Interview with UK doll artist Bea of Blue Butterfly Dolls
Q: How did you become interested in dolls and eventually in BJDs?
A: I came across the world of art dolls and BJDs through my interest in photography, browsing online and in various Flickr groups where I discovered some amazing photos of beautiful dolls which caught my attention and didn’t let go since then…
Q: Why did you decide to make your own dolls?
A: I found the art dolls to be a very inspiring new stream of art and at the same time I realized that it was the perfect, yet very complex, way to express my own feelings, visions and ideas. I decided to try it out and see where it would take me… At the beginning, there was a lot of frustration trying to understand and learn the technical part of this art through an online research, books and self-study and at the same time to find out which type of doll would help me to express what I wanted – in the best possible way. For the time being, it happens to be both – BJDs and customized Blythe dolls.
Q: Is there an overarching concept behind your doll characters?
A: All my dolls are unique beings with their own special characters and a little bit of my own, too. Many of them are from the magical world beyond our every day reality, sometimes a bit cheeky and mischievous – but always with their tiny hearts full of love. Every one of my creations is dear to me and many times quite difficult to let go.
Q: What was the first doll you made?
A: My very first doll that I started working on was Fenix – I left her unfinished for long time and went on to customizing Blythes and other dolls. Some time later I returned to finish Fenix, which was a big dream come true. Fenix brought me back to creating BJDs, and I’m very grateful to the little pixie for achieving that. In the future, I would love to dedicate a lot more time to creating BJDs.
Q: So you are a photographer? Do you have other artistic interests other than photography and doll making?
A: Photography has always been a favourite hobby of mine, but I still have a lot to learn, just like with my doll making efforts – they both are an ongoing learning process.
Fine arts, mainly drawing and painting have been with me since very early age and I still have a big pile of my old ‘masterpieces’, drawings and paintings from my nursery years when I started attending the local arts school for children, as the youngest of all pupils.
Q: Have BJDs inspired many photographs?
A: I believe that BJDs and photography art are very closely connected and there are some amazing BJD artists and BJD photographers out there. They inspire me, and at the same time they challenge me to grow and try to improve my own skills in both making dolls and taking pictures of them.
Q: How long ago did you begin working with dolls?
A: I bought my first air dry clay back in 2012 and got my hands all paperclay-white working on the first BJD Fenix. I spent quite some time trying to figure out the tricks of the trade of making a ball jointed doll and at some point I gave up with lot of personal disappointment and frustration. It took many customized Blythe dolls, which I started creating after giving up on making BJDs – before I pushed myself to return to the abandoned Fenix and finish her. Holding the first resin samples in my hands was quite an amazing feeling.
Q: Can you tell me more about Saffron?
Saffron is my second BJD which I have just released, with flapping elvish ears and big curious eyes. Her head was finished almost a year ago, but creating her body took me much longer than I expected. She is a little elf girl, with big head and big eyes inspired by my Blythe dolls, and her body is very thin and delicate with very simple shapes, the way I imagine a little elf child.
Q: Can you tell me a bit about the face-up and doll fashion artists that you have worked with?
A: In case of both Fenix and Saffron’s face-ups – I was very excited to work with Rakeru Sensei artist (also known as Sensei’s Make-up) who is simply amazing. Her face-ups are a true perfection and give the doll realistic and yet a very sweet and dreamy look. In doll fashion, I was lucky to work with Verde Blue, very talented and experienced, who created a set of beautiful knitted outfits for one of the releases of Fenix. I hope that in the future we will be able to prepare more such releases together as her knitted jumpers, dresses and hats for dolls are truly enchanting.
Q: Are you currently planning or started on any new dolls?
A: At the moment I’m trying to catch up on my delayed projects related to Blythe dolls – the Blythecon in Paris and the Fairies and Folklore exhibition in Melbourne which I’m participating in. I have one new super tiny BJD in progress and would like to start working on a new Yo-SD sized girl in the coming months.
Q: Do you plan to explore other doll sizes?
A: My preferred BJD sizes are the tinies and YoSD, but I have been thinking for a while about an MSD sized doll… the idea of her is forming slowly in my busy mind. Perhaps one day soon I will get some more paper clay and start working on her.
Photos above: customized Blythe and Fenix, Fenix prototype.