Monthly Archives: June 2009

7 years, 9 months ago 21
Posted in: Uncategorized
Me in 1996 and 2006

Me in 1996 and 2006

I can’t believe how much time has passed since the first picture was taken. It makes me sad thinking about it, though I don’t think I would want to go back to being 14, fun as that was. I’m pretty happy with myself, and where I am right now. When that photo was taken, I was already making dolls for 8 years.

My little sisters and I: then and now. In 1996 I'm on the right and in 2009 I'm in the middle.

                         My little sisters and I: then and now.                                             In 1996 I'm on the right and in 2009 I'm in the middle

My sister’s names are Irina and Alina. Marina, Irina and Alina. I don’t know what my mom was thinking. I guess she thought it was cute that all our names sounded the same. My middle sister, Irina (pink top) is studying to be a dental hygienist on the East Coast and this is the first time I got to see her this year. She flew in as a surprise for Alina’s high school graduation ceremony, who is going to study medicine at the University of British Columbia.

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My family in 1996 and 2009

Yup, we’ve changed some since the first picture was taken. The little one is now too big to sit on my parents’ lap. We all still call the “The little one”, though she is taller than both of her older sisters…and I think our parents too.

It was good to be together again with my parents, like when we were little girls.

7 years, 9 months ago 3
Posted in: show

flyer_web_final

I almost forgot:

I have two dolls in a group show ‘Mid Summers Night Madness’, at Strychnin gallery in Berlin this summer. The show opened last Friday, but it will be on for a few weeks and those of you who live in Germany can go and see Shapeshifter and Aphrodite in person.

Thank you Strychnin. Elizabeth- you’re awesome.

7 years, 9 months ago 21
Posted in: Press

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These are some of the magazines and newspapers that have featured my work over the last 3 years. I thought I’d document myself with my accomplishments.

The very first printed publication to feature an article about my work was a local, French language newspaper ‘L’express du Pacificue’, three weeks after I had graduated from Emily Carr Institute (now University) of Art and Design. I remember the day I was asked for an interview:

It was my last studio hour before the graduation show at Emily Carr and I was building a plywood stand to support my grad project ‘Necrophilia’ which included a composition of two ball-jointed, porcelain dolls- Snow White and Prince as well as a glass coffin. After spending most of the day in the wood working shop I went out to buy some more plywood sheets at a nearby carpentry store. The return trip turned out to be a real struggle because the plywood proved to be way too heavy for me to carry. Luckily, five minutes into my trip, a young man caught up to me and offered his help, to which I happily accepted. As we walked back to my school, the man asked me about what I was going to do with all that plywood and I told him about my graduating project ‘Necrophilia’. He listened to me talk about my work with great interest, which was strange to me, because I at that point I was not used to talking about it outside of class critiques or with any body other than my professors or classmates.

As we parted ways, the man gave me his business card and asked me call him. He said he was a journalist, working for a French newspaper and that after hearing about it, he wants to write an article about my work. Next week he assigned a writer to work on the story and two weeks later my interview appeared in the art and culture section of L’Express du Pacificue.

And that’s how an accidental encounter with a stranger turned into a significant event of my emerging career as an artist. The timing couldn’t have been any more perfect. It almost felt like a sign.

And that's the stand which got me that interview.

And that's my grad show and the plywood stand which got me that interview.

More publications are on the way this summer and fall.

7 years, 9 months ago 2
Posted in: Press

avenue-n19-face

This Avenue illustrated just came out in Madrid, Spain. I have a six page spread in it.

There are more publications on the way all over the world this summer and I get excited every morning in anticipation of packages from publishers. When i get them, I flip though, find my spread, admire my dolls on the glossy pages for a few moments and then put the magazine on the shelf along with the rest of my collection, just to begin waiting for the next one.

7 years, 9 months ago 15
Posted in: Doll Accessories

wax-colar

So, this is that ambitious project I mentioned on Twitter a few of days ago.

It’s a wax carving of a collar for Enchanted Doll. It’s impossible to carve something like this by hand, so I designed it and handed it over to another artist/technician, who rendered it as a 3D model and had it carved by a computerized carving machine. When my casting technician Ryan saw this, he said: “This is by far the craziest thing you’re ever done, and if I can cast this piece for you, it will be the height of my casting career”, because apparently, this thing is un-castable. But then again, a lot of jewelers would consider many of my wax carvings impossible to cast because they are unconventional jewelry pieces, while Ryan was somehow able to make them work.

I made some adjustments  to the collar after I took this picture. I spent 8 hours, painstaikingly overlaying the carving with tiny wax granules by hand. It looks just exquisite. I love it and can’t wait to see it on a doll.

7 years, 9 months ago 20
Posted in: Doll Accessories

doll-samples-070

I thought I’d walk you through the things I have to consider before designing and making something. This is a glimpse of what goes on inside my head when I’m working things out. Whether I’m designing a dress or a jointing mechanism, or crown or a doll face or anything else, I think about it a lot sometimes days, sometimes weeks, turning over and over and over in my head like a 3D model on a computer, until I come up with a solution to my problem. Functionality and strenght are always a concern because I don’t like making things that don’t work, or can’t be touched because they will break. That’s why I don’t like polymer clay dolls and figurines: They are fragile and have no function beyond sitting on the shelf and gathering dust, while mass produced, commercial dolls have the function, but lack beauty.

BEAUTY, FUNCTION, STRENGTH.

That’s my slogan. I think I should have majored in Industrial Design at Emily Carr. I believe I would have been good at it. My math is too weak for engineering or architecture, but I noticed that my mind is king of geared to making things work. After all, I am an engineer’s daughter. The first decade of my life was spent inventing and building things with my dad. Which was awesome.

Anyway, here we go.

When you’re making a highly articulated, ball jointed, porcelain doll on the 1:6 scale, conventional techniques and methods of doll making frequently don’t apply. You have to think outside the box and consider MANY things to produce a beautiful and functional product. Most important thing to do before you begin any project, is to clearly identify your goals to yourself. When you have your goals down, choose the primary and the secondary one which will be the key and the heart of your project, the very essence of what you want the end result to be. Then, make a plan of how to capture that essence.

My primary and secondary goals when I make Enchanted Dolls are:

a) Beautiful and smooth, realistically stylized  body lines with a beautiful face.

b) Extensive, yet aesthetically un-intrusive ball jointed articulation and superb posing abilities.

There. This is the essence of Enchanted Dolls. This is what dictates the choices I need to make from here on in order to achieve the perfect balance between the two. You probably noticed that my a and b goals are at conflict with one another: Too many, too big joints and the beautiful body lines are visually disrupted, yet fewer and subtler joints significantly reduce articulation and realistic posing. Which one do I choose over the other? I don’t want to abandon either in favor of one, but sacrifice of some aspects of both a and b is inevitable.

I appreciate all the input and feedback I get from Enchanted Doll fans every day. I get suggestions too, on how to improve my dolls sometimes, which is great, but I want to explain to you guys who think that EDs are not living up to their full potential, that every square millimeter of the doll is carefully thought through and considered a hundred times. Every aspect of the doll is there for a very good reason and not because it just happens to be like that. Let me put it this way:

Everything you can think of about ball-jointed dolls – I’ve already thought of it.  <:)

I want to address the suggestion of giving EDs closing eyes. Those of you who think that this would be a good idea- I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. It’s a lovely idea on its own, but please consider  what it will take to do that while remembering the Beauty vs Function dilemma:

Closing eyes can be effective and aesthetically pleasing only on a medium or better yet, large sized dolls, but Enchanted Doll’s head is less than 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. First of all, it will be visually ugly and will interfere with the realistic quality of the face because the eye sockets are tiny (5 x 7 mm) and closing mechanism will require 1-2 millimeters of clearance of the eyeballs from the eye openings. This is not a problem for a big doll, but on a 1:6 scale doll the gap between the head and the eyeballs will be very noticeable. It will look plastic and fake. Ugly.

Structural composition and stringing of the doll has to be taken into account as well. I have a large spring running through the centre of the doll’s head which holds all the extremities together. With an already tiny space inside the head and a spring running right through the centre of it, where am I supposed to put the pendulum weight mechanism, required to open and close the eyes? But more importantly is, how am I going to put it in there, when unlike most bjd’s, Enchanted Doll’s head is solid closed? I can’t cut the head in half in order to stick the eyes in even if I really wanted to do it because of my stringing technique: unless the head is a complete, whole sphere, it won’t be strong enough to support the tension of industrial springs which are required to hold the doll together. It will break.

I can’t cut the head open, put the eyes in and glue the halves together because no glue will withstand the tension put on the head by the spring for a long period of time. It will break. I can’t cut the head open, put the eyes in and then fire the halves back together because the only way porcelain halves will seal back to 100% strength is at 2300 ºF. Everything besides porcelain will be evaporated in the kiln. So, my question is: How do I put the eyes in?

In order to be able to cut the head open and glue it back together safely after putting the eye socket mechanism in, I would have to reduce the tension in the head. I could do that by replacing the industrial springs inside my dolls which give them such splendid tension and therefore, articulation, with elastic. Elastic is common in bjd stringing, but it’s a very poor substitute for industrial springs. Anybody who handled an Enchanted Doll and ANY OTHER bjd will know the difference. I won’t be able to achieve the tension required for posing. Using thicker elastic won’t solve the problem either, because most doll’s parts are too small to accommodate it. Besides, why would I want to change spring to elastic when it wears out over time, while springs do not? So, which is it: springs or eyes?

In conclusion, we find that giving Enchanted Dolls a pair of fake-looking, closing eyes will entail dramatic changes and sacrifices of the fundamental mechanism of the doll. And the trade is not even worth it.

Scale, ladies and gentlemen, scale is the key here. Although there are many deciding factors at play because the doll is held together by a careful relationship between its components and changing one will require changing the rest, in the end, it’s the small size of the doll which makes this particular change counter productive to both of my main goals: beauty and function.

Any questions?

7 years, 9 months ago 18
Posted in: Uncategorized

metodos

Extreme methods of Surviving is the title of this book in English, and the result of my very first attempt at a ball jointed, porcelain doll is on its cover. I made her in 2005 and she became my guinea pig and an ancestor to most of my porcelain dolls. I learned so much from this first doll. After I assembled her, I wrote a report to myself about the mistakes I had made with sculpting the joints and molding them and what can be done to correct them. She was followed by an intense two years of improvements and re-sculpts and re-tries until I had my techniques and methods more or less established. I’m still learning and improving of course, but I will never forget those driven, insane years in my journey to articulated porcelain dolls.

The book is authored by Marcia Bechara, from Sao Paulo and it’s coming out in Brazil this summer. It contains a compilation of fictional stories about survival of non-traditional and subjective obstacles in life. I’m looking forward to getting my copy of it, but unfortunately I won’t be able to read it unless somebody translates it for me.