I’ve had my daughter come up with doll ideas in the past that have been fairly complicated, and required a great deal of my attention. But a few days ago, in an attempt to keep her occupied in something creative (rather than vegging out on her Ipad), I suggested she DRAW her own simple pillow-dolls.
“I can DO that?!?” She questioned. Of course! And the best part is, it takes minimal mom-effort. 🙂
I started with a bolt of inexpensive off-white muslin fabric I had. I have no recollection of how I obtained this fabric (I think my mom once sent it to me), but it’s been around a long, long, time, and I use it for EVERYTHING.
I grabbed our bag of permanent markers, and told her she could draw away, keeping in mind that it had to have a seam around it, preferably simpler than the drawing, to make sewing easier and more sturdy.
Once she did that, I took her to the sewing machine, where I had her help guide the fabric (she’s still learning to use it herself), and with the fabric doubled over, we just stitched all around the outline, leaving a gap on the leg to stuff it.
I figured this would be much easier than dealing with flipping a doll inside out, as you do with more detailed works, and this was VERY exciting to her. We cut out the doll around the stitching (see the gap in her leg? That’s where we stuff), stuffed her, and then completed the stitching with the machine.
She was SO excited! You’d think we’d never made dolls before. “Why didn’t you ever TELL me we could do this??” she asked excitedly. I reminded her that I had tried to get her to do this MANY TIMES over the years, but she always had WAY more complicated things in mind. Anyway, apparently times had changed, and she was enthralled, immediately sitting down to draw more.
And they were lovely! She said she wanted to call them “SweetKitties,” and asked if she could put them up for sale in my Etsy shop for $5 each. I had intended to offer them here, but surprisingly, they sold out within an hour of posting them!
I am so grateful to have so many sweet and generous people that read our blog pages and social media supporting our art, and I’m grateful for each and every one of you reading these words right now. Her excitement that someone actually bought her SweetKitty dolls was thrilling. She helped me package them up, even making little “adoption cards” for each of them (like I do with my Dream Creepers).
Someone suggested she should put catnip in them so their cats could carry them around, but she worried that a cat would tear them up. She says she’ll make more (because people so kindly asked if she would), but as kids don’t always have the attention span for dedicated business, we’ll see how it goes!
In any case, it was heartwarming to see so many people be so encouraging and supportive towards and 8-year old kid. I had initially made this post to share the simplicity of making fun & easy dolls with kids, but it really truly was endearing.
In any case, if you don’t sew, you could always do what our stuffed animal-loving kid did before this most recent project: make the front and backs out of regular ol’ paper, stuff them with wadded up scrap paper (or toilet paper) and tape all around the edges. BOOM–instant doll!
So make something fun, and easy, and get those kids CREATING!
I’m a Grownup. I have a job. I’m a mom. I’m all responsible and stuff.
So why do I keep buying toys?? Because I’ve been repainting them. And that automatically turns it into an “art project,” right?? Some people even make these repaints into a business. I’m not really good enough to be in that league, though–I just do it for myself, for fun.
I’m not going to play with these dolls (which the 7-year old doesn’t quite understand). I just like looking at them. I stick them on a shelf when I’m done, and they make me smile. It’s similar to the little twinge of heartbreak I feel when I happily build a lego kit and it gets destroyed once the kid starts playing. I have to fight the urge to Kragle lego kits with superglue because I realize I am secretly neurotic.
So here’s one of my “grownup” art projects: repainting a Monster High doll!
Ages ago, when I played roller derby, these little roller derby Monster High dolls came out, and they were SO cool. But I talked myself out of them, because I was a Grownup. I have trouble justifying buying things for myself that don’t serve a purpose. I admire when people can collect things just for the fun of it, but I seem to have trouble with it sometimes….
So when I was telling my daughter about them, she asked to see photos. I showed her my favorite: Lagoona Blue, who came with finned roller skates and a helmet with an awesome fin on it.
I told her how I had always wanted one, and she said, “you should just go ahead and get one, mom. If it makes you happy, you should just DO it!” …which is easy for a kid to say, but since this is pretty much the same advice my husband gives me, I decided that after 6 years or so, I was just going to go ahead and get her.
And since I’m a grownup, I justified to myself that if I repainted her, she’d at least have a purpose: she’d be an Art Project. (Don’t ask me why I always feel the need to justify these things to myself.)
When she arrived, I wiped her face off with acetone (nail polish remover), and started painting her in acrylics.
Once the paint is dried, I sprayed her with Testors spray, and gloss varnished her eyes and lips to add some shine.
And here she is. And she may not be such a big deal, and she may not bring about world peace, and she may serve no other purpose than to sit on a shelf with my other dolls and look cool, but she makes me smile. And I guess that’s okay.
At age 42, I’m trying to get used to the idea that there’s validity in things not having a major purpose–other than just simple enjoyment. It’s a “stop and smell the roses” sort of thing. It’s an “enjoy the little things” kind of thing. And with all the things in the world, why not have a bit of that–ESPECIALLY as a Grownup?
So enjoy the little things today, grownup or not! Look around for the simple things that just make you smile, and enjoy them, just because you can…
The other day, I was in a crafty mood, and felt like doing a project with Myla. I pushed all my “to do” things and other commitments I’ve been putting off, and asked her if she wanted to make a doll.
She ALWAYS wants to make a doll. “There’s a creature I’ve been thinking about,” she said excitedly. “I think it would make a great doll!” She grabbed her markers and started drawing it out.
When I do projects like this, I like to let her feel like she’s a big part of making it. We went to the craft room, and picked out some fabric from my stash. Apparently, this creature is a sort of cat-like mossy dragon, so we found some mossy-looking fabric that fit perfectly. I let her decide what fabric would work best. She gave me details on how it should look–long tail, webbed feet, spiky hair…
I sat her on my lap and had her help a little with the beginning. She’s still a little needle-shy, but I showed her how to guide the fabric without pushing it. After awhile, it’s easier to finish it up myself, so she bounced off to another paper project while I finished up the sewing.
Later, when the body was done, I asked her to draw the eyes on with a pen the way she wanted, so I could paint them.
And finally, the little mossy cat-dragon was done! I’m no master sewer by any means, and my dolls are ALWAYS quite wonky, but the best part is that she doesn’t care, because we made it together and she designed it herself.
I always ask her what she thinks when it’s done, and she always says she loves them so much. Once, she said “when we make dolls, it doesn’t always turn out exactly like I thought in my drawing….but it always turns out so much BETTER.”
I noticed she uses dolls as an icebreaker with other kids at the child care room at the gym, and sort of walks up to kids and just starts playing dolls with them. Sure, they ask what the heck it is, but when she tells them, I think they sort of dig it. I brought it to visit her at school lunch the other day, and made it move around like a puppet and play, and had the kids (who had at first looked at me like I was odd…which I am, btw) cracking up and laughing at the silly antics of her little mossy doll.
So wonky or not, it took me about an hour and a half to make something that she could make connections with. In just a short amount of time, we made something she could proudly tell people she designed…and that little feeling of pride glows on her face when she talks to other kids. Which makes ME smile. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
While I was browsing the grocery store toy aisle the other day, I came across something that made me gasp out loud. A Wonder Woman Barbie! I’m not really a big fan of Barbies, but this was something I had to splurge on, because I am a responsible adult, and sometimes you just need a really awesome Wonder Woman doll in your life.
I’ve had a love of Wonder Woman for awhile, shared mostly between me and my roller derby friend–we even used to wear matching WW derby shorts! (Here’s me on the right as Captain Wonderpants, and her wearing our team shirt–from North Pole, Alaska.)
So back to the doll…Since I couldn’t just leave her with a factory paint, I was thrilled to learn of the amazing custom repaints people do online! I’m nowhere near that level of detail and professionalism, but I always love the idea of painting everything and making it my own.
The first step: taking off the factory face paint. This can be done easily with acetone-based nail polish remover and a washcloth. I used a little tiny paintbrush to get the hard-to-reach places in her eyes and mouth.
I printed some photos of the new Wonder Woman actress, Gal Gadot, to look at as reference, but I didn’t really follow them too closely. And I wanted her eyes staring to the side, instead of just straight ahead. I used acrylic paint, and started out with a soft dark pinkish color to find the shapes I wanted, remembering that if I absolutely hated it, I could always wipe it away with the acetone.
There were several moments I did actually consider wiping her away completely–it’s so difficult to paint a three-dimensional figure that small! But I kept working with it wiping small areas here and there and starting over again, and finally got it where I liked it. I’ve read that most of the pro doll painters use chalks and blushes, but I sort of enjoyed the painted look for some of the shading, and since it’s mine and I’m the boss of it, that’s what I did.
I also added quite a lot of shading and highlight detail on her headpiece and uniform to make it pop out more, and not look so plasticky.
And lastly, I decided she needed a chest tattoo of a big ol’ eagle because Wonder Woman is awesome like that. I might fill her up with more. In fact I’m pretty sure I will…those legs look a little bare for my taste. 🙂 And I debated on it with myself a bit, but finally decided she needed a few freckles, because…why not? And to finish her up, I gave her a good spray-down with Testors varnish, which works well on dolls, and dries to a matte finish.
And there she is! Someone on Instagram already commented that they didn’t like her eyebrows, but since I didn’t really ask for her opinion and I didn’t paint it for her, I don’t care. I like how she turned out.
She’s really mine now, and she’ll protect our house as well as a Barbie-sized Wonder Woman can, maybe on the fireplace mantle.
Have you ever had to have a kid doll, and made it your own somehow? I’m pretty positive I’m not the only one (I’ve got my eye on some Dark Crystal and Labyrinth Funko toys, too)…. So have fun and have a WONDERful day!
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!).
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.
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.
I even redrew some of her drawings onto the doll’s legs, like little doodle-tattoos.
Myla’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.
It’s been awhile since I posted about playing with dolls…
Back then, I was customizing a Blythe and some Monster High dolls, along with “tattooing” some blank bodies that my friend Aletta (from theFoxyToyBox) let me play with.
(So I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared all the doll customs I played around with. I feel like I’ve shared them before, but a rudimentary search shows only my initial post. Considering I’ve been doing this blog a few years now, I don’t THINK I’m repeating…I try REEALLY hard not to repeat. (But if I do, in fact, repeat, please just consider it an old friend coming to say hello again…)…)
Awhile back, my friend Aletta sent these old used dolls for me to play with, and I took the opportunity to repaint them using all the skillful skills I learned from the magical world of Pinterest.
If you want to paint on Monster High dolls, trust me–I’m not the best one to learn from, because there are people who are WAY better pro at it than me. But I wiped off their paint with nail polish remover (I describe my wonky process here), painted in acrylics, and sealed with with Testors spray varnish to protect the plastic without leaving it sticky. And OMGosh they were so much fun.
I got little wigs in Etsy shops, because I am weird like that. And because they’re GORGEOUS. You pretty much just cut off their store-hair and glue on the lovely wigs, and BOOM–magic.
Ages ago, I bought a Bigfoot Monster High doll to repaint (because I couldn’t pass up those HUGE feet and hairy legs). I repainted her, paying lots of detail to that hair, and found a wig that matched her perfectly. I even contacted the wigmaker on etsy, asking if she could send a little extra scrap fur to put around her, which she kindly did. So here she is, with her little mini skirt of hair:
I tried to put her in that bigfoot hunched pose from “real” Bigfoot photos, but Monster High dolls are a little too poised to hunch. But lookit that fantastic leg stubble! Hahah
Even one doll (which Myla asked me to keep unpainted) was missing an arm, and she asked if I could build her one (because I can apparently do anything). I asked if it could be a robot arm, and she said, “of COURSE!” So a few electronic bits later, and I was able to hot-glue a fairly decent “robotic” appendage, which Myla was VERY happy with.
What’s funny, is that my occasional interest in repainting dolls has inspired our 6-year old to attempt to get me to buy her new Monster High dolls. “MOM! Can we please get it if I promise to PAINT it???” Usually our rule is that if I let her get something, she can pick a PROJECT, not just a toy. Which is why she tries, at times, to get me to buy new dolls. It’s tempting, really, considering our thrift stores here don’t HAVE any used ones, and holy cow, one time I saw a LUNA MOTH Monster High doll that even I wanted to repaint!! But I have to use restraint–they’re expensive after awhile, and we can’t just go buy toys for no reason (at least not once you become a parent) so I don’t really allow it.
But they ARE fun….
Anyway, I’ll share more of how our custom collaborations are going next week–Myla is having lots of fun with them! For now, have a great rest of the week! 🙂
My husband’s in the Army, deployed a billion miles away. Deployments are not easy for anyone, to be sure.
About halfway through my husband’s last deployment, my dentist told me of the stuffed animal her daughter gave her husband on his deployment, and how he took photos with it everywhere. It reminded me of those Flat Stanley paper dolls kids send to family & friends to take with them on their travels. I liked that. So I made my husband a Flat Myla.
To his credit, my sweetheart took her everywhere in his cargo pocket. He took her for pizza and for dinner at the chow hall.
He took her for coffee at Green Beans, to work with him, and out for pie. She used to laugh at the photos…they cracked her up.
He even took her flying, on bus rides, and showed her his tents and some of the sweeter sides of Afghanistan.
This deployment, I thought he needed another updated one…so I just now sent him a new Flat Myla (she designed her own Pokemon shirt).
The older one sits now, retired, in a glass frame on our fireplace, worn from the wear and tear. This new one is triple laminated, which (hopefully) will help her last a little longer. He says he’s looking forward to getting her in the mail, because it’ll give him an excuse to get out and visit places and take pictures with her. That makes me smile.
He’s gone for awhile. Through Christmas and through the holidays. Through our 14th anniversary, through our birthdays. We’ve done it before–it’s a bit hard, but it’s okay. We used to joke that he ASKED for a deployment when Myla was a year old specifically to miss her “Terrible Twos” (which were TERRIBLE, by the way, in Alaska with 8 months of dark winter, 24 hour summer, and then her 2-year molars)!
Now, Myla is older, and she’s always such a sweetheart to handle. I can’t wait to put all her Flat Myla pictures in a book to show her how much her dad was thinking of her while he was gone. It’s special, for sure. Myla’s a good army kid–she takes things as they are. She focuses on the moment, because she’s six. But from time to time, she’ll miss something that Dad does, and get a little bummed. But she always thinks of him when she draws pictures or talks about our family. She really is a pretty great kid.
And then I was thinking–the world has a way of telling me to keep my chin up and not focus on my own little world. Today I went to the post office, and just in that short time, feeling a little blue myself, I stood next to an older man struggling to write an address label because his hands were shaky. I helped him write it out, and he told me how much harder little things like that have gotten now that he’s gotten older. I heard a woman say her daughter was in the Middle East for the first time ever, and she hadn’t filled out a customs form before. A woman who lost her phone (and then found it) said, “my husband just passed away and all my recent photos are on it.” People are going through things, all around you.
So no time to feel sad or mopey. Everyone has issues. Everyone’s going through their own things. You can let it swallow you up, or you can focus on the good things.
So it’s time to focus on what we do have. We have each other, even if a million miles away. You can share kindness with a stranger, just with a smile, or by holding a door open. My favorite part about the holidays is how for a moment, it seems that sometimes people turn up the charm a bit, turn up the kindness, and it spreads a little. It’s a great thing to see. But we can do that all the time!
Have you ever read the “Pout-Pout Fish“? How he “spreads his dreary-wearies all over the place”? Well, it works the other way, too. This past week, Myla and I brought the crossguards at school hot chocolate in the morning–Just two cups of SwissMiss, and they were so grateful that it lasted the whole day–one even made a point to give Myla a hug later in the day and tell her how good it made her feel. That stuff SPREADS, you guys. Even the kid knows that.
The bad things ALWAYS shout louder than the good. The good is harder to find, but you can if you look, and if you focus just on that. It doesn’t always happen right away–it’s an active effort. You have to spread it around to balance it out, and then it spreads to others. They don’t even have to know it was you. A smile. A piece of trash thrown away. A held-open door. A little something to make someone’s day better.
A little kindness. A little understanding. A little COMPASSION. Regardless of your beliefs, of your politics. All year round, every day.
As for the husband, I hope he gets to take lots of fun trips with the new Flat Myla, and take her on cool adventures, and spread a few little smiles around, from across the globe!
(We love & miss you , Babe!)
One rainy day, after watching a few too many episodes of the Amazon show “Annedroids” , Myla said, “I want to build something! I want to be an inventor. Hey mom, can we build stuff out of other stuff, too?”
Not one to turn down an awesomely creative educational opportunity, I asked her what she wanted to build.
“ROBOTS!” she exclaimed. “We can even make one that helps with chores, and does the dishes. Maybe even one that talks to us and plays Legos. Can we make one that cleans?”
Um. Well, since I don’t happen to have earned a degree in robotics and engineering, I was stalled out. Until I remembered this:
One year while visiting my parents, my nieces decided to take apart some old electronics and build stuff. They just took it all apart and hot-glued it all together. Because that’s the kind of awesome stuff they do. One of them came up with this one, and sent it to us–it’s a portrait of Myla painting!
Isn’t it AWESOME? The curly hair! The eyes! The “paints,” and even the little collaboration taped to the easel.
I offered that as a suggestion, and Myla jumped at it. We dug around the garage for some old electronics, but since I had recently donated or dumped most of them, a trip to the thrift store yielded a good harvest: $5 for an old broken cassette player and a video tape rewinder. The height of technology at the time, they now served a much more artistic purpose by yielding parts for our creations.
The cool thing was getting her familiar with some tools, which is a good skill for any kid to have. I unscrewed the main body of the pieces, and taught her a little about wire clippers and screwdrivers. This all involved a lot of work on my part, but it kept her busy and interested, just trying to figure out the tools and tiny pieces. (Plus she looks super cool in her dad’s sunglasses, which doubled as eye protection, since I didn’t have any kid-goggles.)
A big bowl came in handy to keep all the little parts in for later. That would be where we’d keep all the tiny pieces and what we could dig through to build more out of later, and she got a kick out of seeing all the little pieces inside.
I plugged in our trusty low-temp kid’s glue gun–those are the ones that heat at lower temps to make it a little easier for kids to use. Still, since she had a bad experience with it ages ago (she directly touched the hot glue), she was hesitant to use it. Instead, I let her tell me what went where, and I helped her glue. I showed her, too, how the glue dries VERY quickly, and as long as you don’t touch it right away, it’s pretty harmless.
I just remember being warned so often about the dangers of power tools (my grandad cut the tip of his thumb off once, and I’ve heard tons of Wood Shop horror stories) that I have to fight through my fear of them sometimes. I’d rather teach her the right way to use them, than just have her be afraid.
So here’s what we created! A remote control cat, and a tiny gear robo-mouse! So what if they can’t move on their own. They were fun to make, and we had a great time building them!
This is the first little face I made as a quick example to show her how you can make things out of the junk parts…
Later, I was inspired by an Instagram artist who fixed his friend’s Ever After doll by building her a steampunk leg–and I realized I could use some of the broken electronics to make a prosthetic arm for a Monster High doll that Myla had acquired, whose arm was missing.
I had some tiny watch parts from a jewelry project I had in my craft supplies, and just hot-glued a little hook-arm together for her.
It all started with a Blythe doll….
Not too long ago, I was introduced to the crazy world of dolls when a friend traded me a Blythe doll in exchange for some artwork. She had warned me I may become addicted. “Oh pshaw,” I thought. “They’re cute, but I’m not really that into ‘people’ dolls.” I really didn’t know much about Blythe…just that they were a very unique doll that I had seen around for ages, and thought it’d be fun to have one for Myla.
But then I started learning about this whole other WORLD of customizing dolls. Now THAT I could get into–not so much to sell, but just for fun. Taking something that was factory-made and changing it to your own version? That’s pretty darn cool, I guess. People do ALL kinds of crazy customizations to their Blythes, and I started to find it fascinating.
But PAUSE–I’ll come back to Blythe..
I saw that people were customizing other dolls, so soon I found myself eyeballing my daughter’s Monster High ladies (if you’re shooting for impossible body standards, you may as well go ALL out and be a MONSTER, right?). Since she wouldn’t give her approval to let me experiment (although she did let me add some definition to the lovely designs on her Loch Ness Lorna doll) I took matters into my own hands, and started shopping around.
So I googled a few tutorials on customizing doll faces (there are THOUSANDS online), and took the paint off of her face and repainted her all over again…a little more hairy. A little more freckly. And those LEGS! Those are some non-shaved winter sasquatch legs for SURE! I love ’em. It was a little intimidating at first….I guess just the idea of totally messing her up. But really, if I had messed her up, I really could just wipe the paint off again with nail polish remover, right?
There are a hundred ways people do and don’t do it, so I won’t give a full tutorial. Really, there are tons of people who make money online professionally customizing dolls, and they really know their stuff. I don’t. I’m just playing around.
I’ll just say I wiped her off with nail polish remover that had acetone in it (apparently, this can melt some plastics, so be careful), and it all came right off. Then I painted her with acrylics (most people use certain types of art pastels and paint that on, which gives more of a soft airbrushed look). The trickiest thing is spraying it to seal it all, because some sprays never fully dry, leaving the plastic tacky. This is particularly annoying because EVERYTHING sticks to it. This is what I accidentally did (despite reading about it), so now her face and arms are a little tacky. I ordered the correct spray, though, so help is on the way! The plasic was pretty easy to paint on–the acrylics didn’t really bead up or anything, and I was able to get a LITTLE bit of smooth shading (pastels would’ve probably been a lot smoother).
So to me, store-bought Monster High doll: boring. CUSTOMIZED Monster High doll? SUPER COOOOOOOOL!!!
And despite insisting I wouldn’t become a “crazy doll lady,” I was messing around on etsy, and found an inexpensive little MH WIG from FantasyDolls. And OMGersh, look how cool it looks!!!
She’s almost a proper sasquatch! It’s not properly glued onto her head or anything yet–like I said, I still need to fix that little “tacky skin” issue first–but I think it’s going to be pretty darn cool. And since she’s a “bigfoot,” I thought clothes wouldn’t look right, but nekkid didn’t quite work either. So the lovely lady from the shop offered to send me some scraps from the wig hair, and I’m going to use it to tack onto her body, like a really real sasquatch!
So why, you ask?
I don’t know. Because it’s fun. And why not?
In the meantime, my friend has fully supported my new experiments by sending me two Blythe doll bodies to play with. So I “tattooed” them with acrylic paints and permanent marker…I want to see which will hold and which won’t on what kinds of plastic. And hey–doll tattoos!
Myla has a blonde, curly-haired Blythe doll she named “Sweetie.” I have a long brown-haired one we named “Mabel” (after the backyard gnomes that used to “visit” us).
There are SO many options for customizing Blythe dolls–you can change their bodies, paint their faces, paint their eyelids, you can give them completely new hair, and you can adjust their eyes so they don’t have that creepy straight-ahead doll stare, just to name a few. Since I’m not so skilled in all of THAT (and since they’re quite expensive dolls), I decided to do a few littler things, like paint “tattoos” on their bodies, and make horn headbands for them.
I made deer antlers for Mabel out of Super Sculpey, hot-glued and E-6000’d onto a little doll headband. Myla asked if I could make Sweetie a pair of goat-horns, so I made those the same way. (I tried to cast them in resin so I could make a lot more, but my molding and casting skills still need some work.)
When I told Myla I was going to “tattoo” my doll’s body, she asked if I could do Sweetie’s too. She told me exactly what she wanted: a deer-girl. Because she says Sweetie is someone loves caring for all kinds of animals. So that’s what we did! And since Mabel seems like some sort of wood-nymph fairy girl (yeah, you heard me), I did a moth on her.
Anyway, call me crazy for playing with dolls. I get it, really–it does seem pretty strange. But really, it’s quite fun! To be able to take something and make it into something else completely your own is pretty awesome. I wish I had some spare Blythe faces to play with. Apparently they come straight out of the box looking VERY plastic, like this:
I’m not sure what I’m going to DO with these dolls once I’m done. Stick ’em on a shelf? More than likely, Myla will want to play with them. I know some dolls are fancy, and some are expensive, and it may be risky to let your kid play with a “nice” doll. But if you teach that kid to be NICE to your “nice” doll, then hey–why not? I mean, they’re toys, afterall. They’re meant to be played with and enjoyed!
Sometimes (as I’ve mentioned more than once), you have these weird ideas that you don’t really understand, but for some reason, you just have to do. My little mermaid was one of those ideas.
It’s rare, I thought to myself, to see a mermaid that isn’t some lithe, dainty, graceful creature. And while I’m not super into the details of anatomy, I know enough to realize that most mermaids aren’t portrayed with visible gills. And I bet they ALL don’t have gorgeous singing voices, either. 🙂
And that was my goal: a beautiful, strong, healthy, and FISHY-looking mermaid covered in gills near her face and chest and lungs. So I built a wire structure, wrapped it in tape, and built up my Super Sculpey figure on top of that (this keeps you from using so much clay, as well as from burning the outside while all that inside bulk tries to cook). I learned from friends that are sculptors, to use rubbing alcohol to smooth out some areas, as well as a heat gun to soft-set some areas while you work on others—so you’re not constantly squishing the face as you sculpt other areas.
I put lots of decorative “fins” around her chest and face, to sort of shield the gill areas. I thought nature (because nature is smart) would most likely find ways to protect the softer skin on a mer-creature with scaly sort of decorative things (because nature’s an artist, too).
She has webbed hands, and fins on her arms (to be more aero/aquadynamic, I suppose?). I used the inside pieces from a broken ballpoint to add texture onto the scaled part of her tail, along with two lower fins.
It didn’t matter all TOO much, though, since after it was cooked and cooled (I like to turn the oven on 250, put my sculpture in, and turn the oven off & forget it til it cools off), the next step was to paint her.
I didn’t want her to look too morose and gothy, but again–thinking of nature, she’d probably want to be fairly well-camouflaged, right? So I painted her in sort of blueish grayish purples.
My favorite parts were the gills: I made them sort of reddish, as I recall fish-gills being. And do you see she’s got some curve and a booty? I’m just going for a version I’ve never seen before. That curve is pretty hard to photograph. I at least gave her a little pudge under her arms, because maybe she’s buff and well-fed. And hey…we can’t ALL be as dainty as Ariel.
So at the point when I could go no further, and Her Baldness was staring at me with peaceful patience, I was saved by an order I had made online of a small batch of reddish mohair. I am not at all familiar with laying hair, but I had read a little bit about dolls and laying their hair. Still I wasn’t sure what to do.
So I faked it. I squirted black E-6000 on top of her head, and carefully laid her hair the way I wanted it, and waited for it to dry. (I have since been told that there are many MANY better ways of doing this….but I am impatient.)
So now what? What do you DO with a creature like this? I had initially wanted to mold her and cast her in resin to customize in eighty million different ways. But I’m over my experience level with 2-part detailed molds, so I just stuck with making the original as awesome as I could while I could.
So I made my own mount for her.
But is she hanging on my wall? No. Not yet. I’m afraid she’ll fall off those poles. I keep meaning to paint the board (which I should have done beforehand, but it’s too late now). So she sits on my shelf, flat on her back, on top of two poles. And I’m still scared she’s gonna fall, so I haven’t hung her up yet. I was careful to make sure she didn’t look like a mounted, dead fish, as I also didn’t want to freak out our 5-year old.
So there’s something unfinished. I love her, I’m just not sure yet what to DO with her. But in the meantime, I thought I’d share! Sometimes, the weird things end up pretty wonderful.