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…
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! 🙂