October 18: BDJ’s (Ball-Jointed Dolls) with Charlene Smith

The Oct. 18, 2014 Cleveland Doll Club meeting was an unusual and special treat. Not only was there a wonderful display of BJD’s (Ball Jointed Dolls) reimagined by Charlene Smith but we had the actual artist there for a live demonstration of her artistic talents. Accompanying Charlene was her sister.

Charlene demonstrates painting.

Charlene demonstrates painting.

Charlene sat down with her dry pastel chalks, fine brushes, sandpaper and various other detailing tools and began work on a resin BJD head. She stopped several times and showed us the progress of a character. While she painted with the dry caulks she continually spoke about her painting and how she began the journey. She even demonstrated how easily the eyes pop out so as to insert eyes more to your liking.

“I do a lot of blowing. I like to paint on sunny days because I like natural light. I spray outside but it depends on the wind and humidity.”

“I get to the point I like, and then spray them. When completed I leave 15 minutes between each spray up to around 6 acrylic sprayings. Resins are not all the same quality nor are the painting. Most dolls painted in a factory environment have only one coating of acrylic spray and the paint can easily rub off.”

“I sew OOAK and limited-edition clothing and paint face ups for a variety of artist dolls.”

“I started sewing at a very young age as I spent much time with beloved Grandmother, who loved to sew. She would let me sew on her treadle when I was too small to sit so I learned to sew standing up! My eyes were right in line with the needle as I recall.”

“Sewing for dolls came back into my life much later as something to do while I cared for my father and never dreamed I would love it so much. I am not a pattern user so my items rarely have the same look and although I offer to remake my items they will probably be a little different. It brings me much pleasure to bring quality workmanship and materials to you in my little creations.”

Kaye Wiggs dolls are Charlene’s favorite to paint, wig and clothe. Just a little over two years ago Kaye sent Charlene a nude head and kept encouraging her to try painting. Charlene would always say I can’t do that but Kaye was persistent. Finally Charlene watched a UTube video on painting resin dolls, bought supplies and began painting, erasing and repainting. With Charlene’s love of sewing she was soon clothing her creations and making fine wigs of Tibetan wools.



















Charlene now has a large customer and fan following of her reimagined dolls. She uses a wide variety of dolls from BJD artists such as Kaye Wiggs, Bo Bergemann, Linda Macario, Kim Lasher, Helen Kish, Judy Porter and Berdine Creedy and also from BJD companies from Japan and Korean. Her finished pieces have won awards from ODACA, Dolls Award of Excellence at Idex, etc.

Charlene’s visit, display and demonstration were made possible through the friendship and support of a club member. Thank you Pat T for making this connection for us!

charlene and pat

Charlene Smith and Pat T.

Thank you Pat D. for your program summary and pictures!


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