Dollmaker Virginia Lee said she never wanted to stop playing with dolls as a child. Studying art and web design in college helped her develop her creative skills into adulthood. Discovering the world of vinyl repaints set her on the road to dollmaking artistry. She went from repaints to making ball-jointed dolls (BJDs) sold under the name Forever Virginia. In addition to sculpting BJDs, Lee also creates her own wigs, shoes, and outfits, both for her full-set dolls and as separate items available for fans to purchase.
She recently discussed her dollmaking career with DOLLS magazine.
DOLLS: How do you balance your studio time between the various stages of making a complete doll and making separate accessories and outfits?
Virginia Lee: I really enjoy expressing my artistic vision in different mediums and find it refreshing to switch between sculpting, painting, and textiles. To stay focused, I keep a regular schedule whenever possible for new fashion collections and doll releases. Painting must be done as soon as orders arrive from casting, of course. Sculpting is the most fluid. I work it in during extended holidays or whenever the inspiration strikes. This schedule keeps me on track for what I “have to do” but also allows for a good amount of artistic flexibility.
DOLLS: Tell us a bit about your skill level when you first began repainting vinyl dolls and how you developed them as you progressed to BJDs. Are there new techniques or skills that you’re working on?
Lee: Of course, my very first repaints were awful! But one thing I’ve always had is endless enthusiasm for this world of dolls. I truly love the process of learning and refining my skills and am constantly inspired to go further. When I see something new that I want to learn to make, I just jump right in! It may take many tries to finally equal the vision in my imagination, but if you enjoy the process then nothing is lost. This year, my goal is to learn digital sculpting, which I’ve dabbled in, in the past, but am starting again properly from scratch.
DOLLS: What have you released so far this year, and what’s coming up within the next few months?
Lee: All three of my current doll lines will have releases this year: 33 cm (13 inches) Sweetheart, 29 cm (11.4 inches) Lolli, and 19 cm (7.5 inches) Charm. Some are favorite sculpts in new colors, and there a few new faces to look forward to. And of course, I will continue my regular fashion collection releases for them, as well. Lots to look forward to!
DOLLS: Are there any particular themes or inspirations driving your creativity right now?
Lee: In 2020, I was inspired more than usual by the outside world. I responded to the chaos and unease by sculpting Rose (compassionate and serene), Juniper (bright and hopeful) and Bambi/Bee (sweet and happy). At the end of the year, I sculpted Murphy, a grumpy little character that will be released later this year. Looking forward, I’d like to continue to explore more character-type faces that fit into my little world.
DOLLS: Are there entirely new designs or projects you’re hoping to tackle this year?
Lee: My goal to learn digital sculpting is a long-term project that will possibly result in an entirely new doll line. I have lots of ideas for a newly engineered body and style that I’m eager to try my hand at. Of course, I am still early in the planning stages, sketching and taking lessons, so it’s unlikely you’ll see it very soon.
Find out more at Virginia Lee’s website