Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Bit of This, a Bit of That

I didn't know what to write about this week.  Sometimes this happens because there is nothing new.  Other times, like this week, there are too many things I want to cover.  I have two new dolls to talk about.  Do I lump them together and risk shortchanging both?  Or do I hold off and give each its own post?  I have clothing and new faceups to talk about.  And Samantha Grace's story has another chapter waiting in the wings. What to do?

In the end, I decided that Samantha Grace's story and the new dolls will get their own posts--later.  For today my focus is on new clothing and faceups.

Back in January, I ordered a doll from Iplehouse.  It arrived this week, along with clothing I ordered at the same time.  Four months is a much longer wait than usual for this company.  Their English manager has been on maternity leave, which has caused orders to back up.  Orders that don't contain a doll still ship quickly, usually within a day or two.  Like me, however, many people combine doll and clothing orders to save on shipping costs.  The downside is that clothes/shoes/wigs can sell out while the doll is being made.  I was lucky this time; nothing sold out while I waited.  Even so, I don't think I'll do that again.
Among the items I ordered was a Medieval-inspired dress for JID called Perla Rosa.  I like to think of it as the JID version of the Sleeping Beauty dress set for SID, which I bought earlier.  I intended it for Tania, who looks suitably lovely and regal in it, even if her throne is merely a common garden bench.  
The other clothing item is a three-piece outfit I made for MiniFee.  This outfit has been slow to come together.  Originally it was going to be a bodysuit with leggings and an added tulle skirt, for a flirty touch.  I made the body shirt first, from a pattern called Petits Riens by MHD Designs.  Because it was designed for 14-inch Kish dolls, who are thicker in the torso than MiniFee, I added darts to take it in at the waist.  That still left the neckline too wide and loose, so I scrapped the bodysuit in favor of a simple scoop neck top adapted from the same basic pattern. 
I made the pink leggings a few weeks later.  Danica (Siean) has been wearing the top and leggings for some time now, with no skirt in sight.  Finally I decided to scrap the skirt idea and made her a pair of shorts.  The pattern calls them boxer shorts.  They remind me of a skort, i.e., a cross between a skirt and shorts.  I suspect I sewed the appliques on the wrong side.  Faced with a paper pattern, I can't tell the back from the front of a pair of pants unless the pattern piece is clearly marked.  This one wasn't.
On to the faceups.  We've had rain for 2 or 3 weekends in a row.  Yesterday, surprised by a sunny Saturday for the first time in ages, I decided I had to do a faceup.  As you may have gathered from reading past posts, I am rarely satisfied with the faceups I do.  I set my sights so high that I almost always fall short.  On the other hand, my results get somewhat better each time, which encourages me to keep trying.
The first doll I wiped clean was SID Soo.  She was cute, but I didn't really like the lip treatment and the lower eyelashes were too dark and thick.  This time I achieved a better mouth, but the eyebrows are a bit high and thin and the lower eyelashes still miss the mark.  I have a feeling there is another faceup in Soo's not too distant future.
The next doll to get the treatment was MiniFee Mirwen.  This was the poor child who arrived with black eyebrows, black eyeshadow, black lashes and an utterly doleful, defeated air about her.  My first two faceups lightened her up considerably, but I still wasn't happy with--you guessed it--her lower eyelashes.  I also wanted to extend her lip color to cover her lips completely. 

I don't know what happened with this one, but all of a sudden I felt inspired to let the sculpt speak for itself.  I let my brush follow its contours, instead of placing shadow where I thought it should go.  Mirwen has a pronounced brow.  Many owners sand it smooth, but the final result is not Mirwen as her sculptor envisioned her.  I used the brow to find her eyebrow placement, and marked my place with pastel powder before detailing the eyebrow hairs with watercolor pencil.  The advantage of using powdered pastel first is that it's easier to erase if you don't like the placement of the line.  For the first time in doing faceups, I didn't darken the corners of the mouth with paint.  If the corners photograph dark anyway, it's because of the way they are sculpted and not because I forced the issue. 
I guess you can tell that I'm pleased with how she turned out.  I can't stop looking at her.  As for Mirwen, she looks back and whispers, "Go back to Soo.  You can do it, now."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Model Delf: a New Mini Mature BJD from Luts

Admit it.  You were waiting for me to add another doll to my collection.  And so I did.  It's not as bad as all that, however, as I also sold a few.  Not excusing, just saying.

I've never bought a Luts doll before, even though I have bought a number of MiniFees.  For those who are unaware of the relationship, CP (Cerberus Project) formerly designed/sculpted for Luts.  He (or they--I'm not sure if this is one person or a group) broke away and founded FairyLand.  Because Luts owns the Delf name, CP's sculpts resurfaced as MiniFees and FeePle 60s.  I don't know all the ins and outs of the agreement/disagreement, but you can still see the old CP Delf sculpts on Luts, marked:  "Sold Out."
Model Delf Avalanche--I like this wig on him best

All this is by way of introduction to my first Luts doll, MDF Avalanche.  MDF stands for Model Delf.  This is a new size, taller and more mature than their Kid Delf and smaller than Delf, Senior Delf and Super Senior Delf.  MDF Avalanche, who stands 45 cm tall, is the mini version of SSD Avalanche, who measures 70.5 cm.  The body is available in several combinations: muscular or less-muscular one- or two-piece torso, with muscular or less-muscular legs.  I chose the less-muscular two-piece torso with less-muscular legs.  He's got muscles enough for me.  In my opinion, the muscular bodies looked off kilter given how youthful the faces are.
Butterfly Narae and Avalanche

There were four sculpts to choose from, all boys:  Abadon, Avalanche, Cian and Dion.  I am hoping beyond hope that Luts adds some females to the line, because the body-to-head proportion of these guys doesn't quite work with any female dolls I own.  Narae and U-noa Quluts girls probably come closest, but it's not a perfect match.  MiniFees have larger heads, making MDF look like pinheads, although putting a fuller, longer wig on MDF helps a lot.
Avalanche and U-noa Lusis

These guys are engineered to the max.  After an hour of putting Avalanche through a variety of moves, I conclude that the only thing he can't do is extend his legs straight behind him.  That means you won't see a Model Delf doing a split.  This seems an odd lapse in a doll that is otherwise more mobile than other dolls his size.  Of course, all the mobility in the world is worth nothing if the joints look clumsy.  Knees and elbows form my acid test of elegance.  Let me tell you, MDF knee and elbow joints are the best I've seen.  You don't see two sawed off pieces of resin connected by a resin peanut; you see a smooth arm or a smooth leg.  Sheer poetry!  Other doll makers take note:  this is how it should be done.
I couldn't get him to balance on one foot, although other owners have.
That said, I don't love the head.  Yes, the small size makes it look more human than doll-like.  That makes him awkward to display alongside other dolls.  I am also annoyed that Avalanche's on-site photos did not show the sculpt's serious overbite.  Get this guy to an orthodontist--quick!  The faceup is too dark for my taste.  With eyes that small and close together, gobs of dark brown eye makeup, coupled with brown lips, only make everything look smaller.  I guess I took it for granted that Luts, like Iplehouse, would adjust the colors of the faceup to suit the resin color.  I guessed wrong.
Strongman with Siean

Dealing with a new size, I wasn't sure if anything I already own would fit him, so I ordered clothing from Luts along with the doll.  All of the items are made by Nine Style and are very good quality.  I also ordered shoes--thank goodness, because his feet are small and narrow.  Nothing I have would have fit.  The wigs I ordered, on the other hand, will look better on my smaller dolls.  They are his size--6/7--but because he has a small head atop a long thin neck, the short styles serve to emphasize the smallness.
Strongman with chair. The shorts are from Tonner for Basil St. John.

I set Alastair (my name for Avalanche) a few tests of strength.  In one photo you can see him with MiniFee Siean atop his shoulders.  In the other photo you see him holding a wooden chair.  It's a lightweight wood, but it's still wood, and he is holding it above his head.  In neither photo is he leaning on anything, but standing rock solid in the middle of a placemat.  Is this guy good, or what?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Reunion (Samantha Grace's Story)

Thanks for agreeing to see me.

I'm always happy to see my friends, Shane.

Is that what we are?  Friends?  We used to be something more.

Lovers come and go.  Friends are forever.  In my book, anyway.

You've been reading the wrong books.  Mind if I sit down?

Please, do.

You cut your hair.

Mmm.  Like it?

I dunno.  I expect it'll grow on me.

[Laughs]  Don't worry.  It will be long again in no time.

I always say the wrong thing with you.  Just so you 
know, it's not intentional.

Did you ever consider it's because we're not suited to one another?


How can you be sure?

No other girl--woman--makes me feel this way.

Again, that could be proof that we're not meant to be.

No.  I don't accept that.  I waited for you.  
That must mean something.

It could mean that you were afraid to venture into foreign waters by yourself.

I compared every other woman to you.  They all fell short.

[Whispers]  Thank  you, Shane.  That's sweet.

It's true.

For all you know, I could have left a string of lovers behind in Europe.

Did you?

I don't think so.  But I could have.

Even if you did, the fact that you're telling 
me about them means they were unimportant to you.

It could also mean that I consider you a close friend.  The kind of friend you confide in.

Why do you torture me like this?

Dear Shane, why can't you think with your head instead of your heart?

Kiss me.


Kiss me.  Put your lips together on mine and kiss me.

Like this?

I'll call you tomorrow, Samantha Grace.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Man to Man (Samantha Grace's story)

 "Shane.  I didn't expect to find you at the bottom of a bottle."

"I have a ways to go before I hit bottom.  But I'm working on it."

"Mind if I ask why?"

"Shouldn't need asking.  Your sister's back."

"Have you two talked yet?"

"We talked two years ago.  She told me to take a hike."

"You didn't hit the bottle then.  Why now?"

"There was no chance I'd run into her before now."

"You can't hide behind a bottle forever.  Sooner or later 
the booze runs out and you sober up.  Then what?"

"I buy another bottle."

"Not good enough.  Besides, for all you know, Samantha Grace wants to see you."

"Not gonna see her.  Not now.  Not ever."

"You don't mean that."

"Ya think?"

"I know."

[Grumbles] "Think you know everything."

"For one thing, she didn't dump you.  I believe she gave you 
your freedom so you could date other girls while she was away."

"You weren't there when it happened."

"I hope she doesn't see you like this, Shane, because 
right now you are one sorry excuse for a man."

"She's not gonna see me.  I told you."

"What if I told you she wants to see you?"

"I'd call you a bare-faced liar."

"Well she does, so deal with it."

"She...she wants to see me?"

"Sober up.  Change your clothes.  By the way, you're buttoned up 
wrong.  And come over to the house.  Doesn't have to be now.  
Next couple of days will do.  But don't put it off too long, 
or she'll think you don't care.  Don't give her an excuse to move 
on.  Unless, of course, you no longer have feelings for her."

"Would I be trying to get drunk if I didn't have feelings?"

"You tell me."


"Okay what?"

"I'll sober up, make myself presentable, and go see her."

"Good man.  See you later."

"Later...  Thanks, Jamie."