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September 2014
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Testing Valspar Plastics Paint

Valspar Plastic Spray Paint Cocoa Bean

Valspar Plastic Spray Paint Cocoa Bean

Here’s the new paint I’m testing: Valspar plastics spraypaint in Cocoa Bean. There aren’t many spray paint colors that can pass for skin tones.  The dark brown is Krylon Espresso.  Several brands have a close equivalent in color to that, but this is the only mid-toned brown I’ve found. (Krylon Brown Boots is a very orangey brown)

UNFORTUNATELY, so far the Valspar doesn’t seem to be as plastic friendly as it advertised.  On the label in small letters it says it’s ‘for rigid plastics’ and the ingredients include Acetone, which I believe Fusion doesn’t have.  It is the/one of the chemicals attributed to why spray paint turns dolls into a sticky mess–which this head is, several hours after it should have been dry.  But it’s OK, I have some other tricks I can try

Repurposing Shoes

I’m almost done with Lita Lindorm, the pink/purple backgrounder from Ever After High. I pretty much had the outfit complete, but I needed to make her accessories. Fortunately, since she’s a backgrounder she has a lot of re-purposed bits from other characters that were released that I could use: Her head bow (Blondie’s bow, carved and painted), her bracelet and ring (Apple’s, repaninted) and her shoes…

Shoe customization project Yep!  I did manage to find a screencapture of her shoes.  I found screencaptures of all the character’s shoes and jewelry.  Because I’m just that f*cking crazy.

I also went through catalogs of all the shoe molds released, as well as TaoBao pictures of shoes not yet released.  Nothing existed in the basic high heel with a single bow ankle strap.  Kind of surprising given how simple the style is, I sort of figured Draculaura would have a pair like this.

Shoe Customization project

Here was my solution:  Apple’s shoes, stripped down of all apple bits and the lower two bow straps.  The above is how my shoes looked after I finished cutting off all the excess.  After that I sanded them down, and after THAT I painted them.

Shoe Customization project

End result: Doesn’t look too much like the original shoe.  DOES look a lot like the animation shoe.  I am pleased.

(And yes, expect final pics of the finished doll sometime this weekend when she gets her photo shoot)

If at first you don’t succeed? Try something else.

After the dye failed...

Alrighty, I’ve already chronicled my adventures in dyeing a doll body; all it did was dye the joints, after two hours in a hot dye bath. However, the joints are the one part that are REALLY HARD if not impossible to paint without chipping, so all I had to do was paint the rest of the doll to match the joints and I’d be good to go.

Vinyl paint is what you want to look for with dolls. You can use acrylics/airbrush, but it doesn’t adhere quite as well, and you’ll still get chips with vinyl paint, just not nearly as many. The other thing with vinyl paint, which is a spraypaint, is that you must go VERY SLOWLY. I cannot stress that enough. The #1 error with spraypainting is a heavy spray finger. Then the paint gets all thick and pools into details and you end up with a doll that looks like it melted. It didn’t, it just has caked-on paint.

How slowly is slowly? 4 coats for the head, spaced 30 minutes apart. The body was done gradually over 5-6 hours. The first two coats should not even cover all of what you are spraying, it should be a light mist. EVERY coat should be a light mist, but you don’t want to see any opacity until coat 3-4. When dealing with all the nooks and crannies of the body, more coats to get all the angles. It takes a long time, but I also have a nice THIN coat of paint everywhere, and that means the paint job will be that much harder to chip from regular posing. Quality takes time.

So what’s next?
I have to figure out what to do with her! My original plan was for a nice medium brown skintone to do one of the other background characters. That didn’t work so well, so her fate is currently ‘unassigned’. I’m happy to take suggestions! I would LOVE to have representation from a non-euro fairytale, but the only non-euro fairytales I’m really familiar with are 1001 Nights. Euro fairytales are OK too, but it would have to be a currently un-assigned character (my backup is to make my flipped version of Snow White). And it has to be a fairytale/folk tale, NOT a god from greek/other mythology.

How to dye an Ever After High doll

I found a couple of clearance Ravens at Justice and bought them to experiment on.  There isn’t a lot of info about doll bodies and Dye, probably because Barbies with rubbery click-legs do not dye well.  However, EAH dolls are all articulated, no rubbery bits!

Dye-ing experiments

Read more »

Hats pattern pack?

One of my Etsy reviews had one star off for not having a hat in the frock coat pattern pack (I do read them!  Feedback is important, it’s how I get better).  I did want to have a hat pattern in there, the problem is hat patterns take up a LOT of space because of the big honkin’ heads.  Not nearly so big as a Pullip, but when a hat brim can spread out 4″ in all direction on a single sheet (and doesn’t even include the hat dome) an add-on ends up taking up almost half the pattern space.

I like hats.  I have several, from fun winter hats to big floppy sun-blocking summer hats.  However, making hats?  Not that much experience.  But that just means I’ll have to learn!

Here’s the problem with hats that I see: EAH dolls all have the same general head size/shape.  MH dolls do not, plus the various horns/ears thing.  I think I could fix this by having all basic hats be one size fits all (fitted to EAH, slightly loose on MH, but with the variety in head size/shapes that is more a plus than a negative)  and instructions on how to measure and make ear/horn holes.

Does this interest anyone?  If so, what kind of hats do YOU want?


General Updates

For the first time ever I met my Etsy sales goal!  Yay!  My sales goal is usually whatever my sales were for the previous month plus around 10%.  Since I usually do 1-2 patterns a month and this past month I did 5, and I only surpassed my goal by $18, I’m not sure if I did good or not, but um…. yay!  I met my goal!

My advice on goals: Don’t set easy ones.  Don’t set goals that are so ridiculous you never meet them, either.  Figure out what a realistic goal is, and set a goal that is slightly higher, but possible.  I usually miss it by around $20, which is close enough that I’m more like “I WAS SO CLOSE!  I’ll work harder and get it next time!” than “Waaaahhhh I suck!”

My day job is still on hold due to the temporary hacking shutdown, so I’m going to try to work hard on patterns this month, too.  I’m going to try doing some standard 11-12″ fashion dolls (Barbie, Disney princesses) patterns.  Ideally, these patterns will also work with Pullips, but I’ve noticed that most of the 11-12″ fashion dolls fall into either “Skinny” or “Super-skinny” dimensions.  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to make one pattern that works for all, but I suspect that if I have to break it down into 2 different sizes for fashion dolls, Obitsu bodies will fall into “Skinny” and Pullip type 3/4s will fall into “Super-skinny” so either way, Pullips will get more clothes.

I also picked up some clearance Ever After High dolls to do dyeing experiments with, as I’d really like to be able to work on some darker skinned background characters.

And I’m going to really, REALLY try and get up a few chapters of All My Pullips.

Aaaaaand that’s it!  Extra thanks to all my customers and fans this past month, it helps me be much more optimistic in the face of job uncertainty to have something else productive to work on :3  As always, happy to get feedback and suggestions through the blog (I know the blog keeps resetting itself to registered users commenting–I keep un-resetting it), etsy, flickr, tumblr, email, whatever.

PS–remember the sewing contest everyone!  I want to see lots of awesome dolly fashions :D

Quick snaps of Pullip/Dal in recent fashion setsQuick snaps of Pullip/Dal in recent fashion sets

I’ve had a lot of questions about who else fits the pattern packs.  Patterns for each doll look best on the doll they are designed for, but that doesn’t mean they can’t share.  Think of it like the difference between off the rack and custom tailored clothes. Here’s some comparisons with dolls I have:

Pullips: Pullips fit into patterns that fit adult female MH and boy MH dolls. Momoko dolls also can wear these clothes, as momoko/type 4 Pullip bodies are virtually identical.

Isul: Isul can wear MH boy and adult female MH clothes, but he has shorter limbs.

Dal/Byul: Dals and Byuls cannot wear MH-ONLY clothes, but they can wear EAH and EAH/MH patterns.

Taeyang: Taeyang and EAH boys can wear each others’ clothes.

Blythe: Blythe cannot wear any of the clothes made from my patterns.

Generally the dolls can swap clothes with some fitting better than others, but if you sew/fit them to the doll you intend the clothes to be worn on instead of trying to swap them around you should be fine.  I usually give extra room on the closures of whatever clothing piece in case people over-sew the seam allowances, as it gives more wiggle room, which is enough to accommodate the slight differences between bodies.

New pattern: Cocktail dresses

Cocktail dress set now on Etsy :)

Cocktail dress set is now up!  This one is SUPER versatile for the size and has 5 different neck line options, 3 different attached sleeves and 3 different separate sleeves.  So you can make a ton of dresses that look nothing alike with the exact same pattern pieces :)

Ode to dark skinned dollies

When Nahh-ato, the first dark-skinned Pullip came out, I promptly bought 5.  I like dark skinned dolls.  As a so-white-most-brands-don’t-carry-foundation-light-enough-for-me-and-tanning-only-makes-me-freckle person, I kind of equate this to how curly haired people adore straight hair, and straight people long for curly hair.  Both sides have their pros and cons.

Pale skin: Photographs more easily.  Easy to put any color on it.  Wears almost any color well.  Throws off color contrast making medium-dark colors look way darker than they are.  Makes it difficult to blend colors to base skin tone.  Reflects light and makes delicate features like eyebrows shrink, as well as making you look way fatter in photographs than you are IRL. Ahem.

Dark skin: Very easy to blend and contour with more natural looking results.  Richer skintones make even blank heads look better.  More tricky to photograph.  Difficult to get bright colors to show up.

I’ve been tweaking my stock EAH dolls, because contouring makes their moon-faces look much nicer.  My favorite so far is Cerise:

Tweaked Cerise

Then Blondie:
Blondie Locks

Then Raven:

Raven Queen

And lastly, Apple:
Apple White

Notice a trend? I do like how all these dolls came out, and all four of these dolls weren’t ones I was big fans of originally (like Cedar, who has not gotten nearly as much work done because she started out gorgeous). But Apple? You can tell exactly where the makeup is, and it doesn’t look remotely ‘natural’. Her pretty white skin bleaches out the color that is there, making the gradient less gradient-y and more concentrated in pictures.  This isn’t a problem with Cerise, who wears pigment like it’s an actual radiant part of her, and not just sitting on the surface.

Anyway, just my aesthetic preferences.  Pale skin is good for some things, dark skin is good for other things.  Given the lack of non-wooden, dark-skinned characters in EAH, I’m very soon going to be conducting some dolly dye-bath experiments.  They probably won’t go well, but I’m desperate…

New Contest Posted :)

Summer Sewing Challenge!

Time for everyone who’s been procrastinating to get sewing :)  Check out the “Contests” tab on the left for all the details.

Contest due date is 9/30/2014, so there should be PLENTY OF TIME for everyone, even if they hand-sew.