Beauty vs Function and Enchanted Dolls.
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 stylizedÂ 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.Â <:)
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 considerÂ 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 ÂºF. 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.
This entry was posted on Saturday, June 13th, 2009 at 2:30 pm
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