Dutch artist Frederieke Westerveld of FreakStyleBJD dreamed of creating and casting a 1/4 scale girl BJD. This new girl proved to be a special challenge, as the artist was determined to sculpt a fuller classical figure for her. The resulting doll, Salome, is now a clay prototype. With the help of sponsors at Indiegogo, Salome will be sent for casting in June.
Q: When did you become interested in BJDs?
A: When I was still studying game design, a college friend of mine one day came to school with the most beautiful doll I had ever seen. Unlike the Barbies and the baby dolls I was familiar with, this one looked almost ethereal, like he just came walking out of a fairy tale.
I remember the first thing I thought was: “Wow, I want to be able to make something like that!”. Weird. Sculpting was something I had absolutely no experience with what-so-ever and yet… I couldn’t get that feeling out of my mind.
A: Well, like I said, the last time I poked at a piece of clay I was still in kindergarten, so it took a while before I mustered up the nerve. First I collected a few BJDs myself. It must have been somewhere around 2007 when I slowly started to work on my own doll.
It was a long process; not only did I have to teach myself how to sculpt, but I’ve spent a great deal of time studying anatomy as well. Together with the fact that I was still in college, that first doll took me almost two years to finish (not counting the breaks I took in between).
It wasn’t until 2012 (and three heads later) that I finally felt confident enough about my own work to start thinking of selling them.
Q: What is your inspiration?
A: I have a thing for noses and mouths. Sometimes I’m looking at a TV show and suddenly think, “Man, that actor has the most fantastic nose ever! I need to use it.” So, faces of other people inspire me. But sometimes a piece of music, a book, a movie or a painting strikes me in such a way that I have to recreate that feeling. It’s all about emotion. For me to stay interested in a doll, his or her face needs to ‘speak’. They have to have a personality and make me imagine who they could be.
Q: Tell me more about your new project Salome.
A: Salome is a 45cm doll that is a lot bigger than the average girl doll out there today. The paintings of Rubens were a great influence in creating her, as well as my own dislike for the preoccupation in western society with the ideal body. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not denying that the ideal beauty is gorgeous; I just think that there are so many more faces and body types out there that are equally interesting. I guess I was looking for diversity.
Creating Salome proved to be a challenge. I decided to give her skin folds. When sculpting, I wanted to create a doll that looks like she’d be very soft to the touch. Giving a body skin folds really helps in that regard. But unlike skin tissue, resin isn’t pliable. And when I was adding the joints I had a hard time keeping her skin folds looking natural when she’d hold a pose. In the end, I’m pretty happy with the end-result!
Salome is also the first project where I turned to crowd-funding to raise money for her production. I simply don’t have the funds to pay for it in advance, so I created a campaign on Indiegogo (http://igg.me/at/freakstylebjd) and asked people to contribute if they think this doll should be released. The amount of attention has been overwhelming and heart warming! There are so many kind people helping me out! It shows just how great this community is.
Q: Your first doll release was Puck. Was he the first doll you ever sculpted?
A: His body was the first I ever sculpted, but I made two other heads prior to Puck’s. I thought they were to big for the body, so I discarded them. Puck’s head was the first I was happy with.
Q: What research did you do in order to learn to sculpt a doll?
A: Well, I was mostly studying anatomy. I’d spend hours reading books and looking up pictures of hands, feet, arms, legs, etc…
For sculpting, I did use a tutorial or two, but that was mostly because I needed to see that there are other people out there who also make their own dolls. I was feeling insecure, and their example helped me gain confidence that maybe I would be able to do the same one day. It is actually only recently that I allowed myself to purchase two sculpting books. They are by Philippe Faraut and I’m mostly using them as a reference and inspiration. Man, what I’d give to be as good as that man some day!
That doesn’t mean that I didn’t practice sculpting. It’s just that I never followed one particular tutorial or sculpting method. I read up on the different ways of how you could sculpt a head, for instance, and then I’d pick the techniques that would work for me. I was very intuitive when it came to sculpting. Still am. I never really use the same method twice.
Q: You now have over your minimum goal for Salome. Will you be casting more than the 10 doll minimum?
A: Yes, I’ve reached the goal already. Amazing! I’ve added a stretch goal and if we reach this one too, then I’ll release 20 Salomes in 4 different colours. Two of those resin colours will be tan! We still have 30 days to reach it, and I really hope we do! A dark skinned Salome… that’s like my dream.
Above: photos of Salome’s hands and feet, graphic from Indiegogo page.
Salome’s page on Indiegogo ~ http://igg.me/at/freakstylebjd
60cm boy body: