Bird Nests and Trust

When our daughter was a baby, she had a lovely little mess of curls on top of her head that I lovingly referred to as her bird’s nest.  I drew pictures of it.  I made photo collages of it (complete with little mockingbird!).

baby nest

So last week I was browsing the Monster/EverAfter High section of a store (like adults do), and I came across the most wonderful thing that made me instantly smile:  An Ever After High doll named “Featherly,” complete with curly hair and a little BIRD NEST.


As I mentioned, I’ve been randomly addicted to customizing dolls lately, and set about repainting her immediately.  I wanted her to look a little more like a little girl.  A little more like Myla.  Not in a weird voodoo-doll “I want you to be my pretty little doll and never grow up” way, but just in a simply innocently weird, “I want to make a doll that looks like my kid” way.  (Hey, it’s not THAT weird.  Girls get those American Girl dolls and dress like them, right??)

So here she is all repainted and pretty…  I’ve still got a little learning to do with customizing dolls, but I’m having fun, and the rest will come with practice.

nest four

My technique’s a little more scratchy and sketchy than people who do this professionally, but it feels good to see a new little look shining through.nest two.jpg

I even redrew some of her drawings onto the doll’s legs, like little doodle-tattoos.

NEST with tattoos.jpgMyla’s seen me do some customizations lately, and asked if she could give it a try.  So once , when she had a chance to choose a toy, she chose a Monster High Boo-tique kit.   She’s not at all interested in clothing, but the kit inspired her, and she asked if she could draw on the actual doll instead.


Now, Myla is a kid who hears “no” a lot.  We give her discipline.  She has rules.  But sometimes, when you can allow it, a simple yes can make a kid shine.

Awhile later, she showed me her masterpiece…


Okay, I know what you’re thinking–quite terrifying, right?  The thing is, she made it her own, and it made her so happy.  And it didn’t take a lot on my part.  In this case, saying “yes” told her “I believe that you can do it.”  And no matter what it looks like, she OWNED it.  As wonky as it was, she was pretty proud of her.   “I messed up on the eyes,” she said, “and I was frustrated, until I just cut some new ones out of paper.”    She markered her hair.  She drew a snake tongue on her mouth.  Her name is Alia, and she’s an alien (of course).

What did it cost me?  A doll.  Fifteen dollars for a chunk of confidence?  I’ll take it.

One of the things I learned from collaborating with her when she was four was that if you loosen the chains of thinking things should be “just so,” that magical things can happen.  As I said in that post so long ago, “Those things you hold so dear cannot change and grow and expand unless you loosen your grip on them a little.”  And the best part is that the confidence she’ll get from me trusting her is worth way more than the sanctity of any doll.



11 responses

  1. Aw! Love both of the dolls! Lovely work.

  2. I think you both did a wonderful job with customising the dolls. I think your version would be far more appealing to the average little girl than the original. She looks more relatable while still retaining the fantasy, make believe element. I wholeheartedly agree with you about letting kids have free rein in order to grow their confidence and self-esteem. My youngest son (6) recently got one of those blank vinyl figures that can be customised. Whereas my oldest son (12) had one and ended up asking me to customise it for him, the youngest just let loose and did his own thing. It was incredibly messy but he had fun and he loves it and that is all the matters.

    1. Thank you! Yep Myla loves those custom blanks, and the off-brand ones are pretty inexpensive. I always think she’ll do more, but a quick scribble of color and she’s done! She’s always enjoyed making things from scratch rather than just coloring. Wherever their imaginations take them, huh? 🙂

  3. I love that she shifted tactics when she got frustrated, and went with the taped on eyes… Pretty clever!

  4. Love your repainted doll!

  5. Y’all are awesome!

  6. This is great idea! It reminded me of a very happy memory. A very long time ago, when I was in art school, my step-daughter wanted a Barbie doll for Christmas. I learned that she was getting one from one of her aunts but she’d never be allowed to play with it, since it must retain it’s value by staying in the package. We discussed this in art class and came up with a brilliantly evil idea. I bought a doc, Barbie’s little sister -I think it was called My First Barbie. In class we carefully removed it from the box and then made new clothes, added punk makeup and basically turned her into My first Cindy Lauper doll. Then, we repackaged her, using all our skills to make it look like it had never been opened. I later learned it was the only Barbie she was allowed to open and play with –since it apparently was worthless. It’s been a million years since 1978 but I still smile thinking of that doll.

    1. Oh that’s absolutely genius. Haha!

  7. Both are amazing! I think you’re both very artistic!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: