Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The human cost of recast dolls

As some of you know I love ball jointed dolls. Until not so long ago they were known as Asian Ball Jointed Dolls because they were mainly sculpted and cast by Japanese and Korean artists and later by some Chinese companies. Only 8 years ago it was very difficult to get these dolls outside of Asia, then the Asian artists began to sell to the West through their own websites and the hobby opened up. Now the whole scene has blossomed and artists the world over are creating stunning dolls and producing them in their tiny studios and selling direct to the public through their own websites too. It is a wonderful way for an artist to create and express themselves and sell direct to those who love their work and cut out the middle man.

These beautiful and expensive dolls cost a lot of money to produce as the artist has to perfect and experiment with each new sculpt (sometimes for several years) before they can even get to the casting stage. As someone who has dabbled with trying to learn to make one of my own, let me tell you it is a time consuming and exacting process. One I have yet to master! BJD are sold at a high cost perhaps but at a very low profit margin. That cost makes wanting to own a particular doll something you think carefully about and then scrimp and save for. They should not be a whim purchase unless you are seriously well off. I am not well off and have always thought long and hard before buying any doll.

The hobby has changed almost beyond recognition in the last 2 years or so and not for the better. Take a look on Ebay right now, type in BJD in the Dolls and Bears section and you will find a flood of people openly selling 'recast' dolls. In case you don't know, recasting is theft, plain and simple. Someone takes one of these beautiful legitimate high cost dolls and takes a cast from it and then reproduces it. As they have had to put in very little time, effort or expense to get that copy, they sell it  on undercutting the original artists price. Sometimes the cost of a recast can be a mere fraction of the original, sometimes I am guessing the thief expects to get handsomely rewarded for their minimal effort and charges almost as much as the legitimate artist does. I am just guessing there because some of the recast secondary sellers on Ebay are asking not much less than the price of the legitimate doll.

When this issue first came to light it seemed as though it would just be a small blip, and that recasters would target only the most popular sculpts. A few years on, the sheer number of people willing to knowingly buy recasts has grown to a frightening proportion. They have face-book clubs and are very vocal and aggressive at asserting their RIGHT to own recasts and to not give a damn about the artists who create them. Their tastes are changing and they are requesting specific sculpts be recast. They seem to exist in this topsy-turvey world where those of us who support the original artist are greedy and aggressive for not accepting them into our forums, for speaking out against "their hobby" which they incredulously claim is harming no-one. We are all elitist rich snobs because we are trying to keep these poor 'art lovers' from being able to have a beautiful doll that they simply cannot afford to buy legitimately, where is the harm?

For anyone out there still sat on the fence, for anyone who thinks there are no victims in this crime or that all BJDs are created by vast Asian companies who can write off the dip in their profits (completely false, a lot of Asian BJD companies are just 1 or 2 people)... read this and put a human face to the story. If you support recasts then read that statement and think long and hard about what you are doing Here is just one of the many people you are hurting; she happens to be French, but could just as easily be Korean or Japanese, that still wouldn't make it OK to crush her dreams. The vast majority of artists are ordinary people trying to scratch a living from their talents.

This is a link to Lillycat's (Rachelle) shop where you can see her stunning work. 

Please support artists like Rachelle and say no to recast dolls. The pic above is Ellana, I think the recast doll was Constantine.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Heads up for Hats

Just a 'heads up' that there will be new hats for BJDs coming later this week :o)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Doll Classes - an apology

Earlier in the year I mentioned that I hoped to do doll classes in the Autumn at a location somewhere in North Wales... well, this year has not gone to plan (do they ever?) and I have been working much longer hours than I had expected and also had a few health issues which have made me decide to mend my ways. I am trying to break that habit of a lifetime and no longer push myself to exhaustion trying to multi-task to the point of insanity.

That's a round about way of saying, sorry, something had to give (actually, several things!) and I am afraid it was the classes. If you were hoping to come and make lovely art dollies with me this Autumn I am afraid it isn't going to happen and I am not going to make any promises that it will in the near future. I would have really enjoyed doing them and it would have been a lot of fun meeting new people, but a lot of planning goes into doing those kinds of things and I simply have not had the time. I continue to dabble with doll making when I have a bit of down time, but it has been very scare in the last 10 months and so I haven't finished a single art doll this year.... I will get there though, I am no longer going to beat myself up about these things... all in good time ;o)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mermaids ahoy!

Before my back went this morning (where did it go you ask?) I managed to print out 2 of my new Mermaid paper art dolls ad put them in the etsy shop. They have been cut out (how flipping fiddly - why do I always make them so intricate???) and assembled and look lovely in their packaging. Sadly my rather ambitious use of 350gsm sating card in a domestic printer resulted in a cr*p-tacular paper jam and as I can't bend down anymore....well, you will have to wait a while longer to see the other 2 fishy gals I have finished drawing up ;o)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mermaids, swimming into the shop

I am just waiting for some more card to arrive and then my latest Paper Art Dolls will go into the etsy shop, probably at the weekend. This time I have for you an entire shoal of Rococo mermaids wearing corsets and opera gloves, one has a ship in her wig and all are festooned with pearls... well, I know I would be if I was a mermaid ;o) Once these are printed out I am going to finish one of my cloth and clay art dolls in just time for Halloween (fingers crossed!)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

My new favourite artist

A few weekends ago I went to Plas Teg. Back in the early 80's when it was still a ruin, I used to pass it on the coach every morning and evening to-ing and fro-ing to art college in Wrexham. I always loved the place, but this was the first time I got to see the interior and wonderful renovations carried out over the intervening years by it's marvelously eccentric owner Cornelia Bayley. The house, and everything in it, are fantastic and theatrical and I was particularly taken by all the grand old oil paintings hanging in every room... except they aren't "old" at all. It seems Cornelia commissioned some amazingly talented contemporary artists to copy works that are hanging in museums and galleries the world over (some I recognised, Reuben's for instance). Those artists did an amazing job and it got me thinking...

Back when I used to pass Plas Teg as a ruin, I was having my life-long (well, all of 17 years at that point) dream of becoming a portrait painter well and truly kicked out of me by some of my college tutors. One in particular (let's refer to him as Albert Bumface) attacked my work - plus my views, my character, my looks and just generally my very existence - to the point of bullying and it was because of him that I pretty much gave up painting and changed from Fine Art to Design. I certainly lost all the joy  of painting that I had enjoyed since a small child and was filled with self-doubt whenever I picked up a paint brush after that. The odd part was that I was easily one of the better students in my year as far as natural talent went. That might sound egotistical but is just a fact. Other tutors praised and encouraged my draughtsmanship and my already quite well established painting style, but as I was young and really lacking in confidence back then, Bumface's loudly disparaging comments drowned out the weaker voices of encouragement for me. Now I just wonder how many of my fellow students went on to make their living day to day solely by using their artistic talents? I did, of course, but it was only because a strong streak of defiance rose up from somewhere a few years down the line.

The problem for Bumface (who wasn't all acidic malevolence, he had a lot of 'favourites' whom he showered with praise, and was very popular with a certain section of the student body... he spent a lot of time with them down the pub, anyway) seemed to boil down to the fact that I loved the old masters. I also failed to sneer when I saw the work of the Pre-Raphaelites and once bought a postcard of one of Joseph Farquharson's many snowy landscapes with sheep to give to my Grandma while we were on a college trip to The Walker Gallery in Liverpool. "Lowbrow" art was yet to have it's day and I guess to the likes of Bumface, an eclectic  girl who could appreciate not just the work of Cy Twombly but also of the likes of Sir Frederick Leighton clearly had no place in HIS art college. Bumface and his little clique held very rigid, narrow-minded opinions what was ART and what was not - in short he was a Total D*ck! (I am not suggesting that he quacked there, in case you are wondering)

Anyhoo, my visit to Plas Teg set cogs whirring and I have begun sketching and even gotten out the oils for pretty much the first time in 40 years. I don't buy all of the Haunted House talk at Plas Teg but maybe the place has finally laid to rest the horrible specter of Albert Bumface for me. I have in mind a series of oils of fictional sitters with odd companions seated or standing in front of those lovely pastoral landscapes favoured by Gainsborough and the likes. So with all of that swirling around in my head I was pretty excited to discover the work of Stephen Mackey earlier today... my new favourite artist in fact. I can't believe I have never seen his work before, maybe he has been to Plas Teg too? Albert Bumface would absolutely hate Stephen Mackey's paintings, but then Albert Bumface's work isn't hanging in galleries and isn't collected the world over is it? So, who cares what he thinks anymore! ;o)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fabulous Queen Anne style Lady Skeleton doll

Take a look at this wonderfully spooky Queen Anne skeleton lady doll made by the talented Alena Sinel of The Old Wooden Sisters. She is a really creepy treat, you can see more pictures of her here and stay a while and take in the rest of Alena's amazing reproduction "Old Pretender" style Jacobean wooden dolls. Needless to say that skeleton lady is my favourite! ;o)