Through the work of dedicated doll collectors in Washington state, the Pacific Northwest Ball-Jointed Doll Expo has become an annual convention which has expanded each year. Now celebrating their 5th year, the 2016 convention will include both foreign and domestic vendors, contests and classes. Registration for the May 20-22 event closes soon. BJDcollectasy interviewed one of the staff members that has been involved with PNW BJD Expo since it’s start.
Q: Can you tell me a little about when and how the convention began?
A: My daughter and I first got into the hobby a little over 9 years ago. Many in the Pacific Northwest were, like us, unable to attend the August BJDC held in Texas. So, we worked toward having one here in the PNW to cater to the local community and started by erecting photo sets at a popular doll show we attended. One of those was a castle with Medieval-style props. (The background was used again in 2013 for our Fairy Tale Forest theme.) A few of the doll show vendors lent a hand and provided valuable information that helped us prepare for our first expo in 2012.
A lot of research went into the project when we began planning in 2009. Time and resources were invested. We finally found an affordable and presentable venue to accommodate at least the local BJD community to assess the viability of continuing such a venture.
Over the next few years we strove to make it an international event. When we moved to a larger and more appropriate venue deserving of the art, Ringdoll and Blue Fairy attended as vendors in 2013. Ringdoll returned in 2015. Our goals have slowly been met to bring together artists and vendors from other parts of the world while drawing new collectors into the hobby and keeping it a family-friendly event for all to enjoy.
This year, we have a larger committee helping with planning the full weekend of activities, making it a true BJD convention with panels, workshops, contests, games, shopping, photo ops, special guests and meet and greets of artists, both Asian and American. The venue, Clearwater Casino and Resort, is amazing. Though not in the heart of Seattle, it’s close enough by ferry for everyone to enjoy a weekend “BJD retreat”. So far, people are attending from Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Arizona, California, Colorado, Missouri, Oregon, Washington, Singapore, Canada, South Korea, China, and Hong Kong. We hope even more states will be represented to enjoy our 5th anniversary celebration.
Q: Can you tell me a little about the convention themes you have chosen in the past and more on this year’s theme?
A: Each year we’ve gone with a different theme to encourage creativity in the contests. The theme for contest entries this year is a BJD Comicon. That leaves it wide open to television serials, movies, comic books, anime, games, etc. Contests are framed photograph, face-up, modification, BJD costume (must be handcrafted), Photo Set and Themed Scene. The photo sets allow people to photograph their dolls within the set. They have to be approved ahead of time with at least one progress photo being submitted by a deadline so our staging can include space for their entry. In the themed scenes, a doll is included and not to be touched by viewers. Those attending the event are not expected to come in costume, but we do have a costume contest for those that are game. First prize is a $50 gift card to use on the resort property. The sponsors this year are amazing with several dolls to be given away as prizes. Then, there are the door prizes. You can visit the website’s contest page to see all the donors HERE.
Q: Who are some of the vendors attending this year?
A: There are some exciting new vendors/companies coming in 2016: BJD CROBI from South Korea(celebrating their Founder’s Day May 20th with a special meet and greet), special guest Donn Kinney of Bishonen House, MegannArt, CodeNoir from Hong Kong, Peak’s Woods from South Korea, Delinquent Doll Wear, Kello’s Doll Shop, artist Glenna Hart of Doll Stories, artist Kori Leppart of Turtle Child Studios, Corner Sweet Corner, Starfall at Dusk, Rien (from Canada), Pat Moulton Original Dolls, Susan Lake (guest speaker), and the doll master of Spirit Doll from China. Returning vendors are GG Doll Fashions from Singapore and Echanted Doll Eyes from South Korea, Stardreamer Studios, Itty Bitty’s, Terri’s Tiny Treasures, My Children, Dolls of Mine, Dapper Zebra, and Doll Haberdashery.
Q: What else is available for guests at the venue?
A: There are five restaurants, a spa, exercise room, etc. It’s a true resort on the waterfront of Liberty Bay. Their shuttle will pick up resort guests from the ferry dock on both Bainbridge Island and Kingston at every arrival time and return them the same way. There will be live entertainment in the smoke-free sports bar and dance room on Friday and Saturday night. (photo attached) We have a room block for people staying the nights so if they mention they are with the PNW BJD Expo group, they receive the discounted rate of $120/night.
The expo/con is hosting a dessert buffet on Saturday evening when the awards are presented for contest winners. It concludes with the costume dance to the sounds of the current band playing.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
A: Thanks again for this opportunity. Our 5th anniversary celebration is something special and we look forward to the continued support of the BJD community to be able to continue as an annual event.
Registration closes March 28th.