It's hard to believe that while I've always enjoyed photography, it was owning dolls that solidified my interest in it. I wanted to be able to take nice photos of Gabrys, so I ended up with a Nikon D3200 that I loved almost immediately and, more recently, some decent lenses.
My newest lens arrived a couple of days ago, and I love it. It's a Yongnuo 50mm prime lense with a fantastically small (f1.8) aperture, and it's great. I'm finding a prime lens takes a little getting used to because, well, it doesn't zoom and that means manoeuvring the tripod around until it's in the perfect place, but I'm really liking the pictures it takes. It's hard to take a decent depth of field with something as small as a doll that mimics the effect of photographing a much larger human, but this lens does a great job of it.
Paradigm was my first guinea pig, but I'm pretty sure everyone'll be getting the treatment while I practice.
Plus, I think the reflectors were due an outing. Ouch, look at those crinkles...
The thing with dolls is, you always want them to have the perfect hair for their character, don't you? And finding the right wig is near impossible sometimes (particularly if your character has pink hair *cough*Maxim*cough* or a white stripe from an accident *cough*Kirill*cough*). Which is why I wanted to learn to make my own doll wigs instead. And, thanks to the wonders of YouTube and Mozekyto's doll wig tutorials, it turns out it's not quite as hard as I thought.
Well. It is, but not quite in the way I thought.
Full disclaimer: this isn't my first attempt at a wig. It's actually my fourth hard cap (don't ask about the first attempt), my third go at brushing and then straightening wefts (Maxim was my first), and my second go at actually gluing the wefts down. My first was Kirill...
It turns out the problem I have isn't so much the sticking down of the hair (although that's certainly problematic enough). I just have zero talent with actually cutting hair. I'm sure I must have a natural aptitude for something somewhere, but hairdressing ain't it. Given my approach to hair is to have as little of it as possible this isn't really a surprise.
So the thought of making Paradigm's wig wasn't so much a fear of the making of it, I've done that before. It was the cutting of it. So with great trepidation, I got cracking on the fiddly bits. Because the longer it takes to do the fiddly bits, the longer I can put off cutting it, right?
And there are quite a few fiddly bits to do. I wound the lengths of 100% acrylic yarn around the notebook longways, then cut at top and bottom. I then grouped them into sets of three and knotted them into the rings of the book so each side was approximately the same length. These were tied the whole length of the rings, and then vigorously assaulted — sorry, brushed — with a metal-toothed brush. Once all the wefts were smoothed out and combed until there was no longer any yarn loss, they were smoothed over with a hair straightener, resulting in a noticeable difference in texture. They're also super-soft at this point.
For reasons I've never quite worked out, my hair straighteners have an odd habit of turning the yarn funny colours when it's warm — briefly green, in this case — which you can kind of see on the leftmost picture, but it wears off as the wefts cool.
They're then cut into sections and glued onto a sheet of still-wrapped clear acrylic I no longer remember why I own, and once the glue has set (which takes forever) I peel from the board and trim the tops and edges until they're neat but still useable.
Then comes the 'fun' bit.
Yep, time to glue the wefts down. I started with Mozekyto's method of laying down the parting first, which later proved ... interesting when one of the two wefts used for his parting actually vanished. I have no idea where it went and luckily it wasn't too difficult to replace it at the late stage of, you know, having almost finished.
I'd done my wefts in colour batches, with the lightest grouped together and then a set of increasingly dark ones. (I still have a lot of yarn; I need more brunet characters) The lightest went into the parting, and I then started properly at the bottom with the darkest in an effort to mimic natural hair.
Yes I'm aware the bottom of his wig cap went crump. It was a challenge to get the weft to stick to it, but I got there in the end and you can't see it now. I moved up in rows, trimming the back into a rough, short 'V' shape as I went and setting aside the wefts cut "just in case." When I reached the ears I started moving all the way around the wig cap, and stopped trimming. Obviously I reached the parting on one side faster than the other, so I added more hair to the other side until I'd filled up the cap with fairly evenly-spaced wefts.
...Which left me with a second doll equivalent of Cousin It from The Addams Family. Only this time I couldn't really get away with just leaving him like it. Wellll, I could, but it wouldn't get me anywhere, so out came the scissors and off went chunks of Paradigm's hair. But it's not easy to style hair that's trying to stick out like a chimney sweep's brush so the cling film that'd so recently been under his wig cap went back on over it instead in a desperate effort to tame it, and it got left overnight.
Then it was onto the finer scissors and lots of very cautious, very nervous upward snipping and... well...
There's a spot of Leon Kennedy about his hair I never noticed before and my iffy cellphone photo made it (and him) look a lot lighter than it is in person, but I'm happy with it. It's scruffy, but intentionally — no intergalactically-wanted spaceship thief would stop off and get his hair professionally trimmed every six to eight weeks.
The biggest challenge was getting it to look like my really old drawings of him. He's a character I've had since at least 2007 and he's amassed a chunk of artwork dedicated to him (although depressingly the best stuff is from 2007 and not really the later stuff of him I did). I sat there for a while staring at his hair in the drawings and thinking "you utter moron, why did you draw it like that?"
(Because in 2007 I never thought I'd have a doll version of him, that's why, self.)
I had to take a break from the doll hobby for a time while I sorted out my mother's health — she almost died of a ruptured intestine and sepsis almost two years ago — and my own, both physical and mental, as caring for someone's taken a toll on me in both ways. (I wasn't exactly stunningly healthy to begin with myself.)
The thing is, this absence has left me with a whole bunch of dolls I've flat-out neglected all this time. Not just in the 'not playing with' side of things, and we won't talk about the coat of dust over Tay and Scott's legs, but the fact that I've got several dolls who're still lacking faceups over a year after I got them.
On top of that, my mother bought me a Resinsoul An for Christmas last year. He arrived in November-ish and she checked his hands and feet for damage, but didn't remove him from the bag and pillow. ...He's kind of a mess, but not in the way she knows to look out for. He's coffee resin, but his sanding is appalling. I've got a deertaur from them and the sanding is entirely unnoticeable, but the sanding on An is atrocious, and so rough you'd think it was done with the stuff you use for sanding metal. His chest doesn't seem to fit his torso, and his lower legs don't seem to fit his thighs. His eyewells are a mess. Well. One is a mess, one is perfectly fine; it's like something happened in his casting and someone just shoved massive amounts of resin into the gap to cover it up. I had to order a 16mm eye-weller from Dollmore to help fix the issue, and he only takes 14mm eyes.
I saw the issues with his sanding immediately, but I first thought it was marbled resin. But at the same time... what can you say? He's a Christmas present! So you smile and say thank you, but I suspect she noticed I didn't immediately take photos like I did with Kse and Rowan, my other Resinsoul dolls.
Later on I looked at him and realised it wasn't marbled but badly made (not something I expected to say with Resinsoul to be honest) and I had to put him back in his bag again. I was genuinely wondering if I could buy another coffee An from Resinsoul myself and substitute him ... but what would I do with the other one, because who'd want to buy a doll that looked like it'd been mangled by an utter beginner, but was straight from the company? So I put him back in his bag again, and back on the kitchen table, and sort of tried to ignore him again.
And I managed like this for months. Because I've got all the cooking to do (I can't cook, so this is a terrible experience for me), and all the cleaning and gardening, all the bins and recycling, all the pets to look after (cats, dogs, birds), and I have work on top of all that — and just because I work from home, doesn't mean I can get away with not working, it's all logged with targets etc., plus I took on a new work project that's both interesting and stressful, always good — I didn't really think much of dolls at all. Lirio is sat on top of Gabrys's box in my office, Milos is sitting on my desk to my right and Maxim started off on my sewing machine and has now moved to a printer stand to my left, while everyone else is sat behind me, but after a while I didn't see them any more.
Kir still has shoulder-length hair like a minor Cousin It because I haven't found either the time or mental strength to cut it. Kse's been headless for almost a year now.
But after a while, I kept seeing his little bag and pillow on the table. My mother saw it once on one of her infrequent visits to the kitchen and asked when I'd work on him, and I still couldn't say anything. Eventually, after months, I picked him up and looked at him again. And I felt so bad about this little doll that I'd wanted, until he turned up in a mess, and then I couldn't bear to look at him. Saying "it's a metaphor for my life" is both cliche and disgustingly trite, but (creepy alert) I picked up this little doll and hugged him and felt like a real shit for just letting him sit there doing nothing for ages.
LUCKILY! We've had insane amounts of sunlight for the last month or two, so suddenly the vitamin D burst has kicked in and I have a little willpower now. Not much, after everything else, but enough that on one fine day a couple of months ago I went into the garden and sealed a whole bunch of faces: Alex, Lirio, Kse's next layer, Rowan the little deertaur (and his hooves and horns), Ais's head (one day he'll have a body!) and Paradigm (An).
Annnnnd then we got the Summer Of Hell 2018 and it was too hot to spray sealant without it going peculiar. But a few days ago I started working on Paradigm (An) and Alex's heads, and I finished Paradigm's today, I found a bunch of clothing from Alice's Collections that suits him (including some jeans he stole from Maxim that work perfectly) and he's got one 14mm grey eye from acbjd and one purple eye from Safrindoll when she made her own eyes, and suddenly, even with his awful sanding that's visible even under layers of sealant and faceup, I love him. I also picked up a stand from Alice's Collections and it's like having my own Play Arts Kai doll or something. But slightly bigger, more customisable, and more playable with, because I can't imagine posing both my Raiden figures like this.
And again I'm reminded of why I got into BJDs in the first place: to have my own poseable figures of my own characters, that I can customise however I want. I mean, how am I gonna find a figure of a shy asexual shuttle thief if I don't ultimately make it myself?
And not even Resinsoul's poor handling and quality control can take away from me the character I've created from their mess.
He arrived several days ago (and turned up at my door without warning, to my great surprise!) but I've not been feeling great so it's taken me quite a while to get around to posting his unboxing pics.
There aren't many, I got a bit distracted by playing with him, but he's my little project doll.
I intend to widen the bridge of his nose a little and sand down the tip. His stringing needs a little loosening, and I'll also suede and wire him. Then I'll work on his faceup and hopefully will find the frighteningly pink yarn I seem to have misplaced, to turn it into a wig. (His frighteningly pink hair is all natural, the joys of designing your own body!) And after that... well, he needs some clothes too, right?
It's exciting and a little daunting to buy a doll I intend to do so much work on, and so hopefully it won't all go horribly wrong...!
A noodler with a doll obsession.