(Also known as an unexpected Humbrol Acrylic Varnish product review)
Milos's sleeping faceup was the first one I ever did, which in itself was a daunting prospect, but sealing such an obscurely-coloured resin? Without it lightening?
While researching sealants I heard quietly positive things about Humbrol's Acrylic Varnish, and it's pretty affordable for a small can, so I decided to risk it and although it did lighten the resin a little, it wasn't as bad as I feared. It has excellent tooth too, so it's nice for laying colours down on with pastel, and it's not glossy in the slightest.
It turns out, however, that it has an interesting feature: it's bloody hard as nails.
Milos's face took a dive — a common Dollshe faceplate issue — while I was photographing him in the conservatory. Luckily I think the gods heard the prayer I bellowed as it threw itself from his head and it didn't shatter on the tiles. It did, however, pock air bubbles into the sealant which couldn't be disguised with the careful placement of hair, so I set it aside from wiping and got off my lazy arse and did the faceup in his open-eyed face instead.
(As an aside, Milos's faceplate is now securely washi-taped to his head. I have absolutely no desire for this to ever happen again.)
Fast forward almost exactly a year — I checked the date on the photo — and I get the urge to finally wipe his faceup. (Might this have something to do with the fact I have another face and a half to complete? It might.) I've got the (sort of) appropriate tools: Windsor & Newton Brush Cleaner and cotton wool buds and pads, so all that remains is wiping the faceup off, right? Simple.
Except... Humbrol Acrylic Varnish is bloody hard as nails.
This... did not involve a simple wiping.
I hadn't sprayed many layers due to not wanting to discolour his resin any further, but the few I did spray had absolutely no intention of shifting. These cellphone photos were taken over the course of several hours.
By half past midnight, I'd managed to narrow the remaining faceup down to patches around his inner eyes, his inner mouth and his ears. (Not pictured due to frustration and poor lighting.) This morning, I finished off his mouth as best I could and spent another couple of hours cleaning the resin around his eyes. I've left the pink lacrimals because... well, I can't shift it and it didn't even get a heavy coating of sealant.
I've left his ears as well because I've never once claimed to have the patience of a saint.
In short... if you're perfectly content with your faceup skills and you never want your sealant to shift ever again, then I whole-heartedly recommend Humbrol. If, like me, you're just starting out however... maybe try something a little less stubborn.
I'm now desperately hoping I didn't seal RQ's face with it as well...
When Kana of Kana by KaNa / Rosen Lied announced the preorder of one of her stand-alone doll heads I pounced on it. Her sculpts are so pretty! And, after ordering and waiting very patiently (honest), he arrived home, wrapped so securely that all my quiet worrying turned out to be for nothing.
When I ordered him I hoped he'd make a good Alex, which is why Milos is helping — albeit reluctantly — with the box opening. But now I'm not sure... in part because he looks surprisingly good with some blue eyes I had around. Much better, actually, than their actual owner.
So while I figure out which company's body will go nicely with him, I'll have a think. He may yet surprise me further.
I've been eyeing the Neewer 80cm photo tent for a while now, ever since I saw a post on Tumblr talking about how helpful and affordable both the tent itself and their products in general were. Considering that I use a Neewer remote shutter for my camera and am starting to wonder how I did without it, I figured that I might as well take a punt.
It was £23.99 from Amazon.co.uk from a Prime seller, so it arrived the day after I ordered it, and I enlisted a little help with opening it...
It's quite big if you're only 70cm though, so Tay had to enlist a little help himself, in the form of his almost-brother-in-law Milos and between them they managed to pull the handy 40cm bag from its wrapping and then pull both the backdrops, handily wrapped in one bag, and the tent itself wrapped in another, from its case.
And then this happened.
No dolls were harmed in the making of this photo. Not so sure about the Air Ram though.
Because this photo tent?
When you take it out the plastic, it explodes.
This was its third airing and my folding has improved, so I had to ask it nicely. I've learned to keep my distance.
I have no idea how they convinced it into such a small space, but it clearly did not like it because on exposure to air it promptly unfolded itself to its full 80cm height.
I mean, it stayed flat so I can thank the gods for small mercies, but bloody hell. Which is exactly what I accidentally shouted as it leapt from my hand with a surprisingly loud *whumpf*. Loud enough that it was only after I'd finished these photos that I realised it'd knocked the Air Ram over and the dogs, who'd been trying to look at what I was doing before this, suddenly decided that the office wasn't that exciting after all...
It comes with four backdrops: white, black, blue and red, and as they're all folded they all arrive with very neat rectangles creased into them. I try to iron them, but first I'm going to try either draping them over something or rolling them into a tube and hoping that they just sort of... fall out. I'm not big on this ironing stuff.
The tent itself remains flat even after it's disrupted your household and you pull open first one side and then the other. These are surprisingly sturdy and open into a good-sized shape.
As you can see, it fits Milos (a Dollshe Saint) with room to spare -- his fingers were only just grazing the roof. It's not entirely as square as the promo images would have it but that's no big deal. It doesn't give the impression that it's going to roll away even with slightly more rounded lines.
It's a little fiddly getting the backdrop into the tent, partially because you do have to crawl into it to push it against the velcro, and partially because there's velcro on both sides of the backdrop but the tent comes with no instructions, so it takes a moment to figure out which side goes back to the tent. I still don't actually know what the velcro on the other side is for -- it's not for sticking it together for storage, far as i can tell -- but maybe it'll become clear in the future. Or maybe it won't.
It also comes with a velcro cover to block out additional light, which has a handy slit in the front for your camera lens. This does ideally require quite a low tripod. I can't imagine this playing so nicely with my larger one, if I'm honest; the lowest possible height would have the lens pressing against the fabric at the top, so it's something to be aware of if you only have larger tripods.
I bought this to use in the conservatory, which is full of natural light in the day and where I often try to take pictures (and no one needs to see the stuff -- and the cats -- usually floating around in there) and I don't have standalone lights for a proper setup, but I have to say I am now considering buying some to enable me to use this in other rooms in the house.
Word of warning though, 80cm is inexplicably huge. You'd think I'd be expecting it, given that five out of eight dolls are 65-70cm boys, and you know what adds insult to injury?
That the bloody thing does not want to go back into the bag. I should've been expecting this, it's referenced in reviews quite frequently, but I think I was thinking these people just aren't trying hard enough. Nope. It's not that at all. It's that it simply does not want to co-operate, and this is again why I wish it came with written instructions. And when your bag is 1/4 of your tent?
HOWEVER! Skimming through the Amazon.com reviews and discounting the smug ones who state they can flatten it in 30 seconds without stating how, a Danny Perfect wrote a very useful review with this instruction:
Which works, albeit with a lot of internal swearing. Thank gods.
A noodler with a doll obsession.