Sunday, September 29, 2013

Life After Layla and Nelly

I may have mentioned this before:  this Summer I sold my two larger Kaye Wiggs girls, MSD-sized Layla and SID-sized Nelly.  Both were sweet, adorable girls, but out of scale with my other dolls.  Now that they are gone, I am left with a number of patterns as well as the clothing I made from them.  I am not a person who gets rid of things just because I no longer have the dolls they were designed for.  There will always be another doll who can wear the clothes, with or without alteration.  Today I tried some of Layla's outfits on Iplehouse JID Asa.

I did not take photos, but the pink dress that both Layla and Nelly wore fits Asa.  It's a little snug around the bottom snap, but at least I know I can use the pattern for my JID girls.  All I need to do is shorten the bodice so that the dress flares out sooner.  It might look better if the dress length were a little shorter, too.

The last outfit I made for Layla, a sleeveless dress with a white turtleneck underneath, was a bit snug over Asa's chest.  I should mention that I tried both outfits on real skin Asa, who has a large bust.  I expect the fit will be a little different on white Asa, who has a small bust.  The turtleneck gave me an idea.

Some time ago I made an experimental skirt for Elfdoll Sooah.  There is no pattern.  I simply cut out a square of fabric, cut a hole in the center for a waist, slit the back a couple of inches to allow room to maneuver the skirt over the doll's hips, made a waistband and added a snap for closure.  I weighted the four corners of the square with beads in the shape of feathers.  Except for the corners, the skirt ended up way too short.  The doll's undergarments were showing.  I figured the skirt would work better on a smaller doll.

The skirt fit Asa.  All it needed was for me to move the snap in.  I cast about in my stash of recently acquired knits and found a brown with pink flowers that would work with the skirt.  I remembered that the turtleneck came from MHD Designs' Petits Riens (i.e., Little Nothings) for 18" Kaye Wiggs dolls.  What I had forgotten was that it was not just a turtleneck, but a body suit.  I worried that my fabric, which does not have the 4-way stretch that I prefer for body suits, might not work.  The pattern directions, however, called for 2-way stretch.  They didn't say which way to orient the stretch, but knowing that Layla was flat-chested and Asa has a chest led me to lay out the fabric with the stretch going horizontally.

I confess I worked quickly.  It was already afternoon by the time I decided what I wanted to sew, and the days are getting noticeably shorter.  Would I finish in time to take photos?  I did--just barely.  Luckily I didn't need to rip out any seams, just an inch-and-a-half of one.  I am amazed that the pattern needed absolutely no alterations.  It fit Asa like a glove.  Of course, this is the first time I have made it from the correct fabric.  Believe me, it makes a difference. 

Being rushed means I did not have time to make matching stockings, which I still plan to do.  That means I also have to change Asa's heel feet to her flat feet, because the knit is too thick to fit with her high heel shoes.  (I did the same thing last week after taking photos of Sidonie, i.e., MiniFee Celine, with thick tights stuffed into her high heels.  The fit was so snug I was afraid of stretching the shoes, so I changed her feet and found her a pair of loose, low-heeled shoes to wear with the tights instead.)

Meanwhile, JID Boris still waits for a pair of pants that fit.  Maybe I'll feel like it next week.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Raiding Ellowyne's Closet

This post was supposed to reveal a new outfit for JID Boris.  I made him a new top and spent all day yesterday on a pair of pants that isn't going to work.  The pockets are puckered and the rise is too short.  After fussing with the garment all day, I tossed it aside in frustration.  What to do?  I still need to blog about something.

Well, you could blog about us...

Sidonie.  I can't do another post about MiniFees so soon.  I featured Siean only last week at the doll meet.

That was Siean.  What about the rest of us?  We all have new clothes and want to show off.

Technically speaking, you don't all have "new" clothes.  You have new pieces mixed with things from Ellowyne's closet.

They're new to us.

They are indeed.

And I happen to know that you made my unitard this very afternoon.  I like it, by the way.  It's very sexy.  I look much hotter than Mallory or Calandra.  I can't decide about Siean.  Does she think her outfit is sexy?

No, I'm sure she doesn't.  It wasn't meant to be sexy.  It was meant to be cute.


What's that supposed to mean?

Oh, nothing...

Look, I'm sorry if your fashions don't quite measure up to what's in that catalog you're reading.  I'm limited by the patterns and fabric I have available.  So some of you may look more vintage than the others.

I'm sure you do the best you can with your limited talents...

That's not nice, Sid.

So, which parts of our outfits did you make?  The skirts?

The only skirt I made is Siean's.  The rest of you are wearing Ellowyne's skirts.

That accounts for why the waistbands don't quite fit.  Of course, Siean's skirt doesn't fit her, either, and you made that one.

What can I say?  I made it for a larger girl.  Siean is wearing it because the color was just right for her top and leggings.

At least our unitards and leggings fit.  You did make all those, right?

I did, thank you for noticing.  I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics this weekend and stocked up on knits, so you can expect to see a few more leggings and unitards.

With new skirts to match, maybe?

Maybe.  What do you think, Siean?

Cool.  But could I have shorts instead of a skirt?

Shorts?  The weather is turning colder.

And my short wig instead of this fairy one.  The way Calandra is looking at me, I can tell she wants it back.

And can I have flats, please?  These heels are killing me.

Any more requests?  Calandra?  Mallory?

Well, beige does tend to make me look washed out...

And I just want to put in a vote for dark hair.  I like this wig a whole lot better than the others I've worn.  But I really like this outfit.  Just thought you should know.

Ladies, your wishes are my command.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Chittenden County Doll Club Mini-Meetup for September

Yesterday, three members of the club met at the Brownell Library, Essex Junction, Vermont.  For the first hour it was only Modern Wizard and myself; we were later joined by Meghan and one of her amazing hand-sculpted dolls.

I brought Iplehouse SID Soo, wearing what I thought would be a dress no one had seen on her.  Turns out I should have checked my photos of previous meets first, because Soo has modeled this outfit here before.  It fits a little differently now, because the dress was made for EID and she was then on Lahela's EID body.  EID women tend to be of Amazonian proportions.  SIDs are smaller.  I would alter it to fit her, but I am still on the fence about whether or not I will keep the larger doll.

Soo was eager to show off her improved faceup.  What can I say?  She looks great in person.  Close-ups as seen on a computer monitor tend to emphasize the fact that she could be improved even more.  Most photos tell me I need an air brush.  The only problems are: 1) the cost of the apparatus; 2) the cost of ink; 3) the learning curve as I figure out how to use it; 4) my eyesight and 5) my sometimes arthritic hands.  In the end, I don't know if it's worth it.  How many faceups must I do before the apparatus becomes cost effective?  And why do I still want to try it?

Curious to compare two different sizes of the same sculpt, Modern Wizard asked to see Feeple65 Siean together with MiniFee Siean.  The resemblance might be more evident if both faceups were done by the same hand, but F65 Siean has the FairyLand default faceup, while MF Siean was face-upped by me.  Believe me, I would have ordered a FairyLand faceup for MF Siean had it been offered, but hers was an event head and they come blank.  Again, she looks best in person.

I like to bring a change of wig for each doll to make picture-taking more interesting.  Soo's two wigs are from Iplehouse, as is F65 Siean's light brown one.  F65 Siean's long curly wig is from Jpopdolls.  MiniFee Siean's two wigs are from For My Doll (red) and LeekeWorld (blonde/green). Soo's and F65 Siean's dresses are from Iplehouse; MF Siean's top, leggings and jumper were made by me.

Modern Wizard brought some small dolls that I hadn't seen before.  They are Elfdoll Kathlen (the one without a wig) and Elfdoll Winky (multicolored hair and, of course, a wink).  She also brought two Takara Microman Microlady Material Force figures, who remind me of my Art S. Buck anatomical models except on a much smaller scale.  So much articulation in so tiny a package is nothing short of amazing.

Meghan brought the smaller of her two sculpts, who is sporting a new shirt.  The fact that she sculpted him without ever having held a BJD in her hands continues to astound me.  She had to make his S-hooks because they don't come that small.  What can I say but, "Wow!"  When I think back to the Sculpey figures I made years ago, I'm glad I threw them away.  No contest.

Normally the club meets every two months, but in honor of Halloween we are having a meeting next month.  Modern Wizard has been putting together a graveyard scene, and I have a pattern for a Halloween costume for one of my Iple BIDs.  If I get really ambitious, I may make two of them.  It should be a frightful get-together.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

From Artist's Model to BJD: Doll Joint Musings

First of all, this is post number 200.  Can you believe it?  I would have reached this milestone sooner, except I deleted some early posts called Foto Friday in an attempt to delay paying for picture space.  It worked--for a short time anyway.

Today's post was inspired by an online chat I had last week with a collector looking for a BJD to use as a life model for drawing.  That resonated with me.  Some years ago, before BJDs, I was collecting stiff, vinyl fashion dolls and wondering if there was a doll anywhere that would serve me as a model.  I'm sure anyone who draws is familiar with the standard wood mannequin.  Yes, it is flexible, you can pose it in all sorts of ways, but it has no flesh.  When I draw from a wooden mannequin, my drawing looks like a wooden mannequin.  Not satisfactory at all. 

I am so tempted to paint the faces on these two.
Enter the anatomical models of Art S. Buck, manufactured by Slideshow Toy and made in China.  (The information is stamped on the right butt cheek of each model.)  I got mine from Dick Blick Art Materials.  There are two models, a male and a female.  They are made mostly of hard shiny plastic with some matte, almost rubbery parts, i.e., heads, hands and feet, and in the male, elbow and knee joints.  About Barbie-sized, they have more points of articulation than I know what to do with.  Unlike BJDs, they are not strung with elastic.  Their jointing appears to consist of pieces that insert tightly into the adjoining limbs.  I read somewhere that this was called mechanical ball jointing, but when I looked up that term online the articles all seemed to refer to automobiles. 

The Buck models can assume all sorts of poses.  I put mine through their paces this afternoon and took photos.  My female model has a bum knee that won't flex as much as its mate.  Other than that, both male and female appear to move in every direction they are supposed to move.  What's funny is that I can see the genesis of many BJDs in these two.  A few companies have caught on to the rotating upper thigh joint (Iplehouse calls it the mobility thigh).  The Buck models have additional rotating joints above the ankle and in the middle of the upper and lower arms.  Where they are lacking is in the crotch, where anatomical correctness abruptly disappears.

Here is where I appreciate the softer hands.  It's easier to make them clasp.

The jointing system, whatever it is called, appears to be the same used by Wilde Imagination's Ellowyne Wilde.  Granted Ellowyne has fewer joints, but those you can see look much the same as the Buck models.  I had what I thought was an accident once with Ellowyne.  As I was dressing her, one of her hands came off.  I was surprised when I was able to pop it back into place.  Too bad I don't remember what the piece looked like inside.  All I remember is the total sense of relief when it turned out she was easily fixed.  Poor Ellowyne suffers from Barbie Foot Syndrome, i.e., there is no ankle joint and the small foot is perpetually frozen into high heel shape.  She must either sit or else stand with the aid of a doll stand. 

Note the similarity in how the joint fits at the back of the knee.  Ellowyne is single jointed whereas the Buck model is double  jointed.

Similar joint piece in Ellowyne's elbow.

At the other end of the doll spectrum is FairyLand's MiniFee.  I put MiniFee Siean through her paces alongside the female Buck model.  They were pretty much able to match one another pose for pose, except for sitting cross-legged.  There the Buck model's rotating thigh allowed her to sit more naturally, whereas I had to pull Siean's knee joint apart slightly to achieve the same look.  If I were drawing, however, I would opt for the BJD, simply because the doll looks more like a real person.

Siean and Buck female.
Siean is too tightly strung to get into the Japanese seiza sitting position, but she still comes closer than my Buck model, whose one knee won't bend completely.
I had to dislocate Siean's knee to get her to sit cross-legged.  It's no problem for the Buck model.

"I can do that, too!" says Ellowyne

That said, I never have time to draw anymore.  I'm too busy buying and selling dolls, doing face-ups, sewing for them, dressing and wigging them, taking photos and blogging about them.  Ironic, isn't it?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Styling MiniFee Siean

It took two and one-half months from date of order to date of delivery.  That's actually right on the money, considering Fairyland counts business days rather than days in the month when it promises delivery in 50 to 60 days.  Weekends and holidays don't count.  I knew from the start that I would want a body for the MiniFee Siean gift head I received when ordering MiniFee Celine, so I placed my order and amused myself during the wait by painting faceups.

Siean got 3 different faceups during that time.  They were the sort of faceup that looked good to the naked eye, but not so good when photographed and magnified on the computer screen.  I blamed my lack of success on the fact that I was due for an eye exam and most likely would need new glasses.  The time for my exam came and went, I got new glasses, and re-examined Siean's latest faceup.  It wasn't all that bad.  I decided I could get by with tweaking the features that didn't work for me:  her eyebrows and lower lashes. 

I am happy with the results.  Much as I would like to draw or paint very thin lines, I never seem to get my pencil point sharp enough or hold a brush steady enough.  I could send her out for a spa treatment, but why pay for a faceup when the one I paint is good enough for me?

Siean's new body is somewhat kicky, which I take to mean that she is strung too tightly.  Either I take her apart and loosen her elastic, or I wait and see how long it takes her to loosen up by herself.  Some dolls do so fairly quickly; some dolls never do. For now I am rather enjoying the tightness, seeing as I have too many dolls who have loosened to the point of floppiness.

One thing I didn't get around to--yet--is sewing for her.  I think I needed to see her all put together first to get a sense of who she is.  She is not as feminine looking as the other girls.  I see her as a Steampunk adventurer, intelligent, a bit boyish and bold.  Luckily I have just the pattern for it.  In the meantime, she has borrowed the little blue crochet and lace dress that Calandra was wearing, while Calandra has appropriated something of Ellowyne's.  I should switch them, but Calandra's jacket is so tight I don't relish having to take it off and put it on the other girl.

After Siean's body arrived, I tried several blonde wigs on her, totally forgetting the For My Doll wine red wig waiting for her in the wig box.  What an amazing difference it made!  The blonde wigs, while pretty, did nothing to bring out the blue of her eyes.  The moment I put the red wig on her, the blue color just popped.  The short style works well, too.  It's very gamin, and I love how her elf ears poke through.

I was still looking for a name for her when she told me herself:  it's Sela.  I tried to get her to consider another name but she stamped her foot and insisted: Sela.  All right.  Sela it is.  Never try to argue with an elf.  You won't win.

While I was tweaking Sela's faceup yesterday, I decided to tackle Iplehouse Soo's faceup, too.  Poor thing, I had wiped off her original faceup and then given her one that just missed the look I was after.  Again, it was the eyebrows and the lower lashes.  I also hadn't removed as much of the dark color in her mouth as I wanted.  The enhanced faceup is much better.  In fact, I like it so much I withdrew her listing from the DoA Marketplace.  I won't be selling her after all.

Note:  No real birds were harmed or harassed in the taking of these photos.  The cockatiel pictured is a resin sculpture.