Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Second Iplehouse JID Asa

While Ball Jointed Woman awaits delivery of a new home computer, she is forced to blog from the office during her lunch break.  And as most of that break was spent eating lunch while transferring photos to computer, that leaves precious little time to write. 

So here's the scoop:  Iplehouse has been holding a pre-moving sale.  I debated so long wether or not to buy another Asa that she was reported Sold Out while I was still thinking.  Then one day I looked and saw that JID Asa appeared to be in stock again (probably transferred from the Korean or Japanese website to the English site).  Long story short -- here she is:

She came with small bust and mobility thigh joint -- both are options I normally don't buy, but there was only the one doll available.  The small bust proved a lucky break for me, because this Asa fits into clothes that her large busted sisters can't wear.  All I did to make the Kimono Lolita (Haute Doll, February 2007) pattern work for her was to give the front bodice sections and the skirt a little extra width (about a half-inch) to ensure that the wrap would close modestly across her body.  I bought the boots from Iplehouse a while back, as well as the black wig.  The streaked brown-blonde wig is Pretty Girl, by Monique Gold.

What is most amazing about this amazing girl is how she looks so completely different from the real skin version of Asa.  I did change her eyes.  She came with blue eyes in a high-domed acrylic.  From the side, all I could see was the clear dome.  It gave her a very strange appearance.  I replaced them with soft silicone Eyeco eyes in a color called Morning Sky.  What a difference!

Here are the eyes:

A little out of focus, but you can see the difference.  The green eyes are also Eyeco, shown for comparison.  The soft silicone half-round eye adjusts to fit the eyehole, without leaving gaps as sometimes happens with hard plastic or glass eyes.  With the silicone eyes I use a clear silicone eye putty. 

Here is a back view of the obi corset.  The pattern calls for it to be made from two layers of fabric with interior plastic stays.  Instead, I found premade belt fabric (some sort of synthetic -- up close it looks like leather) in just the right width.  I added eyelets and laced it up with ribbon -- perfect!

Lunch is over -- got to run.

I should mention that, although the moving sale at Iplehouse is over, the sale continues on JID girls until the current bodies sell out.  It seems a new JID girl body is in the works.  I can hardly wait to see it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How I Stopped Resisting and Bought a PlanetDoll

When PlanetDolls first appeared on the market, they came without a faceup option.  At the time I didn't want the added expense of sending a doll out for painting, so I resisted.  Then I resisted a while longer because none of the artist faceups that I saw appealed to me.  They either made the doll seem forlorn and sad, or else they were painted with a heavy hand or in a style I didn't care for.  Nope, I thought.  Don't want one.

Except maybe Riz.  Riz is cute. 

Still I didn't buy.  I spent time online, studying the dolls' sculpts, comparing one to the other.  Their appeal grew.  So did my feeling that it was time to attempt another faceup of my own.  There was no need for me to buy a new doll for this purpose.  I have several U-noa faceplates awaiting brush, watercolor pencil and pastel.  Nevertheless, I found myself checking Denver Doll to see which PlanetDolls were in stock.  No Riz.  Or else, the Riz in stock came only in tan skin.  I could have ordered Riz directly from PlanetDoll, but that would have meant a wait of from six to eight weeks.  I already have dolls on order which will take months to arrive.  I wanted instant gratification.

In the end, I bought Emma.  She is the same size as Riz, i.e., 43 cm.  Emma was in stock in normal skin.  She arrived the same week I placed the order.  Today I did her faceup.

Some of my faceup tools:  brushes, sponge applicators, Holbein
pastel sticks, Derwent watercolor pencils, PearlEx pigments,
water cup, toothpicks (for applying glue), cotton swabs, kneaded eraser

Normally when I do a doll's makeup, I remove the faceplate and put the body aside.  PlanetDolls do not have a removable faceplate.  The pate, or top of the head, comes off instead.  I would have to remove the entire head in order to work on it.  I looked inside.  It seemed simple in theory.  I would give the S-hook a half-turn, pull up the elastic sufficiently to loop a length of wire through to hold it, remove the S-hook and then the head.  Unfortunately, the S-hook would not budge.  This doll is so tightly strung that I cannot remove her head.  (My SoulKids are constructed the same way.  Their elastic will have to loosen considerably before I can take any of them apart.)

Faced with a dilemma, i.e., how to paint the doll's face without soiling the body, I placed the doll in a plastic bag with her head free, wrapped it tightly around her, and secured it with rubber bands around the neck and legs.  Not elegant, but it would do.

Her body shrouded in a plastic bag, Emma awaits completion of her faceup.

To make sure that the resin was clean of any manufacturing residue, I wiped it with a cotton ball and nail polish remover.  (My remover contains only pure acetone and water, with no additives.)  I then cleaned the surface with soapy water, rinsed it and dried it with a soft cloth.  Then went outside to spray with Mr. Super Clear (MSC).  This seals the surface so that color does not penetrate the resin.  It also gives the resin a bit of "tooth," which helps color, especially powdered color, adhere to the surface.

I like to apply pastels first.  Using a craft knife, I scrape some pastel into a dish, so that I am working with a powder instead of a stick.  I dip a foam applicator into the powder, then apply sparingly to the doll's face:  pink on the cheeks, under the bottom lip, and in the ears; a gray-brown to define the brows and put a bit of shadow on the eyes.  The rest I do in watercolor pencil.  I may have said this before in my post about U-noa Sist's faceup, but it bears repeating:  do not use wax-based color pencils or crayons.  The last thing you want on your resin is a waxy build-up or "bloom".  If my hand were steadier, I would use acrylic paint instead of watercolor pencil.  As it is, I have better control with the hard pencil, which I can sharpen to a fine point, than with a flexible brush.  And if I need to soften the pencil stroke, I can either rub it with a bit of paper towel or a kneaded eraser, or apply water sparingly on the end of a small brush.

Emma in her new faceup, LeekeWorld wig and EGL dress
from Gracefaerie's #14 Mini Wardrobe for 43 cm Narae.
It's a good idea to spray the face with MSC a couple of times throughout the painting process.  Otherwise, you may lose a perfect eyebrow when trying to remove less-than-perfect eyeliner, or vice versa.  I ended up wiping off most of my faceup when things started to go awry, simply because I had neglected to follow my own advice. 

When I was nearly done, I touched up the faceup with PearlEx powdered pigments to give it some sparkle.  I'm not sure it really accomplished the purpose, because spraying with MSC seems to have taken the shimmer off.  I added 3D Crystal Lacquer to her lips for shine and to her eyelids to enhance the liner.  I glued on her eyelashes.  When the glue was dry, I put in her eyes.  She came with blue-gray acrylic eyes.  They were nice, but I wanted to try something different.  We toyed with different colors of glass eyes before deciding on the plum colored acrylic Safrin eyes she is wearing in the photos.

Emma is a rock solid doll who stands securely without a doll stand.  Without clothes, she gives the impression of being stocky.  I wondered if we would have anything she could wear.  The navy dress with purple flowers has appeared in these pages before, worn by SoulKid Linn; it's from a pattern designed for Narae, who is as small as they come.  The snap at the waist is a big snug, but the fit otherwise is ample throughout.  It looks like outfits won't be a problem.  I just have to keep them coming!

The end result:  Not sad, not sultry.  Perhaps sulky?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Play Day" for Narae

It occurred to me as I was admiring Anastasia's new dress that Narae has not had a new dress since her Black-and-White-Party dress from several months ago.  She was standing behind the others, looking forlorn and forgotten, when an idea struck me.  Narae is small enough.  Why not try Gracefaerie's #30 Play Day pattern on her?  I already had one available for her to try on:  I made it for Chloe (U-noa Sist) last year.  While Chloe has an immature torso, Narae does have a small bust.  Would it fit?  We tried it and it did.

The dress pieces cut out.  The light gray pattern pieces are the
underside of the dark gray/black fabric.  The ecru is the bodice lining.
Narae looked at me.  "You're kidding, right?  A play outfit?  For me?"  Her expression said she was far too sophisticated for a simple a-line dress and pinafore. 

"Okay," I said.  "You want sophisticated?  How about gray?"

"I've done gray.  For Christmas, remember?"

"That was silver.  And you looked fabulous in it.  Gray is your color."

Narae shrugged.  "If you say so.  Frankly, the whole idea bores me."

"Now you sound like Ellowyne.  Besides, we have this lovely gray wig.  You already have gray shoes and pantyhose.  We could do a head-to-toe lady in gray."

"You're dumping me at the old folks home, aren't you?"

"Not at all.  I'm just trying to envision a total look -- a tone-on-tone fashion statement."

The dress has a self-ruffle.  There is a full undershirt, also with a ruffle.
To avoid having black fabric next to the doll's resin, which might stain it,
I made the underskirt in a light, solid gray and added the striped ruffle
at the bottom.

Narae sighed.  I started sewing.  While I sewed, Narae tried on the gray wig so she could "get used to it" -- her words, not mine.  It looked odd with the green and purple dress she had on, but I knew it would set the right tone with the new outfit.

"What do you think of this black and gray stripe for the pinafore?  It almost looks like menswear."

Narae pretended not to care.

"And this black and gray floral for the dress, to play off the stripes."


"You're going to love it."

"If you say so."

The dress with pinafore over it.  I used the same fabric
for both the pinafore and the underskirt ruffle.

In the end, I had to modify the pattern slightly to suit my fabric.  The pattern calls for the dress ruffles to have torn edges.  Neither of my fabrics would tear, although both shredded like crazy.  Before they could unravel completely, I made a shallow hem on each.  That necessitated an extra turn of the hem on the pinafore; otherwise it hid the upper ruffle.  An additional change saved my sanity:  Instead of a row of snap sets marching up the back of the dress, I sewed up the back to within two inches of the waist and then put in snaps the rest of the way.  Even so, I had to reposition one of the snaps three times before it lined up with its mate.

Chloe and Narae model their Play Day dresses from Gracefaerie.
I added decorative trim to the pinafore straps and a fabric flower to the front yoke.  Once she had the outfit on, complete with a fancy bow in her gray hair, Narae decided she liked the look.  She went so far as to preen, insisting the pattern suited her so much better than it does Chloe.  I don't necessarily agree with her.  Although made from the same pattern, the two outfits are quite different in look and feel.  Each suits its wearer to a tee.  We just won't say that in front of Narae.

Another satisfied customer.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A New Dress for JID Asa: Measurement Soup

I have had no luck finding patterns designed for IpleHouse JID girls.  If I had the vaguest notion how to draft a pattern, this would not be a problem.  Lacking such knowledge forces me to be creative.  Perhaps any trained seamstresses reading this would like to avert their eyes as I describe the very unscientific methods I employed in order to dress my Anastasia (aka JID Asa).

As I have already had some success adapting a pattern from Adams Harris Patterns (Kiss & Tell, designed for Elfdoll Sooah), I knew I could make a bodice that fit.  I toyed with the idea of making the blouse that comes with that pattern, then decided I would rather try the body shirt in Adams Harris' Annabella pattern.  I figured that would be easier, as this pattern was designed for IpleHouse YID Sylvia.

The first body shirt.  The fabric is so flimsy that you can see the sheet of paper right through it.
Armed with both sets of measurements (JID and YID), I used a calculator to work out comparative proportions.  This is what I came up with:  large breast JID girls measure 88% of YID girls in the chest, 84% at the shoulder, 87% at the waist, 89% at the hips, 73% in the arms, 73% hip-to-ankle, and 54% in height.  Not exactly consistent, but then they wouldn't be, seeing as the JID is supposed to be a girl (pre-teen?) while the YID is a teen. 

I planned to reduce the YID pattern via photocopier.  How would I account for all the different ratios?  The smart thing to do would have been to reduce each pattern piece according to its percentage.  I did the not-so-smart thing and picked a random number -- 85% -- and called it the average.  Have I mentioned that I am mathematically challenged?

The second body shirt fits like a second skin.
I cut out my pattern from a stretch lace fabric.  Frankly, it had more lace than stretch and it stretched in the wrong direction.  It was also quite difficult to sew.  I had to sew it by hand.  The final product, while pretty, was too long in the torso and too tight in the waist.  The sleeves, which I think I photocopied at 75%, were too narrow at the wrist to allow her hands to go through.  I tried opening the sleeves at the wrist and closing them with snaps.  The resut was not pretty.

Admitting defeat, I went back to the drawing board.  I folded the torso pattern pieces at the waist to take up some of the excess length, and re-drew the pattern.  Then I cut it out of a fabric with four-way stretch.  Success at last!  The finished garment looked and fit the way it should.

Anastasia (Asa) models the completed dress in front of a mini Shoji screen.
The screen has opened up parts of the house for photography that
I could never use before because of distracting backgrounds.
I was tempted to make Asa the jumper in the Annabella pattern.  Perhaps I will at a later date.  The skirt is very similar to the skirt I made earlier for Asa and I wanted something different.  I used the bodice from the Kiss & Tell pattern, but changed the skirt.  The skirt in the pattern has an inverted front pleat.  I took my inspiration instead from a pretty little red and cream floral dress on IpleHouse's website.  That dress has an empire bodice with a gathered skirt that has ruffles at the bottom.  I made my skirt fuller and used pink lace for one of the ruffles.

I had already picked out a fabric, green with a floral pattern.  As I looked at it, I decided it reminded me too much of the little green floral dress I bought from IpleHouse.  Another strong contender was rejected after I realized it was too similar to the fabric I used a couple of weeks ago for Tania's dress.  I went through my stash, rejecting fabrics left and right.  At last I found it:  a gauzy pink and green stripe with a touch of gold.  It was a remnant.  There was too little of it for the purpose I originally bought it for, which was as a blouse for Sooah.  Even after cutting out the stain (it was the end of a bolt and probably got trampled in the store), there was plenty for a JID sized dress.

I had just enough floral ribbon trim remaining from Mayu's Marzipan dress to trim out the new dress.  With the small piece I had left over I made a floral band to hold back her hair.  Then I forgot to put it on her head when I photographed her.  What can I say?  It's late, I rushed to finish putting the outfit together, and it never crossed my mind that anything was missing until after the photos were taken. 

That was last night.  Today, with a massive snowstorm adding a bonus day to my weekend, I took new photos.  This time I remembered the headband.

Rear view.  Wig and boots by IpleHouse.