Chapter 1 Cocoon


At the beginning, “Making dolls” was not a decision with a clear goal, but rather a naive idea of “making BJDs that most people could afford”. I had no idea how to make it, what materials to use, or even what the structure of a BJD was.

When I couldn’t make any progress with a rough carved face in plaster, a senior named “pspsp” on the famous doll forum “dollsky” in China posted a “pspsp’s BJD making manual”, which detailed the materials and tools needed, as well as links to foreign tutorial websites. Since then, I finially had stepped into the field of BJD making.

I was lucky, if not for this tutorial in time, I would probably have given up early.  Also the encouragement I received for my beginner’s works gave me the confidence that this was something I could do well.

“Oruha”, 2005, Ladoll clay

This is my first clay BJD. Her name “Oruha” came from the character in Clamp manga “clover”. Rough as she is and her maker apparently did not have the knowledge of human anatomy, but look closely at her long, thin limbs and elongated torso, you can see her in my current dolls. They are even at same height of 45cm. Perhaps it is the most suitable size for me from the beginning.  The Venus Sleeping started in 2013 was like a rebirth of her, to make up for the regret of not being able to present what I wanted at that time.

Left: Oruha, 2005 Right: Venus, 2013

After three months working, I finally finished Oruha before the beginning of my senior year.  That night, with great joy, I showed her to my father, who was lying in the bedroom watching TV. He didn’t seem to notice me at first. I waved Oruha in front of him a few more times. But he was still staring at the TV as if I didn’t exist, even though it was only showing commercials. I asked him, “Why don’t you take a look?” Without turning his eyes, my father said four words in a slow speed:

“I do not care .”

In the darkness, the TV lighted his face. There was a smug expression, as if he thought he had said something cool. I felt like be poured cold water. With no more comment, I walked away. He had said many unpleasant things since I was a child. However, this time, these four words carved deep in my heart. Since then, I determined to myself that one day I would let him take a serious look.

Finished version of “Oruha”, 2005, Ladoll clay

At first, my family thought the doll was just a hobby for me. At one dinner, when I said that I wanted to make dolls as a career, my father flew into a rage and swore that I was no good. In fact, I hadn’t decided at the time,  just mentioned it casually. I didn’t expect my father’s reaction to be so severe.

During one visit to my grandma in hospital, my father teased me about the doll issue in front of the relatives.  Other patients’ relatives in the ward also gathered around curiously. They thought I was “daydreaming” , “thinking beyond my reach” and I would never make it, even though they didn’t even know what a BJD was.

In the chaos, someone interjected: “You can draw anime! Anime is very profitable now!”

When I was in middle school, I wanted to become a mangaka, but my father discouraged me from doing so, because he thought that drawing was useless. In the end I gave up the dream. Years later, the animation industry gradually became popular and became a key industry encouraged by the goverment. Now someone who didn’t even know my name, just after hearing some words from others, began to tell me what to do with my life without taking any responsibility. I felt I was surrounded by myopic idiots.

At that moment, bitter mixed with anger, tears could not help but gush out of my eyes. The people around saw this, dispersed awkwardly.

After that, something unexpected happened at school: by chance, I was offered a postgraduate recommendation. I never thought I would get such an opportunity before.

Many people thought I had given up the recommendation out of a passion. But besides my love for doll making and the fact that I thought it was something I could do well, I was thinking of being independence of my parents as soon as possible. Living in that home made me feel like an outsider who owed them a large debt. I was often scolded for trifles. In fact, just a few days before I got the recommendation news, I was scolded by my father again, so I was still sulking. Keeping study meaned I had to rely on my parents financially and continue living under my father’s bad temper which I might not be able to stand.

I thought that since I had been scolded so many times for the doll issue, why not go with the flow and put it into practice. It can also be said that under my father’s “efforts to promote”, I gave up the postgraduate recommendation, and officially stepped on the way of being a professional doll artist.

Inspired by the chrysalis, Cocoon represents the process of my metamorphosis. From this point on, I was no longer the “ordinary girl” in the eyes of my classmates, or the “good girl with good grades” in the eyes of my relatives, but became the “deviant”. Many years later, I sometimes wonder if this “whim” and “fearless” decision was the right one. What if I had chosen to study in graduate school, would I have been in a better situation? Would my family have been get along together? Would I have been lonely nomore? However, reason tells me the answers are “hard to say”, “no”, “very hard to say”. Even if the alternative path of “what if” opens up thousands of possibilities, the odds of a perfect outcome is forlorn. Perhaps for the moment, this was the best way within my ability to get out of the infulence of my family.

At that time, I did not know what kind of challenges I would face and what kind of trail I would leave on this path that was not paved with flowers. But what the future holds, who knows?

to be continued

next chapter: BéBé

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