When Russian artist Mariya Zhukova released her first doll as part of a special project along with Donny Harijanto of Dream High Studio, new fans fell in love with little dragon Rin. A new limited edition version of the doll may currently be ordered from the company in a rainbow selection of resin colors. In this interview, BJDcollectasy talks to both doll makers how the partnership came about.
Q: Hi! I would like Maria to tell me a little about herself. When and how did you become interested in making dolls? What materials have you used to make your dolls?
A: Mariya – I started making my first BJD 4 years ago. Before that for some time I had been fond of making polymer-clay jewellery, and I sculpted a few static dolls of Paperclay and LaDoll. To tell the truth, it was a surprise for me to understand that I actually could sculpt something resembling a human because I’ve never attended art-classes, and my university specialization is psychology. Then for a few years I was working hard and had no time for hobbies.
So, when 4 years ago I decided to sсulpt something more, first I was inclined to make a non-jointed static doll, because I had a little experience in that already. But then, thanks to Internet, I’ve got acquainted with ball-jointed dolls, and when I’ve really got used to how the joints looked, my mind was changed. I understood that BJDs are what I really wanted to make! Not mentioning the obvious BJD’s strong points, like pose-changing and customization possibilities, it is a real challenge for a sculptor – good balance and good look of the joints in various positions are very difficult to achieve. But of course, at first I had no notion of it and just tried to understand how it was all supposed to work. It took one and a half months to sculpt my first prototype, and two weeks to make my first plaster moulds. And then some more time to cast my first two dolls in Flumo (“cheat-porcelain” is what I call it, ‘coz to cast dolls in Flumo you don’t need kiln firing). I used different colours of Fimo baking polymer-clay to give them a special look.
Then I’ve decided to try casting porcelain. In Russia, there are many artists, who learned to work with porcelain by themselves, so I’ve tried too. Internet and the advice of friends/doll-makers were my guides. Here are my first porcelain dolls.
Making accessories using wire and polymer clay is another passion of mine. It seems to me that making everything by yourself (wigs, clothing, accessories and so on) is one of the most exciting sides of doll-making.
Besides that I’ve tried using natural clay and glazes. And silver.
For me, learning to use a new material, is something like learning a new magical spell. And naturally it is hard, and at first, and you make mistakes but then it becomes a part of you.
And once, I thought, what if I try to make not a human but a cute cartoonish pet? I still remember how one evening before sleep I was lying in my bed and thinking about what animal I should try to make. And then an idea came to me: “A chameleon will be great!”. I thought, any colour and pattern would be OK with chameleon! I made a few of them first in porcelain.
Then in resin. I sculpted a new prototype for resin casting, and presented a resin cameleon limited edition. I called him Cookie because of his round spine. He has independently rotating magnetic eyes and jointed jaw, and it was a pleasure to make and paint them.
That is how I’ve started using both porcelain and and resin, depending on doll’s character.
When I sculpted little dragon’s prototype I was sure, that resin would be the best for him.
Eight resin dragons were cast by a Russian casting company (Korchagin studio), and I’ve lined their joints with leather and painted them using pastels and acrylic paint.
Q: To both of you, How did you come to know each other?
A: Marya – It was when I had already made the little dragon’s prototype but was still far from completing eight dragon’s casts (and hadn’t even started painting them). Sometimes I (as all artists I suppose) instead of doing something I ought to do (painting and assembling dragons), I felt a pull to do something quite different – in my case, sculpt a crab!
And when I make something, I share my photos, and this time it became a problem, because when I showed my crab’s pics, people began asking me when it would be available. Although it is very pleasant to know that people want to buy your work, it was a bit stressful – because I hadn’t even started painting dragons that were sculpted beforehand.
I started dreaming about a collaboration with someone good, who could produce and market dolls I sculpted prototypes for, so then I could just sculpt (because I like this part of work most of all), and make a few OOAKs (not more than eight I think) and that’s it. But this time I went further than my habitual dreaming about this kind of collaboration, and decided this once to be resolute and actually do something about it. I said to myself, that now I would surf the web and find a company with a similar style (I mean, making cute animals), and write them a collaboration proposal! And so I’ve wrote Donny. Truthfully, I was sure, that he would respond with a no-nonsense “no”, but he actually was pleased and said, that he had been thinking about collaborating with other doll-makers himself! I still can’t believe how smoothly it went (Dear Donny, thank you so much!) and that our first collaboration project “Firya and Rin, the mischievous dragon” was met so well.
Q: (Donny) So when she contacted you, did you know her work?
A: Donny – I didn’t know about Mariya’s works previously, She emailed me with a link to her blog. I was astonished by her work and quickly decided to do a project with her.
Q: Can you tell me a little more about your first project, Firya and Rin. How did that develop?
A: Donny – The concept was done by DreamHigh Studio with Mariya’s approval. The plan was to do a proper introduction of Rin the dragon that Mariya Zhukova made, in DreamHigh Studio style alongside with my creation Firya.
Q: So Rin and Firya proved popular?
A: Yes, they sold very well. We released them as time limited edition dolls. The response was really good.
Q: Do you have any more collaborative projects planned?
A: Yes, we have a lot of other projects in planning stage. If everything goes well, DreamHigh Studio will carry all of Mariya Zhukova releases.
DreamHigh Studio plans to be a place for selected artists to produce and release their work through Dream High Studio. We call it “DreamHigh Artist Connections”. Mariya Zhukova is our first artist with a doll featured along with Dream High’s.
Q: Are there any plans to cast some of the animals she previously made like the chameleons and crab?
A: Donny – About the the crab and chameleon, yes we have arranged them to be released on DreamHigh Studio as well! They’ll be cast and sold by Dream High.
Q: When can collectors hope to see Mariya’s next doll from DHS?
A: Donny – We don’t have the exact date yet for the next doll from Mariya Zhukova because she’s preparing something special for her next release.
DreamHigh Studio and Mariya Zhukova will make a new collaboration very soon. It might be released in July.
Mariya Zhukova’s Instagram
More of Mariya’s custom painted dragons:
More photos of Rin and Firya: