Ballet With Attitude

Ballet With Attitude
Ball Jointed Doll by Cindy M. McClure

Friday, January 28, 2011

How to put a Ball Jointed Doll BJD together by Cindy McClure

There are a lot of theories floating around out there about how to put a Ball Jointed Doll together, the truth is that each doll created will be put together differently because of her measurements. But this might help. The construction and engineering of the inner workings of a BJD will consist of:
1.dowel pins epoxied into each joint of your BJD.
2. Line each joint with leather (soft side glued to the porcelain, shiny side of leather out, very important)
3. Assemble your springs, swivels, and s-hooks.The picture below is a sample of how one portion of the Ball Jointed Doll (BJD) assembly is constructed; each section will be different:

The size and tension of your springs are key. I can't tell you what size to use because each doll is different so you will have to purchase several sizes and test them for each joint. After purchasing about $600 worth of different sizes with different tensions I finally came up with the combination that works for my doll. It's a pain, but worth it. I was, however surprised at how tight the spring tension has to be.

Each s-hook for your BJD will most likely be custom, there's just no getting around it. Be sure to use round nose pliers so that the side connecting the joint is perfectly round. Round nose pliers are used by jewelers and look like this:

4. Assembling your Ball Jointed Doll starts with the hands and feet first. You must assemble each extremity separately before connecting it to the torso.
5. The most important step is to document each spring, swivel and s-hook combination you try, lay it out and take a picture. I am a professional at Adobe photoshop so it was easy for me to take a picture of my doll (actual size) and then when each section was figured out I took a picture of those combination's and overlayed them so that I ended up with a detailed diagram of her assembly. Here is a sample of what I'm talking about:

I detailed the exact size, tension, and where I purchased each piece. Many of the pieces were special ordered because few places will carry enough of each spring that you would need. My doll consists of 17 springs, 12 swivels, and 25 s-hooks.

Is a Ball Jointed Doll worth all this work? Absolutely!! Nothing compares to the flexibility and ease of posing these dolls, and they hold a pose. Here are a few more pictures I thought you might like, the first is from the original sculpt after I cut her apart to joint her:

 I'm sure there are lots of questions, please feel free to ask!
 In the mean time, I'm working on the costume design for the next one.


  1. Your doll is absolutely beautiful! I'm actually trying to get a start on working on some ball and joint dolls and I'm having a hard time trying to find where to buy the actual springs and such. I figured I'd be able to buy them somewhere in town but everything looked like it was going to be too big. The swivels I found and that was about it. I haven't measured my doll out yet but she's going to be about 12 - 13 inches. If you have a suggestion on where I should get them please let me know!

    Thanks bunches!

  2. Thank you so much Conceicao Rosiere!!

  3. Hi Cindy that is such a gorgeous doll. I am currently working on sculpting the details on my doll but I had an important question about the stringing in the torso.Are there suppose to be dowel pins in both the torsos if so where exactly do I embed them. It would be greatly helpful if you could post a stringed torso picture like that of the arm. Please help.