Returning from Hiatus

General Life Updates:

     It’s been two and a half years. Some of you reading this are already aware of some of what has been going on with my life as you’re either friends with me on Facebook or you follow my A’Cloth the World artist/ blogger page there. Hopefully this won’t be entirely redundant.

  • Perhaps the biggest piece of news I have to share is that I’ve successfully completed graduate school earlier this year. I now have a Master’s degree in Social Work. My long hiatus can largely be attributed to having had to put so much time and energy into school. But, even in these few months since I’ve completed the program, I’ve needed time to simply relax and recharge. In a lot of respects, grad school kicked my butt and utterly drained me. Ultimately, though, I’m glad to have gotten through it and I’m thankful for the experiences I’ve had and people I’m met that I otherwise wouldn’t have.
  • I actually have some rudimentary knowledge of Turkish now. The university where I did my grad program offers Turkish classes at the Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced levels. I ended up taking an extra year of coursework and so, since I could, I managed to at least complete the Elementary level before I graduated. Türkçe güzel bir dil. Daha öğrenmek istiyorum. (Turkish is a beautiful language. I want to learn more.)
  • After 4.5 years of selling books online, I *finally* got around to creating a business page for AikiFox Books on Facebook. Of course, I now have the problem of not being entirely sure what I should be posting on said business page beyond notices of new listings as I add things to my inventory.

Possible Futures:

I have found myself, as I have many times before over the years, unsure of which direction to go as I amble forward. All of these internet-based projects I had been working on – my Lammily group on Facebook, my YouTube channel, even this blog – have ended up much like the myriad craft projects that find themselves sitting in the closet as perpetual works-in-progress. The question is, do I want to pick them up and start working on them again? Or am I itching to start that next thing? I have some many ideas swirling around my head, but I know they cannot all come to fruition.

  • A’Cloth the World – As far as this blog goes, I already have a few post coming showcasing some of the crafty work I have done during the hiatus. I don’t think I’ve written the last of my doll stories. I’ve not yet decided whether I want to keep those here on this blog, or whether I want to create a secondary blog dedicated to that. What do you think? I’m open to suggestions from readers.
  • YouTube – I think I have largely already decided that I’m not going to continue trying to create content on YouTube. For the most part, it’s much too overwhelming for me and I don’t feel my content was even that good. Many of the videos I had made are far too cringe-inducing for me to watch now and I’ve already gone in and adjusted the privacy settings for most of the videos. At this point, I think *if* I were to try the YouTube thing again, I would rather make an entirely different channel and use it as an outlet for practicing Turkish. I’ve seen a few other Turkish vlogs from non-native speaking YouTubers. I think it could be a fun motivator me. But, time will tell if I ever do it.
  • Handmade Lammily Fashions – I’m thinking I should find another Admin for the group. I’ve been the sole Admin since I created it and I feel like it has suffered as I haven’t been able to give it the attention it should have gotten. The banner needs updated and we need to do something fun to renew interest in it.
  • Income – Aside from encouraging you all to peruse the books I sell online or trying to sell doll clothes or other crafty things on Etsy, I’ve decided I may as well put up a button or something for my PayPal. I need to figure out how to make a widget or something. In the meantime – if you like what I write, if you’ve found any of it helpful, consider sending me something at paypal.me/AikiFox 🙂

 

The Smell of Melted Plastic in the Morning…

On a day when my energy is all but drained and my uterus is waging war on me, this is how I manage to maintain some semblance of productivity. Hello again, long abandoned reader! Tell me in the comments how you’ve managed to survive without me over the past month – I promise I’ll read it, but I’ll likely make one of the dolls respond. Let me know who your favorite dolly is and I’ll tape them to the laptop with the hair dryer pointed at them until they write back to you.

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Now… updates. I survived my first semester of grad school – I even aced both of the courses I took. I don’t really feel the least bit celebratory about it, though. I’ve been out of school for some years and I’ve never held a 4.0 before. You’d think I’d be ecstatic. I think I’m too busy looking at the 5 classes I’ll have to juggle starting a week from tomorrow. If I come out of that in December with the same success, then I’ll let myself acknowledge it.

I’ve been doing my best to make the most use of these two weeks between semesters: I took a trip to visit friends and family for a couple of days last week, I spent another couple of days doing a major purge of clothes I’ve been hoarding in my closet for 6 years, and I’ve been working on filming videos for Youtube that I can hold onto for when I inevitably get too bogged down with homework to create during the coming semester.

I recently collaborated with the Volunteer Superviser from the Books to Prisoners program I’m involved with to create a couple of videos. The first of these videos serves to break down how the Books to Prisoners program works overall and how to go about connecting inmates to them. The second of these videos, which I’ve just publicly released today, discusses what volunteers do and how to get involved.

Despite having been working with them for over a year, this was a learning experience for me as well. For the most part, the role I play, important as it is, can sometimes feel disconnected from the everyday workings of the organization.

I don’t have a coherent ending to this, so, here are some photos of dolls:

Photographer Lammily is Here!!!

After roughly a year of waiting from the time she was available for pre-order, my new photographer Lammily finally came home this weekend! It was very hard for me to not immediately take her out of the box to introduce her to the rest of the dolly family. But I was good and I waited until I had the time to film her unboxing:

Here are some close-up shots of her. I really like how her feet and hands are a lighter shade:

I’ve still not decided upon a name for her, but I like the idea that she grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. I had the pleasure of going to New Orleans in October of 2015. I really enjoyed myself there and would like to go back someday.

After filming her unboxing and taking close-ups yesterday, I introduced her to some of my other dolls. A group of them – Aideen, Mitsuko, TJ, and Morrígan (with her bağlama in hand) – took a ride out to a local park in my backpack with our newest friend. Morrígan played and sang for us while the photographer and I took a bunch of photos.

It would also seem that our new lady and TJ are pretty cozy together…

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50 Years of Influence

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In 1996, Mattel released this Barbie and Ken set to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Star Trek. These were the first dolls I remember longing for.

This past weekend, my boyfriend and I went to see Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the show and this production was, essentially, an array of selected clips from the shows and movies projected on a giant theater screen while a live orchestra played iconic Trek music. For me, this was a very moving experience. For an idea of what this was, I’d like to share this video put together by benandbarry on Youtube (I’m very impressed by the smooth transition in editing here, this is actually multiple pieces of the production spliced together):

Star Trek was something that I grew up with. My father was a Trekkie and would always watch it, pointing out the ways in which science fiction has a habit of becoming science fact. The Next Generation (TNG) first aired in 1987, when I was only 2 years old. With the quick succession of TNG, Deep Space Nine (DS9), and Voyager, you could say I literally grew up with it. While the major drawing factor for my father was the technology, I was drawn in and deeply affected by the rich social and philosophical lessons the episodes and films had to offer. These lessons helped to guide me and shape my worldview. There were two characters in particular that I looked up to:

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Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Mr. Spock. Picard’s words of wisdom and diplomacy modeled the kind of person, the kind of leader I longed, still long to be. He was firm and fair. He took his commanding role seriously but without being power driven. He lead by example, respected order and law but did not falter in instances where that order and law worked to the detriment of the populace. In his words, “the claim ‘I was only following orders’ has been used to justify too many tragedies in our history. Starfleet doesn’t want officers who will blindly follow orders without analyzing the situation” (Redemption II, 1991). There was an excellent piece written by Alex Knapp in Forbes in 2012 that does a great job capturing the ways in which Picard was a great leader.

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Mr. Spock’s intellect, logic, and, most importantly, control over his emotions, were characteristics that I wanted for myself. During the often turbulent years of my childhood, and even during trying times of my adulthood, I would have given anything to maintain the calm and emotion-free state of a Vulcan. But Spock was not fully Vulcan, he was half Human. Because of this, there are times during which you can see him grappling with emotions that, I wager, present themselves more strongly within him than within a full Vulcan. “I have a human half, you see, as well as an alien half… I survive it because my intelligence wins out over both…” (The Enemy Within, 1966).

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Halloween 1997. Seeking to emulate both of these role models as a TNG era Vulcan Captain.

With a nod to the roots of this blog, I feel I would be remiss if I neglected the wardrobe. Yes, I own an array of Star Trek tshirts (you can read a previous bit about tshirts here) and I also own a uniform inspired hoodie complete with insignia and rank pips. In the film, First Contact, Picard says to Data, “…touch can connect you to an object in a very personal way. It makes it seem more real.”  Indeed, in a similar way, wearing that uniform-hoodie does make me feel a certain connection to these characters and those traits that I admire. And is it any surprise that one of the first outfits I made for my Lammily doll was a Starfleet uniform?

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Of Life and Dollies: Updates, News, and Spoilers!

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My last post that showcased the new Barbies has gotten more views than any other post and in an incredibly short amount of time.

It’s been about a month now since my last posting. I’d actually written a rather long piece a few days back, but given its overly personal nature, I decided not to publish it. I don’t view it as a wasted effort, as the entire process was more therapeutic than anything. It needed to be written, it felt good to write it, but it just ultimately wasn’t destined to be shared. I know you understand.

I do have some updates to share with you all before I move on to new projects. Perhaps the biggest piece of news is that I have officially been accepted into grad school. It’s been a couple of weeks now, there was a big post about it on my personal Facebook, and a lot of the buzz from it has worn off since then. But it’s still pretty great news. I don’t know yet how that will affect this blog or any of my (still unfinished) projects as full-time school + a full-time job + a part-time job is already going to deplete a lot of my time. We’ll see how it goes. Classes won’t start for another three months yet, so don’t abandon me yet!

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My new desktop set-up, nicely integrated into my craft room.

My next update is that I have finally managed to get myself a new computer. After discovering there is simply no way I can utilize Pinnacle on my laptop, I pooled the collective knowledge of all my techie friends together and got myself a new desktop that I’ll be using primarily for video and photo editing. I haven’t done a whole lot with it yet beyond just playing around with the new programs and learning how they work. It is a goal to launch Youtube content this year, but I don’t yet have a predicted timeline for it. I’m hoping to have a better understanding of what I’m doing before school starts.

In project news, I’ve decided to try out another re-root. After watching one of MyFroggyStuff’s recent videos I was inspired to try this out myself.

I’d already had a few doll heads that had been removed of hair that had been sitting in a box this past year, so I opted to use of of those. I decided to test out two different yarns – a soft, worsted weight, wool-like acrylic and a cotton crochet thread. I did a sample row with four sections to try out each of these yarns in both their intact and unraveled states. 

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YarnHair (6)  YarnHair (5)

My original plans for this particular doll when I first got her from a thrift store over a year ago, was for her to be a family member for my Lammily doll, Morrigan. If you’ll recall, when I envisioned a backstory for Morrigan, I determined that she has an Irish mother and a Turkish father. My first re-root doll was originally intended to be a maternal cousin, but fate had another purpose in store for her and I have since found a different doll to fill that role (more about her in a later post). As it turns out, I’ve decided to alter the identity and 12bf7c16039941cb8f55269b03308be8relationship of this particular doll as well. (Spoilers!!!  Since the Lammily company has announced their plans for a new male doll (currently being crowdfunded and due to begin shipping out in November), and because this new male doll looks similar to his female
counterpart in the face, it makes more sense to me to have him be a brother for Morrigan. And while Morrigan does not have any romantic inclinations at the moment, that doesn’t mean her brother doesn’t!)

Lammily Embraces Barbie’s Evolution

WARNING: The following contains photos of naked dolls.
All of these dolls are of legal age (in doll years) and consented to
having these photos taken.
If you have moral issues with naked dolls, you may want to exit now.

Let’s not kid ourselves, we knew this post was coming. Barbie has been blowing up my social media feeds since last week Thursday when Mattel announced that they would be releasing three new body types in their Barbie Fashionista line. And I get it. This is a huge deal for pretty much all of doll-kind and represents a major shift in society. I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss this new direction. Because there is so much that I can say about this change, so much that has already been said, and because I want to avoid a TL;DR post, I will be splitting this into two posts. In this first post, I will simply provide a photo comparison of these dolls. In the next post, I will be sharing my thoughts about these changes and answering some of the common arguments I see online about the movement to have more body positive dolls.

BUT I know that most of you are likely more anxious to get to photos of these new dolls. And I am happy to oblige.

First, here are all three of my girls with the new body types: Petite, Curvy, and Tall.

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Now is when the clothes come off. Here are each of these dolls in the nude so that you can see how they’re structured. The extra body I am comparing them to is the Original style Fashionista body. Please forgive her lack of a head – I had already rebodied her to a Liv doll:

Unfortunately, I don’t have a Skipper doll to compare Petite with – I know some of you are curious as to whether Mattel cheated a bit with this doll. But, she seems to have an adult style body to me. I also really like the bit of maroon in her hair.

Tall is very slender, a bit flatter chested, and has a much more subtle cinch in her waist than the other dolls.

Curvy’s blue hair is actually a mix of blue and black. I really like it and this lady already feels like she has some serious personality.  She has more of a pear shape to her – her cup size seems to be about the same as Original to me, but she certainly has more in the trunk and has a bit of a paunch on her belly.

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Next, I wanted to see how these girls compared to some of my other dolls.

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L to R: Lammily, Curvy, one of my Prettie Girls, Original, Made to Move, one of my Mixis, a Liv, My Scene Barbie, Classic Barbie, Tall, Petite

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L to R: Classic, Original, Made to Move, Curvy, Prettie Girl, Lammily, My Scene, Petite, Tall, Mixis

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L to R: Classic, Original, Made to Move, Curvy, Prettie Girl, Lammily, My Scene, Petite, Tall, and Mixis

In particular, I couldn’t help but notice these two groups – the 3 dolls that all have less drastic cinches to their waists (which seems more natural to me) and the 4 that all have ample “junk in the trunk”, for lack of better phrasing. Lammily and Mixis belong to both of these groups.

Now to try on clothes!

It seems Petite, Tall, and Original can all share clothes with each other, although the fit may be a little different. What is a dress for Petite will fit Tall but would require the addition of leggings for your doll to maintain her modesty. The outfit still works, though.

I played around with having Prettie Girl try on Curvy’s clothes, since they both have larger behinds. Curvy’s shirt fits OK, although midriff baring, but the skirt is just too loose. I then have Petite try on Prettie Girl’s outfit. It works, but the fit is loose. Great for those days when Petite might want to just lounge around the apartment.

SHOES:  Curvy and Tall each have slightly bigger feet than the other Barbies. But, Curvy’s feet are too small to wear Mixis or Prettie Girl shoes and, similarly, those dolls have feet that are too big for the Curvy/Tall shoes. Lammily’s feet are altogether bigger than all of them, so, no shoe swapping here.

And now, what I know everyone is curious to know – How do Curvy Barbie and Lammily relate to each other?

As you can see, Curvy’s legs are still rather long and her torso sits much higher. Curvy’s arms are thinner and her hourglass shape seems more cartoon-ish by comparison. Also, while Lammily’s range of motion isn’t the best on the market, until Mattel gives these new bodies Made to Move articulation, Lammily still leads in this area.

But can they share clothes? Well, Curvy can certainly borrow clothes from Lammily’s closet:

Although, Lammily’s clothes may be a bit baggy. This is because even Curvy’s proportions are still smaller than Lammily’s. The sharing only goes one way:

Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments as well as if there are any comparisons or poses you’d like to see.

 

I’ve Been Nominated for a Liebster Award

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I’ve been nominated for a Liebster award by Chrissy, of the blog Kicky Resin.  This is officially the first blog award I’ve been given, so, Thanks!

The Rules

  1. Thank the person who presented you the award and link back to their blog.
  2. Post the award image on your blog.
  3. Answer 11 questions posted by the presenter.
  4. Nominate 5-11 blogs with less than 200 followers.
  5. Create 11 questions for the nominees to answer.
  6. List these rules in your post.
  7. Inform the people you chose of their nomination by leaving a comment on their blog and link them your post.

Chrissy’s Questions

Chrissy divided her questions for me up into two segments – general questions and doll specific questions. I’ll answer the general questions first:

1)What drives you to write/create?

I think part of it has been the influence of my parents. My mother had always wanted to be an author and she used to write this really wonderful poetry. I started writing stories when I was a small child and would always have her read them. My father was the artist. I remember, when I was very young, he would sit at the table almost every evening working on this elaborate pencil drawing of a semi-naked butterfly woman sitting atop a chunk of space rock. I came by my creativity and over-active imagination naturally. If I’m not creating something (art, craft, writing, etc) I get very bored.

2)How do you “prepare” for a writing session? (Do you have snacks, a favorite drink, certain time, place, etc?)

I need to be alone to write most of the time. I like for it to be quiet so I can focus. I also need to sit upright and be comfortable.

3)If you could time travel, would you travel to the past or the future?

That depends. Is it a one-way trip? How am I traveling – can I go by way of Tardis? If I go back in time, am I allowed to interact with people without fear of disrupting a timeline? I’d like to either go back and interact with my late grandfather or go forward to learn what my personal future looks like on my current trajectory so I can make decisions accordingly.

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The ONLY way to travel through time

4)What is your spirit animal and why do you identify with that animal? ~Or~ What is your favorite animal and why?

I’ve always been very fond of foxes. Red foxes in particular. I’ve always been drawn to their wit and cunning.

5)Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I honestly have no idea. It depends on what direction my life takes. In one vision I have for myself, I’d like to be married with a house and have adopted a kid. In another I have no tethers and am living as an ex-patriot somewhere in Turkey or India. Right now I’m waiting to see whether I get accepted into grad school. If I do, I’m much more likely to follow the first path. If I don’t, then I have higher odds of following the second. Both scenarios are pretty equally appealing to me.

6)Would you rather go to Hogwarts or go on an adventure with Gandalf?

Neither? I don’t really follow either fandom. I’d much rather join Starfleet.

7)Do you prefer to own books or go to the library?

Both, haha. There is no way I could own all the books that I want. Though, I do like having an impressive book collection. Libraries are nice, though, because I don’t have to spend any money.

8)Would you like to be famous?  If so, what for?  If not, why not?

I think I would. That was always a goal when I was a kid – to be a star. I’d just rather be famous for something positive.

9)Have you ever made a dream of yours come true?

Kind of. When I was 5 I wanted to be an archaeologist. When I was in college I majored in anthropology and did get the chance to spend time on a dig in Belize. Also, I’d always had a thing for teachers when I was in school – almost always had a crush on at least one teacher from the time I was 12. I’ve been dating a teacher for almost 5 years now – he teaches 7th grade history.

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10)What are three things that you can’t live without?

Air, Water, Food

11)What message do you want to impart to your readers?

I’m not sure what my message is, but please note that the message will self-destruct.

Now the doll questions:

1)How did you get into the hobby?

Lammily. As I have stated in this blog multiple times before, Lammily is my gateway drug. I am partial to her and will continue to champion her.

2)How many dolls do you have or plan to have?

I currently have 30 dolls that are in-tact. I have a couple at various stages of being re-worked and a box of heads and bodies that I keep meaning to re-sell on eBay for OOAK projects.

3)What is your dream/grail doll?

A doll that has the realistic proportions the way Lammily does but has the range of motion these new Made-to-Move Barbies have.

4)Is there a feature of a doll that will always win you over?

Something different. I like diversity and progressiveness in my dolls. Lammily and Mixis are my favorite companies. I’d also like to have the whole collection of Hearts for Hearts dolls and the Angelica doll.

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These girls are just too friggin’ adorable!

5)Do your dolls have their own personalities, stories, or universe?

Of Course! This is one of my favorite things about the dolls! I enjoy creating personalities and back stories for them. I’m actually in the process of working out the particulars of the Doll-verse and the relationship between the Doll-verse (where dolls of all types reside, everything is in various doll scales, and there are no humans) and our own universe (where dolls are toys and are much smaller compared to humans).

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6)Do you prefer to buy things or make things for your dolls?

Both. I’d rather make things myself, but I don’t always have the time. And sometimes I’m lazy. Or I see some really fantastic handmade work by others on Etsy.

7)Do you have a favorite brand or company for dolls, clothes, wigs, shoes, etc?

I think I already mentioned Lammily and Mixis. After that, I prefer handmade goods for my dolls when I can get them from Etsy. Although, there are some Hot Toys clothes and dolls I covet but can’t justify paying for.

8)What is your favorite size of doll?

1/6 scale. I also prefer the dolls with average proportioned heads as opposed to the giant cartoonish doll heads. I like my dolls to be like miniature people 🙂

9)Do you have a favorite doll in your collection?

I have two that are really tied for favorite – my Lammily doll, Morrigan, and my Mixis doll, Mitsuko (named Emerald by the company).

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The beginning of what has become an amazing friendship…

10)What is more important, aesthetics or pose-ability? Or something else?

If the dolly can’t move around, I have almost no use for the dolly. The better the articulation and range of motion, the happier I am.

11)Where do you keep your dolls?

Currently, the boyfriend and I have a second bedroom that is being used as a craft room/ comic book storage room. Most of my dolls stay in there. But, there are always a few scattered about the apartment and usually one or two in my backpack that I carry with me in case of photo opportunities or to show to people.

My Nominees

Please note that you do not have to do this if you don’t want to!

Be sure to let me know that you answered my questions by leaving a comment and a link!

My Questions

I think Chrissy’s round of questions were pretty good. So, I think I’m going to keep most of those and change just a few of them.

  1. What drives you to write/create?
  2. Describe your writing process.
  3. What got you into your hobby (art, dolls, writing, etc)?
  4. If you could time travel, would you travel to the past or the future?
  5. Who inspires you and why?
  6. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
  7. Have you formally studied writing in any capacity – journalism, creative writing, etc?
  8. Do you prefer to own books or go to the library?
  9. Would you like to be famous?  If so, what for?  If not, why not?
  10. Have you ever made a dream of yours come true?
  11. Do you feel it is important to read works from people with different perspectives from your own? Why or Why Not?
  12. What message do you want to impart to your readers?