How to Make Perfect Ball Joints for BJD


I found this tutorial on a Russian website for making a perfectly round ball using LaDoll clay.  The artist will use the balls for the joints in her BJD dolls, but I bet there's other uses for a perfectly round clay ball!  This technique may also work for other brands of air-dry clay (such as Creative Paperclay).  You'll have to experiment.

Google doesn't do a great job of translating Russian when it comes to crafting terminology, so I'll do my best to translate the important parts of the tutorial to English and then you can visit this site to see the original tutorial and all the step-by-step photos.

  1. For this tutorial you'll need a circle template made of plastic like the one shown above.
  2. With your LaDoll clay, form a rough ball of clay approximately the size needed for the joint...maybe a tiny bit larger.  You can use foil or other armature inside the ball of clay.  The ball doesn't have to be perfectly round at this stage.
  3. Let the clay dry and cure for 2-3 days.
  4. Dip a cured ball in water for about a minute so that top layer of clay is slightly softened, then put it in the circle cutout of the template that is the appropriate size for finished ball.  With light pressure, start to scroll the ball around in the hole.   The softened surface of the clay should sluff off to match the perfect roundness of the circle template (see photo).
  5. The ball will slip in your hand and be difficult to hold, so it's better to do the scrolling wearing cloth gloves.

From time to time you may need to remove ball from template, clean excess clay off template, re-wet surface of ball and continue scrolling until a perfectly formed ball is achieved.  It may take a while.


You can form a complete set of ball joints of exact same size using this method.   Tutorial author says this method is not suitable for very large dolls.

7 comments:

  1. I am just starting to try out air dry clay for making doll joints. This was sooooo very helpful. I can hardly wait to get a circle guide and try it out. Thank you1
    Jolynn

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  2. What would be considered a "very large" doll that you wouldn't want to use this method for making the balls with? Gail

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    1. Tutorial author didn't say what she meant by "large". I'd take a guess that balls larger than an inch or so would probably not dry evenly and therefore wouldn't be perfectly round or may crack.

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  3. Hi there! I found this tutorial really helpful. But I wanna ask, is it okay if I carve a hole already in these clay balls before letting it dry so that I won't have to drill it or use a chisel to make a hole in it? Thank you

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    Replies
    1. Why not! However, it may be hard to keep from distorting shape while it's soft.

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  4. Hi, I found sturdy aluminum templates that are easier to use than the flimsy plastic templates. Google "Alumicolor Triangle, Calibrated 45/90 - Color: Silver - Size: 10".

    Thanks for this tutorial. Using this and my doll eye bevelers has made joint-making much easier!

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  5. I guess the joints needed for a very large doll would be much too big to fit in any of these small holes. My last BJD was very large and the ball joints were almost the size of tennis balls.

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Thank you very much for taking the time to comment! ;-)