Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.

My Odd Little Hobby

I still play with dolls, and no, not the ones that Sweetpea has. These are dolls I started collecting and customizing ten years ago. While I don’t get to enjoy my hobby as much now that I have a family, I do like to dust it off and go to meetups from time to time.

Raise your hand if you have heard of Asian Ball-Jointed Dolls… Yeah, I thought so.


Okay, first things first, these dolls aren’t like Barbie or Tonner dolls, although they are collectable. Another key difference is that they have ball-joints and elastic cords on the inside for tension and strength to hold poses.

WP_20140218_010 Asian Ball-Jointed Dolls are highly customizable. Their heads are hollow so you can switch out their eyes, which can be made from acrylic, glass, or urethane. They are also bald, so wigs are a must (and there are more styles and colors made than you can possibly imagine).

If you want to check them out and do some research, I’d recommend starting on the Den of Angeles forums.. You might need to register, so here’s some company sites where you can check them out with ease:

Volks USA

There are waaaay more companies than these that make the dolls, but these are some of the larger ones. (When you look at the price tags on some of these dolls, I wonder what you’re going to think.)

WP_20140218_007 I enjoy my little hobby (although I haven’t bought anything in a long time) because I can make the dolls into any character I want them to be. Their faces are blank until you paint them (called a faceup), although I recommend commissioning someone to do it unless you have some awesome eye-hand coordination and good eyesight. The dollheads are fairly small, so there’s not a lot of landscape for artistic endeavors. The dolls also range in various heights, from just a few inches tall to well over two feet tall. My dolls are all the same height, 60 to 62 cm.

I’m primarily drawn to the creativity aspect of the dolls. They were one of the ways I got back into writing. I used to write a lot of stories about the characters they represented (back when I was in my anime-manga phase. I do have a BA in Asian Studies after all.) Hmmm, maybe I should dust those stories off and see if any of them are worth anything. Probably not, but I did have a great time writing them, and it was great practice to get me to where I am today.

WP_20140218_002 Sorry for the odd Friday post, but I did want to share a bit about me, not just my WIP. There’s more to me than just being a stressed out writing with not enough free time. Sometimes I think that all I do is complain about the messy middle of The Dreamless City and worry that it will never see the light of day. Yeah, it keeps me awake at night (and so does the baby).

Hope you didn’t mind the geek post. Any questions or comments, feel free to share. ;). And of course, I’d love to hear what kinds of geeky hobbies other people enjoy that I might not have heard of before.

14 comments on “My Odd Little Hobby

  1. hannahgivens
    May 30, 2014

    Those are really cool! I’d totally love to have a collection of them made to look like my characters. That’ll have to wait until I’m rich and famous, I expect.

    • tracycembor
      June 10, 2014

      Awww, don’t wait until you’re rich and famous. You deserve to have some fun now too. It’s about the journey, not the destination, right? Besides, if you just buy one doll and a few extra wigs, you can switch between a few different characters. I’d love to see your characters in the flesh.

      • hannahgivens
        June 10, 2014

        They look crazy expensive, but I do really want one… >.>

  2. Kate Sparkes
    May 31, 2014

    This isn’t odd, it’s fantastic! I have a lot of friends who are into BJD, some of whom do the most beautiful face-ups. I’m actually scared of realistic-looking dolls, myself, but I like looking at pictures of their collections. Thanks for sharing!

    • tracycembor
      June 10, 2014

      Yeah, sometimes the dolls can give you that eerie feeling when they are close to human but not quite. Also, I try to not leave any eyeless, hairless doll heads randomly around the house.

      Glad you thought it was fantastic!!

  3. avbofsteel
    May 31, 2014

    I love BJDs. They are absolutely beautiful. Here’s of my favorite BJD artists (I’m pretty sure she doesn’t update anymore but I am still obsessed with her work: I’d love to hear about the character story lines of your dolls!

    • tracycembor
      June 10, 2014

      Ooo, I love her faceups too. It always amazes me the skill some of the faceup artists have. Thank you very much. I’m glad you enjoyed them.

      • avbofsteel
        June 19, 2014

        Yeah, if BJDs weren’t such an investment, I’d be ALL over it.

  4. briechildress
    May 31, 2014

    Is that a handknit shawl? I can’t tell from the pic. Did you knit it? Can I knit one? What are the dimensions? That is awesome.

    • tracycembor
      June 10, 2014

      No, that one isn’t handknit, although some knitters do make items for their dolls… to scale. It just blows me away the amount of time and the tiny, tiny needles they use to knit sweaters to scale. xD

  5. ericjbaker
    June 1, 2014

    Geek is the new chic. Doll away.

    • tracycembor
      June 10, 2014

      Aww shucks, thanks! That makes me feel much more cool than I probably am.

  6. Marti
    June 19, 2014

    Love the steampunk gal. Clever.

    • tracycembor
      June 24, 2014

      Aww, thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed them! :)

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on May 30, 2014 by in Geek Week and tagged , , , , , , , , .

Posting Schedule for 2014-15

Monday through Friday I will be posting about writing as business and craft, the science of creativity, all things steampunk, and progress on The Dreamless City.

Weekends are reserved for my Music Playlist.

Writers of the Future Honorable Mention

About the Author

Tracy Cembor attempts to juggle a preschooler and a baby, a full-time job, random geekery, and the writing life. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a steampunk urban fantasy novel. Come join the adventure.
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