craft, Doll, monster high, pullip, sewing, Uncategorized

Acrylic Yarn: Squeeky self-care.

I’ve written before about how handy-work can be quite an effective form of meditation for those of us with minds that sometimes fight meditation.

The repetition of movement, the precision needed, and the concentration used helps clear my head. It’s not that I don’t think while doing this, I do, but it’s a quieter thinking. I don’t have the time to chase strong emotions or berate myself. With my hands busy a strong emotion may easily be noted and pass and I won’t be tempted to chase down its cause right then and there.

Let us now sing praise for 100¥ acrylic yarn…here for me at my time of need.

Without too many details, it’s been an unwelcome revisiting  of the end of May 2019.

Vague story vague: within days two distinct circles of friends in different locations were revealed to contain two different types of horrible predators…and a lot of nasty information poured out of each. This week one of those two cases came to a settlement that involves only probation, no jail time, for a person who has torn through lives.

Cue the unwelcome few days of time travel none of us asked for.

And this brings me to the acrylic yarn. It’s not ALL the self-care but it is some of it.

I’m not the first woman in my family to find comfort in acrylic yarn.

My paternal Grandma Leah used to use the cheapest, squeekiest, most eye-hurtingest colors of acrylic yarn to knit and crochet hand scrubbers, sturdy foot “booties” and hard to explain dolls and toys…for cash or family.

Preferably craft-stall cash.

She lived with my father and step-family for years. We, family, all had these booties in inexplicable colors. Well, semi-explicable; they were the cheapest yarns for the best return on her investment of supplies. I also used to have a yellow and blue clown down with two distinctly different length legs where she’d just run out of yarn and ended.

Grandma Leah had a huge stash of different sources of patterns but it seems like the booties came from a hand-written letter from a neighbor. I have some of the letter but no more of the booties.

img_0177

Dear Leah;

Once before I had to show someone how to make the slippers. It takes a long time to do it. I can’t read a pattern. I’ve never had one for the slipper. Thelma showed me how. I only know one way to show you.

I start with each step. I just hope your friend can follow the directions. They go fast. 1 3 1/2 oz of yarn will make a pair. They sell real fast at x-mas time. You can make a pair in an evening and more if you’re fast. They get $5.00$ a pair….

What I do to cheap acrylic yarn is a transformation in the opposite direction. Knitting builds up form. I take acrylic yarn and attack until it is broken down into thin synthetic fibers. This is time consuming.

931761a1-a724-4c78-b500-7450189442a3

What am I looking at?

  • Upper left hand corner: Acrylic yarn.
  • Upper right hand corner: Acrylic yarn that has been tethered to something and then brushed with a wire pet brush until it gives up hope. After this step comes using a flat-iron for hair set at 140.
  • Lower left hand corner: the yarn fuzz after ironing, being cut free, lined up, and attached at one end with glue to create hair wefts.
  • Lower right hand corner: building a wig from this insanity.

What doll is that and when did you make it?

Oh, yeah, I’ve been away from the blog. This is where I show you some of what I’ve been working on.

8533c829-ddef-41a7-b903-d02f25a48329

Googling tells me this Monster High doll is Twyla. She is a freshman student at Monster High and is a boogeyman, daughter of the Boogey Man, she lives in the Boogey Mansion. This specific Twyla is the “Coffin Bean” coffee shop release.

But to me, she’s one of the many used dolls I bought off a girl in America using a charity shop go-between.

Let’s check out what I did with her.

She’s loosely inspired by the aesthetics of Disney’s Haunted mansion.

I used the Rococo Hime Lolita dress pattern to create this outfit. If you’re thinking of using easy fraying fabric like I did….don’t. headaches.

img_0388

I sanded off the “spirit swirls” or whatnot on her legs and used chalk pastels and acrylic to create a bat motif.

img_0458

I created this wig with exhausted acrylic fiber, a syrofoam egg, a homemade wigcap, and a handful of things from the 100¥ shop.

img_0492

Then it was time to repaint her face.

0e7f6bc3-b735-4753-8085-ecc97a602b25

I repainted her shoes and added accents. Again, solid nod to 100¥ shops.

5360edf1-cdf0-4b22-a417-9b69b1f139d2

And finally, some earrings:

img_0181

As for me, tonight I’ll be brushing, brushing, and brushing yarn and slowly creating wefts…allowing the feelings to come and they must…and focusing on what is really a low-stakes unessential and beautifully absurd addition to the strange world of things I make.

Stefon.

 

a4d54e85-903d-4596-ab32-6dd7057a492f

Because…this world has EVERYTHING.

Standard
costuming, sewing, Uncategorized

The dress with EVERYTHING.

My friend Ebony rocks. She really does. You should go check out the looks she serves up on Instagram. I’ll wait.

I can’t even tell you how essential she is to my life here.  Not since art school have I had someone in my neck of the woods who was not only an amazing friend but who also makes s stuff all the time. All. The. Time.

I can talk shop with and bounce inspiration back and forth with her. I’ve helped her stain her couch black so it’d be more goth. She’s my year-round source of Halloween baubles.

She has her own impressive fabric haul. From time to time she’s given me fabric she realizes will be put to use by me before she ever will use it. Like..three meters of this.

img_0500

Yeah. Take that in. Take it ALL in. That’s a lot of lot going on.

And for a year she’s been waiting to see what it will become.

well, you can’t get really complicated with a fabric like that so I turned to a simple pattern I’d modified until it fit. 2 or 3 years ago I made three dresses with variations based on  Vogue Patterns Misses Jacket Dresses-V8146

And this would be no exception! SIMPLE CLEAN LINES!

But I wasn’t going to do all the insane pattern matching of the Maiko/Geisha patterned dress just so I could have pockets. I made EXTERNAL POCKETS with APPLIQUE!

img_0599

I’ve had someone ask me if I made the dress and then ask me if I also made the appliques. I want to live in their world because it’s a world where ready-made appliques of octopuses drinking coffee and eating cheese MIGHT EXIST.

img_0597

I’ve since slightly darted the neckline so it doesn’t gape.

Lemme tell you, this is a dress that makes people smile.

Standard
costuming, craft, Doll, monster high, sewing, Uncategorized

Little Dead Riding Wolf

One of my finished projects this summer was Little Dead Riding Wolf.

You may have noticed that I never show concept sketches. It’s not how I work. It’s never been. With dolls as with creating dance costumes I start with a very hazy concept, maybe gather some inspiration, and let the tools take me where they will.

I’m not proud of this. It’s just what I’m comfortable with.

In art school I’d just tackle large sheets of paper and see where the drawings took me. I think in my fine arts classes, because I drew (worked in dry and thus relatively fast materials) and i wasn’t majoring in illustration with need to think of a client, it was encouraged.

When I started dancing I was more comfortable soloing improvisationally than I was confident in making choreography…but in grappling with how to learn AND create choreography I’ve become a better dancer overall.  In this new-to-me art I think some pre-planing and concept sketches would save time AND help me be more productive overall. I just need to figure out how to start that journey.

I’m getting that out here so I can think on it.

Little Dead Riding Wolf started out hazy.

The concept was part of the original doll’s name…I had one from the 20 doll haul.

img_0301And I knew that I wanted to do 1). more experimentation with Goth/Fantasy concepts on darker skinned dolls 2). unraveled yarn to create kinkier textured hair.

I bought red and brown acrylic yarn at the 100¥ shop. I unraveled it and re-rooted her head.

I covered her hair to spray her with a few priming layers of Mr. Superclear and got to coloring with chalk pastels, water color pencils and acrylics.

Next came how to redress her. I decided that Little Dead Wolf would want to warn possible grandchildren she met in the forest NOT to mess with her. I set to making a skull from Apoxie Sculpt. Nothing says “nope” like the skull of your vanquished enemies.

I drafted the cape myself. The red/black velvet is left over from a dance costume I made for myself.

redvelvet

The making of that and the lace beading can be found on my costume page.

For the rest of the outfit I turned to Requiem Art Designs. Etsy: DGRequiem is THE source to turn to when you wanna make doll outfits but don’t want to make your own pattern AND are willing to pay another artist. I went with her Rococo Lolita pattern.

roccoco.jpg

And I took a trip to Nippori (our fabric street) for remnant scraps.

Let me tell you, it took me two tries to get the brocade to behave. I have a less than perfect version I’ll find a use for.

Then I made a short skirt using her pattern AND a longer skirt by free-styling it.

The awesome belt came off one of the other MH dolls from my haul.
I layered those two skirts. I’m a huge fan of the idea that you just layer fabrics until they look expensive and fabulous.

For a final touch I painted those horrible purple boots to match her new outfit.

img_0385

I’ll need to make her a basket soon but for now I love her.

388ce6c2-5bae-4c35-a640-b49063b9a4b4

Standard
craft, Disney, Doll, sewing, Uncategorized

Power Puffing

Where have I been? I’ve been doing my summer thing. I’ve made a lot of stuff, done some social things, and visited America for 12 WHOLE DAYS.

And now, with my day job lurking beyond this weekend it’s time to start catching all of you up on my projects.

First up we have a work in progress: Powerpuff Girls.

img_0067

I have a ton of Disney Animators dolls so Ariel is becoming Blossom, Snow is Buttercup and Aurora will be Bubbles.

First I had to clean them and do many days outside with 10% Benxol Peroxide acne cream to remove stains.

img_0082

Which brings us to hair.

I’m ok with Blossom’s hair being more red than orange but neither Ariel nor Snow have bangs.

Which meant removing heads in order to properly root some bangs in.

 

I had to do the same thing with Snow. I also figured there are two waysI could interpret Buttercup’s hair. It can be slick with the up wave at the ends or I could make it more of a messy curly bob as her out of place hairs and morning illustrations suggest. I’ll be going team curly. Why not? More variation.

 

Aurora/Bubbles. Her hair just didn’t have the right part to do ponytails AT ALL AT ALL. I’ll work at making her a wig because I am never going to reroot a whole ‘nother of these heads. I’m sewing my first large wig cap for her, as I couldn’t find a light colored 13inch doll wig cap available online in Japan and I have stretchy nude fabric in my stash.

 

I’ll be buying a used wig of Mercari here later to remove blond wefts from, cheaper than buying them new.

img_1113

.

And I’ve started on Blossom’s face.

img_0238

I have already drafted a pattern that’ll work for the dresses, I did that back in the early stages when I thought I’d just learn a bit more about hand sewing by using a book about sewing for dolls….ya know…that thing that lead to all these DOLLS and Repaints.

img_3724

And that, my dears, is only the start of what I’ve been up to.

Standard
craft, Disney, Doll, sewing, Uncategorized

Melody, complete!

I HAVE FINISHED IT!
img_9410

Last I updated about Melody, as far as my searches show me, I’d given up on dying her synthetic hair. I’d pried her head off and started rooting.

MY GOD, that was arduous. The heads of Disney Animators are about the size of softballs.

Towards the end I realized that the the neck hole was so small, and the area I’d need to secure inside with glue was so large…it was near impossible to do cleanly so I…CUT INTO HER HEAD.

img_7326.jpg

Desperate times.

I finished rerooting the head and the skull flap and secured the hair with Aleene’s Clear Gel Tacky Glue. Then I used Liquid Fusion and swearing to fit the head back into place.

img_7358

I later, after building up enough layed of liquid fusion, painted the seams black. And took photos.

img_7352

Then onto painting!

I didn’t take in progress photos. This is the final result all at once, with a little outfit I sewed her because I don’t like the idea of sending a naked doll to a friend.

4064de48-4e33-49ab-aa5f-97b09ee77f91img_9752.jpg

 

This week I’ll find a box and send her off to Gina and her daughter. And never ever reroot a Disney Animator Doll again.

Standard
craft, Doll, Uncategorized

A space for my craft.

My apartment is spacious and cheap. It’s why I refuse to move.

It’s also damned hot in summer. When I first moved here 8 years ago I tried to go a while without an air conditioner. By early September I was googling the signs of heat stroke daily and bought an air conditioner for my bedroom. Now  I’ve made the choice to face the latest heat with TWO, count them, TWO rooms I won’t melt in.

My sewing room is the darkest room of the apartment, which makes in horrible for doll work. All other rooms are very well lit.  I’ve done the majority of my doll work in my bedroom, which has given me a cluttered room as there is no space there that has been officially dedicated to doll in progress storage and work.

I decided to turn my dedicated dance space into a hybrid dance and doll space. And to buy a used window mounted air-conditioner off of Yahoo Auctions. Previously my summer dance practice waited until after dark when the room had cooled off and I would set three fans up.

 

When I bought my window mounted air conditioner (used again) for my bedroom years ago I paid to also get it installed. This time I figured I’d just do it myself.
That thing was heavy but I’m a smallish person full of stubborn strength.

I also bought a used table and had it delivered.

I’m still getting the storage sorted so I have most of what I need in one place and easy to find and clean up. I plan to swap the curtains for little half curtains once I finish making them. If I ever need to block out all the light in the room, all of these windows have metal shutters I can close…because we have typhoon season.

img_9512

And with that, the summer of crafting begins.

Standard
Disney, Doll, monster high, Uncategorized

Inner Monster.

The most awesome doll in the doll haul from the American consignment shop:

img_8119

MONSTER HIGH INNER MONSTER SHIVERING SAD, EEK EXCITED, & HAUNTINGLY HAPPY DELUXE PACK

So great. So great. Mine was without a box but I don’t care about boxes. I had everything but the notebook/diary. I don’t need that diary. I have this here blog.

Screen Shot 2019-06-11 at 20.49.54

 

Oh, and mine had one other issue.

img_7798-1
A head detached from her body. I had yet to really understand how awesome she was. But her head alone had an exposed brain that, when pressed, changed her eye colors.

 

With much rattling and tweezers I finally got the broken neck-part out of her head. This allowed me to figure out how the neck and head were supposed to attach.

Oh, did I not mention that her body plates come off to expose her SPINE and such? When I bought the lot I DIDN’T KNOW. Even when I got it I hadn’t googled for more info. I only figured it out when I saw how the seams of the body moved a bit when I manipulated the head.

I opened her up!

I then drilled a screw partway into her neck and used Apoxie Sculpt to make a new head node.

Here’s the copy for this amazing product in bold.

Monsters have feelings too!

Yes, we do.

And now they can express their monster moods – or yours!

Awesome! I am a sucker for toys and stories about how our emotions are a natural part of who we are…thus my Inside Out love.

This Monster High ghoul has creepy cool transformative features and killer ways of emoting!

Me too!

With three of options, this monster can run the gamut of emotions from Shivering Sad to Eek Excited to Hauntingly Happy.

I have more emotions than that. That’s not technically running the gamut.

Fun fact about “Eek Excited.” I will respond to Eek. If I see it typed out I will identify with it as possibly meaning me. This comes from my misspent youth being a 14 year old with a 2400 baud modem who learned about local chat lines. I quickly chose the handle Eclipse and from ages 14-19 that was generally shortened to Eek.

Press on her scary cool neon brain to change the look in her eyes – the eye-changing feature even works with the wig on!

Three different eyes!

Swap out the three faceplates to change her facial expression from gore-geous to gaga.

img_8118-1.jpg

This is something I’ve wanted with a MH doll AND IN LIFE. Extra faces.

This is another thing that dates back to my childhood love of the Oz books and the brief appearance of Princess Langwidere.
lang

“Langwidere is a different person every time I see her. For the only way her maids and subjects can recognize her at all is by means of a pretty little key made out of solid ruby; which she always wears on a dainty chain attached to her left wrist. So when we see the key we know we are beholding the Princess.” ―Ozma of Oz (1907)

That key was to her hall of HEADS.

Back to dolls.

Plug emoticons (emotion-based peggable pieces) into her inner skeleton to make a literal statement and get even more “in touch” with your emotions.

Ok. So you can put a clear chest plate on her and see her spine/pelvis AND put little mood pegs into that skeleton.

579864689.414427

I’m just keeping the thunderstorm in her pelvis. I feel it. There are three more places to plug in emotions on the rib cage. All extra emotions can be stored in her purse. I generally done have emotions in my purse but I usually carry around emergency nuts in case my blood sugar drops and I get Radically Raged.

And of course, fabulous feeling fashions and clawesome corresponding accessories can match the mood on the outside.

Clawed omelette is what my autocorrect made of Clawesome.

Throw on the enchanting wings, the creepy cool genie tail or both! Choose a hair-raising purple ponytail or a colorful wig. Swap the chest plates and the fashions to complete the look. When the right mood is captured, record the monster’s story in the fill-in-the-blank diary to take personalization to new scary heights.

Ok. The creepy cool genie tail. I had questions.

In the pictures of the lot I was going to get I kept wondering, “What is that hungry penis plant thing? Will it make more sense when it arrives? ”

It DIDN’T.

 

Turns out, that’s for her Eek Excited look. You pull out her legs and shove her pelvis in that. That’s ok and not disturbing at all! Probably less disturbing than the uncanny valley that Will Smith often inhabits in the live action Aladin.

This video from Surprise Egg and Toy Collector on You Tube shows each of the three looks.

Eek Excited:

The whole video goes over every aspect I mention in better detail and each of the looks It’s late and I’d rather not set up to take photos.

The set includes one full doll with eye-changing/brain feature, three interchangeable face plates, two peggable/interchangeable skeletons, one additional chest plate, three monsterrific accessories (wings, tail, furry peplum), multiple inner emotion-based pieces (that snap into the doll), two over-the-top fashions, one pair of shoes, doll stand, brush and fill-in-the-blank diary. It’s a brand new way to play! Collect other dolls and expansion Add-On Packs for even more frightful options (sold separately). Ages 6 and older.

I would have gone insane for monster high dolls if they’d launched at the right time of my childhood…or in my childhood AT ALL.

I’m not changing this one.

She’s currently wearing another doll’s outfit and being a Sad rocker.

img_8367

And doing Sadness a great concern.

img_8243.jpg

But, most things do Sadness a great concern. It’s her thing, really.

Standard
Uncategorized

Here comes the General

It’s been two weeks since my anxious little Professor went missing. No signs. No sounds. No responses.

I’d been looking at hedgies online and kept coming back to two little awkward dorks in a shop in Meguro, Tokyo.

I ordered a better cage (not handmade by me from 100¥ shop items…although I’m still proud of that cage) from a person who custom makes cages in Japan (found them via Mercari/yahoo auction) and it should ship soon.

I did some extra escape-proofing of the existing cage.

Yesterday, after teaching my three Saturday dance lessons, I packed my hedgehog carrier and set off to Kojima pets in Meguro two meet the two dorks I’d been looking at. I just couldn’t stop thinking about them.

I made a beeline for their cage and flagged a staff member over. She was concerned that I’d find it painful to pick one up…but I told her I’d had one as a pet before.

I have craft hands. No needle mouse is going to penetrate these calluses.

The two girls shared a cage. I picked up the larger of the two (3 months old, the second pictured above) and she wasn’t having it. She just stayed in a ball. I picked up the second (2 months old) and in a few moments she uncurled to sniff at me, curious.

Hellooooo, General Jinjur.

I perform under the dance name of Ozma. My last hedgehog was Professor, after Professor Wogglebug. Pulling another name from Oz cannon made sense for my cinnamon tension mouse.

I filled out the paperwork and bought pet insurance.

Last time I got my hedgehog from a hedgehog cafe. More expensive and no insurance options…and probably more traumatized. This time I’ll have online resources to vets, LINE access to vets and 50% of bills covered.

Jinjur came home with me. She tiny but she unleashed quite the fear poop in her carry case.

If you think hedgehogs have tiny little rabbity poops….you’d be so wrong. They sorta poop like dogs. It’s a bit astounding. It’s a sizable passing.

Every once in a while someone on a hedgehog FB page posts a mid-poop shot. I wish they wouldn’t.

General Jinjur is already more personable than the Professor was at this stage.

There are two thoughts on how to handle your tension-mouse in the first week.

-leave them alone but have a shirt that smells like you in the enclosure

-have that shirt in there but handle them

a few times each day so they start bonding with you ASAP.

With the Professor I followed the first route…but because he hid and wouldn’t emerge if he heard or smelled me or lights were on it was easy. I often wondered if he was alive that first week. I’d lay in the dark listening.

I’m trying the second way with Jinjur. She was fine with the lights being on. She let me watch her eat. She would pause on her wheel if she smelled me…but would return to running once she felt safe.

Tonight I’m bringing home some pool-noodles from the 100¥ shop. Her new cage will mean moving the bookcase a little ways from the wall. I’ll be shoving pool noodles in the gap to protect it from becoming a hiding space…just like I do the other heavy items such as the fridge and the washing machine (both of which I moved several times in the Professor search. A tube in my washer also broke last week…flooding the kitchen…but I have since fixed it myself. On the second try).

Jinjur is settled into the old cage. Once the new one comes I’ll keep the older one for a few more weeks…just incase the Professor returns somehow.

They wouldn’t be able to share a cage or play together, because that’s how hedgies get preggers, but I could be a two hedgehog home.

Yay for needlemice. Anxious little babes for an anxious little woman.

Standard
craft, Doll, monster high, Uncategorized

With and without…and another box.

It’s been a month since my last post.

A dooooozy of a month…but not as bad as last year. It was the one year anniversary of the horrible reveal that one of my friends is an international con artist and another friend is so much worse (the legal case on the second still drags on). So while things have sucked…last year around this time I was only getting 3-4 hours a sleep and had a few breakdowns.

This May…not great. It was physically busy as I continued to grow into my new job and  new commute, in that uneasy valley between full paychecks, and while still substitute teaching an extra night of dance lessons for the second month in a row. Then the last week hit HARD.

 

 

 

In October of last year, my shrink had to move to Hokkaido. She set me up with a decent doctor. That second doctor is now hospitalized and it’s not clear when or if he’ll return to practice.

After 9 months of waiting, my application for permanent residency was rejected. I’m waiting on an official reason.

And then there’s this…

img_8345

The baffling absence of The Professor. That’s a “have you seen my pointy antisocial pet” sign. It’s been almost a week with no signs of him.

My good friend Ebony went through health hell here on her Scammer-versary. ..so we’ve been using LINE to check back and forth in a “Hey, I think I”m doing better for these last two hours than you…how can I help?” way.

Mercury isn’t in retrograde, the universe is just an asshole.

But…life goes on and there’s much to doll up on so I figured I’d use some of my Sunday to start figuring out where to begin on updating this.

I do have a whole HAUL of dolls. A friend in America works at a consignment shop and sent me some photos. I promptly made a 9-year old girl  (who was supper nice to her dolls in a way I never was) very happy by buying her whole collection.

The Pics.

 

 

 

 

One doll isn’t featured because I’ll get to fixing her later.

AND props and extra shoes!
img_7905.jpg

Which brings me to the first thing I did. I primed and repainted that furniture!

 

 

My Dolls now have the fainting couch of my dreams.

img_8153-1

And I have another new shelf.

 

 

So, one foot ahead of the other and one hank of hair at a time.

Standard
craft, Doll, monster high, Uncategorized

Exploring Hands.

It’s common to find Monster High/ EAH dolls without hands. This is only going to get worse as the line is discontinued.

Now I’m trying to find a way to deal with that when I don’t live in a country with much in the way of replacement parts.

I think I’ll eventually have to learn how to cast resin but until then:

Try 1 for a hand-less EAH doll:

Obitsu four hand set for 21/23 (about 800¥)

obitsu

Right off the bat the peg that needs to be inserted into the arm is way too long and thick.

img_7731

Left: EAH Hands Right: Obitsu

The Obitsu hands don’t have the lovely long fingers of a fashion doll, the wrist is thick, and the colors are limited.

This color is actually close to the body I’m using so I probably won’t blush them right away.

I set about cutting and sanding/dremelling away the excess peg.

img_7733

And testing the fit.

img_7735

Until it fit!

img_7737

It’s not the most elegant solution. The rubbery hands aren’t easy to sand or shape. It works though. They can always serve as placeholders until spare hands are found, if ever.

Up Soon:
I’ll be trying the Pure Nemo hands, which come in a wider selection of hand poses and might be easier to sand and shape. These will also require whittling down.pure

I’m also drying to airdry polymer clay and apoxie Sculpt to see if I can make my own forearms in the future.

img_7729

Standard