Incoming- Paola Reina Liu!

I’ve only had this blog running a very short while but I’m already so excited about all the things I want to do here. I’m trying to post every other day (but it’s early days yet!). Having said that today’s post is quite short so maybe I’ll post more to make up for it?

My news is that I have a Paola Reina Liu doll on the way! I got the dispatch notice today, which is a Sunday, and tomorrow is a bank holiday Monday so I’m not sure when she’s going to actually get here. This is a size of doll I haven’t worked with before so I’m pretty excited about the clothes-making possibilities.

I’ll be sure to take lots of photos when she arrives, and in the mean time I’ve collected some people’s beautiful photos of their own versions of this doll in a pinterest board for motivation.

I went for the Winter outfit version, just because she has longer hair so I can decide how I want it when she gets here. I’m not the biggest fan of the look of any of the outfits, but who knows, I might think completely differently when she gets here.

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I think (as with lots of dolls!) the company photos don’t show her in the best light, it’s really the owner photos that made me want this doll. I’ve got lots of plans for her!

-Julia

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An Adventure In Dollmaking (2)

Guess who got a body today?

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This thing was so tiny to make, I even had to sew some of it by hand which is something I usually avoid if possible at all costs. I used blue embroidery thread and pulled it through little channels I made around the edges of where each limb would go, and then pulled the thread tight into the dip at the top of the limb to secure it. I have a feeling that doesn’t make much sense in writing! This does mean that each limb can turn though, which is very useful for posing.

I put some plastic beads in the body to try to balance out the weight, as the polymer clay limbs and head are quite heavy too. I used fibrefill to stuff the rest of the body.

This is how she looks without clothes, I think she looks a bit sad! I’ll have to give her some hair sometime.

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I did notice a couple more cracks on her face today that I don’t think were there yesterday so I really hope they won’t spread any more!

This girl doesn’t have an outfit of her own yet, and you can tell exactly where she got these clothes from by the now half naked dolls sitting on my shelf! The hat is far too big and keeps slipping down over here eyes. I don’t think she minds.

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Here she is! With awkward scraps of thread sticking out of her hand-me-down dress and this scratched up little face, I think it’s safe to say I fulfilled my prediction that she wouldn’t be perfect (that one wasn’t hard!). I made her anyway and I’m so happy I did! It’s been a really educational experience, actually. There are lots of things I might do differently next time but I’m just a teeeny bit proud! Look at that face. She can suck her thumb. I can’t tell if this is because I made her and I’m not sure what she looks like to other people, but to me she’s kind of sweet. I don’t always like the things I make so this is very exciting.
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I love how this hat makes her head look like a huge strawberry.

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I think I’d definitely like to make her clothes of her own sometime, but for now this has been my little dollmaking adventure! I hope someone out there enjoyed this. It’s good to know it doesn’t require much to make a doll (of some sort) and I’m pretty sure if I can do it anyone can!

Also thank you so much those of you who commented on my last post, they were all so sweet and it made me so happy reading through them. I wasn’t really expecting anyone to even like it, seeing as it’s only the second post! You guys are brilliant.

-Julia

An Adventure In Dollmaking (1)

One thing most dolls have in common is that they were, at one point, sculpted by an artist. How hard can it be to make a simple doll? I said. Little did I know that Fimo soft doesn’t behave in real life quite as it does in my head. Before I set out, I got two things straight.
Firstly, that this doll wouldn’t be perfect. No matter what. It wouldn’t be. This is my first attempt, after all! Secondly that I would make it anyway, from start to finish. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and often start things, get disappointed and never finish. This kid, I told myself, no matter how weird, will be a doll.

To set out I drew up a sketch (maybe a sort of blueprint?) of the size I wanted the doll to be. This is nothing pretty, just a sort of visual reference so I didn’t get completely off-track!

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I’ve also got my materials all gathered here as if this is going to be an organised pursuit of creativity and not a frustrating lint vs pale clay disaster. I have flesh coloured Fimo soft, baby oil which helps to smooth out the surface (but it did make the Fimo quite sticky!), and some foil. I screwed up the foil into a tight ball to fit inside the head.

Next, um, all this happened.

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It was starting to go dark by this time so please forgive the horrific lighting. The sculpting, as you can see, is a bit awful too. You smooth out this stuff on one side and find that your fingers have been digging into the other side. Fingerprint marks are everywhere, the arms look like alien worms and the face captures your exact mood at the time. It is not a peaceful one.

So, I rolled this head back up into a ball of clay with a piece of foil in the middle and did the same with the alien worm arms. It was a moment of pain but the second versions of each definitely beat the first!

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This is the head I decided to bake before baking. See all that lint? My workspace hardly even seems dusty, yet it’s everywhere! The eyes are also a little wonky here.

Once I was done with poking bits of clay and wondering if this was even a good idea to start with, into the oven she went for 30 minutes at 110˚c. When she came out, she looked like this! (Then I blushed her nose a little for the second picture).

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My limb sculpting is truly shameful. To be fair, this is all in one evening though! She looks ever so angry in the first picture, maybe because of the crack in her head that formed in the oven? Poor girl. Time to give her a face! I had Fritzi and a baby Sasha doll on my desk for reference. Safe in the knowledge that I could paint over all of her if this went terribly, I tackled her with chalk pastels and acrylics until she looked like this!

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Not perfect, as promised. I do think she turned out a little sweet though! Fritzi even lent her her bunny hat, but it was far too big.

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Oh, also, I decided to make a feature of her “scratch”. She has very blushed cheeks largely due to me forgetting to tap the chalk dust off my brush one time, and then having to match the whole face to that level of intense pink! There’s so much I didn’t even notice about her in real life, but that is quite noticeable in photos. Such as that line on the opposite side to the scratch- what even IS that?

Right now I’m working on her wig, and next will be her body! Hopefully in my next post she’ll even have a name. Thanks for sharing my roller-coaster dolly-related experience! -Julia

 

Review! Mini Minouche

Hi! To kick start this new blog I thought I’d do a review of the Mini Minouche doll sculpted by Sylvia Natterer for Kaethe Kruse. This is the company photo.

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I got this doll for Christmas but she hasn’t had any wear and tear and looks just as she did brand new- except for one thing. I did the thing doll owners have probably been trying their hardest to avoid since wrist tags first became a thing. I don’t even know why I took it off, but she came with a sweet wrist tag that I believe was red and it has mysteriously vanished (sob, sob). I’m also not going to be doing much of a review of the packaging because by this point mine is a bit bashed up, but she came in a sweet box and was secured to a piece of patterned card inside the box.

The box has a red cord handle at the top and is beautifully presented, but I think it would be possible to fit about twelve Mini Minouche dolls inside it! It’s very big for a 27cm doll and for that reason I’ve seen some sellers offering to ship her without the box to save the buyer shipping costs. Nevertheless, she is definitely well protected in there!

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My Grandma ordered her for me from Petalina Dolls, a UK website stocking lots of great dolls. The website is very user friendly and has so many different criteria for sorting through the dolls it’s super easy to find what you’re looking for. The shipping was tracked and she arrived on time.

The doll I chose was Fritzi. I believe that the sculpts for each doll are the same in this line, but I’m not sure if the face styles are subtly different or if that’s just my imagination.

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This is how she came dressed (other than the lack of wrist tag!).

From her page on Petalina Dolls, “The vinyl used for her head and floppy limbs is phthalate free, hard to the touch and feels a little like porcelain.” I agree with this, although she’s made from vinyl it is textured very differently from any other vinyl dolls I’ve owned. This might be a long review, maybe I should divide it up into sections!

~Details~
(Take note: Fritzi’s colouring is actually a lot more subtle and dreamy than it is on my camera)
One thing that’s really cute about this doll is her side profile, I think. Also her ear sculpting. Some dolls seem to have very odd ears but this girl is at that perfect balance between realistic and abstract. As you can see from this, the hair is painted brown. It looks like it has been airbrushed on top (but carefully, no paint on the ears or anything) and then detailed by hand. Before I bought this doll I was a little worried there would be very obvious strands of hair painted onto her forehead but I needn’t have, because even for me the hair isn’t too standoutish at all. I’m very fussy about these things.

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Fritzi’s side profile.
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There are little hand painted hairs around her face.

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I’m especially impressed with how even the eyebrows are. I mean really. Woah.

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Fritzi is also weighted with pellets in the bottom of her body, so she feels lovely to hold.

~Mechanisms~
One really nice thing about this doll which I somehow only noticed when I was taking the photos for this review is that her head turns! It turns very smoothly, too. I think there’s a string running through the stitched channel in the fabric around her neck and then the string has been pulled tight around a- wait, I’m rambling. That might not even be right, but either way it works!

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The limbs are sewn in and do not turn in their sockets but as she’s on a cloth body she is very posable.

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She is on an orangey-flesh coloured cloth body which can be wiped clean.

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~Clothing~
I was very very impressed with the quality of the clothing that came with this doll. I think sometimes clothing can be a bit of an afterthought but this was really beautiful.
The hat is lined with pale blue (not grey, as my camera somehow picked up!) soft fabric with no exposed seams at all. It is really well done. The main had is white minky fabric and the ears are lined with the same pattern as is on the leggings!

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The top is a dusty pink colour with a pair of rabbit appliques, and around the bottom is a pink tutu trim with just a hint of gold. It fastens with velcro at the back which makes changing her very easy, although beware: the tutu got stuck to the velcro on mine and I had a brief moment of panic! It came off fine though. All is well. With both the top and the leggings, the inside seams have been neatly overlocked.

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The leggings (these are so cute!) are white with tiny pink stars and an elasticated waist. They even have little feet bits. I love them.

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None of the garnments made me think “Eep, they’ve put some weird chemical on this to make it stiff/better looking in photos so I’d better wash it”. They all felt fresh and clean.

I think that’s it for this review! Here is everything she came with minus the box, tag, and “Kathe Kruse” booklet.

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Thank you so much for reading. If you’d like to see any more photos of her, if you found this helpful or if you’d like to suggest a doll to review please leave a comment letting me know! -Julia