craft, Doll, monster high, Uncategorized

Rerooting Wednesday

In early December I received an Ever After Doll and learned about glue seepage.

In some dolls there’s some sort of chemical reaction between the hair/head/glue used (often excessively used) and the doll continues to sweat greasy glue runoff out of her hair plugs. This all happens in the manufacturing process. There are online discussions about what dolls seem to be more affected by it, theories about if a specific factory in Indonesia is to blame for a portion of it, and a lot of tips for fixing it…none of which worked for me so I removed all the glue and hair from my doll.

Since then I’ve seen some baggie dolls at Hobby Off in Kashiwa that have stickers warning customers that the hair of the doll within has “styling wax” in its hair. Nope, Hobby Off, them dolls have seepage. Styling wax is something you can wash away. I know the dolls have seepage because I bought one knowing full well I’d be removing all the hair. I was not wrong.

And, hey, Hobby Off, why didn’t you mention that the Living Dead Doll I bought was infused with nicotine stank?

Back to Wednesday, who has taken more time than I anticipated.

My first mistake, as seen above, is that I forgot to paint the area of the doll the hair was being put into. I caught it midway up and painted the rest  and then tried to stain the rooted area with permanent marker…more on that later.

My second mistake was to not worry about how tight together the holes on the hair part were. All the squeezing and contorting of the doll to get all the hair and glue out weakened this already vulnerable area. When I started rooting in the area,  5mm of head/part ripped clear in two. Had I taken a few days to fortify the inside and outside of the holes with Liquid Fusion this probably wouldn’t have happened. As it was I had to do that in mid-rooting. I probably didn’t apply enough in thin layers on top…for fear of getting the Liquid Fusion in the rooted hair…so I had some additional rips later I had to stop and tend to.

I thought I was finished so I glued the inside of the head and let it dry…only to learn my third mistake.

Wednesday has two braids.

To get her part correct, the tight partline needs to continue to the nape of her neck. The picture above and on the right sort of shows that the hairline ends at where the paint ends and then the hair beyond that just hangs straight down. That’s fine if your doll has her hair parted up top only.

I had to fix that with more rooting…and permenant marker because ALL gaps in the black near the hair root SHOWED at the partline.

 

This is where I am right now. I’ll leave it a few days to make sure the glue has fully cured.

I also regret mixing a little bit of dark brown in the black hair. It wasn’t a bad idea but I didn’t work hard enough mixing it to prevent brown streaks. I wanted more color depth and just got…Meh.

However, I was looking for a deep purple/black hair for a different project, the sort of hair you see in comics where it’s mostly black but highlighted areas show color. I couldn’t find any in Japan and Etsy shipping is costly so I hand mixed pre-existing black/ the leftover purple/red from Starfire 1, and some newly purchased blue.

img_3642And that’s the hair rooting update. I hope you’ve gained from it.

Goodness knows my Roomba has gained much from the process.

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craft, Disney, Doll, monster high, Uncategorized

Starting Melody

Meet Princess Melody, the daughter of Ariel and Erik.

Melody

That there is all I know about Melody.
Gina’s daughter knows more. She loves Melody. This is how I pay for the 15 dolls Gina sent me. Melody gets made.

From Gina, re: which doll gets Melodied and is she planning to wig or reroot:

I was thinking the belle doll. I didn’t know what would be easiest for you it would be fine if she was a brunette for it as Freya (Daughter) is a brunette if her hair is Good enough. What ever floats your creative juices. Most of all, have fun.
I’m a brunette.

Disney faces are so simplified that hair shape and color do a LOT for identifying character ….So, I wanted to get CLOSE. At least a darker brunette if not black.

The dramatic sweep of bangs and the side part make Melody read as Melody…so I set to experimenting.

First I noticed that there aren’t many videos about re-rooting these dolls.This is probably because of what a pain in the ass removing the heads is AND how much time rerooting a giant head takes. Most customizers seem to go with wigs or gluing wefts to the dolls. Kid play made both of these seem like “meh.” ideas.
I have two Belles in my collection, both from Gina. One is from the first generation of Belle dolls (I can tell because she has blue painted on undies to match the blue dress she came with) and MORE hair, and a second generation doll with yellow undies and less hair.

I started experimenting with more hair Belle and figured I could trick her bangs into doing a side-sweep…even if I couldn’t move her hair part. I set to work seeing if I could get her hair any darker.

I know that synthetic strands don’t really take dye well….but I’m not above magical thinking and believing in the power of stains.

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Yeah…No. Neither Dylon nor alcohol and arcylic inks worker to get her hair more than a shade darker.
I have a new sink container now.

I turned to Belle with the more sparse hair…and chopped.

Then I dipped her head in boiling water and set to softening her vinyl. Her neck softened first, ball of the head joint.
Unlike Barbie dolls, the ball part in her neck is what rotates and moves. The section inside her head remains connected to the head….but it had to come out so I could glue the hair from inside the head.

It was possible to get my tools in at the front of the neck between the joint and the head vinyl but in the back section the vinyl and joint were fused together. I had to tear some vinyl.

The neck hole is a little jagged but I figure I can bond it all together with liquid fusion after rerooting and repainting.

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 The pencil line shows where the part will be moving to. I’ll also be doubling up on the small holes at the front of the head so hair can be swept forward for bangs and back for her pony tail…no gaps.
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Starting the rooting process. I’ve painted the scalp so it doesn’t show through the hair..
Which was when I realized that I hadn’t done the same for my Wednesday doll. The hair is pretty thick but I stopped rooting to paint the top, as that is where the scalp will most likely show through.

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And this is how my Monday evening is looking…hairy.
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craft, Doll, monster high, Uncategorized

Seepage part 2: Acceptance.

It’s “Forget the year” season here. Forget the Year parties are something Japanese people have to do with their co-workers, their clubs, their friends, their old high school friends, everyone they ride the train with each morning and more. This means December is chock-a-block full of these parties…and they always involve alcohol.

TOKYO IS DRUNK every weekend now.

And as a bellydancer who does restaurant shows at Turkish restaurants, I’m busy.

 

Saturday night I did two restaurant shows (one in Shinjuku and one in Shibuya, back to back for two restaurants owned by the same man) after three hours of dance lessons… and that’s always crazy, The first show never starts on time, which means I get trapped in the “dressing area”, and then have to RUN to the train to my next gig.

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It’s a closet/office/storage space/ dressing room.

But I don’t have any Sunday private lessons this weekend so my Sunday and Monday have been free to…LET THE HEADS ROLL.

Let’s catch up to Queenie.
Last we saw she had GLUE SEEPAGE.
No amount of scraping and oil blotting would work so I cut off her hair and stuffed it into a glass of soapy water.

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And then started the NASTY process of scraping and boiling and pulling all the nasty glue-hair clots from her head.

 

This took more than an hour. It was like pulling hairy slime-snot from the head. It seemed endless….like a magic show you DO NOT WANT.

I figured I’d remove it all, clean it all out, and reroot…because my friend Ebony pointed out the head would make a great Wednesday Addams base.

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This isn’t the only doll head floating around my kitchen on these days off….

Sunday I went into Akihabara to buy some more hair/Tamiya putty/tools.

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MegaMan/RockMan was in front of Radio Kaikan. What I loved wasn’t so much all the dudes getting pictures with him…which was awesome…it was how many of these dudes ALSO gleefully wanted hugs.
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I also spotted the world’s saddest Pachinko Panda….

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And by the evening I was rerooting Wednesday with black and dark brown hair.

 

I might finish the reroot tonight but even when it’s finished I’ll have a lot of rerooting in my future. One of the Disney Animators dolls is transitioning from Belle to Princess Melody for my friend Gina’s daughter. A GIANT HEAD TO REROOT.

This….this is how I relax?

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craft, monster high, tutorial

Starfire 1.0 Finished

Because I had left over air-dry polymer resin clay I decided to make Starfire her own Silky.

To color the clear/white clay I had I added a little acrylic to a blob of clay and rolled/kneaded it until the pigment was evenly distributed.

And I set to work rolling, pinching, and sculpting.

The Silkie I’m showing you I originally considered a failure, because it kept falling forward onto its face. Then I decided to use a toothpick to make a simple hole in it so a wooden rod could be attached to it later.

After a few days of air drying I primed it with Mr. Superclear and powdered it with chalk pastel pigment to make it less glossy. After fixing it once more with Superclear I painted it with acrylic paints.

The Silkie!

Then I set about making a base for Starfire and Silkie.

I found a star-shaped wooden dish for 150¥. I turned it upside down and drilled a hole into it and inserted a wooden dowel into the hole.

I then used purple wire from the 100¥ shop to make little….body prongs. Not perfect but ok for my first try.

I then drilled a tiny hole and inserted Silkie’s toothpick base…and painted everything with the purple paint I’d used for Starfire’s boots.

And my first Starfire was finished.

The second, 17” Starfire will get the second Silkie.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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When your head is full of holes. Starfire part 2

Part two of Clawdeen Wolf to Starfire

When my “Liquid Fusion” clear non-toxic urethane glue arrived it was time to remove ears and patch holes on my Clawdeen doll.

I regret that I didn’t take photos of these steps but here’s someone who did and whose internet guidance helped me. When I transform a larger doll into Starfire I’ll document this part of the process.

The short story: with a new x-acto blade I sliced off the ears close to the skull. I put the ears in a ziplock baggie as not to lose them before I tended to the ear-less holes.

The hole fixing takes days, a lot of “futz with this and then go to sleep”…continue when you find time.

First, get some wax paper. Squeeze two shallow puddles of Liquid Nails larger than the holes onto the wax paper. Allow to fully dry (a day) until you have patches.

Attach the patches over the holes with more Liquid Fusion….dry.

Thicken the patches from inside and outside the head with Liquid Fusion applied in layers with q-tips and other tools. Dry often until you think you have a thick enough strong surface.

After this came reattaching the ears in new positions, which I do have photos of…I couldn’t find a guide online.

I tried to slice the ears to be generally the same size. One and a time I attached the ears with Liquid Fusion/tape/pins/swearing to the sides of the head. There was no way to avoid a slight seam where they joined but I figured Starfire’s hairstyle would hide the worse of it.

You can seen the patched areas slightly in this photo.

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I then started to study up on hair reroots. I’m not quite sure where to stock up on doll hair in Japan. It seems like a few places that sold Saran hair have had problems getting a steady supply up to their standards and have discontinued carrying it.

The Azone store in Akihabara had some doll hair. Not a huge range. I fretted between these two colors. I wanted a darker hot pink. I went with the wine red color because I thought it would look best with my doll’s skin tone…but in retrospect the pink might suit the character mood better.

Next time…somehow find a better pink.

Next, I had to figure out a re-root tool. Many online places outside of Japan sell them but shipping wasn’t friendly.

The needle(s) can be made easily enough by using wire cutters on a sewing needle (7-8-9) with a long eye to create what looks like a tiny seam rippers.

Image from dollyhair.com

Places were coy with the name of the things used to hold the needles.

PIN VICE! That’s what it is. I got one!

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i painted my scalp and got ready.

I thought I got a good picture of looping the hair with the tool, I didn’t.

You take a few strands at a time, capture them with your needle at the midpoint of their length.

Image from Dolly Care

You thrust that hair into the doll skull and wiggle the needle out. How does the hair stay in? You’ll later anchor those hair loops from the inside of the head with glue.

I caught up on American politics while doing this for a few evenings. Stab. Stab. Stab.

See the ear patches?

At this stage the hair sticks out straight from the head and seems…poofy.

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This is when it’s time to grab your craft glue. I used Aleene’s Tacky Glue.

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Now, with brushes and Q-tips…and sometimes squirting the glue directly into the head and squishing it around, you glue the hair in place from inside the head….and wait to dry…

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