craft, Disney, Doll, japanese, monster high, Social, Uncategorized

Updates: Continue moving forward

Job stress: Will I be under employed? Can I find a different job quickly? Will I get permanent residency? Should I just go with being underemployed and cram for JLPT N2 6 months earlier than planed?

These are the things that make me want to just nap all day. When I’m asleep, I can’t consciously worry. I’ve had a few days since learning about work that involved doing one or two things and then nap. Nap. Nap.

I know this is depression.

When I can craft, that’s a win. It means I’m not asleep all day. I’m working on my kanji and Japanese gramar studies daily as well. I’ve applied to various jobs and…if I don’t hear anything in 3 hours…will do more of that. I continue to teach dance and know I may need to increase that soon.

I’ve had an interveiw….but I haven’t heard back since.


Always go early to interviews to make sure you can find the location. This is extra important when you travel by train and on foot. But you don’t want to officially arrive TOO early, that’s a bad look. Hopefully the offices will be located near a Donki Hote or similar store where you can relax a bit.

Of course, this is purely hypothetical.

In doll land, I am knitting Snow a sweater and have made her jeans. I don’t plan to keep her. I do plan to try and sell her and a few of the other Disney Animators dolls I’ve done. Knitting helps. Even when I have to frog a row, I concentrate.



I’ve been modding a random 200yen figure to make a “Pretty Pegasus Raven” to try what I think is a Japanese version of Apoxy Sculpt, Wave Epoxy Putty (light weight).

Yes, taking a handsaw to a doll’s hair was…theraputic.


She’ll get more putty layers before I’m finished.

Raven the average sized Ever After Doll continues as well. I’ve made her her cape, her arm/thingies and boots.


I sculpted some accessories and her belt from air-dry polymer clay..but they are still drying.

And that’s how I’m moving forward. There are three dolls on my balcony drying a new layer of Mr.Superclear. I’m reminding myself that I only awoke a few hours ago so I can’t possibly nap yet. I’m thinking about lunch.

craft, Doll, monster high, Uncategorized

Chibi and M size Raven

This morning my friend Emily and I were talking about the traumas of the past year and Teen Titans Go, as 40something young women are wont to do.

It’s our habit to try and schedule a good face-time session each week.

She’s now watching Teen Titans Go, which excites me more than it probably should. She now gets why I find it utterly relaxing and mind releasing…and enjoys facetime displays of the dolls I’m working on even more.

We dig Raven. She’s got some anger issues but being the daughter of a demon will do that. She often just wants to be able to escape into a book or watch Pretty Pretty Pegasus. She cracks lame jokes and laughs at them. She has a deadpan delivery…and she doesn’t suffer fools/foolishness.

Emily and I discussed “What Would Raven Do?” regarding dates that waste our time or continue to push boundaries we’ve set.

“Raven would totally give a look, make the pound fist if she had to, and go read a book. She knows that sometimes being alone is better company than being with someone who exhausts you and doesn’t replenish that energy for you. If you get home feeling exhausted and not in a good way…Don’t. Do. That. Again.”

We also discussed how the Pokemon character of Dugtrio BETTER not wait after a week or more of chatting on a dating app where you’ve explicitly said “Not into polygamous relationships” to disclose his other heads.


This of course brings me to Chibi-Raven. She’s DONE!


WHAAAAAAAT’S This? Two Ravens?


As I was working on Chibi-Raven I also completed the faceup on an Ever After High doll I bought at Hobby-Off. Faybelle Thorn, except without wings, earrings, stand,  or handbag.


I previously explained that her hair is a mix of three different colors that I rerooted when I wrote about the meditative nature of hair reroots.

While doing her face-up I did play around with both Ravens.


This is the first Raven I’ve made that doesn’t cheat and give her bangs to avoid sculpting or rerooting.

I’ve sewn her basic body suit/leotard.


My goal is to finish her outfit and accessories in the next week so I can take the girls out and try photographing them during cherry blossom season.

But as for today they are all wrapped up and packed, along with Beast Boy and Cyborg’s head, to travel to Ueno.

A friend of mine, who I know from my first years here on the Chiba-Wisconsin Sister City program, is currently in Japan with his whole family.  The last time I saw him I dressed like a cow and helped out for a day at his cheese-related-booth at an international trade thingie.


This time I’ll be meeting his daughter Sara, who is 8 and a BIG fan of my Teen Titans Go dolls. Her father has shown her pictures, she’s used his FB messenger to chat to me about my dolls, and she is REALLY excited to see them.


We are ready.

craft, Doll, monster high, Uncategorized


I roam the Hobby-off (a used toy/hobby shop) with no real plan in mind. Sure, first I scope the dolls but then I just wander the figures until something speaks to me.

This isn’t unlike the time shortly after my first move and job change within Japan in August of 2004. I hadn’t planned to stay here…and then I was offered a new job. My cash was low, so I had to borrow money for the move.

There was a “recycle shop” near my new place with a used sewing machine for 3,000 yen, about 30 usd at the time.Worth  every yennie.

I’d already started hand-altering and embroidering my clothing about a year earlier. It was a way to cut down on the temptation to shop aimlessly. I’d also gained and lost weight in my first few years here so I had items that needed to be taken in.

My weeks at my new apartment I was broke but my new job was yet to start. My entertainment was sewing.

What will I make? What can I make?

I’d look at my pile of things I don’t wear and either alter them…or totally seam rip them and make something new. An old jacket became wool scraps became a purse. A dress became a tissue box cover and purse lining and so-on.

The Hobby-Off trips are similar.

Banpresto makes a lot of small figures, most of them for claw machines/UFO catchers.I pick them up used. They can be great presents for my geek people back home.

This is a figure from Monogatari, a series I know nothing of.


She was around 200¥ and reminded me of Raven. I wanted to see how customizable these figures are. They have the same plastic and proportions of Nendoroids but aren’t poseable and are way cheaper. I have a Nendoroid face a friend would like me to customize later.

If it were a Nendoroid I’d just pop the hair and face off easily, they are made to have inter-changable faces.

This figure isn’t meant to be changed, I pried the hair off with a flathead screwdriver and removed her face with paint thinner (not acetone).

The heads are easy to remove and the bodies come in half. I assume she came in a box and had to be put together.

I removed her skirt and started removing her extra clothing with an X-acto knife.

I should probably learn how to film this stuff…not because there’s a need for more tutorials but because there might be a kink market willing to pay for such visuals.

I wish I’d slimmed down her chest/upper body more.  Regrets. Then I started smothing things out with Tamiya Epoxy Putty. I wish I’d glued the torso to the bottom half before this step because not doing so created cracking when the torso experienced pressure and I’d have to do it later. There are slight seams on the product now.

Not pretty. I not do a better job of clearing the work area of lint.


After sanding I added more potty to create Raven’s power/chakra/thingy and build up her suit.


More sanding and I decided to make THIS Raven more of the neutral gray hue they use for her in Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go.

Spray paint for plastics!


I wish I’d gotten the chest a bit smaller and smoother and sanded more of the putty where the stocking indents were. Live and learn. I also started painting the hair with acrylics to make sure it took well.

This is where we are now.


Next up I’ll work on her face, fix it, and then assemble her and do final paint touch-ups and gloss up her red power belt.

I’m about to have a month free from my regular teaching job. This means hustling more on the dance side, probably doing some paid cleaning work, and having time to craft. My goal is that by the end of the month having some of my larger Disney Animated Dolls finished and listed on Japan Mercari as a test to see if that’s a good local selling option for me. I also hope to get closer to finishing the reroot on the Belle-to-Melody for my friend Gina’s child.

There are plenty of crafts to be done, this is what the area about my computer looks like right now…


So, yes, Wednesday Addams, Raven, Raven, and an almost finished Jinx.


craft, Doll, monster high, Uncategorized

Beastie Boy

Craftsmas is coming! Craftsmas is coming!

Let’s be honest, every week is crafty up in here.

The dark months are craftholes.

I’m on medication for my anxiety and depression but when you add the darkness into that it becomes very easy to hyperfocus on a single task to release all the thoughts and energy…and one doesn’t always have the time.

I can’t very well be late to work at elementary school with the excuse “I really had to tweeze all the hair plugs out of that doll. I know I could do it after work but time just dissipated. First graders should understand.”…first graders WOULD understand but they aren’t my bosses.

Let’s get to some of the crafts I haven’t had time to tell you about.

Beast Boy!

I couldn’t well leave my Raven without Beastie, her once a season boyfriend.

I knew I couldn’t get a 17” tall one, like Raven, because Monster High doesn’t make Frightfully Tall Mansters (yeah, Manster…that’s not on me) but Beastie is a short dude. It’d be fine if he was half her height and made from one of the male Monster High dolls…Manster Hunt.

I’ve come to accept that the facial structures of MH dolls makes any cute character….hawt.

Beastie is hawt.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

I found this on Mercari locally for about 800¥.

He’s originally Fair Heath Burns: Son of the Fire Elements.

I know. He’s not green. I fixed that.

Head off. Remove the face with acetone. Prime with Mr. Super Clear! Start painting the hair.

I buffed his body with a high grit sandpaper to remove the sheen and give it some tooth for pigment to adhere to, of course cleaning to remove the dust afterwards. I primed the body with the usual Mr. Super Clean. Then I set to work using chalk pastel pigment to blush and color the body and face. This takes layers and patience.

I also added a shard of polymer clay for his snaggle fang.

Blushing is more like highlighting and shading with pigments than turning a doll one color.

For a very uniform color I’d need an airbrush.

I’m not ready to buy another tool.

Also, airbrushes remind me of my friends in art school who worked thankless jobs at airbrush t-shirt kiosks in Grand Avenue Mall in Milwaukee where they’d have to explain either that they don’t do gang signs or that each shirt will look a little different..and take abuse from people who didn’t think the bunnies or whatnot they were painting were cute enough. . Think “Make the bunny cuter” when I see airbrush equipment.

In that same mall I worked a while in a kiosk that sold a variety of Russian woodwork, nesting dolls and troll dolls,and the seasonal Christmas store owned by the same people.

All of us students there would eventually visit Pat S who worked in the bar (yes) in the food court. Milwaukee.

Back in Japan, to my doll bodies.

My small balcony in my second floor flat can easily be viewed by people exiting their apartments in the apartment complex next to me. I use it as my ventilated spray area. I wonder what neighbours make of the tiny hanging green bodies, primed faced, and full dolls in curlers.

Working up Beastie’s face.

I’ve purchased a lighted magnifier that clips on to my workspace. It helps at this scale. I’ve also found it helpful to take frequent photos of the doll. My phone flips images which helps highlight when something is off with proportions.

I spent a lot of time looking at eyebrows online and thinking about where resting eyebrows rest on the face (on the upper ridge of your skull socket…touch them). My Senior year of college I was in figure drawing and drawing classes 12 hours a week and doing huge pages of self portraits in my work time. I feel like I understand muscles and bones more than I grasp eyebrows. They vex me. I also don’t have much in the way of them, which doesn’t help.

Drawing in a comic or cartoony style always eluded me. I wish we’d done rapid (30sec-1minute) gesture drawings of faces like we did for live figure drawing every session. The way dolls play with facial proportions and simplification is more tied to cartoon work than representative figure drawing.

Satisfied with Beastie’s hawt face I sent many photos with texts to friends and then returns him to his body.

These pictures where taken before I remembered to add a bit of gloss medium to his eyes and lips.

I don’t yet have pink spandex to make his Teen Titans Go outfit yet so he’s been hanging out in a black top and MTM Soccer Barbie’s shorts. I’m not sure what I’m doing with the rescued TaeYang next to him yet…so TaeYang gets rotated through humiliating outfits from the Madison Christmas Box.

Making his outfit will involve finding (or making) shoes. I’m not easy yet, it maybe when Craftsmas is in full swing.

craft, monster high, sewing, Uncategorized

Starfire: Part 4

Last we saw Starfire had her face painted, her body sanded, and her hair done.

Onward to clothing.

There’s not much to be said about the clothing itself. Its a miniskirt and a crop top that closes in the back. It’s shown here with the basting stitches still in.

The difficult part was dealing with Starfire’s armor. I tried first with slightly flexible air-dry polymer resin clay. As seen here. It didn’t quite seem right and the neck-piece fell off easily.

I found a tutorial on youtube to help me and decided to get fun foam/ EVA foam.

Here I am experimenting with fun foam. When attaching foam to foam I used my hot glue gun. I also used elastic, thread, and snaps to close armor around neck and arms.


Items unpainted.img_1205.jpg

Painting a dark undercoat before using my silver acrylic.


After silver paint and some “jewels” created with nailpolish.


At which point I came into possession of MOAR DOLLS.

As I’ve said, this is sort of a test run for doing a larger Starfire to be friends with my 17″ Raven doll.


Well, 17″ Starfire is now here. My friend Rea* brought it to me on one of her trips to Japan.

*She’s such a good friend that it was only after she received it at her home (I used US Ebay) and packed it and brought it to me that she told me she has a doll phobia and occasionally has to mute me on FB and elsewhere when I’m posting too many doll progress shots.




AND….I bought a future Beast Boy on Mercari for cheap.


They don’t make super tall Monster High boys, that I know of, so Beastie is gonna be small…and eventually green.

And, from the same Mercari dealer I purchased some boots for Starfire.

I primed them with a dark base coat and painted them.


But….that’s not all. Inspired by the fact I have a LOT of left over air-dry polymer resin clay I got to work making Starfire a pet AND a stand.

Coming soon.


craft, Doll, monster high, Uncategorized

When your hair is fluffy and your face undone: Starfire part 3

Last we saw Clawdeen ->Starfire her hair was overly fluffy. Each bundle of strands sticking straight out of her hair plugs.


So, it was time for a boil perm. Of course, before a boil perm make SURE all the craft glue you’ve squirted into her neck-hole to the inside of her skull (to secure the hairloops) has completely dried…or you’ll be making a mess with your hot boiling water.

For more precise boil perms, like ones where I want to make curls, I’d pour the slightly cooled boiled water into a bowl and dip the hair in. Here, I just wanted the hair to relax onto the head so I poured the water OVER the head (propped on a knitting needle) over my sink.

After I did this the first time I noticed some spots that could use more hair, because Starfire has a different part that Clawdeew and needed bangs…so I repeated the reroot, glue, dry, and boil process again.

Sure, some hair came out in brushing after these steps, but not an amount that mattered. I also took the time to trim the length slightly.

I tied the hair back, protected it with a single, orphaned, sock, and primed the face with Mr. Super Clear and started to work.

I’m still not sure about when to use Acrylic paints as an eye-ball base and when to build up watercolor pencils instead. I used acrylic here. You’ll note that Starfire’s eyeballs are a light green, not white.

I continued working on the face.



And then the EYE BROW STRUGGLE began. The above Starfire is saucy AF and a little severe. But is she capturing the playful silly alien vibe of Starfire in Teen Titans Go?

I didn’t think so.

I removed her eyebrows and gave her higher, softer, pinker eyebrows.


And, because I share process photos online…I got feedback.
Some people familiar with the character thought the new eyebrows worked for the character but I also got feedback from a Black women who rightly read the doll as black…she said “ Imo, it’s just fine for a Black doll to have a long forehead and a serious expression. You made her look unnatural.”

By making the choice to make Starfire with a black doll I knew I’d have to start to grapple with whatever whitey white biases might show up being a white girl working on a not-white doll face. So I listened.

My pink skinned Raven doll reads as a lovely human face, while also being goth/otherworldly. I want my Starfire to read as human and alien. I don’t want the alien to come at the expense of her human face. Grappling with that sure as hell beats just making white dolls when it comes to exploring the art and myself.

So…off with her eyebrows and on with my eyebrow battle.


Finally I settled on this pair…the gloss for the lips and eyes was still wet and milky in this shot:


What’s going on with her hair? Time for a less intense boil perm to give her curled bangs!

And…the detail of the eyes bothers me. This is a test doll but it feels below what I’m capable of so I bought this for future adventures.


Magnifier with a built-in light!

Doll head now?….

I’m pretty sure this won’t be my last eye and eyebrow battle. If I do go with hair that’s hot pink for my larger version that might change how the eyebrows read as well. I also think I might go with a slightly more oval iris/pupil shape instead of round.

But that’s where I end for now.

Next time…dealing with Clawdeen’s fur.


craft, Doll, monster high, Uncategorized

Starfire: it starts

Me (watching YouTube videos): wow, but who has the patience for that? That’s too finicky for me.

Me (months later): Well, I guess now I do this too.

And so it was with rerooting doll hair.

I’ve been on the lookout for a “Clawdeen Wolf” 17inch tall Monster High doll to make into a Teen Titans Go Starfire to pair with the Raven I made.

While in America, shopping at Tuesday Morning for random dolls, I bought a regular sized version of Clawdeen as a test doll. I also thought, “Cool! Her hair is kinda the right color!”

Silly me. I didn’t realize the need to make Starfire would lead me to learning how to plunge needles into a doll’s naked head, sowing rows of synthetic hair.

Once back in Japan I realized some obvious issues.

  • Starfire doesn’t have wolf ears on top of her head.
  • Starfire does have noticeable ears though, in a location Clawdeen doesn’t.
  • Even if I remove Clawdeen’s ears, fill the existing holes, and reattach those ears lower as Starfire ears….Clawdeen is going to have bald head spots.

I think this is where normal people decide that 8$USD spent on a doll is no great loss. It is where >I< decided to learn how to fill skull holes, move ears, and reroot a whole head.

Time to Google things!

What did I do before I learned to teach myself from the wisdom of the internet?

Libraries. I know I taught myself interior faux finishes from library books. Just as my mother learned she could check out books on refinishing floors….and rent heavy duty tools.

In my day the neck of a Barbie or similar doll was a simple affair with a simple nodule the head would fit onto. If that nodule broke, or the neck hole in the head suffered structural damage, you had a head that popped off easily and needed to be shoved so far onto the neck as to be absurd.

Now Barbie and similar fashion dolls have a more complex plastic inner head rack that is less likely to be damaged by ill meaning playmates and bad choices.

It reminds me of an IUD.

Game on.

I cut off Clawdeen’s perfectly crimped hair, warmed her head, and eased her off her skull hooks.

Then I took tweezers and a needle nosed pliers to remove the remaining hair plugs from the inside and outside of her head.

Then, it was time for a setback.

The internet recommends a non-toxic glue called Liquid Fusion for plugging the holes left behind when cutting off the doll’s ears. Liquid Fusion would have been easy to buy in America but I was back in Japan.

I was able, with much google power, to find in available in a Japanese online store dedicated to fly-fishing. They didn’t have an online checkout but I emailed them for an invoice, transferred the money, and would soon be back in business.

craft, Doll, monster high, sewing, Uncategorized

Frightfully Tall RAVEN

I only started watching Teen Titans Go this year, thanks Netflix Japan, but I quickly fell in love with it. After watching the first three seasons (available on Netflix) I went back and watched Teen Titans. It really doesn’t have the insane joy but I get where it fit into the cartoons of the time and enjoyed getting references I’d missed watching Teen Titans Go cold.

When I visited the homeland, Madison, Wi, this spring I had my eye out for adorable Raven merch. There was a lot but I didn’t LOVE anything.

Then my doll clothing and stuff hookup showed me an oversized Monster High doll with great articulation and said, “the first one’s free.”


Nah, they’re all free. That’s why I don’t share my hookup with the world.

Along with all that doll clothing, some free wigs, and a few MTM Barbies I’d bought, I brought back a 14”/ 35cm Monster High doll…technically a Frightfully Tall Ghoul! Elisabat!


I didn’t know what I’d do with her…and then I watched even more Teen Titans Go and knew…I needed to make my Raven doll.

Did Elissabat have the grayish hue of cartoon Raven? No. But Comic Raven didn’t either so I didn’t care. She was alien enough with purple/pink skin. Would it be exact? Nope. My Raven, my rules. I just wanted a Raven doll that would please me.

First, I swaddled Soon-to-be-Raven in an arm cover (what Japanese ladies wear to protect their arms from the sun) and a hair sock. Then, I removed her face with acetone. Finally I primed her face with Mr. Super Clear.


Craft Mavens Go!

I built up her new face with layers of chalk pastels/ watercolor pencils/ and acrylics. I’ve seen a lot of Raven cosplayers go for a dramatic purple lip. Now, I love wearing a purple lip. It’s an easy quick look. BAM! My deep purple lips are distracting you from the fact I’ve done next to nothing else with my face! But Raven’s dramatic impact point for me has been her eyes and her lips seem to be downplayed. I wanted a more muted, almost nude, look for her lips in contrast to eyes that would make Souxie proud.


Then came making her outfit. I decided that I don’t care that Raven doesn’t wear black boots with black ribbons and black hearts on them. There aren’t a lot of Frightfully Tall Ghouls to swipe boots from. They looked cool enough. Maybe someday I’ll be bothered but not today. Besides, I think the fold-down boot top with an accent color is a bit too super-cheesy for me.

Monster High dolls have WICKED swaybacks.


There was no way I was going to try and make a one-piece sleeved swimsuit top. Elissabat’s original dress solved the problem of sleeves by having the top be a fitted jacket/bolero over a dress.

I did the same. With some think black spandex I put a knitfabric needle in my machine and went to work, first making a swimsuit with black elastic straps and then making a top that closed with Velcro in back.

Then the cloak. Comic book Raven generally has dark blue as her accent color…and I think as a child I had one isolated comic issue with Raven and teen-space-drama that I somehow filled in the blanks for what happened before and after…but I fell for Teen Titans Go Raven HARD so purple it was.

But first, some coffee….I know Raven drinks tea but this is MY Raven and MY head cannon.

CAPE! Is purple crushed velvet tacky? Yes. Did I choose it? Yes. I could have gone with a thick satin but that can fray when you’re working with it and be slippery to stitch (trust me, Bellydance Costumes…lots of satin of varying quality) and I wanted clean edges without lining the whole cape.

The shape was easy, half circle cape plus a hood shape with triangular extension of the front of the hood to make the Raven Bill shape. I lined the hood with left-over black spandex, to give it slightly more shape, and left the cape unlined so it wasn’t too heavy.

Then I turned to air dry plasticine clay for the accessories. I had hoped to find jewelry fittings and stones for Raven’s belt (belt, not built in swimsuit accents) and such but nothing was right. I don’t think I’ve used Sculpty or anything similar for 20+ years…and I never loved it. Yet, there I was in a craft store looking at air-dry clays (in a second language) and I figured I’d just use it to make the parts.

I’d say it was 70% successful. I joined everything with jump rings for the belt or stitching for fabric. I painted a Raven onto the accessory for her cape closure.


I could have left it there but Raven usually has…hand-gauntlet jewel thingies. I made fingerless gloves with (cheesy) purple trim. I don’t love them but I don’t hate them.


I do love Raven now.

I finished Raven on a rainy day, thus the dark photo with a pillowcase background. Today after getting home from work I ran around the neighborhood taking some photos.

HI! Nothing to see here! Just a gaijin girl with a doll taking pictures in your shrubbery!

I wish I’d reviewed the images more as I took them (belt flip! but that can be edited in photoshop if I want to or if someone wants to do it for me …(wink)) unfortunately an old man and his dog took to following me around so I felt a little more rushed and absurd than I might normally on my first street shoot with doll.