No More Excuses/ Garden of Doll Heads

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I am not above using scare tactics to keep my dolls in line. “This is what happens when you use my fabric scissors to cut paper”

I feel like I should be writing something. I also feel like I should be getting around to actually making some videos. I’ve been saying for awhile (over a year, while not necessarily always in this blog) that I want to start making Youtube videos.
-I invested the time and the money into decorating the walls in my craft room because I felt like I couldn’t start doing it unless I had a good background.

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$75+ and over a week invested in decorating these walls.

-Then I needed a camera, because I felt my point and shoot wasn’t good enough.
-Then I needed a tripod.
Then I needed quality editing software.
-Then I needed a computer.

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The new computer. I have yet to justify buying it.

-Lately I’ve been concerned because of an acne flare up and not wanting to be ugly on camera. (Seriously, how am I still getting acne in my 30s? This is not fair)

Enough excuses. I will be making a Youtube debut before the end of the day on Friday of next week (4/15/2016). Maybe it will be crappy. But I need to stop talking about it and just *do it already*.

I’m also fully aware that I really need to finish the next segment of The Mission as well. I’m going to make sure I get that done before April is over. No more excuses. The start of grad school is only 2 months away. I need to utilize this time while I still have it.

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Earlier this weekend, I went out to ACME Elfworks – my friend Melissa Mitchell’s studio -for the Annual Boneyard Arts festival. She’s a super cool re-use artist that uses a lot of found objects in her artwork. Many of her pieces incorporate dolls or various doll body parts. Her artwork is often whimsical, but can also be kind of creepy – and I love that. I first met her whilst I was involved with the HATCH art show about 3 years ago. I just happened to have my camera with me and have decided to share some of these photos with you all.

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❤ the cart full of rats

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Reminds me of Sid’s creation from the original Toy Story movie.

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In case you were curious what became of Charlie Horse. He couldn’t cope after Lamb Chop’s Play Along ended – his heart was broken after he caught Lamb in bed with Hush Puppy and turned to drugs and gambling. Sherry Lewis attempted an intervention once before her death, but Charlie refused rehab. Unable to pay his debts one night, he was taken into a back alley where he was beaten to death. His lifeless body was thrown into a dumpster. I believe this is where Melissa found his little pony corpse. Not entirely sure what she did with the rest of the body. It’s possible her cats ate it.

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A lush garden of doll heads. Melissa hacks off their scalps and uses them as macabre planters. This is a thing I shall someday do when I have a garden of my own.

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I love the way her lifeless eyes are glazed over. Even in death, Barbie continues to smile.

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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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!)

Making a Bağlama for Morrígan

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Perhaps not surprisingly, yesterday’s Google Hangout experiment resulted in my sitting in front of a camera for an hour by myself. Not a single person logged in. And that’s ok. I don’t currently have an extremely large readership, not everyone has access to a camera for such hangouts, and I’m sure everyone had other things they wanted to do with their Saturday afternoon.  But that’s ok. Rather than just blankly stare into a screen for an hour, I used the time to work on half completed projects.

Some months ago, after determining the general background that I wanted to give Morrígan, my Lammily doll, I decided to make her a miniature bağlama that she could play. I actually came across an excellent tutorial by Özden Ceyhan over on Blogspot. Since this is a traditional Turkish instrument, it is not surprising that the language of the article is in Turkish. However, between auto-translate and Mr. Ceyhan’s wonderful step by step photos, knowledge of the language isn’t required (although I personally find Turkish to be an attractive language). Because I know that my links aren’t as easily seen (I don’t know how to change the color for them), I want to make sure to give Mr. Ceyhan’s tutorial special attention:

 http://ozdenceyhan.blogspot.com/2014/02/minyatur-saz-imalat.html

     I didn’t follow Mr. Ceyhan’s process exactly, but I did use it as a guide. I glued 3 layers of balsa wood together and whittled and sanded the shape down from there. For the tuners, I cut down toothpicks into 7 small sections of equal length and bore them into the head. I used a Rust-Oleum stain marker to give the instrument color – although, probably because I used a marker instead of painted on stain, the finish looks blotchy to me. But, I suppose it will work.

Because I am sure that most of my readers have never heard this beautiful instrument before, let me share a clip so that you can appreciate the wonderful sound it creates.

When I imagine Morrígan playing, I imagine her sitting against her window, looking out to the world, and letting her heart pour out. I imagine that she sings songs her father taught her as she thinks of him hundreds of miles away back in Turkey.

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If I ever had the time, I would love to learn how to play one of these myself – and I found a rather decent beginner’s information page I felt was worth sharing: here. As it is, I’d really love to learn Turkish (along with Hindi and to become more proficient at Spanish and Japanese – both of which I studied in college but am not very good at). Maybe Morrígan can teach me? 😉

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Finding Time

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I do have to say that this writing a post every day thing is a lot harder than I thought it would be. While I certainly have plenty more story to write (you guys seem to really like those, at least my readership skyrockets on doll-stories), I won’t be able to get to it for a few days as I need to construct props, build scenery, and sew some new outfits so that I can take proper photos. For starters, I know that I want to show the girls all together at the pizza place where Morrigan is playing her bağlama, which I still need to finish. I will need tables and chairs, I will need little pizzas, I will need to make an outfit for the server, and if I’m really ambitious I would make a whole restaurant diorama with arcade games (or just one very important game: Aero Fighters). But now I am getting anxious trying to figure out when I will have time for all of this.

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Bağlama in progress

 

 

“But Lisa”, you say, “these things shouldn’t take long to make. I need to know what happens in the story! Where did Daniela come from? What did Istvan do? What is up with Daniela’s weird nightmare? I NEED ANSWERS!” Well, take that up with everything else that vies for my time:

  • Working 40 hours at my primary job (sometimes I work overtime hours if they need the coverage, which they do right now, so I’m currently working 6 nights a week and have signed up for on-call shifts)
  • Working as many hours as necessary to smoothly operate my second job – Remember that post I wrote? Go buy some books 😉 While I get to set my own hours for this, I still need to average a minimum of 8 hours a week to keep the stacks of books from getting too high and to get Amazon orders shipped out on time.
  • Sleep. Getting 6-8 hours a sleep during each day. And yes, I sleep during the day because I work overnight shifts at my primary job. That’s 42-56 hours a week just recharging the batteries.
  • Other odds and ends like cooking/ eating, maintaining hygiene, trying to go to the gym, and devoting some of my time to maintaining relationships (boyfriend, family, friends).

Let’s do some math. 24 hours in a day x 7 days in a week = 168 hours/ week. Subtracting 48 hours from the primary job = 120. Subtracting a minimum of 8 hours from the second job = 112. Let’s say I get a full day’s rest. Subtracting 56 hours of sleep for the week = 56 hours left. Divide that by 7 days a week and that gives me roughly 8 hours a day in which to accomplish everything else.  AND my application for grad school is due in 12 days. AND I’m wanting to try breaking into Youtube. (I know, I’m out of my mind.)

As I signed onto yahoo to check my e-mail tonight (using my break at work to write this and publish later), I saw this article talking about George R.R. Martin still not yet having the next Game of Thrones book done, missing his own deadline. I don’t know what else the guy has going on in his life, but I can’t help but feel sympathy pains. That story is pretty much one of those things I dread. Imagine the pressure to deliver and embarrassment.

TL;DR – I need more hours in the day and I’ll do my best to get Part 3 to you as soon as possible.

Analytic Data is Sexy

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When I was a little girl, my mother would workout in front of the TV with Denise Austin. I used to join her, mostly because I wanted to do whatever my Mommy was doing.

As I sit here and type this, I am being distracted by the sensation of my arms pulsing and vibrating. In what was probably a bad decision on my part, I splurged on an electric muscle stimulation (EMS) device. Like the name suggests, the device uses electric impulses to work your muscles. It is by no means a weight loss tool, but these devices have been shown to tone muscle, which is what I am going for. I’ve currently got electrodes fixed on my triceps in an added effort to stave off floppy bat-wing arms. I’m fully aware that I may have just wasted my money. But, it does feel pretty cool regardless.

 

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FYI: Thin wheat crust = 640 calories; 1/2 cup of sauce = 35 calories; 3/4 cup of cheese to barely cover the pizza = 270 calories. Total = 945 calories. Daily allotment is 1,200-1,300.

For most of my life, I have gone through periods where I at least make attempts to be healthier. These don’t always last and I usually fall victim to cliche excuses like lack of time, lack of money, or just really missing pizza. While the main idea is to just generally be healthier, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I do care just a little bit about how I look. Thus, I have buzzing arms. I also enjoy the fact that this allows me to multi-task.

 

One of my fellow bloggers that I really enjoyed reading (and I’m curious for updates, as life seems to have sucked her into the abyss as well) is Claudia Bette. For awhile she was doing the diet and exercise thing and was posting charts tracking her progress. This has is something I would also like to do because, well, analytic data is hot. This is why gizmos like FitBits are so freaking cool. I kind of want one. But, I already have a heart rate monitor and a pedometer and I spent my extra money on this Compex instead. The EMS is only one part of the picture. I’m also attempting to diet and I went in this morning to re-join the gym. I’ve been keeping track of my daily basal metabolic rate or BMR (these are the calories your body burns each day just keeping you alive), starting weight for each day, the foods that I eat and the number of calories I consume. After all, the idea is to burn more calories than are consumed. However, there is a caloric minimum needed to avoid going into “starvation mode”, which the internet cannot seem to definitively confirm or deny. So, my goal each day is to fall somewhere between that minimum and my BMR. This is a lot harder than it seems. Perhaps after I have been doing this for another week or so, I will create my own pretty data art.

Doll Fever

Since my last posting, I’ve managed to acquire 6 more dolls and have made a few more outfits – aside from what I’ve sold on Etsy – Thanks to those who have purchased from me. In all the years I’ve had an Etsy shop, it has only been since Lammily became a thing that I’ve had such activity. It certainly seems like I’ve found a niche.

The first of my new dolls is this Ken doll my grandparents got me for my birthday. I lovingly refer to him as Nerd Ken. The only downside to him is that he can’t move very much. He has no real working joints. Barbie is the same way. So, I ended up purchasing another Ken doll from eBay with the intention to do a head swap. I haven’t gotten around to doing this yet, but I did make an outfit for him.

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Eventually I want to make a tie and a trench coat. I would like to OOAK (One Of A Kind) a John Constantine. I actually picked up yet another doll, the Divergent character 4, because I figured he might be my best bet at becoming Constantine. Though, in reality, it’ll most likely just be a Constantine cosplay because I don’t have much faith in my abilities to actually make a doll’s head look like Constantine’s. Not to mention, I now have concerns that the acetone that I would need to take the paint off his back would end up melting his back in the process.

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Work by Alexandre Pedreira

I’ve never really done any OOAK work before, but, like anything else, I’ve never let that stop me from trying. Although, I see so many really amazing OOAK dolls that I’m a bit intimidated. I actually really love Alexandre Pedreira’s work. (Fair Warning: Some of his dolls are anatomically correct and NSFW.) I don’t know how he does it, but he manages to get chest hair on his male dolls. He doesn’t just paint it on, but somehow affixes hair to dolls’ chests. I would LOVE to have a male doll with chest hair! When he does sell these dolls, they generally run around $200. For realistic chest hair, I would willingly pay that.

GEJust today I managed to snag 2 articulated naked Barbies from Salavation Army for a combined $2 and change. Their hair is a mangled mess and the brunette’s feet appear to have been chewed. However, these girls should serve good practice for learning how to re-root doll hair. I actually remember seeing a tutorial several years ago on how to re-root Blythe with human hair (Thanks, Anticraft! You guys have introduced me to so many neat things over the years. I can’t find the exact forum thread, but I remember I first saw this within your forums sometime in 2009). I think I may make the darker doll into a sister for Morrígan. I’m pretty sure I want to make the other doll a redhead (maybe a cousin of Morrígan‘s?) although I’m also debating putting Barbie’s head (I can only really have one Barbie actually called Barbie, all others will be given new identities) on this new doll’s body so she can move around. I’ve not entirely decided yet.

Mitsuko and Morrígan getting to know each other after Mitsuko moved in.

Mitsuko and Morrígan getting to know each other after Mitsuko moved in.

Perhaps my favorite of my new dolls is the Mixis doll. There are actually multiple Mixis dolls and this one is the Limited Edition Emerald Okada doll. The interesting thing about the Mixis dolls is that they are all supposed to be a mix of two or more races or ethnicities. The Emerald doll, which I have decided to rename Mitsuko Jones, is a blend of Black American, Native American, and Japanese. I think that’s pretty cool, and, while I only have the one Mixis doll right now, I intend to buy the rest as I have the means to do so. Mitsuko and Morrígan have actually become fast friends and have been spending a lot of time together.

Morrígan braiding Mitsuko's hair. This took *hours*

Morrígan braiding Mitsuko’s hair. This took *hours*

Morrígan introducing Mitsuko to Tarkan, her favorite singer.

Morrígan introducing Mitsuko to Tarkan, her favorite singer.

While I don’t intend to let my dolls completely take over every post on this blog, I have to say that right now I am having a lot of fun with it, and I’ve gotten compliments on my doll stories. So, there will be more doll stories in the future. I debated, briefly, about creating a secondary blog just to focus on dolls. However, I think the dolls can have a valid place within a blog that focuses on textiles, fashion, culture, communication, and art. Also, setting up an entirely new blog would just be a pain, so, I’m going to just roll with it. ::singing::: It’s my blog and I can do what I want to, do what I want to, do what I want to…

Dolly Got Back: Making Pants for Lammily

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One of the wonderful things about the Lammily doll is that she has realistic proportions. As a result, Lammily actually has a booty. This is both a blessing and a curse. Trying to form pants to fit a larger derriere is hard enough with people –The Struggle is Real -but trying to form pants to Lammily’s rear is downright frustrating. Unlike a fleshy behind, her hard plastic butt has no give – no muffin tops for this girlie. Even the shorts she came with can’t handle the pressure when she sits.
Seriously, they look so nice until she sits.

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So, trying to figure out the right way to make this doll a pair of jeans that will look just as good when she’s sitting as when she’s standing has been a daunting task with multiple fails.

The first thing I did was to try to draft a pattern the way The Fashion Doll Stylist demonstrated with her dolls.  This was the pattern I derived from that exercise:  I suppose they could work with some adjustments. I’m sure I’ll use this pattern for dress pants.

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I tried just playing around with trying to form the jeans to her seated. This mostly resulted in ridiculous sketches and a lot of chopped up fabric as I tried to figure out what I was even trying to do.

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I then decided to try to approach her jeans just the way I would pants for a person with more seat cushion. I turned to various sewing books on my shelf that weren’t much help. Then I found this tutorial – Full Butt Alteration for Jeans. So, I set to work again.

Now, if you follow the A’Cloth the World Facebook page or are a member of my more recent pet project, the group Handmade Lammily Fashions (also on Facebook), then you’ve already seen some of these photos and have read a bunch of my real-time frustrations.

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I don’t even want to think about how many hours I put into this, but I managed to make a pair of jeans that look like they’re comfortable and manage to work both standing and sitting. Of course, they’re baggy. This is, of course, what I was going for. However, I cannot currently imagine how skinny jeans might be constructed for her. I don’t think I’m committed enough to buy a pair of Apple Bottoms just to deconstruct them to see how they’re made. I’ve received plenty of compliments on these pants, but, I’m not entirely happy with them. I’m sure they could greatly be improved upon – I’m just too worn out to try right now. Until I *do* tweak them just right, I’m not putting them up on Etsy – although the girl power hoodie is up for sale. But, I did share the pattern over on the Handmade Lammily Fashions group page in case anyone wants to try making them.

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