Sunday, May 29, 2016

Souldoll Vito Jin and Withdoll Dark Elf Angela

Winter's orders continue to trickle in. This week's bounty included an unplanned doll that was offered to me in trade. Ordinarily I say no to trades. Even if it's a doll I wanted, either the resin is the wrong color or the face-up is wrong. Withdoll Dark Elf Angela not only had the wrong color resin, but she lacked the face-up I would have chosen had I ordered from the company. And still I said yes. Why? Because Dark Elf Angela was a limited edition and might not be offered again. Also because a dark resin would be challenging to paint. That might be an automatic no in some collectors' eyes, but I felt up to the challenge.
My trading partner removed Angela's most recent face-up, so I received her ready-to-paint. The resin color is called Rosy Brown. To my eyes it looks more like a rosy dark gray. The doll is a few years old, so it's possible there has been some slight color change. Rosy Brown or rosy gray, she needed a face-up. I set up my materials and went to work. Usually I work with Holbein pastels and Derwent watercolor pencils. This time I decided to use Jacquard's Pearl Ex powdered pigments instead of the pastels. I have used them sparingly on past face-ups.The colors have a pearly luster that I had hoped would make the finished makeup glow. Unfortunately, the MSC has a tendency to tamp down that effect. The fact that I applied the pigments over my regular pastels may have had something to do with it, too. What would happen if I used them straight up?
The result was the glow I was seeking. It wasn't bright, but it was there. I made repeated applications, followed by repeated MSC. To the naked eye, the finished colors are subdued and lovely. To the camera's eye, it looks like clown makeup. This is the same camera that hasn't the foggiest idea what color resin this is and gives me a different shade in every photo. Nonetheless, I'll have to redo her. Her eyebrows are placed too high, giving her a perpetually surprised expression. The MSC left spots here and there. Too much humidity when I applied it, perhaps? Or was the occasional breeze the culprit? Vermont's long, narrow, north-south valleys are wonderful conduits for wind. Bad for spraying MSC outdoors.
The long and the short of it is that you can expect to see Dark Elf Angela again with slightly different makeup. Her outfit is based on Gracefaerie's #14 MiniWardrobe for 43cm Narae. She is wearing 11cm light green Eyeco soft glass eyes and Monique Gold's Pretty Girl wig in brown black/blonde.
And I see that WithDoll is re-releasing three limited elves (not Angela, this time). They are Elf Hunters Emma, Ruby and Ash. With bows and arrows. Yes! Good-bye money, hello elves! I'm thinking Ruby this time.

Jin, a Souldoll Vito, was the week's other arrival. The Vito line up until now has consisted of 52cm male dolls. In April Souldoll introduced its first Vito girls; they measure 51cm. I have one on order, so you will see them together when she gets here. I knew going in that Vito boys are hard to shop for. Souldoll tends to produce a full-set outfit with each new doll. When it's sold out, that's it. Not that the full set necessarily holds any appeal. The fact remains that there are no regular clothes to choose from. I did find one pair of pants that he could wear. You've heard of boyfriend jeans? Boy style jeans for girls to wear. Well, Jin ended up with girlfriend jeans. The hip-huggers were made for Dollmore's Zaoll girls. They're a little loose in the seat for Jin, as obviously the girls have slightly wider hips. I also turned up a sleeveless tee from Iplehouse. I've had it a long time and no longer remember which size doll it was meant for. It could have been the old YID line (discontinued, of course, so not a source for future tops). News flash: shoes for the current nYID boys fit!

I didn't expect wigs to be a problem. The guys wear a 6-7. I have an entire plastic bin full of wigs in that size. Surely something would fit. I hadn't counted on the shape of the male head. Side-to-side it's narrow. Front-to-back it's quite deep. The ears are set farther back on the head than I would have expected. They got in the way of every wig we tried on. The best fit I found was a Jpopdolls Kana/Monique Gold JoJo. I have four of these in different colors. The JoJo is fuller. I don't know if that holds true in general or if I just happened to get one with more hair. Neither is a perfect fit, as the wigs tend to creep up when you aren't looking. I need to try some of my cheap fur wigs. None of the other dolls wear them, so I wouldn't mind cutting around the ears to get Jin a better fit. (Gosh, I hope the girl won't have this problem!)
I wish Souldoll had provided photos of Jin's unpainted head sculpt, not to mention a shot in full profile. I was unpleasantly surprised to find that the sculpt features an extremely pointed nose. The very first thing I did before painting him was to take a sandpaper sponge to the end of his nose and round it off a bit. Souldoll's face-up for Jin didn't appeal to me so I ordered him blank. Now, looking at the way I painted him, I wish I had ordered the face-up. Sigh! Another face-up to redo.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Smaller than a Realpuki

Way back in February I ordered Pico Baby Ashes, a tiny dragon from Aileen Doll. I'll admit, I looked at the 8cm size stated on their website and thought, "That has to be an error." In fact, 8cm is about 3 and 1/8 inches. FairyLand, by comparison, puts its Realpukis at 9.7cm or just over 3 and 3/4 inches. I still didn't believe it. The package arrived this past week. It wasn't the smallest box I had ever signed for, but it sure was the lightest. Did they forget to put him in the box? Inside the shipper was a smaller box.
Tweazel, my Aileen Dragon Lapis v.2, hopped aboard to supervise the opening.
Once I convinced him to get off the box so I could open it, the following items came to light: a bubble-wrapped pillow-like form that I guessed contained Ashes in his sleeping bag, a small foam-wrapped bow-tie shape (no idea whatsoever), an oval foam-wrapped shape that must be the baby dragon's egg, and the certificate of authenticity. There was supposed to be a pacifier, but maybe that was in the egg. It certainly sounded like something small was rattling around in there.
Bubble wrap removed, Tweazel looked inside. Yup, he's in there.
All unwrapped and disassembled for painting. Aileen Doll did not offer painting/blushing with this doll, although they showed a fully painted doll in the sales photos. Not to worry! I copied the photos to my computer to use as a guide. I had already downloaded their Dragon Assembly Manual. It turned out I didn't need it, because the baby is not connected in quite the same way as the full size dragons. The head, upper and lower torso, and arms are strung in the usual way; the face, legs and wings attach via magnets. (The bow-tie shaped foam package held the wings.) The jawbone/dental piece snaps into place in the same way as on the large dragons. The small white piece near the bottom right of the photo is the baby's pacifier or teat, as Aileen Doll calls it.

The eggshell from which the baby has hatched is in two parts. The bottom half has an embedded magnet. At first I had no idea what it was for. The dragon does not actually fit inside the egg, although you can balance the top part on his head.

I took a closer look at Aileen Doll's promo photo showing Baby Ashes in his egg. It turns out you can see only one foot. The reason for this is that they have removed one leg and attached the eggshell to the leg magnet. Of course the doll is now unbalanced, so even though the bottom of the eggshell is flat, the doll's weight still tips it over. You have to prop him up on something for the trick to work. And then don't look too closely or you'll wonder where his leg went.
I really should have set up my magnifying lamp to do the painting. On the whole I didn't do a terrible job, but I do have a blobby line on one eyelid. So eventually his faceplate will get repainted. I also have another pair of eyes on order. He is wearing Eyeco 11cm soft silicone. I ordered a pair of 10cm acrylics and if they don't work out I'll try glass. I'm trying to stay away from glass with him, however, because it makes his head heavy.

By now I'm sure you're wondering how he compares to a Realpuki. Well, he's shorter but also stockier. His center of gravity is lower. Here, see for yourselves, but don't make the mistake Kaka did and take his pacifier away. This little guy is not to be trifled with.
With his pacifier returned, he accepts a bit of comfort from Tweazel:
Usually I have a hard time coming up with names for my dolls, but his came more easily than most. His Don't-mess-with-me expression reminded me of Rum Tum Tugger, the mischief-making kitten who always wants what he can't have in the musical Cats. Of course, Rum Tum Tugger is a lot of name for a baby, so this little dragon will simply go by Rum Tum.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Steampunk Doll Meet-Up May 2016

Ah, Steampunk: A mix of Victorian and Sci-Fi! Gears! Top Hats! Dolls!


Yes, dolls. This was the May meet-up of the Vermont Doll Lovers and Steampunk was the theme. Attendees were ModernWizard, Lyrajean, Bittersweet Blue, Shannon, Melface, and Vermont Chick (that's me). As usual we were outnumbered by the resins, who got into the spirit of things via props and costumes. Ready, set, go:
Above is my crew (with ModernWizard's Elfdoll Kai in basket): Iplehouse JID Edwin, Iplehouse BID Ringo, Lumedoll Meissa Elf, Dollmore Dollpire Kid Girl Definition of Hazy Roo, and Iplehouse KID Lisa. And here they are in photo-collage:
Next up we have Modern Wizard's modded Angelsdoll Isseul Cat Avatar on Angel of Dream 60cm body (and she thought Dollpire Roo's official name was long!) wearing a Souldoll Evelyn mask, followed by her little Elfdolls Dodo (brown hair) and Kai (hot pink). Dodo and Kai enjoyed riding on anything they could get their little hands on.

Lyrajean was represented by Volks Tony, Volks F26, Volks Date Masamune and Volks Masha (left to right in the first photo) and Volks Dollfie World Cup 01 (in sundress and cat mask in the collage). Her dolls partook of a tea party with overtones of Russian Roulette. Yes, that is a gun in Tony's hand. An innocent prop? Keep reading.
Bittersweet Blue brought (below, from left to right): Dream of Doll Petsha, Dollzone Mo, Dollzone Shoyo, and Souldoll Miribyeol. She also brought the 1:4 scale telescope, a Steampunk trunk, and other room furnishings. Petsha looks like she's collecting money from the other dolls to look through the telescope. Five cents a view! (She won't make much money that way.) Late in the afternoon Petsha became a casualty of her success as angered customers ganged up on her. Or was it a stray shot from Tony's gun that mowed her down? Unfortunately, Petsha can't tell us.
Shannon brought Doll Chateau Bella, seen below holding a mini American Girl Felicity. She also brought an American Girl trunk with foldout Murphy bed and the other props Melface's and her dolls are using.
Before I add the photo collage, Melface's dolls include Doll Chateau Charles (with the gorgeous rose tattoos added by a Russian artist), Dollzone Rafael (lurking in the wardrobe), a Luts Tiny Delf Alice Centaur, Soom Kremer (with lion's head tattoo), Alchemic Labo Unoa L-bi, and Soom Aphan (blue wigged doll whose hooves got cropped out of the photo). There are additional small dolls in the wardrobe. I believe they are part of Shannon's props.

Recently I had to replace my old computer. While I was at it I bought a new edition of Photoshop Elements. In the blink of an eye I went from version 1 to version 14! It may take me a while to get acquainted with (never mind master) all it can do. One thing I've discovered is how to produce quick and painless photo collages. I can't post them larger because they overlap the print in the right hand column. Click on any one to enlarge it. Hope you're as pleased with the results as I am.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Dress for Emma; Steampunk for Roo

Much as I love the crochet dress Emma modeled last time, I really wanted her to have a new dress that no other doll had worn before. No hand-me-downs. Her own dress.
Finished bodice with tiers for skirt
Because Emma is roughly the same size as Narae, I picked a pattern that I knew fit Narae: Lilac Afternoon by Gracefaerie Designs. I'm not sure how many times I've made this dress. I do know I've tried different colors and variations with the 3-tiered skirt. I've even used the bodice with a different skirt. This time I made it all in the same fabric--a pretty pink print.
"He won't bite, will he?"
Below are two previous versions from August 2010, modeled by Narae on the left and Supia Yan on the right. On each the skirt is made up from three different fabrics.
Here is another view of Emma's dress. Her shoes are from DollinStyle. They also fit MiniFees. (I just noticed the shoes are sold out from Denver Doll. When did that happen? I must have bought the last two pairs!)
In addition to making Emma's dress, I have been reworking an outfit for Dollpire Roo to wear at next Saturday's doll meet-up, which has a Steampunk theme. Originally I made the outfit to fit Iplehouse JID Benny, seen here below.
Benny looks slim here, which is surprising given that the skirt had excess fabric and a loose fit. I was able to use very little of this for Roo, who has a much smaller waist and whose hands are too large to go through the sleeves of the Iplehouse blouse. I still want to use the cummerbund, which is too wide, even if it loses some decoration when I remake it. The vest should be loose enough to fit over it. Here is what I've come up with so far:
I really want to work the top skirt into the outfit, if I can do so without making her look thick around the middle. The vest and blouse come from two different patterns, both for Kaye Wiggs minis. The blouse is from Gracefaerie's #50 Kaleidoscope. I had made the turtleneck from the same pattern before and found it fit Roo, so I knew the blouse would work. The vest comes from L'Ecoliere, a pattern by MHD Designs (seen below on Kaye Wiggs Layla).
If the skirt looks familiar, it's because you saw it recently on Zaoll Luv. The blouse and vest, while they were too tight for Luv, were a relaxed fit on Roo. The original blouse was stiff and fit Roo like a pajama top, so I remade it in a lightweight fabric. Then I decided it didn't look right for Steampunk and made the high necked, more Victorian-looking blouse from the Gracefaerie pattern instead. As you can see in the photos, I removed the large buttons and fabric loop fastenings from the vest and substituted smaller buttons and snaps. I removed the red bow and attached key charm and replaced them with a different bow and a charm with gears on it.
I also took the propeller off the top hat, leaving the two gears, and added a striped band under the original sheer ribbon. I thought I was done with it, but after seeing Musume's Steampunk Regency Riding Habit a couple of days ago on her blog My Dolly Adventures, I plan to steal her idea of attaching a pair of glasses via chain. (Thanks for the inspiration, Musume!)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Introducing WithDoll Emma

Emma, a slim mini from Korean company WithDoll, arrived yesterday. Most of my 1/4 scale dolls are slim minis, so it was only a matter of time before I added one of these to my doll family. Because I've been uncharacteristically slow to act, I missed out on some limited editions that I now regret. You can bet I'll be paying more attention to WithDoll going forward, especially as I've learned that some limited editions are released a second time. I'd sure like to get hold of that elf knight I missed a short time back. Next time around he's mine!
WithDoll girls can be purchased with a few options: resin color (several to choose from, with additional color choices for limiteds), face-up (yes or no), breast size (small or large), wig (the same one shown in the doll's promo photos). In the case of limited editions, the buyer can choose the outfit and any optional parts. The dolls come with both flat feet and heel feet, as well as four hands and 12mm acrylic eyes. Compared with similar dolls from other companies, they are competitively priced.
There is always some hesitation when dealing with a doll company you don't know well. Will I like the doll? Will she be good quality? Will I be able to find clothing and shoes easily or will she be hard to fit? Will she pose well? I am happy to say that I am delighted with Emma. Her resin is smooth, the skin color is pretty (it's normal but every company's normal is a different color depending on the resin formula), and she is solid considering her small size. I love her elbows. They give her arms an excellent range of motion. The knee joints not so much. They're fairly attractive as doll knees go but their motion is restricted. I'm not sure I see any advantage to double jointed elbows combined with single jointed knees. I prefer double jointing for both. Despite the limitations of her knees, she poses well. She is jointed under the bust but not at the waist. The jury is still out on this feature. Some dolls which are jointed everywhere are difficult to control. At least the mostly static torso avoids unwanted contortions in front of the camera.

Emma's measurements are similar to Narae's, so clothing and patterns designed for Narae will fit. Her flat feet are the same size as MiniFee girl feet, so they can share flat shoes. When it comes to heel feet, the WithDoll arch is lower which makes the foot slightly longer, so I doubt they will share high heels. WithDoll and MiniFee hands and feet attach to the dolls in the same ways: magnets for the hands and resin knobs for the feet.
I was in the process of sewing a dress for Emma when she arrived. What with one thing and another I didn't finish it and so she is wearing a two-piece crocheted dress that I received as a gift with a secondhand MiniFee. Emma just happens to wear the set better. (Except when sitting, which hikes up the skirt.) In my photos Emma wears a wig that came with the same MiniFee. I could never get it to stay put on the MiniFee's larger head. The wig's use of a secondary color reminds me of LeekeWorld's art wigs but I don't know for sure if it is. I gave her gray glass eyes instead of the dark green Glib acrylic eyes that came with her. She is wearing shoes made for the Goodreau resin BJDs. Thank goodness I have several pairs of Goodreau shoes, for the dolls and their clothing are no longer produced.
Emma may be my first doll from this Korean Company, but I doubt she'll be the last.(In fact, I know she won't be my last. I ordered a tiny doll from them a couple of weeks ago.)