Interview with Rhonda Ingram-Calhoun of Creamsoda BJD
Q: You used to sculpt figures. Why did you switch to ball jointed dolls?
A: The thing I enjoy most about sculpting BJD’s is that a doll can be whatever you dream. In general most of my dolls will incorporate my past experience of creating whimsical art doll sculptures with the mobility and soul of a BJD.
Q: Can you tell me about your first doll Cassie? What was your inspiration?
A: The inspiration for my first doll, Wood Elf Cassie came from everything that I personally wanted to have in a BJD. She was a true labor of love and dreams. I’m the first to admit that her style may not be for everyone, being a bit “outside the box”, with her heavy bottomed pear shape, pouty face and big toes. Cassie’s first order was kept very limited, and I’m happy to say that the collectors that brought her home adore her and all her oddities.
My early experiments with BJD sculpting were a failure and still sit in a box of miscellaneous parts. I think all new doll makers probably have one of those. When I started, I was using polymer clay as my medium. Many doll makers use and swear by it, but for me it just wasn’t a good fit. I found that once I switched to paper clay, everything was much easier.
You’ll notice with my dolls that I have no particular “style”. That’s because I tend to get bored quickly and always like to be doing something different. I try to incorporate a new idea or technique with each new doll, it keeps me creative.
Q: Can you tell me more about your current doll Lily?
A: My second doll, Lily, is also my first collaboration with another artist. Andrea of AngelToast Aesthetics has created the wonderful face-up being offered with Lily. Andrea is an amazing artist, and I’m so happy to be working with her on this project. Lily was just released for pre-order this month. She is a little 1/6 size girl, very special in her own way.
Q: You sculpted underwear on the doll. Why did you decide to do that?
A: I think we have all faced the dilemma at one time, “do I buy panties for my doll?” Or if we have them, “where did I put those?”
So I did a little extra creative sculpting and gave Lily her very own forever panties. No more searching through bins for them, thank goodness for that!
Q: What is the “Parade of Panties”?
Once the pre-order Lilys have been delivered home and had a chance to settle in, collectors will be able to submit pictures of their own creative work on the decoration of her blank panties.Owners can use buttons, beads, paint, lace or whatever can be dreamed up to make her cute little panties even more special.
I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with, it’s going to be a ton of fun!
Q: Will there be prizes?
A: Prizes? Yes of course, outfits and dolly goodies!
Q: How did you settle on the name “Cream Soda” (Is it one word or two?).
A: CreamSoda (1 word)
Choosing a name for my business was a bit difficult, but in the brainstorming process old memories popped up of a childhood love for cream soda flavored pop. I used to save up all my change and run to the neighborhood store whenever I could, which was probably too often. So in 2010 CreamSoda Fashions was born.
Q: Can you tell me more about your fashions, eyes and your face-up business?
A: I began with OOAK clothing designs and face-ups for customer dolls. My designs quickly found their way to collectors around the globe.
In 2011 I changed the business name to CreamSoda BJD because it was evolving from just clothing to include custom made eyes and some sculpting of my own.
I had a huge love for everything Steampunk, so I designed eyes for dolls with the use of tiny watch parts. They were the first Steampunk eyes on the market. After experimenting with different resins, I was able to perfect a beautiful crystal clear dome for our eyes. We were addicted, and my husband designed irises of all kinds. for eyes. human, fantasy and whatever else he dreamed up. After he handed them over to me, I made them and poured the resin in the studio. We also made custom order eyes for customers that were designing special character dolls.
Q: Will you be continuing to make outfits and paint face-ups, or are you moving exclusively into creating dolls?
A: I am still sewing and making eyes for my own sculpts and for customers that have my dolls, but no longer have the time to do commissions. I am really enjoying my sculpting time these days, and if I had my way I would never come out of the studio.
My first doll, Cassie, took me about 2 years to finish with all the other work I was doing in the studio as well as keeping up with everyday life. My second doll, Lily, was a year start to finish, and now that I am able to concentrate more on sculpting, I hope to be able to create 2 dolls a year.
From the time I send a master off to the factory, it can take 5-6 months to have my ordered dolls back at my studio. Between the mold-making process, receiving sample dolls and approving them or making changes, and hand pouring and finishing each doll, it’s very time consuming.
My third doll is in the works. She is an MSD and I hope to have her finished within the next 2 months. I suspect her pre-order will be close to September.
Q: Can you tell me more about your working relationship with AngelToast?
A: With my doll orders growing, I began to worry that I could no longer do everything on my own. Designing, sculpting, sewing, eyes, custom wigs, face-ups, it’s just too much, not to mention all the time for blogging and social media. I have no idea how people keep up, though I am very technically challenged.
I had been following the work of AngelToast for quite a while and am a huge fan. Haha! I always called AngelToast the Elvis of face-ups. I knew her face-up slots were pretty much always full, but decided to send an email anyways to see if she might be interested in doing a collaboration with me for my Lily pre-order.
Andrea loved the look of Lily and her little smile and agreed to work with me on her. I couldn’t be happier with what AngelToast created for Lily. I think her work compliments mine wonderfully.
Q: Is your doll-related business your only job at this time?
A: In 2010 I was able to dive full time into creating for BJDs. My husband did my web design and is still very involved in the technical end of things. Without his complete support and belief in my work, none of this would ever be possible.
He loves the dolls as much as I do. I’ll often go out on an errand and come back to the studio to find the dolls all posed for a group chat or holding notes reminding me they need some new clothes. If it wasn’t for him probably none of them would have clothes or faces! My dolls are always the last to get what they need.
My second collaboration of sorts – I will, in the near future, be partnering with Oobie Doll to bring my dolls to more customers. Angie and I met a few years ago and have since seen growth for both of our businesses.
Angie has a love for the unusual, so my girls will be a good fit!
Q: Anything more you wish to add?
A: A big thanks to all the collectors and supporters of my work,“You keep the dust flying in my studio!”
Photos above from top: Cassie paperclay prototype head painted by the artist, Lily’s underpants, Custom Steampunk Resin Soul Rong (face-up, wig and outfit designby the artist).
Lily is currently available for pre-order until June 5th
Original ball jointed dolls