Iryna of Whispering Grass released her first doll, Manuna Mouse, through Jpop Dolls. She is now completing the work for her next doll, Mr. Ropuha.
Q: Why did you start making dolls?
A: The main reason for making dolls is my dissatisfaction with available choices. Doesn’t matter how many wonderful dolls are around – I always want something different. It’s my curse and my blessing at the same time.
I was born in Kyiv, Ukraine. The decade before Soviet Union dissolution and the times after that were a very hard ones. We had baby dolls and stuffed toys, but I grew out of that frame early. I wanted big, mature, artsy-craftsy dolls co I drew them on stiff paper, cut out and used for play.
Years later, in 2001, I made my first set of jointed dolls. They were made of wood and connected with pegs, like Pinocchio. Why wood, could you ask? Not because I loved wood but because it was the only available material that could suit the task. And it was very hard to work with because wood doesn’t forgive mistakes. But in the end I had five dolls who embodied five members of Army of Lovers band. Michaela de la Cour even had the photos of them on her site.
Unavailability of good materials forced my creativeness and pushed its limits. I had to make everything: tiny buckles, buttons, hooks, etc. Today I can order any stuff online and I’m very happy about that, but I still make a lots of accessories by myself.
In 2008 I decided to dig deeper into the doll-making and started to search for the information on the Internet. That’s how I discovered ball-jointed dolls. I immediately understood the possibilities for the custom work, creativity and play they give. So I bought my first doll and started practicing doing face-ups, sewing, shoe-making, etc.
Q: Did you make other dolls before Manuna?
A: I made my first BJD head for the same reason as before: I wasn’t satisfied with available choices for a certain character. I could buy a suitable head and modify it to my tastes but I decided to try and make the head from the scratch to achieve the most possible likeness. It was my first success in this field. The character is not my intellectual property though and is rather a fan-art.
I then decided to make something totally different – I loved mice and kept those adorable critters as pets, so I made Manuna Mouse. I tried to make her more realistic than existing BJD mice so she could look like the mice from the old fairy-tales. It was a new experience for me as I needed to make her body work properly so she could take a wide range of poses. I love BJDs not only for their look but also for their posing abilities so I tried my best. Now I understand the jointing mechanics and can make choices for each joint in the doll body.
Q: Will you be continuing to make your dolls in smaller sizes?
A: I love little cute animals a lot so I called the series “Forest Dwellers”, and there are so many creative options!
I plan to make more Forest Dwellers, and they should match each other, so I doubt there will be dolls taller than 25 cm. Manuna will be the tiniest one among them, and it’s possible to make some other critters on the same body type.
Q:How did Jpop Dolls become involved with casting Manuna?
A: I found the post on Den of Angels forum where Grace told about her collaboration with different artists. At that time only a few casting companies offered casting services, so I started to seek for more info. Also tiny Lidia Snul’s mouse was released at JPop Dolls at that time, and customers noted the high quality of the casting. So I thought it would be a good choice for my tiny doll too. I offered Manuna Mouse to Grace. We discussed details, and the doll went to the production.
When I received the two samples from the factory I was excited with the casting quality and the finishing work. My sculpt is 100% reproduced with no compromises, and the joints fit perfectly so the movements are smooth and the holding of poses is secure: you can leave the mouse standing on a shelf for weeks.
Q: Are you working on a new doll? Will you make more animals? Do you think you will make a human doll in the future?
A: Yes, I just finished a new friend for my Manuna; he’s called Mr. Ropuha, and he is a toad. He’s taller than her and is made in the same style. I already have the agreement with Grace on his production. As soon as I finish the preparation of the sample it will be sent to the casting factory.
It would be great to have the whole community of animals, and I already have a certain species in mind.
I also have had great interest in human dolls since I joined the hobby, so I’d like to follow the path of realism. I made my first realistic mold based on a real person, but as it’s only the floating head. I used another casting service for it. I hope to make a full human doll in the future though.
Photos above: Mr. Ropuha, “Thomas”.
Whispering Grass dolls are available exclusively from Jpop Dolls.