All about Meka dolls

blank Meka porcelain doll heads showing some of the different color options Meka is a tiny porcelain doll that is completely handmade and was sculpted in 2014.
This doll is limited edition of 50, so once all 50 have been made there will never be any more.

4 inches tall (10cm)
Made from slip cast porcelain and painted with china paint.
Joints are lined with leather.
wigs are custom made by hand and are held onto the head with a magnet.

A diagram showing some of the measurements for Meka

Five face molds to choose from

Unlike this dolls predecessor, Eka, Meka has 5 different face molds. All of the faces are a similar style with round heads and big eyes but they have different mouth and eye shapes. For more pictures of each face mold follow the links: Ducky, Monkey, Froggy, Kitty, Bunny

black and white photos showing the Meka head sculpts from differnt angels

A doll made for play

two little porcelain bjds waiting for a new home Two little friends
Meka was designed to be played with. This doll can stand and hold a variety of different poses and the small and simple design means that they are not particularly fragile, though the simple joints are a bit limiting, and at 4" tall they play well with many 1:12 scale miniature items. They are right at home in a doll house or on a shelf.

These dolls are also quite durable, though they should never be dropped onto a hard surface. The paint will never fade or scratch with normal handling. Sunlight will not damage the porcelain or chinapaint either.

The wigs are made with waterproof glue and can be washed and brushed and styled a bit.

Pictures showing the dolls joints and poseability

So many steps to making a doll

the original master sculpt for this bjd was made of la doll paper clay Original doll in progress
Like with all dolls this one started as an idea and some drawings. The original was then sculpted in air drying paper clay and painstakingly sanded, sealed, sanded again and sealed again before it was finally ready to make plaster molds.
when mekas body parts fist come out of the plaster molds they still need a lot of work to sand the porcelain smooth Doll parts before sanding

After the molds are finished porcelain copies can be made. But that's only the start of the work! When the porcelain parts come out of the molds they are very rough and need lots of sanding and refinement before they can be painted. This first sanding is the most labor intensive part of the whole process, next to making the original doll sculpture, but doing it well is critical to creating a quality doll.

The next step is to load all the parts into the kiln for a high temperature firing. They spend about 15 hours in the kiln and the temperature gets up to about 2200 degrees. This high temperature causes the porcelain to vitrify and shrink. The doll that goes in is about 4.6 inches tall and the doll that comes out is only 4 inches tall.
blank porcelain doll parts ready for china painting Ready to paint

After the doll parts come out of the kiln they need to be sanded AGAIN. The pieces fresh out of the kiln have a bit of a gritty residue and sanding it off leaves the porcelain feeling nice and smooth. By this point I'm pretty sick of sanding things but it must be done. After this last sanding the parts all get washed before they are finally ready to paint.
For me when it's finally time to start painting a doll it feels like most of the work has already been done and the finish line is just ahead. That's not really the truth though. Painting a doll takes about a week. I use china paint on my dolls which is basically colored glass that is mixed with oil to create a paint. This paint is added in thin layers and each layer needs to be fired on in the kiln before the next layer can be added. It takes about 6 layers of paint for the average doll.

Once the doll is painted all of the joints are lined with leather, to help with posing and keep porcelain from rubbing on porcelain, and then metal pins and S-hooks are glued in place. The doll is then strung together with elastic cord and I can finally breath a sigh of relief. Hours and hours of tedious work and the little doll can finally stand!

The final steps in this long journey is to make a wig or two for the doll and then get some photographs.
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