The acronym BJD stands for 'ball jointed doll'. They are fully poseable artist dolls made out of durable polyurethane or environmental resin. Resin is an excellent but tricky material to work with, requiring skill and patience but yielding a pleasing result. It can be cast in a variety of colours.
Resin BJDs are given their mobility by a simple but effective elastic system called ‘stringing’. This can be tightened or loosened to get a range of desired effects. Because of the way BJDs are designed it’s possible to mix and match compatible parts from various sources to create a truly unique ‘hybrid’.
Some dolls, such as certain products from Hujoo, are made of ABS instead.
What makes them unique?
A distinguishing feature of BJDs compared to mass produced dolls is their customizable potential. The painting on their face (referred to as ‘Face-ups’) is always meticulously detailed by hand. Most companies offer a team of experienced and talented artists or for the more creative types it’s possible to create your own masterpiece on a beautiful 3D canvas. ‘Body-blushing’ is the process of using pastels to create more depth and realism to the doll’s body.
The eyes, wigs and clothing of a BJD may all be changed quickly and effortlessly. Combined with the stunning assortment of items available this creates the perfect opportunity to bring a character into the physical world, design your own decorative collection or simply experiment with diverse styles and aesthetics.
What are they used for?
BJD collectors are as unique as their dolls. Behind each beautiful owner picture is a different story waiting to be told.
Many people enjoy BJDs as interactive art, including as subjects for photography, models for custom made clothing or blank canvases for customizing. Others take great pride in them as display or collector’s pieces. There are groups of handy people who thrive in enhancing pose-ability and imaginative people who simply enjoy playing with them.
There is no right or wrong way to enjoy your BJD and at Dandy Highwayman Dolls we’re dedicated to helping you make the most of your experience.
How big are BJDs?
BJDs come in an array of sizes from smaller than your thumb to full life-sized. One of the most common ways to measure a doll is in scale. The most common scales are 1/6, ¼ and 1/3.
What size of doll you will like the most depends on your individual preferences and needs. Small dolls are particularly useful for travelling, storage and compatibility with readily available doll furniture. Large dolls have more choices in terms of clothing, are easier to paint and make clothes for and are ideal for people with a little more storage space.
How do I care for my BJD?
Do not submerge your fully assembled doll in water. This will get the elastic inside damp as well as possibly damaging the face-up. Clean your doll with a damp magic eraser or cloth whilst it is unstrung and then allow the parts to thoroughly air dry before restringing. Carefully brush any debris from the face-up with a cotton bud.
A BJD’s posing may become looser over time as the elastic relaxes from being posed. This is easily solved by tightening the stringing. The elastic needs replacing every couple of years or so to keep the BJD posing to its best capability.
BJDs are much more durable than their porcelain relatives. As such, it is impossible for a BJD to be ‘smashed’ and much less likely that a BJD will be damaged in transit, particularly with the care taken in their packaging. However, chips and dents can happen if they are dropped onto hard surfaces or handled carelessly. BJDs can stand unassisted but if you are storing them somewhere for long periods of time it is best to have them either sat down, on a stand or in their box. If your doll does get dented during it’s time with you then, if you are over 18, submerge the affected part in boiling water for 30 seconds whilst taking great care not to burn yourself. This restores the resin to the shape it was cast in.
All company face-ups are sealed with clear, matte, long-lasting sealant. Default face-ups can last for years if you avoid getting oil near your doll’s face. This includes washing your hands before touching your doll and touching the face as little as possible. This is because human hands naturally contain moisturizing oils that will wear off the sealant over time and leave the paint vulnerable.
Due to the nature of resin all dolls will undergo slight colour changes over time. This is often nothing more than a pleasant mellowing of the colour and happens very gradually over many years. The change is most noticeable in white toned dolls. To help keep this to a minimum we recommend that you store your doll out of direct sunlight. Avoiding high temperatures and cigarette smoke are also excellent ways of keeping your BJD at its best.
We advise to keep BJDs away from animals and young children due to small parts that are toxic when ingested.
When performing subtractive mods on a BJD such as sanding or when using pressurized paints it is crucial to use the appropriate PPE (personal protection equipment) and to work in a well ventilated environment. This is the mask that we use:
It is very important that you use a mask which is compatible with filters. Fabric half masks do not provide adequate protection. You need particulate filter cartridges for subtractive mods to protect against resin dust and organic vapour cartridges for spraying sealant and the likes.
Make sure that your mask fits. It should be snug against your face but not painful. If you can smell anything other than clean air then either the mask is too loose or the filters need replacing. It is best to test this with a strong but non toxic odour like garlic.
Safety goggles are also essential to protect your eyes. Most brands work well. Ensure they are fitted against your face, as items such as sun glasses leave exposed areas where dust or fumes can get in.
Always spray sealant away from you and be aware of wind direction when working outside. Open any windows available and do not re-enter into the area in which the sealant was sprayed for half an hour. Make sure there are no animals (including small animals such as birds, reptiles and fish) or other people in the room with you and that they also do not re-enter the room until at least half an hour has elapsed.
Collect and dispose of any resin dust after sanding and vacuum or sweep the area thoroughly. It’s a good idea to do the sanding in old clothes and put them straight in a wash afterward.
It is vital that you use a filter compatible, appropriately fitting face mask, the correct kind of filter and fitted goggles when sanding a resin BJD or using spray sealant such as MSC. Brush on sealants are a better alternative for people who cannot wear PPE (or do not wish to).