I have this habit of customizing pretty much everything. I can’t stand a blank canvas, and I get even more excited to customize something FUNCTIONAL. So when I got a new pair of SCABS kneepads, they were not only awesome for my knees during falls (since an injury was jacking them up), with their white kneecaps, they were just begging do be doodled on….so I grabbed my trusty Sharpie markers and got to work.
Now this is one of those projects you do just for fun, because if you know anything about derby, you know those things are gonna get CREAMED. Point in fact: Here’s a picture of them in action:
And this is a pic of my newly customized kneepads after just one bout:
But you know, those doodles were fun while they lasted, and why not? I love to see people customize the things they own. To not accept them straight out of the box, to get creative and funky with them, even if it’s for a short time. What can YOU customize today?
I know I do a lot of posts about derby, but this one is pretty crafty, too…
With just a little tweaking and customizing, I can do a lot with a single pattern. I’ve bought a lot of patterns from MMMCrafts on Etsy, and the one I’ve had the most fun with is this Little Red pattern. I’ve never actually made Little Red, but I used the same doll pattern to make a sweet Princess Leia doll for my Star Wars-lovin’ daughter (separate Chewie found here, by the way).
But when my very good “derby wife,” Sunny (also the early founder of my derby team, NPBT), was moving out of state, I wanted to make her something cool & quirky & special.
Since she has short hair, I just left off the ponytails. I handpainted our team logo on her “shirt,” but I’ve done similar things where you can use iron-on transfers with computer paper and just iron on a logo.
Since our colors were red, white & green, I made the bottom half a different color to look like derby shorts. She has several tattoos, but I added several more to decorate her arms all up. I used acrylic paint for her face and tattoos, which (if you’ve ever gotten it on your clothes by accident you know) stays on fabric really well.
I put her number & name on back, made cute little wheels out of buttons and paint, and painted on the kneepads and wrist guards. The high socks are just a strip of fabric instead of doing one solid piece for the leg, as the pattern said.
I liked it so much, I had to make one for myself! Uh…I mean, for my daughter.
If I had a long, long time to spare, I’d maybe consider doing custom orders, but they sure do take awhile, and I might have to charge a bit for them. For now, give it a try it for yourself! It doesn’t even have to be derby-related. I think it’d be COOL to have a doll that looks like your friends or family….
(Let me put it out there that if you don’t have prior training in the art of tattooing, I would suggest to NOT try this at home. Go to a professional. They are paid BECAUSE of their experience, and a good artist is DEFINITELY worth it. I have some prior training, professional experience & equipment, and I STILL don’t always know what I’m doing.)
I wanted a derby tattoo. Not one that had allegiance to any certain team, but one that just represented a love for the sport and what it did for me. I joined derby in Alaska a few months before my husband’s deployment and it was a good distraction from the stresses and worries of life and a 2-year old. I worry about EVERYTHING, but once you get to practice, you pretty much have to leave it at the door and focus on your drills. I loved it, and put a lot of time, energy, and creative effort into it. So I wanted something to sort of mark that time. I found an old black & white retro photo of a girl skating with a pillow on her butt, which I found hilarious, because she’s all-out jumping at the same time. This is sort of my personality, too. And to top it off, the little girl in the pic had curly hair like my daughter. Taking time for myself away from my daughter, even for something I was passionate about, was very difficult for me, but I think it made the deployment a little softer a blow (we all know the key to a deployment is distraction, distraction, distraction)…
I made a couple of modifications to the original photo. First, I was initially hesitant to add my derby number, but it’s a number I associate with my husband, so I decided it was safe. He had always been so super supportive from the minute I joined.
Second, the girl in the original pic had old-school strap-on-your-shoes roller skates. I traded them out for a portrait of my favorite pair of skates…Reidell Minx 965s with Sure-Grip Avenger 45 degree angled plates. I’m cheap when it comes to clothes, and I’m not one for designer bags, so this was a BIG purchase for me. But, lemme tell you, those boots were MADE for flat-footed folks like myself and they were HEAVENLY. And the Avenger plates were like skating on butter. I LOVE them. They were so sweet & sassy, I called them my “Darth Skaters.” My Caddilacs. I have leather toecaps on the ends with cute little red skulls, so I added those, too.
As for the tattooing itself…..well, it could’ve been better. Tattoo artists have warned about tattooing yourself; you’ll be overly critical, you’ll obsess about it. As your work improves, you’ll regret your earlier work. But I thought if I was willing to tattoo on someone else, I should trust myself to tattoo myself.
Turns out the tattoo artists are right, in a way. The lines were QUITE wobbly because I was SOOO nervous about how it would turn out. There is a technique for artists where you draw something from a reference upside down, so it loses its preconceived shapes and becomes just the shading & shapes that you need to translate to your work. I have never been good at this technique, and despite my practicing drawing it several times, I wasn’t crazy with how it turned out. The face, more specifically. Looking back now, it’s such a smaller tattoo that the details (or lack thereof) of the face don’t matter much, but I was REALLY down about it at first. I thought I had butchered it.
All in all, though, I am pretty happy with the final piece! It means what I wanted it to mean, and I don’t think it turned out TOO bad for tattooing it upside down on my own leg.