Saturday, August 27, 2016

Custom doll: Amaya

My boss has a kiddo who just recently turned 5. She's been hanging out with us at the office a lot over the summer and has been enthusiastically watching PJ Masks all summer long. I'm not sure how many episodes there are, but I know I've seen several about five times apiece.

Anyway, a former employee who did custom painted shoes had promised to make kiddo a pair with Owlette (aka Amaya) on them. Well, she left, and the promised shoes have never appeared. Kiddo doesn't seem to notice or care, but it didn't really sit right with me to earnestly promise a kid something and then fail to deliver. I always get kiddo something for her birthday since she's such a big part of life at the office and she's my fellow cartoon enthusiast. I'd already picked out a few things when the store reset happened at Walmart, and the Disney toddler dolls suddenly went on clearance for $9 each.

Suddenly, I had a brainwave. Belle would make a perfect Amaya! I wasn't really up to making an Owlette costume, but I could do Amaya's regular clothes with minimal problems. I grabbed up Belle and the countdown clock started.

Two weeks until kiddo's birthday.

Two weeks to change the doll's eyes, sew her clothes, and paint her shoes.

I got myself a few photos for reference on the character, including this one, and dove in. 

I needed glasses, a barette, spray paint, something to make that wing shape, and some shirts or other fabric to make the clothing.
It was going to be close, that much was for sure. The first thing I did was leave the doll in my car all day. The summer heat made the vinyl head soft enough to easily pop off the body and remove the eyes. I'll be honest, the whole "Royal Reflection Eyes" thing that the newest dolls have was not my first choice. I wasn't sure what I'd be getting into when I got these suckers out.

Here's what came out. The eyes were in these white holders, which initially stymied me. It turns out that some gentle pressure into the seam on the back with a knife pops these things apart easily. Things were going great! I grabbed the acetone and set to work wiping the factory paint off the backs of the eyes.


The acetone was melting the plastic eyes! I tried slapping a cut out print of Amaya's eye that I had prepared to the back of the eye, but it was not happening. The eye was milky and melty, and unless I wanted to have Amaya starring in a kindergarten version of The Walking Dead, the eye was utterly ruined.

I cursed the volatile plastic and launched myself back at Walmart to buy another doll, since for $9 that was going to be the most likely source of a replacement eye.

Maybe some plastic gemstones would have worked better, but I had to make do with what I have access to in this rinky-dink town and its utter lack of decent craft stores.

I refused to buy the same doll twice, so this time I grabbed up a toddler Cinderella.

This time I removed the paint on the back of the eye with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It did leave a fine filmy series of micro-scratches on the back of the eye, but some clear gel Elmer's glue made them virtually disappear.

I adhered an eye cutout to the back of my first successful eyeball and did a little victory dance.

One down, one to go. I repeated my prior success with one of Cindy's eyes, and once the glue was dry, snapped the white holders back in place...

Or rather, I tried to. See, there's one thing I hadn't taken into account. Cindy's eyes are BIGGER than Belle's!

Take a look at the difference in size between the two holders. So Cindy's eye wouldn't fit into the Belle holder, and the Cindy holder wouldn't go into Belle's head at ALL no matter how I pushed and pried.

Well, now what?

I decided to see if Cindy's eye would fit into Belle's head without the holder.


When the head cooled, the eye stayed firmly wedged into place. I grabbed my eraser and went to work on Cindy's remaining eye.

A little while later, I was ready to install the second eye. While the glue dried on the paper backing, I took some acetone and carefully removed Belle's lipstick. Lipstick's fine I guess if you're a small kid dressing up for a fancy party, but Amaya doesn't wear it in her daily life.

I also took Belle's hair down and gave it a quick boil-wash to straighten out the waves and kinks in it from her original hairstyle.

With Amaya's second eye installed, she was ready to pull herself together and reattach her head.

Sorry for the terrible photos, it was about midnight when I did this part.

I spray-painted Belle's yellow shoes watermelon pink with some Krylon paint from Walmart. It adhered beautifully, but it just didn't want to cure. The shoe surfaces wanted to stay sticky, so I dug out some clear matte model spray paint that I used for sealing face ups previously.

I wasn't too worried about ruining the shoes. After all, I had Cindy's in case something went wrong.

As it turned out, the sealant worked perfectly.

I tried the shoes on Headless Cindy while I worked on sewing Amaya's outfit. I found a free pattern set online that worked perfectly with some minor tweaking.

A couple of child-size t-shirts were sacrificed to make Amaya's leggings and dress... Although technically what I made is more like shorts.

I added a snap closure, thinking that if kiddo wanted to redress the doll, it would be nice to make it easy for her.

We were now down to one day before birthday time.

I was feeling ecstatic that I'd dug up some glasses that would work perfectly that came from a Walmart My Life 18" doll accessory set. I tried spray-painting them. It was another disaster.

I'd covered the lenses with some masking fluid, and it worked great for keeping them clean. The actual plastic frames, however, refused to take the spray paint. Efforts to clean them off just resulted in a completely ruined pair of glasses.

I went back to my sewing, adding in the sleeves and neck of the dress. While I was messing with it, I somehow managed to sever the thread holding the back of the dress together, and it started to come apart. I was forced to do a quick repair job, which sadly did not look as nice as my original effort.

Well, kiddo probably won't notice, right? A flying trip to Walmart on the big day netted me a new accessory set of the proper glasses plus a pair with red heart-shaped sunglasses too.

Kiddo was very thrilled with her haul, and to my relief knew exactly who the doll was supposed to depict. To my utter horror, she decided to try and take apart the wing-shaped barette cover I'd made out of a toddler-size barette and a piece of craft foam glued to the sewn-on felt base.

I covered up kiddo's face to give her some anonymity. She was absolutely beaming when she grabbed Amaya up, though. The extra sunglasses were a big hit.

She did have one bit of constructive criticism though, and that was that I might wanna make Amaya some more clothes so she'd have something else to wear when she was a superhero.

Everyone's a critic, I tell ya. ;)

Here's a closer look at some of the finished doll's details: 

Shoes: I didn't end up doing anything more than spray-painting and sealing Belle's original shoes. They were a close enough match to Amaya's own.

You can see a small flaw in Amaya's right eye, but over all I think they came out looking pretty nice. Her barette was a casualty of unwrapping at this point, sadly.

And here's most of the rest of her, with her ribbon belt (you might recognize the ribbon from Hera's flight suit), and her unpainted glasses.

Considering the time crunch, I think I did okay on this.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Summer Sales

Summer's not over yet, cool cats! Wander was not quite up for a film noir style portrait in hipster glasses. So sad. At any rate, here's some of what I've been finding in my summertime roamings!

Fairy garden items from Big Lots. I was a little tempted by a few of these items, with the Walking Dead dollhouse in mind. Buuuuut since there's no "outside" to make a little garden in, most of the ideas I had were kind of pointless. The majority of this stuff was either overpriced or looked poorly made, anyway. I still need to repaint the house.

A Prettie Girls doll was one of the finds at Tuesday Morning. I'd never seen these, other than the ones they well at Walmart. The price was certainly right. I need another collection like I need a hole in my head though. So Valencia stayed behind for some other lucky person to find.

Groovy Gals outfits were out in abundance, although I don't actually remember seeing any of the dolls.

Spectra from the Haunted Monster High line, with her weirdly old facemold. I had actually never seen this doll in person before. Creepy. Possibly in the good way. 

The only find at TM that came home with me, however, was this fella. Isul Milk Tea! He's already lost the frilly outfit and has been hanging out with Eileen and Louise.

The Spring Store at Hobby Lobby is on clearance, so time is running out for nifty like the 18" doll scaled lawn chair below.

This one was left over because someone broke it, sadly. 

Here's something you may or may not know about me: I grew up loving the old Danger Mouse cartoon in the 80s. I've been delighted with the reboot, and finding DM himself at Toys R Us was a no-brainer of a purchase for me. He was a little pricey at $10, but there was no way I could leave him behind. (more on him later!)

Finally, here's the finds that I picked up at Target. The Moxie Girlz stuff is a little big for Eileen and Louise, and the Bratz pieces are (sadly) a little small. The pink Doc Martens though? They're perfect. The prices aren't bad, either!