Rose (bbflockling) wanted to sculpt little creatures since she was seven. She grew up to be an artist, making unique little dolls, at first with polymer clay and wire. Always interested in pose-ability, it was inevitable that Rose would eventually try her hand at BJDs. Her first resin dolls are the ShooHoos.
Q: Can you give me a little background on how you became a doll-maker? How long have you been making dolls?
A: My first clay doll was made in first grade. The story, in part, is on my website…
My First Grade teacher, Mrs. Gaumer, brought out a worn cardboard box full of colorful clumps of clay for her art class to experiment with. I was a student in that class. Not knowing how to start, I half-heartedly began rolling balls. Lots of little balls. Stacking them and then pressing them together, a ‘something’ began to take form. Feeling more motivated, I added tiny balls for the eyes, pinched in the muzzle, and drew a little line for the mouth. Inspecting my work more closely, I placed the lumpy form in the palm of my hand and looked it over carefully. In utter amazement I saw a little blue bear sitting there!
To anyone else, it was probably just a childish clump of clay balls, but to me he was a PERFECT LITTLE PERSON!
It was a deeply emotional moment for a 7 year old and I was never artistically the same again.
My second attempt at making a doll was in the winter of 2006.
While searching online for a Christmas gift for my sister, I came across Camille Allen’s ‘marzipan babies’. What I discovered instead of marzipan candy were tiny, uber- realistic babies sculpted of polymer clay. That night I borrowed my son’s eraser clay and stayed awake ’til the morning light to see if I could make something that resembled a baby and haven’t stopped since!
Q: What are your other dolls generally made of? What size? How have they been marketed to collectors?
A: Since the making of that little blue bear in first grade, I have sentimentally preferred miniature dolls that could fit in the hollow of my hand. My smallest sculpture was one inch and the largest was fourteen inches. Armatures were made of wire, silicon cable (when I wanted bend-ability), Aves clay for the muscles and a mixture of Cernit and Puppenfimo for the skin.
Marketing has primarily been through ebay, flickr, my blog, and word-of-mouth from my beloved collectors. At present, I am also working with Ashton Drake on a woodland faerie sculpture.
Q: When did you first hear about BJDs?
A: There were mysterious whisperings of BJD’s from the very start of my journey into the doll world. However, it was meeting Blythe on flickr in all her fanciful customizations that captured my imagination. She was a doll that could be uniquely personalized and PLAYED with!
Q: When did you decide to design a BJD of your own?
A: I toyed endlessly with constructing joints within the constraints of my armatures. How to create little sculpted beings that move realistically became my secret little obsession.
Mister Finch describes the fascination with jointed dolls perfectly…
These [jointed] dolls are my favourite. I’m always really drawn to jointed work and I’m not quite sure what it is…if you make something that’s jointed you are giving it the possibility to move. Even behind your back and I love that… Mister Finch
Move-ability…be still my heart!
However, matching up perfectly formed individual joints and getting them to glide smoothly together continued to elude me. My non-technical brain would just shut down and I was all thumbs trying to piece the pieces together. It was exhausting.
Then, one day I made a tiny silicone jointed rabbit named Dottie. She sold at auction. Immediately after her sale, a long-time collector and friend asked me to make Bunny. I was not real pleased with Dottie’s knee joints and all of a sudden became stubborn and inspired enough to work this jointed thing through. ( Maybe because I was not intimidated by a bunny rabbit!)
My saintly friend has patiently waited over a year for her Rabbit…and she will receive the first resin Chickpea as soon as she arrives from the factory. That is how the BJD’s and the Shoohoos originated.
Q: So, what is the idea behind your current dolls, the ShooHoos?
A: I am the mother of 11 children, some of them Providentially gathered from far and wide, and 14 grand*children. All that I do is accomplished in the midst of a whirling, colorful, landscape of children. Naturally, children are curious about every minuscule aspect of Doll-making. Sewing. Gardening. Anything and Everything!
Often, I found myself out of pure frustration, telling them to “SHOO!”
But instead of clearing out the interruptions, I noticed that I was only hurting young feelings. Finally, I paused to ponder just “WHO” I was saying “SHOO” to!
My children are the ‘real ShooHoos!
As much as I love my clay dolls, I love my living dolls’ feelings even more. So, I made a real effort to involve them in the making of the stories and in the designing of my characters to deepen the meaning of this art form for all of us. And it has worked! Jemimah is modeled after my second youngest daughter, and her poignant little story was based on an actual event in her life. Many more true-to-life stories followed.
Q: Are you working on any other dolls at this time?
A: Oh, Yes! Dottie the Bunny came to BJD life-form and is now christened Chickpea. She will be available for pre-order soon. I humbly show you her stages of progress…from crafty wooden balls, left-over-clay parts, resin casting molds…to countless sanding and reforming. It was a crazy journey with more than a few tears and lots of cheers from my family, collector friends, and a few fellow artists whom I consider my angels in disguise!
The next Shoohoo BJD is Bunny Chickpea. She will be available in September.
Photo above: Beep-Beep (left) and Lilu
Rose’s dolls may be found on her website bbflockling
Lilu and Beep-Beep, the first ShooHoos are available now.