Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Uni-que Kind of Guy

He's the biggest doll in my line-up, a whole 67 centimeters worth (26.37 inches) and a real heavyweight, so much so that I constantly fear he will topple over despite the doll stand around his waist.  Next time I order stands I need to order him the next size up.  Just to be on the safe side.  Either that or find him a nice big chair.

He is, of course, a Unidoll.  Anthony, to be exact.  Normally I don't go for these dolls.  Not only are they big, but they look disturbingly human.  Most of the guys look like they have survived a fight or two, taking away a broken nose as a souvenir.  Anthony's publicity photos had a slightly softer look.  I thought maybe this one could work.

Another reason I bought him was the fact that clothing patterns were readily available.  The maker of Adams-Harris patterns owns a Unidoll Jace and had already drafted a couple of patterns for him.  Patterns are a big consideration for me when buying a doll.  If I can't dress him, he will languish in his box unloved and undisplayed. 

That said, Adams-Harris patterns drive me crazy.  Don't get me wrong, I love the finished product.  The clothes fit beautifully.  I invariably make mistakes when putting them together, however, mistakes I would not make if the instructions were more carefully edited before a pattern is put on sale.  Each pattern I have purchased has had issues:  pattern markings are mentioned in the instructions but do not appear on the pattern pieces, or the instructions leave out steps, or tell me to put WST (wrong sides together) when my gut is screaming at me to do it the other way around (i.e., RST, right sides together).  Too bad my gut only screams at me after I have already spent 15 fruitless minutes trying to do it as instructed.

Take the waistcoat in the above photo, for example.  It has darts in both front and back pieces, in both the fashion fabric and the lining, yet nowhere do the instructions address these darts.  Thank goodness I have done enough sewing to know that you always sew your darts first.  Then there is the question of the waistcoat pocket flaps.  The instructions say to sew two on the left.  Whose left?  Mine or the doll's?  The envelope illustration shows them on the doll's left; they are printed on the pattern piece that would be the doll's right side.  I'm confused.  And when I am confused, my seam ripper sees a lot of action. 

I am in the process of making the above outfit again in a different fabric.  This time I am placing the pockets on the other side.  I figure this way I have my bases covered.  I just wish the pattern maker would remember that people who buy her patterns are not professional seamstresses.  If we were, we would not need to buy other people's patterns--we would simply make our own.  Just once, I would like to sew an outfit without having to go to my closet to compare what I am reading to an article of real clothing.

Adams-Harris has two new patterns for Unidoll boys, both based on Sherlock Holmes (complete with deerstalker hat).  I expect I will buy them, despite the fact that I will no doubt tear out a few more gray hairs trying to make sense of it all.

For a minute there I forgot that this post was about Anthony.  This photo shows him with Elfdoll Sooah, who is wearing platform shoes or else she would look shorter next to him.  It also shows how much more realistically he is sculpted.  Her proportions are doll-like, whereas his are closer to human proportions.  It makes them look a little strange together.  I am currently displaying him next to Hazy, whose proportions are more harmonious with his.  Once I finish his new outfit and a corresponding one for her, I will photograph them for the blog.

One thing more to note about Unidoll Anthony:  his box was labeled Raurencio Studio.  I don't know what the relationship is between Unidoll and Raurencio, other than both being Korean, but the latter manufactures a line of fabulous 67 cm. male dolls.  The guys tend to have wide mouths--think Mick Jagger with less sausage-like lips.  They are currently introducing their first lady doll.  At 62 cm. she is a bit smaller than the guys.  In my opinion she is prettier than the Unidoll girls, but I am not in love with her sculpt, or maybe it's just the face-up.  It will be interesting to see what Raurencio does with future females.
I am still trying to figure out in my own mind if the dolls are an excuse for sewing, or if the sewing is an excuse for collecting dolls.  Perhaps it's a little of both.

Next time, Ball Jointed Woman has her first close encounter of the eBay kind, as Resin Corner welcomes its first Unoas to the house.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

All Wigs Are Not Created Equal

Nor, for that matter, are all doll heads.  This can make wigging BJDs an interesting challenge. 

Wig sizes are generally expressed as a single number or a range of numbers:  6 or 6-6.5 or 6/7.  Wigs sized in this manner would fit a doll with a 6-inch head, a head between 6 and 6.5 inches, or a head between 6 and 7 inches.  Complicating matters is the fact that doll dimensions are frequently given in centimeters.  It's a good idea to download a conversion chart for those occasions when the conversion is not listed.  (I consulted mine twice while composing this post.)

If all wigmakers adhered strictly to a standard for the size they were making, the only issue would be in taking an accurate measure of the doll's head.  I have run into the occasional problem with inconsistent sizing.  Take the two LeekeWorld wigs below:

On the left is wig #L048 from LeekeWorld.  On the right is wig #L047.  Both are advertised as size 6-6.5, although the bag for #L047 says 6/7.  The Unoa Lusis on the left wears a 6/7, so #L048 should fit without any problem.  It is, in fact, very snug.  Soul Doll Linn on the right wears a 7/8.  Wig #L047, which should be extremely tight if it is indeed a 6-6.5, is loose.  #L047 does not fit any of my size 6/7 dolls, even with a silicone wig cap.  It's just too big.  (I suspect it is a mislabeled 7/8 and not a 6/7 at all.)

Here is another example:

These are Dollzone wigs.  Both are advertized as fitting a size 18.5-19 cm. head (roughly 7.25 inches).  Narae, on the left, is the only one of my dolls who can wear the black/red wig #W45-006.  It was so tight going on that for a while I feared it was going to pop off.  One look at the inside of the wig is enough to tell that this wig is closer to a 5/6 than a 7/8.  I suspect the company mislabeled one of their BB wigs (for their smallest dolls, about 6.5 inches).  Linn, on the right, wears a 7/8 and the carmel color wig #W45-004 fits her perfectly.  My size 6/7 dolls, such as Limho Mono below, can wear it with a silicone wig cap.  It's still a bit large but it works.

This is not to disparage either LeekeWorld or Dollzone wigs.  I have bought other wigs from both companies and the fit was as advertised.  LeekeWorld wigs, in fact, are some of my favorites.

Other favorites include Monique Gold wigs and JpopDolls wigs, both of which feature extremely soft, natural looking fibers.  Their wig caps stretch, ensuring a good fit regardless of the doll's head shape.  My only complaint with Monique Gold is the silky tag inside the wig.  It can cause the wig to slip.  I always cut the tag off to enable the wig to stay put.  I am not featuring Monique or JpopDolls wigs in this post because a majority of my wigs come from one or the other, so they will continue to appear in these pages.

Here is a look at my wig collection.  The only wigs missing are the 20 or so currently on dolls' heads.

The three large bins are organized by size:  8/9, 7/8, and 6/7, while the smaller bin holds additional 6/7s -- mostly mohair and the smaller fitting wigs that I keep for the Little Fees.  The lids (ranged above them on the bed) hold the packaging for the wigs currently in use.  I always replace the tissue paper stuffing inside and put the hairnet over it when I store a wig.  It all goes into a plastic bag and then into the bin.  That way I avoid tangles and keep the style intact.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that all doll heads were not created equal.  I should have photographed a larger number of them to show the variation in head shapes possible within one size range, but the two heads below should suffice for illustration:

On the left is Unoa Lusis unwigged.  I have not discussed the Unoas yet, but for now let me just say that the holes in her head are for the eye mechanism, which I am not using, and for additional parts like horns or cat's ears.  (I'm not kidding.)  She has a nice round head.  Narae, on the right, has an indentation at the back of her head for the maker's label.  Although she is the same size as Lusis, wigs fit her head a little differently.  That indentation is the reason I was able to get the Dollzone wig to stay on her head.

I have added a small piece of moleskin to the back of each doll's head to help hold the wigs in place.  You can find moleskin in the foot care aisle of your local supermarket or pharmacy.  It is sticky on one side and has fabric on the other.  That little bit of fabric keeps the wig from slipping on an otherwise very smooth surface.  Some dollmakers put pieces of velcro on their doll heads to achieve the same purpose.  I don't like the velcro because the hair gets caught in the tiny teeth and can tear away from the wig.  A silicone wig cap is your best bet for holding wigs that are a little large.  The problem is they don't work with a wig that is already tight.

One thing to watch in wigs is scale.  A wig with very long or very thick hair will easily overwhelm a small doll.  In a previous post I mentioned that Little Fee Lishe arrived with such a wig.  Here is that wig on Pixiez Dharma, a doll nearly twice Little Lishe's size, after I had cut at least one inch off the bottom.  The sheer weight of it kept Lishe from standing on her own.  I've decided she can wear it if and when she ever decides to play at Rapunzel.

Next time I will discuss my largest doll, a 67 cm. Unidoll.  There are bigger dolls on the market, but this is absolutely as big as I am willing to go.  For now.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Little Fees -- It's All About the Joints

I shopped for a long time before deciding which little ones to add to my collection.  By now I had enough experience with BJDs to know what I liked and didn't like about how they are put together.  Many otherwise adorable small dolls were examined (via photos online) and found wanting.  Simply put -- it's all about the joints.

The joints in question are elbows and knees.  All BJDs look smooth when standing straight.  When the doll is posed with bent elbow or knee, however, I don't want to see sharp, pointed edges or gaping spaces in the bend.  The elastic may be there holding the doll together, but I want to see as little of it as possible.  That's why for me, Fairyland's Little Fees have the best looking, best posing little bodies going.  Not to mention that their faces are as cute as cute can be.

My first Little Fee was Little Shiwoo.  I fell head over heels in love with the full set, with Shiwoo clad in black balloon shorts, white tee shirt, white socks, black tail, black mittens and black beanie with cat ears.  The full set was sold out by the time I ordered, so I bought the basic doll.  I added a few extras (faceup, wig and shoes) but by then my cost was as high as if I had purchased the full set, and I didn't have the costume, the sleep face, or the extra hands.  As expensive as the full set might appear, buying the pieces separately is more so.

In the above photo, Little Shiwoo is pictured with Ellowyne Wilde and her psychotic cat Sybil.  (Blame the camera angle if he looks big in this picture.)  I found a pattern that approximated Little Shiwoo's cat suit (minus the hat, tail and mittens) in Adams-Harris's Little Sister for 27 cm Custom House Ange.  Little Fees are 25 cm tall, but the outfit fits just fine.  Ellowyne's dress is the Dreaming pattern, also from Adams-Harris, designed for Soul Kid Linn.  Linn has the same dress in white.

This photo shows Shiwoo with my second Little Fee--Little Lishe--and a canine friend.  I can't take credit for Lishe's costume, because I got the full set this time.  (I learned my lesson with Shiwoo.)  She is not wearing all of it.  The wig, which looked so cute in the promotional photos, was totally out of scale on such a small doll.  I cut about an inch off the bottom but it was still too big.  It ended up on Dharma.  Even on her, it's a lot of hair.  In addition to the costume (meant to depict Alice in Wonderland) Lishe came with a sleep face and extra hands.

Here is Little Lishe wearing her sleep face and fist hands.  Shiwoo is poking her to see if she is really asleep or only pretending.  Her dress is 1800 by Adams-Harris, another pattern for Custom House Ange.  The pattern includes an apron, which I had not yet made at the time of the photo, and bloomers under her dress.  I did make those, but they aren't visible.  Lishe's blonde and pink wigs are mohair from Leeke World (Korea).

Lishe and Shiwoo are showing off their newest outfits.  (More about their "Nanny" in a future post.)  Shiwoo wears alphabet print bib overalls from the Butterfly Garden pattern by Adams-Harris, with a yellow tee shirt using the Little Sister pattern.  Lishe wears Standing There, a one-piece blouse and bloomers with jumper, also from Adams-Harris patterns, all designed for Custom House Ange.  The next time I sew this pattern I'll shorten the bloomers and make the elastic tighter around the legs.  Both Shiwoo's and Lishe's wigs are from Fairyland.

Next time I will take a break from the dolls to talk about their wigs.  As one of the elements that makes BJD's so customizable, it's easy to amass a large collection of them.  I should know.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Limhwa Beauty

When Limhwa Luna arrived, fresh from her flight across both the Pacific Ocean and the Continental U.S., I was ready for her.  Armed ahead of time with her dimensions, I had made her a dress from the "Annabella" pattern from the Adams-Harris Pattern Company.  This is a versatile pattern:  I have made it for Hazy in a red plaid coupled with its white bodyshirt; for Sooah as a sundress; and now for Luna as a party dress.  I had to make the bodice larger for Luna.  She is that type of girl.

Luna has an exquisite facial sculpt, not seen to its best advantage in the top photo because I wanted to show more of the dress.  She is 57 cm tall, with a body that should come with a warning:  Dangerous curves ahead!  This lush, mature body can be a challenge to dress.  (Like Sooah's, only more so.)
I am probably the only Limhwa owner who feels this way, but I find her hands to be over-sculpted.  Moreover, the tip of each finger bends back as if it were double-jointed.  Limho Mono has the same hands on a smaller scale.  While the default (i.e., flat) feet are good, the high heel feet seem to be too small for the rest of her body.  Much as I love the red peep-toe shoes in the photo below, I have to admit they do not fit her well.  If only they came in my size!

In spite of these shortcomings, she is undeniably a very beautiful girl.  Her glamorous face up is done by the talented Korean artist who sculpts the Limhwa dolls, Miss Jung Ji Youn.

I made the above outfit for Sooah but never photographed her in it.  I worked without a pattern, inspired by a scrap of fabric I had left over from another project.  There was enough stretch in the top to accomodate her ample bust.  The skirt is a simple rectangle, lined and gathered at the top with a waistband.  Easy as pie.  The wig is by Jpopdolls.

Here Luna has borrowed Hazy's swing coat (the dress didn't fit), along with the short black wig that came with Soul Doll L-Heart.  On her it looks very French, tres chic!

One last look, wearing the fabulous "Glamour" wig from Jpopdolls (last seen on Sooah).

In our next visit to Resin Corner, the known world shrinks as Fairyland's LittleFees take center stage.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Beau for Solange

In late 2008 I decided it was time for a male doll to enter my Elfdolls' lives.  It took me a while to narrow down the potential suitors.  What I really wanted was an IpleHouse doll--either Barron or Soori--but I had never yet ordered directly from Korea.  I had misgivings.  Would they understand me?  Would I understand them?  In the end I opted to order from a U.S. shop (Denver Doll Emporium--my favorite by a long shot and the source of many of my dolls) which limited me to the doll lines they carry.

Rainman has sculpted some male Elfdolls.  None of them had the look I was after.  I finally settled on L-Heart, a Soul Double from Soul Doll (the same company that made Soul Kid Linn).  His promotional photos included two different looks:  the first, in a wild white mohair wig, made him look like Mozart on a bad hair day.  The second look, with shorter brown hair in a slightly shaggy style, was more what I had in mind.  Naturally, he came with a different wig altogether:  short, black, slicked down.  It actually looks better on my girls, so I let them have it.  He also came with spooky silver eyes, which I changed to dark green.

This tee shirt is not one of my more memorable efforts.  Here he is posed so you can't see that I didn't match my stripes front and back.  The neckline is also slightly off.  I don't work well with knits.

L-Heart (renamed Donovan, because I couldn't bring myself to call him "L" or "Heart" or any combination thereof) arrived at a time when I had Solange (Sooah) in period dress, so I made him an outfit to go with.  In the photo below he wears Brummel by Adams-Harris.  I cut out the coat in a dark green fabric but never got around to sewing it.  One of these days...

Donovan has a quirk that affects his posing.  Two quirks, actually.  One, he does not stand straight--he curves backward.  Two, he is double-jointed and always wants to bring his hands up.  I fought with him for a long time before I gave in--and bought him a violin!  He took to the instrument like a duck to water.

He also has a pocket watch, so he can time Solange when she is late in keeping a date.

In rooting through my bin full of BJD accessories recently, I came across an extra pair of hands.  At first I couldn't remember whose they were.  I held them up next to Solange--much too big for her.  I already knew which extra hands were Hazy's.  I checked my Unidoll boy (you'll meet him later) and they were too small for him.  That means they can only belong to Donovan.  The funny thing is that I don't remember him coming with extra hands.

You are probably wondering why he is not pictured with Hazy.  From the start she let it be known that he simply is not her type.  I knew then that I would have to come up with another suitor or her uncompromising stare would haunt me.

Before another large male doll could take his place at Resin Corner, however, the house would open the door to its first little BJDs and another large female BJD.  I am going to take them out of order and present Limhwa Luna first so that I can introduce the little ones together.  It's more fun that way.