craft, Doll, pullip, sewing, Uncategorized

Emily’s Doll: Will a doll help?

I haven’t written for a while but I sure as hell have been making things.

You see, my friends and I were hit with not one but two sociopaths this summer. We didn’t know about #summerofscammers until after the devastation. We’re petitioning that if there is a destructive human force NEXT summer that someone send us the hashtag memo earlier.

One total fucking horrible person is in my hometown and we’re awaiting his trial. I won’t get into details because they suck. Suffice to say these both came to a head within four days of each other in late May.What happened in my hometown affected many people, some of whom I will never meet, many of whom I know…and my friend Emily.

And, honest to fucking god, I asked myself: is there a doll I can make to help?

I meant it jokingly. As in “What the fuck can I even do in the face of this? I customize dolls. ”

In reality I’m coming to know what skills I can provide in these times: listening skills, trying to hold space for people’s feelings, gathering/sharing information and networking friends. I’m also learning some of my limits after the fact…I’m glad I had friends there for me at the times this summer that I broke down.

I, secretly, started making Emily a doll.

My hands need things to do. I need to be creating objects. It counter balances so much of the mental and physical energy I expend even in smooth times. When things get crazy, less essential ways of coping…like writing this blog…fall away but I still need to be making things.

I had a doll. I’d purchased it at Dollyteria in Ikebukuro on my birthday in April. It was naked, in a baggie, had already once been repainted, and needed a new body.  You know I have extra bodies and dolls just laying around in my craft room.





I neglected to take a full body shot because sometimes when I need to make things I don’t slow down and document it all.  I NEEDED to make this.

I spent a LOT of time feeling like Emily’s stalker. Looking at her Facebook photos over many years. REALLY LOOKING AT THEM. HI, EMILY CAN YOU FEEL ME STARING AT YOU?




Her make-up routine is generally very dramatic dark eyes with winged liner and a fairly light lip. Emily often has a pink of light blue/green hair streak. There was NO WAY I was going to try and transfer all her tattoos.

I went wig shopping online at Dollyteria again and found a black/pink wig that would work.


I removed the existing face with rubbing alcohol/ paint thinner. Then I primed it and set to work. I added some blush with chalk pastels. Set that. Then started the layers of watercolor pencils, acrylic, and more chalk pastels.





You probably noticed Emily’s eyes. If you don’t get those right you don’t have an Emily doll. I found a good match at BeBeBlytheCo on Etsy and ordered them.


Almost finished. Later I cleaned up the inner eye

By this time I also had planned a two-week trip to America in mid to late August. I haven’t been to see friends on the East coast in…um…18 years. I’d see friends in a few different cities and then Emily and I would meet up in Philadelphia. Philadelphia is neither my home town nor hers…we wanted a city so we could just be someplace together and hang out. Talk about things that needed to be talked about when they came up and just have fun when it was time to just have fun.

I had a deadline. I wanted to surprise her with the doll in America when I saw her.

That left the problem of clothing.

Emily’s aethetic is deeply Victorian Gothic….but it’s not how she dresses in daily life. She’s also been very rockabily styled but those items haven’t been in rotation for a while. Comfortable jeans and a pullover hoodie didn’t really suit the doll I was making.

I started looking turning to Gothic Victorian styled dolls, Tim Burton, and Helena Bonham Carter for inspiration. I talked to my friend Ebony about it as well. Ebony’s also heavily goth inspired and has come to know Emily a bit through me and FB. Ebony suggested I add Penny Dreadful to my inspiration files.


Fun Fact: I promptly watched the WHOLE three seasons while working on the doll. This means I’ve seen one episode more than Emily. Emily has, in a desire for the story not to end, abstained from watching the final episode.

Bonus; Penny Dreadful has a whole DOLL thing going on in the third season. I was on the RIGHT TRACK.

I visited Shinjuku Okadaya (fabric and trims) for some fabrics…I still not was sure on what I would make. I also had a small supply of Ebony’s “spoooooky fabric scraps”.

At some point during all of this Emily and I had one of many a video chat session. At some point she had to turn off her camera to answer a call and I put one of my many dolls in front of the video screen to greet her when she returned. This lead to a tour of some of my dolls.  The last time I saw her in person she’d been intensely curious about the dolls and when she got video introductions to some of them she was quite excited about their existance and my art…knowing nothing of the fact she’d be getting one. Another sign I was on the RIGHT TRACK.

Fun Fact: Emily used to be afraid of dolls.

I tried to draft my own doll corset but I soon found the deadline to America coming up too soon. I turned to my doll clothing pattern books. I have a fair collection now because JAPAN. I decided I’d modify the “Autumn” dress for my needs.



First up was the skirt. I love layering fabrics to make simple textiles look more lush. The skirt is a Halloween fabric layered over burgundy/wine silk. Spiders became my animal motif not unlike Vannesa in Penny Dreadful has scorpions as a leitmotif. I used an Obitsu body for her new body (her old body had floppy arms)


Then the top:


Her shoulders seemed bare so I found a free knitting pattern for a cobweb shawl for Blythe and made two. One for Emily and one for another doll of mine.

I decided she needed earrings. I asked Ebony if I could raid her stash knowing FULL WELL she stocks up on Halloween earrings and charms. Ebony came through when I visited her. The doll’s earrings are: Spider studs I added chains and web and cross charms to…all from Ebony’s stash.


But wait…there’s more!


I could have stopped but I decided to make a veil…


Which she can exchange for her clip on fascinator (which can also be clipped into the hair of her owner)…and I put a tiny spider clasp on the cloak.


She then was carefully wrapped and placed into a wooden wine box I’d also been given by Ebony. When I arrived in America I swapped the fleece wrapping fabric I’d used for some halloween fabric I bought at JoAnne’s

On August 25th my friend Rook (who I’ve made a doll for before) and I picked up Emily at the airport in Philedelphia. We went back to were we were staying (after a stop in which we actually bought more dolls…more on that later) and I told her I had a gift for her.

She had NO clue, the long wooden box did not tip her off.

She cried with joy as she cradled it.

Will a doll help? Sometimes.

craft, Disney, Doll, Uncategorized

Restorative Crafting: Jack Skellington and the Scammer.

Today I don’t just mean restorative to indicate fixing up a damaged or sub-par doll. I also mean crafting to put your heart and mind back together. Sometimes the hyperfocus of making something with your hands is a way of stepping back from the horrors filling your life.

Today I’m not going to get into the horrors at length. Suffice to say that someone in our lives wasn’t just revealed to be a liar: she’s a full-time con artist who can turn violent and rips lives apart. It’s an ongoing thing.

There’s information APLENTY on Facebook (and some on twitter) under the hashtag #sabrinataylorscams . If you check it out, I’m Kathryn. Sabrina the scammer (@realafterglow) is here and there on this blog as the friend I crafted a doll kimono for and more.

While things were falling apart here in Japan, my friend Randy and I took a brief trip to Akihabara when we knew Sabrina would be occupied and we wouldn’t have to risk  seeing her in person prior to the lot of us going public with what we’d learned.

At Akihabara I found a Jack Skellington doll, in box, for under 300¥. Dirt cheap. Ebony, who was also going through this crisis and more LOVES the nightmare before Christmas.  She needed Jack

Why was Jack cheap? I wondered, in the dim shop.

His face had, perhaps due to shoddy construction and the viewing window on his box, yellowed and developed mold. MY KIND OF PROJECT. I’d later learn that the face was also sorta slimy.


When I got him home I removed the shrink wrap and such and popped Jack’s greazy head off, easy peasy. I washed it and then primed in with Mr. Super Clear. Over the next week I built up layer after layer of acrylics on his face until I was happy.

I shared pictures with Ebony of the process. She’d also bought me a hedgehog/sewing themed hand towel. It’s Japan. That sort of match-up isn’t surprising.

Today I’ll be heading to Ebony’s place with Jack.  I checked how the new head would look next to the body. That’s when I noticed his shirt was similarly nasty and discolored. I bought some felt with adhesive on one side. I stripped the old shirtfront off and cleaned the plastic underneath. Then I used the old shirtfront as a pattern.


After sealing his head with more Mr. Super Clear he was ready for a few photos.





craft, Doll, sewing, Uncategorized

For Rookling: The Secret Project.

Let’s meet the girl behind the project I’ve been keeping secret. She’s my favorite corvid-human hybrid, Rookling. Her project happened simultaneously alongside Archie.


Does she look surprised? She was!

Rookling, her polychrome hair mushrooming around her face, thick lashes and extra lashes on top of that, the eyes of Liza Minnelli, and such aptitude, y’all…such aptitudes…such a mind for images and words.

I met her when we were 20 or 21 when we both frequented Anime conventions.

She was somewhere between here and here.

I would have had short black chopped hair, making us quite the Liza Minelle cover duo.

It’s been at least 20 years. We kept in touch, although there were large gaps. We’ve seen and heard each other break open. There have been times when we fell prey to young  insecurities, jealousy, and confusion…but we got through that. A series of crying exchanges and a few FaceTimes about 7-9 years ago bonded us back into what we are to each other today, so far away.

As did proper medications and self-knowledge.

Rookling has health problems that limit her body from doing what her dynamic spirit desires. I’m glad that the internet has expanded to the world it is today and is there for her to travel, research, find inspiration, and connect with others where she is and when she is able. Before? well, she would have found a way to hold salon discussions at her place somehow but this is easier.

You may actually know her, her social presence is that vast. We often find ourselves with mutual online friends who marvel that we go back to what the fussy-daddies call Real Life. That should have read Fuddy-Duddies but I’ll keep the auto correct.

It’s been haaaaaaaard keeping this doll a secret. Even secret groups I’m in for shouting these sorts of secrets in, she’s there. I whispered it to people in private messages when I needed a boost.

I found Barbie in a bin at a Hobby Off around Christmas. I wasn’t looking for a Barbie but there she was, in a baggie, with dark hair only slightly longer than Rookling’s was when we first met. She had boots and, goddamn it is fate, ROOTED LASHES.


I knew what I had to do. I had to make my girl an action figure.

This Barbie has some serious posing limits, her legs don’t really move, action figure is pushing it…but she had the look. I had to.

Rookling loves having blue hair above all colors. She’s always been unable to resist dolls with blue hair but I wasn’t about to learn re-rooting hair for my first Barbie repaint. I have limits. Besides, this was Rookling as she’d first imprinted on me.

First I cut her hair so it was a less severe bob and more like a, well, a fluffy head cap

I wrapped her body and hair in protective fabric and set to work with fixative and pigment.

I had no idea what I was doing. I made mistakes. I got frustrated. It’s not as clean as I’d like…but it is her. Her dimples, her makeup, and her dreamy eyes.

This was when I learned how fussy fashion doll clothing is.

I messaged Rookling asking what she’s wearing nowadays. Most of her photos of herself, and there are many, only show her face.

It’s a testament to the more random exchanges we have that she never asked me why I wanted this, she just told me she’s opting for soft and comfy. I guess she figured I wanted to update to my mental imaginings. As much as she posts lovely blue gowns and mod dresses she finds online, I wanted this doll to be the practical Rookling as she is.

I started with the sweatshirt. I didn’t have black sweatshirt material so I used what I had…grey material cut from my Wonder Woman /Hello Kitty crossover sweatshirt. I’d cropped it for teaching belly dance while also staying warm.


Then came those TINY DENIM JEANS.I now know that you can replace the needle plate on your machine for one with a smaller hole that won’t swallow delicate fabrics when you start stitching.


I’d had this fake fur (purple leopard print) laying around. I’ve had it for 8 or more years always knowing it would go into a project for Rookling. I made her a fake fur jacket she’d love and lined it with skeletons because I gotta be me.

I cut the grey boots she’d come with to a more combat boot length and primed, painted, and finished them.

I then sent it to her, with tracking, and obsessively followed its progress.when tracking alerted me it had arrived to her parents (who can better pick up missed deliveries than she can) I messaged her.


She assured me they did and she’d get it the following day. I replied, “I’m not good with delayed gratification!”

I’m not.


And then she had it.

And there were tears.

” I cried! I’m in awe and…well, hit me up when you’re up and free! She’s perfect, perfect, beyond perfect, and her lipstick even exactly matches one I frequently wear and have since before we met, Revlon’s Blackberry. Her hair is exactly mine when you and I saw one another in the 90s. And those perfect jeans! To see what you said was so hard to do, and it’s for me?! I’m so moved. Oh, the boots! Her eye makeup. Dimples! Oh, I’m crying again about the beautiful, beautiful Rook doll!

Tears on both sides. As I type, tears.

We haven’t always been the best friends we could be at all times but we’re trying… you know? And when we do it, when we are the friend the other deserves, it’s overwhelming, I tell you, overwhelming.

There will be pictures of her and the doll later but this, for now, is what I have to share.