A Traveling We Go, Reporting from the St. Louis Ball-Jointed Doll Convention
Steampunk is seeping into everyday life and other fandoms. A walk through any home décor department store will reveal clock themed pillows, key and lock printed sheets, and well, more clocks. Victorian clothing is for more than just people are wearing steamy garb. Pets and dolls have outfits just as decorated or well-done as their owners, as I recently found out at the annual St. Louis Ball-Jointed Doll Convention. I was delighted to be included as a guest speaker and vendor, as their theme was Steampunk.
What Are Ball-Jointed Dolls?
Ball-jointed dolls (often shortened to BJD) are dolls that are articulated with ball and socket joints, much like the shoulder or hip joints of human beings. Parts are cast in a hard polyurethane synthetic resin which makes for a very resistant plastic. Pieces are then strung together with thick elastic. Most doll manufacturers are in Asian countries, but there are some in the United States and other places around the globe.
Dolls can be customized in any size, from minis to human sized. Parts can be purchased separately, especially heads, with unique hair and eyes. And the dolls can be more than just human-like. There are horses, other animals, and fantasy characters such as fae (with wings) and elves (with pointy ears).
Like many steampunks, the ball joint doll fandom is a very creative and talented bunch. I was amazed at the detailing of miniature pieces and the wonderful “maker” sharing mentality.
The vendors had an array of amazing items, from wigs, to shoes, and even simpler clothing like jeans. I was impressed with the vendors who truly celebrated the steampunk theme with character costumes, hats, and accessories. The sewing skills on such small items are truly a talent this maker would like to possess.
A Day at the Con
The convention opened with a small ceremony welcoming the attendees. I then gave a short panel on steampunk and was impressed with the enthusiasm of the crowd. There were a few make and take sessions, a contest, a tea, an airship room, a raffle with fantastic prizes, and a very active swap meet. Proceeds from the raffles benefitted the OBC Food Pantry. Again, I was thrilled to see how well this mini con was put together. At the end of the day, I was inspired, and dear readers, I dare say, you will find some of this con afterglow in future written works.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s show!
Victoria L. Szulc is a multi-media Steampunk artist/writer who is working her fourth Steampunk novel, Lafayette to London. You can follow her works at mysteampunkproject.wordpress.com and her author page on Amazon.