Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pictures of Tubigon Church, 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake in Bohol, October 15, 2013

On October 15, 2013, Bohol Island in the Philippines suffered a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. My mother comes from that island, where she grew up until she went to Manila to attend college.

I'm praying for the safety and the recovery and return to normalcy of all my relatives and friends and the rest of those affected on the islands of Cebu and Bohol. Luckily no one I know was hurt, but an uncle got trapped in his bedroom, when part of the ceiling collapsed and blocked the door. His neighbors were able to get him out to safety. 

It is also going to become a financial drain for the residents. My brother shared with me pictures of the Tubigon church, which was sent to him by a relative. I decided to photoedit and share the pictures because the media initially publicized that only two churches were affected. Fact is, a lot of buildings, including churches and some of my relatives' homes have collapsed and will have to be rebuilt. 

Above is the front of Tubigon Church, in the town of Tubigon, Bohol. The feast day or fiesta of the town is on May 15, the feast day of San Isidro Labrador, St. Isidore the Farmer. It's when most homes have food, and relatives and friends go from house to house to eat and drink. A good number of couples get married on that day, not just because it's convenient to do so, but because it's the middle of May, when it's still summer and school is out. As kids we lived in Manila, but we went to Bohol for the summer break. My grandpa's house that burned down years ago, which I wrote about in one of my books, which has yet to be released, where we used to stay, was in front of the town plaza, the Tubigon Town Square, on the southwest side of the plaza, and this church is on the southeast side of the plaza, was located at a more elevated spot.

I made a before and after comparison of the church. I got the before picture from Wikipedia. I remember I used to look up the ceiling, because it had a lot of religious scenes painted. I can't believe how hollow the ceiling is. It looked so solid from where I sat during Sunday mass.

Every 6 pm. The church bells ring. People at the plaza and elsewhere would stop and face the church. The gesture seemed surreal, like a scene from a scifi movie, like "The Stepford Wives," but the entire town simply seemed to belong to the same Catholic religion. My mom had us memorize the 6 pm prayer, called The Angelus. I don't suppose now that everyone who stopped prayed it, but when I was small, I assumed everyone did. 

It would seem that Bohol is not related to my dollwork. I have written about my misadventures in Bohol in at least one of my memoirs that I have yet to release (I'm still hoping a publisher would take over the publication and distribution). Like I said, I was only able to go there in May, not Christmas. My aunt inherited a huge nativity scene from my deceased grandmother, and only displayed it in December. It supposedly took over at least 1/4 of the entire hurge living room in the house we stayed at.

I never got to see the setup, which included little houses and antique statues, which I imagined were the size of my current dollwork. I acknowledge that my current art dolls are a manifestation of my frustration of not having seen those supposedly antique dolls.  

A new Filipino saint, Saint Pedro Calungsod, was recently canonized on October 21, 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI, although his beatification was on March 5, 2000, by Pope John Paul II. Above is St. Pedro's fallen statue, which is obviously life-sized. I'm sure people will recover from the earthquake, but I hope it does not happen again anytime soon. I believe that the last earthquake that hit Bohol before this one was in 1990.

I also got pictures of my relatives' homes which were damaged, but I thought it was too personal to share them..

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Work in Progress Anatomically Correct Porcelain Dolls by me as usual (Valentino Zubiri)

Sorry, but I feel I have to keep repeating my name on the heading to get in the search engines. I have 28 pictures above and below, of 9 porcelain ball-jointed (bjd) dolls, by yours truly, Val Zubiri / Valentino Zubiri. My earlier blog entry enjoyed a lot of visitors, because I told people my dolls this time would be painted / carved so they will be anatomically correct. I made about 13 new faces, but it is difficult to maintain the same amount of body parts, some of them broke during the early stages.

While photoediting, the skin tone darkened to a more realistic, human-like hue and saturation. I liked the result, but the dolls are actually lighter and more pink. Just letting everyone know. I liked the illusion of a more human skin tone.

I used thicker leather to line the joints. I actually liked the result. The dolls got a little taller and even more statuesque than the 6 dolls I finished last July. Well, a lot of other artists use "paper-thin" leather. As soon as I read about this, I wanted to do the opposite. I'm not into the illusion of making them near-human and near-perfect. What I make is what I make. 

I also used stretchy elastic cords instead of steel springs for this group of 9, and will do the same for a few more. My rationale for this is that even though I am promoting this as "Art Dolls" and not toys, it is more convenient for an art collector to replace the elastic cords when the cords wear out and come loose, than to send the dolls back to me to replace the steel springs. The first 6 dolls that I finished in July have steel springs. 

The steel wire for making the steel springs needs to be the right gauge and have the right "stretchiness" and length to work. If someone like a child accidentally pulls a steel spring past it's tolerated force, the doll will have to be sent back to me for repairs. I cannot guarantee still being able to repair my dolls 200 years from now. 

On the other hand, if the elastic cord comes loose, the collector just needs to go to the nearest fabric store and buy the similar sized elastic cord. The elastic cord is also fabric lined. This means that the woven threads that cover the rubber core will continue to hold, preventing the doll pieces from exploding or falling apart and dropping on a hard surface and breaking. The doll will simply just loosen; not explode unmanageably.

I have been checking out other doll makers / dollmakers. "One of a kind," or "OOAK," is different for every artist. We obviously repeatedly use the same molds for the bodies. Most artists also have more than one doll head / face that they use . One of a kind to most of us also takes into consideration the variation in the costumes and the hair style, and even the variation in the eyes, eyebrows and makeup, even if we use the same doll head mold.  As you can see, I do my best to use a doll head / doll face once.

I highly suspect that eventually, I will use a doll's head once for a collector, and once again for a collection that would tour. It occurred to me to make duplicates of the costumes, so that a collector can keep one and the second one that is almost an exact replica will be mine to tour. The thing is, just thinking about doing the same thing twice seems to be too much work, when I probably should look into producing a wide variety, especially at my early stage.

I do plan to sculpt new body parts from scratch, but I feel I have to make a good number from my original molds. I am not yet after "perfect" sculptures / prototypes, because I feel the more imperfections I put in my dolls, the more I appreciate them. I know it's a phase. I'm still at a learning stage.

I will show the back of the heads later. I signed and dated them behind the left ear, PLUS I also placed unique serial numbers below the signatures and dates. If I decide to make a few faces from the same head mold, I will know and be able to keep track of them through the serial numbers, and hopefully, in the long run, so will my future collectors.

I'm still looking for galleries, a literary / book agent and a publisher for my books. I'm simultaneously editing and reviewing a few books. I'm not really keeping track of how many books I have, because aside from my written books, I have illustrated books as well, of my past drawings and paintings, plus I'm also working on a few novels. It might look as if I have a lot of time in my hands, but I really don't. Just getting to this point in the porcelain dollmaking process has used up a lot of months. I fantasize writing a book a day, but in reality, writing projects also takes time.

Actually, I AM letting the information out here on the internet that I am looking for a New York gallery, and maybe London, but I'm really not seriously looking. I want to make a good number of works first, then propose it to be featured in the media, then I'll more seriously look for a gallery and a literary agent.

All my works will also eventually end up in at least one book, so if you are a collector, I'm very sure that if you get anything from me right now, you will see your collection in a commercially-available book, something like a comprehensive book of all my finished works, which may be nude / naked or costumed.

I'm not quite sure if my next thing to do will be costuming all of them at the same time, or making the wigs, or proceeding to finalize each doll before moving on to the next. I'm actually playing with the idea of making more body parts to make more nude / naked dolls before I proceed to the hair and costumes. I'm also debating whether to sell them per piece or as a group / collage / diorama. I've been imagining them as if they were a group of school girls wearing the same uniform. Hmmm.

Once again, the pictures are fair use / for non-commercial use only. I would appreciate it if you keep mentioning that my works will only go up in value, and especially as soon as I get into a really super expensive gallery or as soon as more people discover my writing, which are all part of my proposed Memoir of an Artist Series.

I plan to begin painting again in the near future, but how soon this will be, I'm not entirely sure. I got into making dolls, which is really time-consuming.

Dollmaking is not like painting. Painting only involves paints, brushes and a flat surface. Making dolls involves a lot of disciplines. Sculpting on polymer clay, making plaster molds, fashion design and sewing, wigmaking, shoemaking, jewelry and metallurgy, stained glass and enameling, set design, etc.

I'm just writing fast. I'm not checking grammatical errors here. The 28 pics in this entry took me 8 hours to photoedit. A lot of things I do takes time, but I also know how important it is to share my progress and pictures online. This is why I am sharing these anatomically correct ball-jointed (bjd) porcelain dolls even at this stage of having just finished the porcelain part.

By the way, I know I have to have a website, but I feel I have to finish a few more works. I'm also playing with the idea of getting at least one first doll on ebay, but I'm not sure if I should really just get a gallery to sell for me or start with ebay. I would suggest that you email me if you want to get one. We can come to a confidential agreement, because ebay has a tendency to permanently set prices. I have gallery friends, so I am familiar with the needs of a gallery, and it has always been my hope to eventually sell through galleries. Understandably, their prices would be reasonably high.

Thanks for reading. I hope you like my work more and more, and please feel free to use them, especially if you're a kid and you want to use them for yourself.

Please like my page on Facebook, here it is:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Anatomically Correct Fine Art Porcelain Dolls by me heeh (Valentino Zubiri)

This is my second group of dolls. The difference between this group / batch and the previous is that I am making this group "anatomically highlighted" or anatomically correct. It's really just a matter of using the china paint and making a stand, deciding to just go ahead and do it. It kinda feels weird calling my doll work "batches," because the work takes too much time from start to finish, it isn't like baking a batch of cookies for the day. The first group of dolls that I finished in July 2013, with 6 dolls, is theoretically not finished, because I have yet to decide on the backdrop. 
I sculpt a good number of doll heads to train myself in sculpting, mold making, all the way to the process of painting the faces and painting on the makeup, or "faceup." I actually like to find out how well I can make a seemingly ugly-looking face beautiful in the end. I also get the feeling that my "uglier" ones will be noticed more by the collectors in the future.
I took these pictures using my Blackberry with the sole purpose of sharing with a few friends. I set it at low resolution. In my mind, as far as this blog was concerned, I wanted to just post 8 finished nude dolls and lessen the posting of unfinished stages like this entry. Unfortunately, I ran out of time. I was going out of town for a job, and I had to prepare for it, and clean up my mess from all the doll work. 
This is all a long, time-consuming process. The heads went into the kiln at least 7 times. The kiln takes about 9 hours or more to heat up and then another 6-8 hours to cool down. While inside the kiln, I used my "free" time writing my next book. I finished the draft and the first edit by the time I had to go out of town.

I've decided to put serial numbers on my dolls. That way, each work is traceable and recorded. I feel that it will help in the future, when people begin wondering if I made too many or too little dolls. I myself want to keep track of my own work. All the doll heads are signed, dated and numbered on the back of the head, just behind the left ear.
In the future, I will post a picture of how I signed and dated them, and how the serial numbers look. I will need my digital camera to take a macro shot of the back of the dolls' heads.
Thanks for viewing! Please follow me on Twitter. I will soon work on my Facebook Page and my websites.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Porcelain Black Specks / Coring / Carbon - problem and troubleshooting

When working with porcelain, I have encountered those black specks in the past... last year. I have solved them. If you are working with porcelain, email me at, I will be happy to guide you, but I will need to know what type of kiln you have, etc. I don't want to use this blog for porcelain tips, because I've decided to use this as my vehicle for promoting my art dolls.

In exchange, do you mind if you follow this blog, twitter and I also want to include you in my possible future mailing list to update people about my art and current offers. You will be included in future raffles of my work, unless you opt out.

I also have a facebook page. I just launched The Worldwide Sshhh. SSHHH means Same Sex Hold Hands Holiday. Here in Chicago / Illinois, marriage equality for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community did not pass. It suddenly occurred to me that if people see same sex couples hold hands, maybe toleration will come from the public's heart and mind, and eventually the laws would be affected. The simple gesture of holding hands between people who love each other, who happen to be the same sex, even just the thought of it, makes people uneasy. Yet straight people can kiss and cavort, much to the disapproval of some parents with their kids. Can you see and feel the disparity?

I'm male, if you were my dad, grandpa or brother, or lover, would you hold my hand in public? Would you support my cause?

Please like the page if you agree with me. Please spread the word if you can.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'm working on these future Porcelain Ceramic Ball-Jointed Dolls BJD - Val Zubiri

I am experimenting with the heading. I think Google places a lot of importance on the heading and key words, including my name, should appear once in a while.

Here are some heads I had been working on. I took these pictures after I was happy with the number of faces / heads I finished. When I sculpt the head, the face is first. Then I put it in the oven to harden it. The back of the face is added, and the head is baked again.

I do this because I'm not selling the polymer clay as a final product. Some artists sculpt and finish their work in polymer clay. Basically, by finalizing in porcelain, I have many more stages to go.

I encourage a group buy, or a single collector to have a set with the same theme, because doing this involves a lot of stages, and it is better to make these as a group. Whatever works, it's not like I don't have too much time right now, but as I have always said, this art takes time.

Oh, I saw Kinky Boots, the Musical, when it was in Chicago, before it was taken to New York. I decided to buy a mug, because I'm into coffee a lot. As I walked out of the theater, I saw a friend holding a mug as well. I thought it was funny. I don't know if you noticed, but the design is on the other side - it's a left-handed mug. I'm left-handed.

Speaking of hands, I must let you know that my hands aren't equal. I don't hide the fact that one of my hands presses more than the other. This results in an unbalanced face, usually the left side of my doll's faces are have deeper recesses, because my right thumb presses harder than the left thumb, while sculpting a face.

Speaking of other defects. I have eye problems and I'm not getting any younger. Last year I was diagnosed with retinal scarring. I used to always see something like a ball of light floating around the periphery of my vision, on both the left and right eyes. My neighbor told me it might be too much diet soda, so I stopped drinking diet soda, and the ball of light has become less frequent. You can get blind from retinal scarring, so go to an optician and get your eyes dilated and examined once in a while, if you're seeing balls of light floating about. Those are not alien beings and you're not psychic, you might have retinal scarring, like me. But think twice before getting laser treatment.

I hope you like my work. Feel free to use my pictures as long as it's noncommercial.

Group Photos of the Valentino Zubiri Dolls

Sorry, it just occurred to me that the headlines are indexed by Google. So I'm including my name as if I were a third person. lol. "Valentino Zubiri Dolls." I might change the headings to add at least my last name.

Here are group pics. of my work.

I prefer to make the dolls as part of a set, but you can get one or two for yourself. Or, you can get a group going and you can do a group buy. I will discount it that way.

The problem with making this is time. For example, use of the kiln. Each doll uses the kiln several times and at different temperatures. Once the porcelain dries, it goes to the kiln for the first time at what is called a "bisque firing." It's that stage where the mud solidifies and forms permanently, but the ceramic is still porous, much like a flower pot, where you see that water can be absorbed by the pot, but the pot would not lose its shape and revert back to mud. The ceramic is brittle, and this is the ideal stage to sand the pieces.

Then there is the higher temperature, "glaze fired stage," which I call the "glass-forming" stage. The ceramic melts and this is when it shrinks and becomes glass-like.

I call the kiln "The Little Volcano," because of the temperature they reach. Anyway, after "finalizing" at the glaze fired stage, painting the makeup or the "faceup" comes into the picture, and although the temperature is brought back down to that where the pigments stick to the porcelain, this stage requires a few firings, especially the face. This is also when I paint on the fingernails and toenails. The face needs several firings to get the look of the eyes and makeup right.

Each firing needs about 13 hours or up to a full day, for the kiln to rise and then climb back down. You cannot rush the cooling. You cannot speed up the cooling stage by opening the kiln. The pieces can shatter.

So it would be better for a group buy. Like I said, I don't want people to receive the same face, so I either have to have them already available or not. It's all dependent on what we will agree upon. Just email me and we'll work something out.