newer was interested much in a traditional sculpture, most of my attempts were dedicated to creating dolls. I had a dream of making my own doll over 6 years ago, but it took lot’s of hard work, learning and experience to finally make a commercial doll.
Q: Can you tell me a bit more about your friend Alice? Does she make resin BJDs?
A: No, she’s not interested in dolls at all. I was the one who introduced her to the world of Ball Jointed Dolls. I love to work with her, because we have a similar point of view on aesthetics, we understand each other instantly. It’s easy to create dolls with someone who can understand your way of thinking about them. Plus, Alice is an amazing artist and a warm and friendly person.
Q: What doll did you collaborate with Alice on?
A: We made together Rin first a long time ago. It was my first doll idea because I wanted to make a modern-looking Asian sculpt. First I haven’t thought of selling any dolls – I just wanted to create the perfect doll of my dreams just for fun and to simply make her come true. That’s why MP Dolls have a characteristic body shape with wide hips and small bust. It was a body shape that I was always featuring in my drawings and other works. We also collaborated on Babette and Anushka. She really helped me to bring all ideas to life, as I’m not a professional sculptor artist. Unfortunately I’m a perfectionist and I can’t stand something that isn’t perfect. With Alice perfection is easy to get. I love to sculpt dolls on my own, but the touch of a true master is always needed. My newest doll – Akie Sakurako and some new exchangeable body parts I’m working on I made entirely myself. I feel more secure about making dolls now as I become much more experienced in it.
Q: What materials did you use to sculpt your BJDs?
A: I mostly used polymer clay and putty, but in the end there was material sticking to the master sculpt. After making my first cast, it occurred to me that the doll was a disaster – she was full of bubbles and scratches. I had to make a second master based on the first one. It was a long process, but worth the effort. Now I’m mostly working with air dry clays and sometimes even directly in resin.
Q: How did you learn to cast your dolls? Did someone teach you or did you learn online?
A: Learning how to cast was one of the worst experiences of my life. It took me over a year to learn how to do it. Most of it I’ve learned by studying tutorials. It helps with the basics, but unfortunately most of it I had to learn by myself. It was month’s work of mixing resin and failures. Sometimes I wanted to quit because I had so many problems. The main one was the bubbles in the resin. It’s really hard to make a cast without them. Still, only about 1/4 of all casts are perfect and I can send them to the customers. I’m really strict about bubbles in the resin and to be honest – I hate them with all my heart.
Q: Do you do the face-ups on your dolls?
A: Yes I do, but I prefer my dolls with make-up that’s made by my friend Shaiel. I feel that a personality given by me in the sculpt is enough. When you mix it with my make-up, all dolls from one head mold seem to look the same. I have such a strong image of those dolls in my head that it’s really hard for me to bring a new look for them. Shaiel on the other hand has a fresh view of my dolls and can create looks that would never appear in my head. Plus she’s my dear friend, and I’m using a new head to paint as a reason to meet her more often.
A: Yes. My husband helped me with creating the web page, and he’s also a mental and physical support. He helps me with everything. He carries resin cans, drives me and my dolls around, holds dolls for photos and holds my hand when I’m frustrated with my work. He really believes in me and my dolls, and his support is really important. He’s a multiple-job doll help center. My make – up artist Shaiel has created some of the official photos on my web page, as we often meet in my house, playing with dolls and making photos. Sometimes those photos become official Marti Presents promos the next day. There is also my dad, who helped me to make my studio and was a great support when I had to make some difficult mathematical calculations for casting. He and my mom are also really supportive, and we often sit together discussing new ideas and designs until late night hours. I think that I’m really lucky, because all my family and friends helped me with Marti Presents Dolls. My grandmother is a doctor and she’s an instant supply of some hard-to-get medical stuff that I’m using in the casting process for measuring. And my doll friends often help me when I do know that something is wrong with my new sculpt but don’t know what. We have a brain storm the problem is sorted out.
I know that’s not exactly what you asked. Most of the work I do on my own (except the web page, I really have no idea about that), but the support of my family and friends, even in all small things is more important than 1000 helpers.
Q: Can you tell me a bit about your plan for doll kits? When might you release them?
A: I hope to release them really soon. First I have some orders to finish, and hopefully within 2 weeks I’ll be able to take first kit orders. I’m really excited about that. Being able to give my customers a tool for creating their dreamed doll was always my main purpose. The kit includes all doll’s parts and extra high heel parts. You’ll receive your doll right after cast. I think that sanding her and putting together is an amazing experience. I’ve always wanted to give my customers an opportunity to create their own dream doll with my help. Offering doll kits to makes a doll project become more creative than ever before. In the kit you’ll get also strings for your doll, “s” hooks and magnets needed to close the head cap.
Q: When will your new doll be finished? Can you tell me a bit about her?
A: I have several projects started including Akie Sakurako. I’m not sure when she’ll be finished, because I have lot of work with my orders. Usually when I have time to work on something new I’m to tired for that. But I hope to have her finished on summer. She’ll have a new upper body part with bigger breast and new hands. I’m also working on some other things, but it’s a secret now.
Q: What other plans do you have in the future for Marti Presents?
A: I have so many plans that I really don’t know where to start. Of course new heads and new body molds. Soon there will be some exchangeable extra parts available for sale, new limited dolls and OOAK dolls, and some special orders. For sure there will be a lot of charity work. My last charity doll – Marti Presents Palageya was auctioned for Japan earthquake and tsunami victims. For sure I’ll keep making those special dolls and donations. Maybe I’ll finally decide to make a 1/4 size doll – lot’s of people ask me about that. One thing I’m not ready for is a male doll. I really don’t understand male dolls, don’t have them in my collection, and I doubt that I would be able to make a perfect male sculpt. So boys are out of question for now, but other things… my imagination is working 24/7, and I hope that my next creation will be something you’ll fall in love with.