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.

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Doll Surgery

 

 

 

Lately I have been trying my best to quell my wanting for new dolls. As it is, I do have a fair amount and rather than just to continue amassing more of them, it’s best that I try to focus on the ones I currently have. Though, I *did* pick up some recent acquisitions that I didn’t really even pay anything for. Yay free dollies!

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Wait? FREE?? Yeah, free. Ok, $3 and some change. But practically free. Some months back I signed up for a Toys R Us credit card. Basically, the card accumulates points for dollar that I spend. Those points add up to money back that I can spend at Toys R Us. This haul was the result of earning $50 worth of points. There are probably better options out there for cash back or rewards and certainly lower interest rates. But this post isn’t so much about the card, as this is really my first foray into credit cards. I avoided them like the plague through college and even now they scare me just a bit. I have personally known too many people get hurt by them. I do not advise getting a credit card unless you have enough income to not be struggling from paycheck to paycheck and/or have very strong will power. It is very easy to think that a line of credit is like an emergency fund. IT IS NOT. I spend my credit the way I would spend my debit card – on stuff I would normally buy that I have the funds for in the bank. Then I pay it off in full (not the minimum) and as soon as what I’ve spent posts to the account.  All of that said, let’s get into the dolls.

So, if you look at the above photo, you’ll see that I got myself three of the Made to Move (MtM)dolls and two Fashionistas. I’d had the brunette and Asian MtM dolls already. I got two more of them for the sole purpose of rebodying.

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Miss Candy Jumper (I haven’t yet given her an identity) didn’t quite match up with the brunette’s color. As you can see, she was a closer match to one of the Liv dolls I had laying around.

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Livs aren’t as wondrously articulate as MtMs, but, before MtMs came on the market, Livs were about the best that could be had in play line articulation. Unfortunately, Liv heads are

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Oops!

a much harder and less malleable material than Barbie heads. I had quite a bit of trouble. This doll did not wish to be decapitated. It was like I could almost hear her screaming. In the end, I pulled too hard and the little internal neck piece popped out and is now rattling inside the Liv head. But, I still want to use that Liv body, so, what do I do? I had to perform a trickier transplant…

 

Now, what you’re about to see may be gruesome. I extracted the part I needed from an older body in my dolly morgue. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

It took some intense skill and precision on my part, but the transplant was successful! Let’s just hope these new parts aren’t rejected down the road. I don’t think Miss Candy Jumper wants to go through this ordeal again!

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¡Gracias! Puedo doblar mis rodillas!

Here are all the new dollies, out of the boxes and post-op (I’m still working on the 5th):

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So far, the only one I have a name for is the blonde curvy one. I’ve chosen to name her Diane, after my mother. I don’t really know why, she just reminds me of my mom. I’ll have to make her a new outfit (Mom was never one for dresses) and a little bandana.

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My mother being radiant. The tiny one is me, around 3 years old. Gonna say this was 1988.

 

 

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. 

GE  YarnHair (2)  YarnHair (11)  YarnHair (12)  YarnHair (4)  YarnHair (7)  YarnHair (9)
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!)

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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The People’s Dolly

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It’s been just over a year now since Morrígan (my Lammily doll) arrived at my door, moved into my heart, and gave me doll fever. I’ve sung her praises many times on this blog, but today I want to sing the praises of her creator, Nickolay Lamm, and the Lammily company.

When Lammily first came out, there weren’t many options for clothes for her. Her selling point was that she has realistic proportions that, scaled up, would result in a woman with a healthy body. This, and the fact that the company was brand new and figuring things out, meant that there just weren’t many options for her. She couldn’t swap clothes with many other dolls, certainly not with the usual suspects. This gave birth to a DIY market and community – Etsy sellers like Phyllis ShermanHelena HannukainenOph Bruneau, and Em Carroll began making Lammily clothes. I decided to create Handmade Lammily Fashions on Facebook, which was followed by an offshoot group, Lammily Enthusiasts (both groups have mutual respect for and collaborate with each other). We were small but we were mighty. A representative from the company joined Lammily Enthisiasts, where she would interact with and answer questions for eager Lammsters. Soon after, Lammily Enthusiasts became the Official Lammily Fan Group.

As Lammily’s success grew, the company aired their first commercial which let’s us see our girl interacting in the already established Doll World.

In the most recent commercial, Lammily takes time to give homage to the iconic toys and dolls that have come before her, pointing out that without them, she would not exist.  The driving image is showing this doll as an equally valid and inclusive player – not elite, not better-than-the-competition, but just as good. She can play with and fit in right alongside your other dolls. I think that’s big.

Something I have been extremely impressed with in recent months has been  how Mr. Lamm not only acknowledges Lammily’s DIY crowd and fan-base, but is actually *very* supportive of it. On their website, an option right along their “World of Fashion” clothing, are the “Handcrafted Limited Editions“. Further, what you will see when you sign up for their mailing list and start getting their emails, is that he introduces you to the DIY lady responsible for the handmade clothes.

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Screen shot of a Lammily Email

So far, I am really impressed with Mr. Lamm and his company. Between all I’ve stated and the fact that she was the product of a Kickstarter campaign, I don’t think I’d be out of bounds to go so far as to consider Lammily “The People’s Dolly”. (As much as a representative of capitalist consumer culture can be, anyway. The irony isn’t lost here, only amusing.)

Now I just need to learn more about how the dolls themselves are made. From what I understand, though, the company ensures that every step of the doll-making process is done at factories that don’t take advantage of their employees.

Give Me a Head with Hair

I recently hand one of those rare moments when I actually managed to come back to a project and finish it. Do you remember a month or so ago when I started my first re-root of an old Barbie doll? I ended up putting her and a lot of other projects on hold while I dealt with some of life’s other issues and picked up a second job. I also ended up putting her head on a Liv doll body so she would have superior articulation:

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She isn’t completely finished yet. I still need to cut and style that new hair. Right now, the hair is very uneven as the strands were different lengths and there is just so much of it that her head pulls to the back from the weight. She will very likely end up with bangs and shorter hair when I’m done with her. I’d also like to repaint her face some and give her green eyes. I’ve decided to name her Sinead – she’s Morrígan’s cousin from her mother’s side (If you didn’t catch Morrígan’s intro narrative, catch it here if you’re interested) I haven’t figured out her personality yet, but I really love the name.

I’ve also recently picked up a cousin for Mitsuko. (Morrígan and Mitsuko are my favorite dolls – most of my other dolls I have gotten with the idea that they would be friends, family members, love interests, etc. – at least for now). I was at a Toys R Us a few weeks ago and I picked up a cheerleader Barbie with articulated joints. I named her Zahara. She’s Mitsuko’s cousin from her dad’s side:

Mitsuko: I am so happy you decided to move in with me, Zahara! It must have been hard for Aunt Richelle and Uncle Terry to let you go... Morrígan: Hi, Mitsuko! Who's your new friend? Mitsuko: Konbanwa Morrígan! I'd like you to meet my cousin, Zahara. She just moved up here from Georgia. Zahara: As-Salaam-Alaikum! I've heard SO much about you! Morrígan: Wa-Alaikum-Salaam! Welcome to Illinois! I look forward to getting to know you.

Mitsuko: I am so happy you decided to move in with me, Zahara! It must have been hard for Aunt Richelle and Uncle Terry to let you go…
Morrígan: Hi, Mitsuko! Who’s your new friend?
Mitsuko: Konbanwa Morrígan! I’d like you to meet my cousin, Zahara. She just moved up here from Georgia.
Zahara: As-Salaam-Alaikum! I’ve heard SO much about you!
Morrígan: Wa-Alaikum-Salaam! Welcome to Illinois! I look forward to getting to know you.

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Inspired by Kristl Smith Tyler’s work over on How to Play with Barbies (her posts are all quite amazing and often delve into sociocultural commentary that go beyond doll play alone – something I appreciate in particular coming from an Anthropology background) I decided to give Zahara a boil perm. I wanted to give her more natural looking hair – black dolls very seldom come with anything but straight hair. It’s only been within the last 10 years perhaps (I don’t know exactly when) that black dolls actually got their own face molds to more accurately reflect common facial features – I remember as a kid all the black dolls were just white dolls made with brown plastic. (Some links for more related reading at the bottom, because as a white woman, I don’t feel I have a platform to really comment on these issues – though I will say that I find any manner of scrutiny and pressure from society to look any certain way is complete bullshit. Women get this from all angles, and women of color get further scrutiny and pressure placed upon them – and I want to recognize there is a struggle here that I am not privy to rather than gloss over it or pretend it doesn’t exist.) So, following Ms. Tyler’s instructions, I gave Zahara a more natural do.

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Mitsuko: Sugoine! I love what you've done to your hair! So pretty! Zahara: Haha! Thanks.

Mitsuko: Sugoine! I love what you’ve done to your hair! So pretty!
Zahara: Haha! Thanks.

I’m pretty happy with the results and I feel confident now that I have successfully completed my first re-root and boil perm. I have a number of other projects lined up, and more pictures to share with you all, but I think I’m going to save those for another post – which will come sooner than later, I promise 😉

Further Reading:

1) http://jezebel.com/5387821/new-black-barbies-same-old-controversy
2) http://www.newstatesman.com/media/2014/01/politics-black-hair
3) http://www.academia.edu/4463226/Black_Hair_Politics_in_White_Academia_With_Reference_to_Black_Studies
4) http://thefeministwire.com/2013/04/untangling-the-knots-understanding-the-hair-politics-of-black-women-revisited/
5) http://www.forharriet.com/2015/02/why-it-isnt-just-hair-hair-for-so-many.html

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…