Doll talk...

Don't mind me, just talking about dolls... 

Quick show of my newest addition: 21cm Volks guy from someone on the forum! Kid's trying his darndest to look cool while hiding his faceup-lessness under a cute kitty hat ("Ladies..."). Also he wears that Daiso yukata a bit better that Lottie I think? Those shoes were the only ones that fit. 

I suddenly got an email from One World Doll Company today (the makers of Prettie Girls), thanking me (no name) for signing up for their newsletter. Huh?? It's weird because I may actually have registered on their site, but that was several months ago... On the other hand, this might mean they expect to have some news soon - maybe the other planned dolls will finally enter production? (I still want a Lena, but as usual the intl. shipping costs are making me prioritize other dolls.) 

Speaking of that, the price on the Hunter and Ashlynn pack dropped just as I finally had money again. (Seriously, I didn't realize Amazon's prices were like some kind of stock market!) That's the good news. The bad news is Amazon UK apparently stopped offering free shipping to Sweden and a bunch of other countries in April. How did I manage to miss that?! I seem to recall reading about Amazon planning to open up a local site, so I guess it has something to do with that. 

Oh well, even with shipping it still works out to a pretty good price, plus I threw in that Barbie Style (Glam? Luxe?) Teresa with the polkadot jacket I've been wanting. I don't know why, but I really like that jacket. Maybe because I own a similar one that I bought second hand 10 years ago - slightly too small, so I've never been able to wear it. :( (That's a pretty good rule of thumb: Don't buy clothes that don't fit. You'd think it was obvious, right?) 

Speaking of buying and patterns, yesterday I bought a cheap 3-pack of the biggest granny knickers I could find. They're great, huge and with a teeny tiny flower print on them - they're for the dolls, you see, I'm not wearing them. (Alright, I might, if it's laundry day and it's all I can find. Underwear is underwear. The dolls get the first go, though. It's amazing we can share clothes really, you'd never think so by looking at us!)

Also bought pure acetone to see if that works better for removing the factory facepaint from dolls. I'm making the other thrifted Bratz my guinea pig, then maybe the CAM harpy: the trick for a successful practice repaint seems to be using a head you like enough to do your best, but not so much that you don't dare risking to mess up. 

Until then I'm giving the 1/6 Steffi Love head another go, even though her concave, unmolded "eyes" are bothering me a bit. Also I'm running into this weird problem where my thinnest brush simply refuses to deposit any paint, instead the tip just glides over the surface, unless I press down and get a much wider line than I wanted. Incredibly annoying! I'm not sure whether the problem lies with the paint, the brush or the surface. Low quality brush hair or greasy fingerprints are my prime suspects, though.

Blogger's reading list is now only showing the last day's posts from blogs I'm following, unless you click the "Show more" button at the bottom - which doesn't do anything because Blogger and my mobile don't play nice together, no matter what browser I use. Sigh. 


Sugar scrub for greasy hair, repaint finally finished!

Today I gave the Headless Headmistress' sticky hair another go with the sugar scrub (as suggested by BlackKitty) and it does seem to have helped a bit. I tried it once last week or so and didn't feel much difference, but persistance pays off: after a couple more rounds the hair feels a lot less sticky. The bangs need a bit more work since they were a bit tricky to get at. I'll do them again tomorrow - or I guess I could just wait until the glue inevitably starts seeping out again and I have to do the whole thing over again anyway...

Anyway, while the last word hasn't been said on Mattel's glue problem at least this particular doll seems relatively ok for now. I'm a bit relieved, actually - I liked her and her hair, and having a doll sitting around without her head isn't much fun. Yeah, I know she's a headless horse(wo)man, I guess I'm just used to it being the other way around: heads everywhere but no bodies to put them on. 

While she came with a strict, gelled down bun, I much prefer her hair like this. 

Braz tops = crop tops, Bratz Boyz pants = highwaters with a dangerously low waist. If they still look ok, Bloodgood (and Nefera) can wear them, with varying degrees of success.  

...aaaaand I actually finished my first proper repaint! Woohoo!

There's a bunch of little mistakes and the lips in particular are overworked, but if I had continued I would just have messed it up even worse. Art is knowing when to quit, you know? I feel like I learned a lot on this one - for example, working on a head with molded eyes and eyelids is SO much easier than the Bratz sculpt. As a beginner I think I'll stick to more detailed sculpts for now 

I always intended to wipe it and start over, particularly since I messed up the base layer of sealer by putting it on while the vinyl was damp, but it's nice to have a physical reminder of what I've learned so far, so for now she gets to stay. The sealer has cracked a bit at the edges in places, but... we'll see how long it lasts, I guess? An experiment!! *evil cackle* *thundercrack*

Speaking of experiments, it's also a chance to see how the brush-on sealer (Liquitex matte varnish) works as a top coat. I know it smudges watercolor pencils (and dry pastels obviously), but the blushing I did with almost-dry acrylic paint seems ok, so that's good news. 

It's not quite as matte as I would have liked, so the face looks slightly shiny, and it's impossible to avoid leaving brush strokes, but neither of those things bothers me as much as it did at first. It's also not completely transparent - I think that's why it makes the eyes look a bit dull, so I'll get some gloss varnish and put a final layer on just the eyes (most repainters seem to do that).


Dolll talk...

Don't mind me, I'm just thinking out loud about dolls.

Amazon.co.uk has a sale on some MH and EAH dolls, but of course none of the ones I want. Maaaaybe a Clawdia - I like big sister characters, and she has the best toothy grin - but I'd still have to find something else to get at the same time to qualify for free shipping. And of course the Ashlynn & Hunter set has gone up instead... I think I'll just wait for Cedar Wood. 

And then I'll have to decide how to handle the inevitable glue seepage: ignore (aka never wash the hair), reroot, or experiment with various removal methods? That's right Mattel, these are the things I plan beforehand when buying your dolls! Hope you're happy! (Well, they should be since I keep giving them my money... the sad truth is I just really want a Cedar Wood.)

A tip: camelcamelcamel.com is pretty useful for keeping track of Amazon's price fluctuations (if the neverending newsletters aren't enough). It seems to be correct as far as I've checked. There are a few localized versions, and I think you can register to get alerts. 
It's not much good when you're broke, of course - at the moment all I can do is stare angrily at that dip in the price graph back in April when Ashlynn & Hunter were at their cheapest and I passed them up... oh well. 

I don't like how EVERYTHING has to be pink, but sometimes it works.

My last trip to the thrift store yielded two Stacy dolls (two Stacies?). Barbie's barely-articulated little sisters aren't my cup of tea at all, the only reason I got them is they both had really cute shoes. Unfortunately they're too small for Lottie and my other kid dolls, so now I think I might keep one Stacy around just to wear the shoes... until a more interesting doll with the same shoe size comes along, that is. 

Both Steffi Love's little sister Evi (middle) and Barbie's Li'l Friend (right) have too wide feet. 

more repaint practice

Once every few months I remember I need to actually practice if I'm going to get better at repainting dolls. I've dug up a MyScene head to use as a practice head - it's amazing how much easier it gets when you actually like the sculpt you're painting! The Bratz head had the advantage of being big, but that was it. I never actually wanted to repaint a Bratz doll, but it didn't really occur to me that working on a face mold you hate would make it harder to find motivation for practicing... 

Still only got brush-on sealer, still no idea what I'm doing. I'm trying to get the hang of blushing using paint on a practically dry brush. I keep underestimating exactly how dry the brush has to be (answer: VERY dry) but I'm getting better at it. This time tried using cold greens and blues under eyes, but particularly around and below the mouth, to create more lifelike color variations in the skin. 

There's also about 10 other unrelated things I've tried to do at the same time on that face. It's still not so much a coherent face-up as it is a sketchbook, but I think that's how I need to work at this point. (I accidentally put on sealer when the head was still wet and it craked along the left cheek, so I don't feel bad making mistakes since I know  I'll have to wipe this either way.) 

I took a few other pics, they're on my flickr. Be warned: it's just the same face at the same stage of painting but from different angles).


Jun Shinbuki and Takara's Least Wanted

ETA: Took a couple of closeups

Yesterday D7ana asked me about my Jun Shibuki doll I used as a shoe model in the last post. I actually bought her over a year ago and never got around to introducing her, but it just so happens I had a post about her in the works.

The real Jun Shibuki is a star of the Takarazuka Revue, the Japanese theatre company where all the roles are played by women. She's one of the actresses specializing in playing men, and (if I remember my research properly) when she retired a few years ago Takara - the company that makes Jenny; no relation! - made a series of dolls depicting her most famous roles. This was the least collectable of them, I guess - the play takes place in present day, so no fancy period costume - which is probably why I've seen it for sale several times. I'm not a Takarazuka fan, but celebrity doll = unique facemold (or at least a realistic one), plus I could tell from the pictures she had some articulation. As I may have mentioned, those are the two main things I look for in a doll. 

My pics of her in the box disappeared in a disk crash and I can't find any online at the moment. She has the Super Action Jenny body, which is pretty ok but not great; the hinged wrists being the main drawback imo. (You can find pictures of it at the dollplanet.ru link above.) Good to have one available for reference, though. I don't know if you can tell from the photos below, but she's wearing stage makeup which I guess is intended to masculinize her features a bit (she also has stars in her eyes which I assume is artistic licence). For some reason I quite like her short-ish hairdo. 

In my doll universe she's (quite fittingly) a retired entertainer and the mother of Anneliese (aka Jenny friend Lisa) who completely failed to live up to her mother's expectations of a showbiz career and instead ended up as ...some kind of PA or secretary or maybe telemarketer? I'm not sure, but her mother is quite disappointed (even if she appreciates her administrational skills). 

The interesting thing about Lisa is she's apparently the least popular Jenny friend doll ever. Seriously: every single google hit is someone talking about how ugly she is. I really don't agree: maybe it's because I'm not really a fan of the more cartoony cuteness of most Jenny dolls, but to me her "ugliness" looks more like realism. Plus most photos of her seem almost deliberately taken to bring out her bad features - compare with the picture of her in this guide to Jenny face molds: http://forum.dollplanet.ru/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=37600# (in Russian but names are in English, scroll down about halfway). Honestly - "ugly"?

Well, more for me then! :) I don't think Lisa has seen that many releases, but the one I got is a simple bathing suit version from Jenny's 25th anniversary. Since she didn't come with much of an outfit, I've been trying to find one separately that fits her story. For a few months now she's been wearing a Jenny office lady outfit, but then I found this Takarazuka school uniform (from the music school that provides the revue with talent) - perfect! 

The outfit apparently originally comes from a special Jenny edition. The Internet tells me there should be a hat as well, and possibly a completely different kind of shoes (these are just a random pair that sort of fit), but I'm not that picky about authenticity. The collar's a bit worse for wear so I might trim it a little bit. 

Anneliese graduated bottom of her year! Her mother was not pleased! Dramatic backstory acquired! 

Instead of digging up Jun's original outfit, I put her in the pinstripe suit that was part of the Jenny office lady fashion pack. The jacket is actually pinned down around her arm, or it would stick straight out in a most unrealistic way. I don't know why she's wearing her stage makeup in private, though. Force of habit?

Anneliese poses with another great find: 1/6 violin case! The violin that goes with it isn't quite as good as some Barbie ones, but I love the realism of a proper case and I've wanted one for the longest time. Along with 1/6 art supplies, violins are my favorite doll props. (Pay no attention to that oddly angled wrist!)

(Jun and the violin case came from Mandarake.co.jp a Japanese webshop which seems to be pretty good for used Jenny dolls. Ordering is a little bit complicated, mainly since all their stuff is also available for sale in their physical stores and sometimes gets sold before they have time to process your order. On the other hand they package their goods really well. The Takarazuka uniform came from FoundinJapan.com which I found just recently. They seem to have mostly older Licca dolls, which isn't really my thing, but there's lots of other stuff too.) 

Obligatory posing without context!


10 002 hits later, Darren finally gets his sweater

Blogger tells me I've reached 10 000 pageviews - 10 002 to be exact. To be fair, a good third of those are probably just me checking that the html isn't borked, but I stilI feel this is occasion to celebrate - with a few more blurry photos! Hooray!!

IKEA girl 2
I made Lottie a pair of pants while I was at it. She fit right in with the IKEA furniture. And of course the surplus dye gave her a few faint pink stains, not too bad but still annoying. 

So I made her a pair of white socks instead. No proper hem at the top yet because I'm lazy. I'm amazed they fit in the shoes (they're from same cheap white t-shirt I used for her top). 

You'd be frowning too if you were wearing that. 

Remember Darren, the Triad Omega guy? Remember his sweater that I started about, oh, 18 months ago? Well, yesterday I was on a roll and decided to finally finish it. Still not entirely happy with how the v-neck turned out, and I'm not sure why I made it quite so big. I must have learned something from all the doll clothes I've sewn since, though: those final seems were a lot easier than I remember the rest of it was! Progress: hard to see, but probably happening anyway. 

V-neck: a bit lumpy, but finished

Also, the Momoko boots I ordered arrived yesterday. They're not the legendary Doc Martens, but still a really nice pair of doll shoes. I read somewhere Momoko dolls have big feet, so I thought the shoes might fit the Simba Super Model girls. A pair of heels might have been trickier, but the boots fit perfectly. 

left: Jun Shibuki (uses a SAJ body by Takara) wearing those blue OHC boots, right: Super Model Miri wearing the Momoko boots. 

I like the realistic design of these boots, and I'd like to get more for the "bigfoot girls" if I can find them at a good price (these were used from Mandarake.co.jp). 

One thing I'm a bit worried about is the split in the back doesn't end in a round punched hole like it should, it's just sort of printed in the plastic. I should do something about that, but I'm not sure I could make a perfect circle with a hobby knife. A heated needle, maybe? 


Sewing for Lottie, OHC sale

What I usually do at the beginning of each month is, a: stock up on toilet paper and rice, and b: go through my dollieh wish list and check if anything's on sale, or about to be discontinued, or if maybe something I've wanted for a long time just happens to be on ebay that week. While my wishlist is practically endless my funds aren't, but having to choose between buying Cool Thing A or Cool Thing B is hardly the worst problem you could have in this world. :)

There's finally a sale on Only Hearts Club at one of the few shops that still carry them. Still not super cheap, but the alternative is paying ridiculous money for shipping, so... I got two clothes sets, the pink party dress and one of the riding outfits. 

Unfortunately the shoes didn't fit the dolls I had in mind: the rubbery pink party slippers do fit obitsu, but they're rather wide and clumsy-looking. The low riding boots (shoes? I'm unfamiliar with the terminology here) look really nice but were really tight even after I'd extended the slit in the back all the way up. 

The most annoying thing is they were sewn to the packaging, so there are two holes in on one side, and of course one had to be placed just where the wider doll feet put extra stress on the material... Since I don't want the plastic to split the Super Model girls and their notoriously wide feet will have to do without riding boots. I might go back and get one of the sets with sneakers, we'll see. 

On the other hand, the pants from the riding set fit Fashionista and Super Model really well (although a bit shorter of course), and the pink party tights were aaaalmost the right size for Howleen (a bit too short, but you can't tell under the skirt). My dolls hardly have any tights, and I haven't had the courage to try and sew any, so that's a plus in my book at least.

There should have been pictures but I got lazy, sorry! Here's what I've been working on instead today: 

Lottie's new clothes!

I found a bunch of fabric samples I forgot I had, and those little strips were just big enough for a skirt for Lottie. Not big enough for a pleated skirt, but I wanted to try something simple (and there's always the big sample bit if I decide to make something more complicated later). 

I thought I'd make something similar to those Licca clone clothing sets by Daiso I've seen. Out of curiosity I ordered a couple from a place that sells them at a reasonable price (www.foundinjapan.com) but they haven't arrived yet and Lottie was getting cold, so I decided to make my own school uniform inspired outfit.

(Dollar store doll clothes are actually great for sewing inspiration: they can be low quality, lopsided with wonky seams, but still look pretty good as a whole. For someone prone to perfectionism it's a much needed reminder not to get too caught up in details.)

Not so sure about that snap, but I didn't have anything smaller. 

I didn't have any plain white cotton fabric that was thin enough for a shirt, so Lottie gets some kind of t-shirt/blouse thing instead (made from a human sized dollar store t-shirt). Something I'm really proud of here is how the sleeves came out, even though it took a couple of tries to get them to cooperate. 
To make it more school uniform-like I thought of adding a collar and some kind of decoration (bowtie?) but I'm not sure if the fabric is too bulky for that. We'll see. 

What I'm not so proud of is the skirt, partiularly the waistline. That's what happens when you just wing it. But hey, I have fabric to make a different skirt for each day of the week, sooner or later I'll get it right. In the meantime, the top covers the mistakes. :)

Lottie's only shoes are the beige and pink gumboots she came with, but I found that these Obitsu mary janes will work in a pinch.