The odd but charming little BJDs by “Orange” of Orange Tea Dolls include a tiny (unnamed) 7cm BJD, then Violka, Olivka and in the future, a new (yet to be named) 1/6 girl. The artist is originally from Russia, but has lived in numerous countries and currently calls Germany home. At this time, Violka may be purchased as a limited edition in light blue or dark tan resin.
Q: What inspired you to make BJDs?
A: I always liked making all kind of creatures: human or fairy dolls out of paper, monsters out of wire and yarn, plush and clay animals… Then I’ve read an article about Volks dolls and fell in love with BJDs. Some time later I’ve realized that you can actually make these dolls yourself and so I decided to try. What I love about BJDs is their high level of customization: blank dolls might start by looking the same but will become so unique and different from each other thanks to their new owners. Seeing what others do is an inspiration, the variety of world and characters everyone creates. It’s also fun to bring new things from the real human world into the BJD world like fashion styles, body shapes, faces… I might find them in photos, paintings or traditional sculptures.
Q: How do you design your dolls?
A: I design them on my computer. The program I use is called Blender and it’s a free 3d program used for modeling, sculpting, animation and many other things. I use it for modeling my dolls. At first, of course, I make some sketches of the dolls, on paper with a pen that I’ll use for reference when modeling them. Some dolls suffer quite a lot of changes during the process though, and two designs become one or vice versa. Some dolls get to be printed (I send them to be printed to a company called Shapeways) and some are left unfinished and abandoned, poor things.
Q: Tell me a little about your first tiny 7.5cm doll.
A: That’s the first doll I made on my computer. By making her, I learned how to use the 3d program, how the printing process works and all the rest that goes with doll production. She was my first experiment.
Q: Do you cast your own dolls?
A: No, I don’t cast them myself. I did some casting ages ago but it’s too much work, and I wouldn’t recommend doing it in your kitchen! So, the dolls I sell are cast in a professional factory. They do a great job, and it leaves me with extra time for my dolly projects.
Q: You released Violka next. What was your inspiration for her?
A: When flipping through my sketchbook, I stumbled on an old drawing that I liked and decided to make her into a doll. I don’t really remember if there was a special reason or an inspiration for her, I just liked the shape, and now that I think of it, I do have lots of doodles and sketches of her or someone liked her. So, I guess it was only natural to make her a doll. This way she grew into our third dimensional world and is very happy about it. I still draw new shapes that might be new dolls someday.
Q: I notice that your dolls keep getting bigger with each release! Is there a specific reason for that?
A: The reason is quite mundane: it’s cheaper to print smaller dolls. As my first try, I made something super small, smaller than that and the printer wouldn’t be able to print the details! I’d love to make an MSD doll someday, but for now I guess they’ll stay around 30cm. It’s a comfortable size, there’re tons of props and clothes for it and it’s still small enough not to invade my entire flat.
Q: Your most recent doll is Olivka. How did she come about?
A: She’s a bit of a mix of two dolls: I wanted to make a doll that resembled a greek sculpture but on a smaller scale and with joints, and a fat/full bodied doll. They both suffered a metamorphosis along the way and became one doll, not very close to the original idea maybe but I liked her nevertheless (and of course, I made her head a bit larger than it had to be because I love dolls with huge heads!).
Q: Can you tell me a little about the patterns you make that are featured on your blog?
A: My dolls, especially Violka with her wide hips, are quite hard to dress, so I make them (or try to) the clothes myself. I upload the patterns of the successful attempts to my website so my customers can use them for their own dolls. I hope they find those patterns useful. (Violka can wear pukipuki tops and wide skirts and probably can fit well in 1/4 shorts, and Olivka can share some clothes with Yo-SD and Blythe.)
There’s a funny video on Youtube by Anne Pecaro of all the clothes she did for her girl before she even arrived using my patterns! (LINK to video)
Q: Are you working on another doll at this time?
A: Oh, yes, I have a new doll! She’s still just white plastic, but I’d love to have her in resin and as soon as possible! She comes from a tiny silly doodle but also is very much inspired by the rockabilly and vintage pin up styles. She’s curvy, measures 26cm and is quite a character.
Photos above from top: First tiny doll, Violka in dark tan resin and unpainted Olivka.
Orange Tea Dolls
Clothing from custom patterns: