Tuesday, July 31, 2012


All the painting and moving and cleaning and major work is done... and I finally had a chance to breathe and rest and finish my BK swap package & dismember dollies.

Well... one dolly, that is. Here is a clearer photo of my new mystery clone in her last few moments of being "stock". 

She has a look on her face like she knows something is up... and it was, indeed!

Everything was going along okay until I got to the top screw of the three and it seemed like it had been glued in or something.  I finally got it turning, but it didn't come out, so I realized, I'd just stripped the hole and it was going around and around w/o budging.  Then it just kind of came out. Well that was too good to me true... a tiny piece of her scalp flange actually broke and let it loose... but the screw is still stuck.  I think she will go back together okay w/o it, though.

Here's her scary face-up one last time before I sand matte her... the eyebrows are quite strange.

Pucci Collective saved me as I worked to get her eye mechanism out... I had to use my hands instead of a screwdriver with tape - I just had so much more control and knew exactly how much pressure I was applying, so I felt more comfortable... it took a long time and my fingers got really sore in the process.
Then I started sanding off the makeup to start fresh as a skully girl... almost done...
Comparison of different girls: ICY, Blythe RBL, and Basaak Clone... w/mystery clone faceplate...
All ready for a fresh start!

I also started taking out her eye chips because they were really dull - scratched on the outside and cloudy inside, with the black part of the pupil not very opaque. I think they just used a marker to black it and some weird white glue all over the back of the chips...
You can see from these pictures how dirty the are... but the good news about this funky glue - it's nothing like the funky Basaak glue!  The eye chips popped right out with the gluestick method & left no shards behind. Whew! 

This morning, I found an Obitsu body on BK and I think it will be perfect for her... (seller's photo)

It's taller than I would choose for Mesmer's replacement & I am loving having the clone's old body as a dress form... so I think this will be perfect... it's very boney and skeletony seeming to me & I have been wanting a posable body for one of my girls...  so it will be fun to test it out!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Callie McSpookerson has arrived.

Okay - that last name might not stick... and Callie is just short for Calavera. I am also tempted to name her Lola Daydream. I'm not going to name her until I have customized her a bit... so her personality can emerge.
(pardon the bad photos - had to take them with my webcam or nuthin' - long story.)
Here's how she arrived - all wrapped in sheets of Chinese newpaper with a faux Hermes scarf as a free gift - or perhaps a wrap?  She's perfect... since she will become a calavera girl... why not start life spooky?!

I've never been creeped out by my other dolls before - but I must cop to it.  This girl kind of freaks me out.  She needs a lot of love.  She probably needs to be smudged with sage smoke, banished, exorcised or aura cleansed or something... she evokes a troubled spirit... like a wounded animal.  I've never unwrapped a doll like this before.  It was strange and surreal to get her out of her plastic costume.
She is covered in plastic having plastic nightmares from behind her strange lazy sleep eyes... poor girl. 

She has pretty good quality hair, but it is thinly rooted and isn't really thatched, so it's kind of impossible to style.  She may end up with a Sleeping Elf wig that I had imagined for Charlotte - I am still waiting on it, even though I found the Guava scalp for her and she became adopted sisters with James.

Her faceplate is really nice, despite the hideous eye makeup & having lots of strange scuff marks.  Her lips are really nice - I almost hate to change them... but calaveras usually don't wear lipstick (or have lips!).  The quality of the faceplate plastic feels nice and substantial and solid like Blythe, but it's not a Blythe as the back plate claims. And the shape of her eyes is a pit different than Blythe - closer to Icy, almost.

(I feel kind of gross that she is a real knock off.  The Blybe/Basaak are obviously different - but she is claiming to be a Blythe - the mark on the back is trying to copy a real Blythe mark. Why or why?!)

Anyhow, her faceplate plastic is heavier than Char-Char's faceplate plastic... but her body is junk.  First off, the knees don't bend at all. I read some people say it was better quality than a Basaak... but I disagree.  Maybe it's better than CCE... but Charlotte's body is way nicer than this one.

I see where they are coming from maybe thinking it's better - it's heavier - I'll give it that much.  But the plastic is badly molded & the joints where her legs attach to her torso are really floppy, so she doesn't stand very well - there is no definition to her hands & feet and she is even missing part of a thumb!
Poor thing!  I think she will get in line before Mesmer for the first of my girls to get a body transplant... or I could get Mesmer a new body and give Mesmer's old Takara one to her. That is probably what I will end up doing so I don't have too many dolly parts around... but I am still steeling myself for the prospect of taking Mesmer apart in order to change her.

So I will start with taking apart Miss Spookerson. I think she has a lot of potential and I am motivated to get started because this girl *needs* some love.  She's had a rough life. In fact, I feel like she has come to me as a bit of a corpse and so the calavera theme is perfect.  I have been sketching today and daydreaming of colors and eyechips... I really want to paint some ideas on canvas first before I paint her...  but she does have a sweet skully girl in there somewhere and I will let her out!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Swap fever & Exciting Mail...

I just finished up some projects for this month's swap and I am really excited about them.  I have a bit more sewing to do before I send my package out for this month.  I love the swaps!

One of the funny things about them, though, is that I have to keep the projects I'm working on under wraps until my swap partner gets them... and since life has been crazy busy lately... that's most of what I have been working on.

So I decided to share what I sent last month... I think it might become a little ritual to share the previous month, as I gear up to send the next month's package!

The theme was Cool Britainnia last month, here's what I sent to my partner...

My partner, moondoxy, had awesome "likes" that gave me some very fun ideas - this dress was inspired by the Crown Jewels and the Tudor Ravens.  The necklace, I bought on etsy.

This one was inspired by Druids, Wuthering Heights, and my ongoing love of smocks.  Mesmer wants one for herself when I get a chance! (in black, of course.) :)

To go with it, I also put together this little necklace with a miniature pendant I found on etsy & a bit of chain.  I would love to experiment more with making Blythe necklaces! It was a lot of fun, but I need to perfect the chain a bit more.

And the last thing I made was this London-themed dress...
The fabric is "Makower Fabrics - UK"  They had a whole bunch of fabulous prints just in time for the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics.  The crown fabric is also Makower.

I made matching dresses for Mesmer and Lizzie Jane to practice what I wanted to do with the crown fabric.  Lizzie Jane didn't really like hers... but it made for a cute photo.

And then I added a bunch of black tulle around the hem and collar and turned it into another dress for Mesmer... though the black crown dress is now one of her very favorites... she does like both.

And... my kooky mystery clone arrived in the mail yesterday.  She was registered mail, so she must be signed for & the post office had already closed once I got home to get the package slip... so I haven't met her yet... but tonight I will!  I am looking forward to seeing one of these mystery girls in person and planning a more ambitious customization project.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

...on a jet plane.

Mesmer got to be the first of my Blythes to travel.  We had a terrible disaster with some reactive plastic from a vintage Sindy dining chair that stained the backs of her legs.  It was heart-breaking... we discovered it when I got her down to see James' arrival and so the day was bittersweet with a perfect new dolly and an injury to one of my beloved girls.  I took a picture, but can't bear to post it yet. Too sad.  However - it frees me up to let Mesmer wear black stockings and tights now, as she has been craving for a while - I read how they could stain and I was afraid... but now they hide the red plastic chair stain and who cares if they stain more... and she is now rooting for an eventual change to a super-bendy Pure Neemo body.

Long story short - to make it up to her, she insisted on being picked to come with me on my trip to my family reunion in Kentucky.  It rained most of the time we were there - which was a bit disappointing because I brought her Vintage Skipper swimsuit and we were planning to try to sneak off for a poolside photoshoot... but I did take this fun picture of her looking wistfully out the window at the rain.

On the way home, I had to fly back to work earlier than my parents, so I was traveling just with Mesmer and we had the most public Blythe photoshoot I've ever done - it was tons of fun and I didn't care a whit about being embarrassed because I wasn't ever going to see the folks in the airports again!

There was still rain once we got to Cincinatti - even severe thunderstorm warnings!
But we finally got cleared for takeoff, just as the sun was setting...
In Salt Lake... she helped me find my connection... and we took one last shot at the gate before heading home.

 I really bonded with Mesmer on this trip.  (oh and before I forget, I made her that black and grey hat as my activity while traveling!) It was so fun to have her along and there were a few times when she was a great comfort, as well as a fun companion.  She is the bravest and most adventurous of my girls and she has the battle scars to prove it - but I find the more I let go of worrying about her staying perfectly stock, the more I feel comfortable about really playing with her and the more fun we have.  Also - her personality comes out a lot... so it's a win-win situation.  She will definitely be my traveling companion on future trips. She's a bit of a jetsetter, already!

always one step behind... belated welcome to James St. James

When she arrived - all the girls came our to welcome her... she looked a little stunned at first! Lizzie Jane lent her a dress so she wouldn't have to be shy. :)

Still not so sure... but Char-Char and Mesmer are trying to make her feel at home - they recommend a little trip outside.

That's better!  She starts to feel at home and what a pretty girl she is! The camera loves her custom details.

She is such a pretty girl and we are all happy to have her join the family... especially Charlotte! Once her new Simply Guava scalp showed up the day after James did... they were like long-lost sisters reunited! <3

I wasn't sure if the pink would suit her - but i think it's perfect - especially with James.  It matches her lips exactly!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Call it impulsive, call it compulsive, call it insane."

I just bought this mystery clone doll... within 5 minutes of discovering it's existence.  I don't know why - it was a totally impulsive move. I want to make her into a calavera.

I've seen some gorgeous Blythe calaveras - but when it comes to proper Blythes, I can't bring myself to do much to them myself... I really like stock Blythes NRFB when they come to me. Out of curiosity, I bought myself a factory custom who is on her way and I am very excited to meet her... but unless I found one baity to begin with, I could never bring myself to change a real stock Blythe very much... I like them as they come!

Yet, I loved the calavera idea ever since I saw it... I was a calavera last year for one of my 4 nights of Halloween!  It was my first time trying the makeup - I just had a black face-painting pencil left over from a kit of vampire facepaint I used a year before... and a liquid eyeliner for the finer lines... it was hurried - but tons of fun & I got a lot of compliments.  I image searched calaveras and had a wonderful time looking at all the beautiful details.

I've seen a few truly lovely Blythe ones and some that were maybe not so well executed... but a lot of love went into them... I fell for all of them! I don't have an airbrush or anything as skilled & specular as these works of art... but I love to paint and I've thought it would be fun for a long time.

My friend just posted this lovely pictures to my FB recently, wanting to learn more about Blythe, totally rekindling my curiosity for a dolly calavera.
 I had been scoping out factory girls on the Taobao agent pages for a girl who might make a good calavera... the whole agent thing with factory Blythes kind of weirds me out & on ebay I'd rather get a stock Prairie Posey or Very Vicky new in the box for the same price than a factory or fakie girl I am just going to have my crafty way with... and I wanted a black haired girl most of all, but had not seen any factory girls with black hair.

So when I learned about the new clones and took a look & saw a black haired girl for $40 with free shipping who I could play with and not feel guilty... I just went nuts for a moment, threw caution to the wind and bought her!

I  really must be stopped.  In addition to the whole customizing diversion... I really do want to collect some more expensive stock Blythes like NosPop, Pheobe Maybe, and Gentle River. Really I do.  I just keep getting sidetracked.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Eyes for Charlotte.

I changed out a set of Charlotte's eye chips last night!

Yes, my non-existent readers... if you existed to read this, you may be stunned or confused.  Charlotte is a Basaak after all. I bought her as a newbie mistake - "practice your customizing"  that sounds great.  Only the Basaak eyechips are glued in with apocalypse-proof grade superglue. Not so great for "practice".

I love her to bits, even if she wasn't exactly the best choice - she was my first dolly and I could never give up on her. So, slowly but surely, I am giving her a better life.  Clones deserve love too - if they happen into your life.

The first time I tried to change out eyechips, I just hoped beyond hope that she would be an exception to the Basaak glue situation.  I wanted to change out her front-facing green chips.  I tried the hot glue sticks to no avail.  Several times.  I gave up.  The whole ordeal left me a bit traumatized to be honest. I really thought I would never change out any eyechips ever again after that experience.  One of the huge attractions for me with RaRi is that I liked all of her eyechip colors well enough to never worry about wanting to change them and not being able to!

But then I nicked the blush on Miss Mesmer's cheek and that feeling of not wanting to change any of her stock qualities faded a bit... she had a personality inside her that wanted to come out... if she had to sacrifice the perfection of her stock faceup to become who she was meant to be, in the end it was a small sacrifice.  And it started with her orange and pink stock chips.

She was a dream to work with - I mastered the "twist and pull" method and discovered the sweet spot of how melty to let the glue get before sticking it to the chippie.

So Charlotte has a new scalp on the way (if we like the pink!) and I just got this wild hair that she should have new eyes too.  With my new-found confidence - I decided to give it a go on her blue front-facing chips.  I knew the green ones were tough... but I hadn't tried the blue yet.  I gave a masterful "twist/pull" & much to my surprise - on the first try, one actually came out!!!!!!!! (...with the caveat of a small shard of blue plastic left behind - it didn't look like much; but was I ever wrong about that assessment!)

The second chip didn't come out until the 3rd try - I had to let the glue stick get really melty - any meltier and it would have been a huge mess - but I got enough of a firm grip with the glue the 3rd time to pop the other chip out - also with a little shard of plastic left behind.

I've read about this and about how people use a dremel tool to remove the shards left behind... I don't have a dremel tool - so I started poking at it with the edge of my tweezers that I use to place the eye chips in, then a sewing needle that was on my work bench - neither had any effect whatsoever... so I grabbed two sizes of exacto and sat down for a more serious attempt to remove the plastic.  I got the crazy idea that maybe I could sand the edge of an existing eyechip instead of the plastic and destroyed a nice Olive colored B.W. chip in the process, before abandoning that tactic.  Then I pulled out my big Olfa snap blade knife.  This is a serious tool - I use it for book making to cut the book board that goes inside hardcovers.  It scared the living daylights out of me to take this tool to my sweet Char-Char's eye sockets!

The reluctant oracle was even freaked out.  He used to find all aspects of the dolly world anathema - but since my doll family has been around for a while he's relaxed his stance & now just feigns complete indifference. Occasionally he slips up and actually betrays that he's paying more attention than he lets on.

Mesmer's eye chip changing project weirdly intrigued him... but he remembered that I had said I would never do the same for Charlotte - so when he saw me with the Olfa blade he exclaimed in a very concerned tone: "what are you doing to her?!" He was truly worried.  I promised him that Charlotte was in the best of care and I would never let her get baity - even if I had to buy her an entirely new eye mechanism that cost more than she did!  He relaxed a bit.

When I finally got the blue plastic out, I was testing different colors of eye chips for her and then I remembered the Elficious hand-painted chips that I bought for her before I realized that her chippies were such a challenge.  After my first failure - I'd set them aside & almost forgotten that I had them, thinking that someday I might try to sell them on B.K. sundries.  So glad that I hadn't, since I'd picked them specially for Charlotte.  They were perfect in look and practicality too - the post on Basaak is a little shallower than Blythe, so I was thinking I would have to sand down one of the sets of B.W. chips that I had leftover from esmer's project - but the Elficious ones come with a shorter post and they fit perfectly without any sanding (thank goodness - I had enough plastic shards for one evening with the eye socket debacle!)

So my sweet Char-Char has gorgeous eyes now - hand-painted front facers and my favorite side-facing ice blue chips.  She still has her slightly scary side-facing pink chips that we switch the dolls to when we go out of town to protect the house. And the green front-facers... well I think they can stay too.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

James is in transit...

One more time... my James!  (I am actually going to call her James St. James... in honor of her original name, but also to give her my own nickname.)  She was mailed yesterday... she's on her way for my birthday!  And my other b-day present to myself was totally spontaneous.  Yesterday evening, I was poking around on ebay and I discovered a super-cheap Simply Guava scalp with no bids on it. I put in a bid, thinking that I would certainly be outbid... but no one else bid on it and I got it for the lowest possible price.

It was just listed as pink Blythe scalp - but it seems to me to be a Simply Guava - with the exact hair-style... so I don't think it's factory.  Even if it is fake or factory... it will definitely be better quality that Charlotte's current current hair.  Here is the e-bay listing picture.  Do pardon the nudity... poor girl. :(

I have been on the look-out for a cheap scalp with bangs that would be an improvement over Charlotte's current Blybe/Basaak scalp.  I did add some knotted-method highlights that I salvaged from a Cool Cat wig & then I gave her a bob... but her hair is still sort of a challenge - mostly because of scalp gap... & also that her original hair, though thickened up and restyled, was never very good quality.

I never thought of her as a pinky girl, but I have always kind of wanted a girl with pink hair & now that I have a psuedo-mango on the way... why not a pseudo-guava too!

I am really excited for Char-Char to get some quality hair that I didn't have to spend a fortune on...  I know she is "just a clone" - but she is my first girl and she has a heart of gold!  She has a special place in my heart and I want to spoil her a bit.  We tried to change out her chips with no success.. but the hair, I feel confident with.  I hope she doesn't find that going pink is too much of a shock!

The Plunge! (I took it!)

So the Brainworm package arrived this week!  Mesmer's new eye chippies are here!

I picked four with foils that I really liked... the foils are very cool - quite subtle and really make the chips unique.
 After much hemming and hawing, I actually decided to paint the pupil of the milky ones too.  Those were the first ones that I have changed out & I really love them.  Mesmer was such a brave trooper!  I am really proud of her. Of course we took some picks of the process...

As promised, the orange chippies were the first to go.  I used sticky notes instead of tape to hold her lashes out of the way - sliding the paper end under her lids and folding back the sticky part onto her forehead.  It seemed more gentle than scotch tape.  Then I bundled her up to make her as comfy as possible during the ordeal.

On the first try, only one chip came out and the other one stayed in... so we had to try that one again.

The second time, I let the glue get a little meltier - I was worried the first one was too melty, so I tried not to let the second one get too melty... but that was the one that didn't work first time around... so the second time, I let the glue stick get a wee bit meltier... and it worked!

Already looking better... then to put the eye chips in and rest. All the girls came to visit her to make sure she was okay.

She's doing very well, post-surgery... loving her new look & anticipating another go tomorrow.

And in black and white... my beautiful spooky girl's looking mesmerizing with her new milky eyes...

Coming soon... what have I been doing all month?  The Blythe Swap!  I will write about it and post pictures soon.