I have been admiring Jodie♥dolls’ customs for a while on Ester and An‘s gorgeous pictures. Joëlle recently made for Ester one of the most sweetest and gorgeous Middie ever! She is not only an all-round customizer, doing everything for her dolls from reroots to custom eye chips, but she is also a talented photographer, who always knows how to get the best of her Blythes on photos.
Photo: Jodie♥dolls. Hello Joëlle!
Hi Joëlle! Can you introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Joëlle Kolman-de Vries. I am 35 years old and live in the Netherlands. I am married to Jeroen de Vries and we have three cats, Shenkie Hansen, Stompy and Boi. I work at a big housing company where I am in charge of their website and intranet. I am also volunteering for the animal protection stray cats. I love to travel, photograph, sew, read books, eat sushi, run and I love Blythe.
Photo: Shimmering Magic. Cherish Me Always – Middie Blythe custom.
How and when did you discover Blythe?
Almost three years ago, we visited Japan for the first time. My husband builds these low-rider model cars, so we visited a lot of toyshops when we were there. Every time we visited a toyshop, I noticed these dolls with big heads. I thought they were very cute but a bit too expensive to buy one at that moment. Once I got home I couldn’t get them out of my head and I tried to find them on the Internet. I was very surprised to discover there was a Dutch Blythe forum. Not long after that, I bought my first Blythe on eBay: a Milky Way Sugar.
Photo: Jodie♥dolls. Store in Japan.
When and why did you start your collection?
Not long after my first Blythe, I found another one for sale and after my second doll, my collection started to grow rapidly.
How many Blythe dolls do you have in your own collection?
I have about 12 dolls: NRFB Amaryllis, Vinter Arden & Bloomy Bloomsbury (both most wonderful stock outfit ever), Very Cherry Berry (soon to be Goldie Wannabe), Heather Sky, Gentle River, Bubble Boom, Ebony, 3 custom dolls, a Middie I still have to finish and a couple of Petite’s.
Photo: Jodie ♥dolls. Abbey.
Photo: Jodie♥dolls. Muse.
Where and how do you store them?
In our old house my Blythe dolls sat on a shelf in the living room but now I have my own work space where they are either on a shelf or placed in bell glasses. I am planning on buying more bell glass displays for all my dolls but there quite expensive so for now I have two.
Photo: Jodie♥dolls. Bell glass displays.
What do you like the most about collecting Blythe?
I love everything about Blythe, especially custom Blythes. When I look at my collection of Blythes, I have this happy feeling. I don’t have many stock Blythes and Bloomy Bloomsbury is my absolute favorite stock doll.
Why did you start to customize Blythe?
After discovering Blythe, I found some pictures of an exhibition in Spain with dolls made by Picara. I was so impressed by her custom dolls that I couldn’t believe these dolls were once stock. At that time, I was looking for a hobby, something that I would really like doing. This might sound strange but my husband and his family are very creative, so when his parents asked me if I had any hobbies there was a long silence and I thought: “Why don’t I have any hobby”? It was after a psychic told Jeroen that I didn’t realize I had all these creative skills locked inside that I thought I had to find myself a hobby. And Blythe came along.
Photo: Shimmering magic. Paris – Jodie♥doll’s custom in Ester’s collection.
Photo: OhChiWaWa!. Charlie – Frendy Freckles – Jodie♥dolls’ custom in An’s collection.
How did you learn how to do it?
Jeroen helped me out a lot at the beginning and sometimes he still does. I surprised him with learning all the different techniques quite fast. He went to an art school and he is used to working with plastic. I also found a lot of information on Internet. The puchicollective website was really helpful.
Photo: Jodie♥dolls. Vanilla.
Photo: Jodie♥dolls. Lilac.
What gives you inspiration for custom work?
I get inspired by a lot of things: visiting different countries, reading books, manga and looking at photo books, art and magazines.
Photo: Jodie♥dolls. Berry.
What is your work rhythm? How do you like to work?
I usually have in mind a general idea of the overall look and appearance of the doll before I get started. Sometimes I make a sketch and collect pictures from magazines and Internet. Then, I start customizing the face, carve lips, change eye chips, re-root hair, etc. I do mohair and alpaca reroots. I use the lock and loop or the knot method. If I am really motivated I can finish a reroot in two days. I will put on my favorite serie and watch all day while I reroot. My husband can resin cast eyechips and he is now trying to make some Middie eyechips for me.
Photo: Jodie♥dolls. Homemade eyechips made by Jeroen.
Photo: Jodie♥dolls. Fresh hand painted eye chips.
When the doll is finished, I start working on her outfit. I am not a very skilled seamstress but I really enjoy it when something turns out the way I wanted it.
Photo: Jodie♥dolls. New girl in progress.
Photo: Jodie♥dolls. Fida – mohair reroot.
How does your studio look like?
A year ago, we moved to a new house and now I have my own room with a work space. I have a desk were I can airbrush, another desk for my sewing machine and lots of space for customizing the dolls. I keep al my stuff in boxes on shelves and when I am done for the day, I always clean up and store my tools for the next session. This really helps keeping things organized and my mind free.
Photo: Jodie♥dolls. Joëlle’s studio.
Photo: Jodie♥dolls. Old workspace.
When you work on custom commissions, do your clients usually have specific requests or do they give you a free hand?
Most clients have a fixed idea on how their dream doll should look. I listen very carefully to their requests and usually the doll turns out the way they imagined it. Sometimes I had to make a few changes to satisfy the customer. This is actually the reason I stopped doing commissions. After a while, I longed for the freedom to create my own custom dolls the way I envisioned them.
Photo: OhChiWaWa!. Jackie – Jodie♥dolls’ custom in An’s collection.
Photo: Shimmering♥magic. Paris – Jodie♥doll’s custom in Ester’s collection.
Where do you sell your custom dolls?
I mostly sell them on Ebay or a Dutch kind of Ebay.
Would you have some advice for those who want to start their own customs?
1 – Don’t be afraid of making mistakes; it’s all part of the learning experience.
2 – Make sure you have the right tools and do a lot of research on customizing techniques.
3 – Don’t be afraid of asking questions because some people use different techniques and some of them may suit you better.
What are you working on these days and what are your next projects with Blythe?
At this moment I am working on different projects including a diorama and I am finishing the last commissions that were on my waiting list.
Photo: Jodie♥dolls. Sneak peak – diorama in progress.
Many thanks, Joëlle, for letting us being part of your creative dolly world through your beautiful customs and pictures. I am amazed at how diverse your custom dolls look. They all have so much personality and style, and you are just at the beginning of your career as a Blythe customizer. Mademoiselle Blythe will stay tuned for more info on your next dolls and best of luck to you!