Blog Moving

Ugh, this new editor is the worst!

I am fleeing from WordPress to escape this hideous, nonfunctional monstrosity.

I am now on Blogger, still under the blog title of Crazy Doll Lady. (It is, however, to be noticed that the new URL has an extra “l” in it, because there was a blank blog (from 2009!) that already had the URL with only three “l”s. This annoys me greatly, but what can I do about it, y’know?)

There’s only one post up on the new blog so far, with a few photos from a recent redecoration. Also to introduce this new girl:

….uh, nevermind. This new editor doesn’t seem to allow photos, even. (Seriously, WordPress? You’re gonna hamstring the free users that badly? That’s just sick.)

You Have GOT To See This!

Despite that I can no longer afford to spend as freely as I used to, I still daily check the new listings on Ruby Lane because…um…because.  And today I was astonished to see this beauty:

Cell phone screen capture from Ruby Lane listing. Click for link.

Can you believe it?  That Kenner Blythe has stayed untouched in her package for longer than I’ve been alive!  Naturally, since they’re selling her for the jaw-dropping price of $2,000, this girl will never end up my collection unless I win the lottery or something.  (Which is hard to do when you never enter it…)  But I wanted to let everyone know about it so you can go look at the pictures for yourselves.  How many other chances are us mere mortals going to have to see the back of an original Blythe box?

Actually, there are also a few loose Kenner Blythes up on Ruby Lane at the moment, along with a lot of other dolls you rarely see.  Either some big collector just died or a lot of collectors are feeling the pinch due to Coronavirus and are selling their collections.  (Honestly, there’s one doll in the $200 range that there are two of up right now and I’m fighting with myself on the buy/not-buy thing, ’cause she’s one I’ve been looking for for at least a year now, and yet $200 for a doll was nothing to sneeze at before I lost my job…)

(If anyone happens to see this who actually has $2,000 to throw around on single doll purchases, I can assure you that the sellers for this particular doll are really great.  I’ve bought from them several times in the past and everything arrived safe and sound and quickly.  Though nothing’s going to be getting anywhere quickly right now, of course.)

And…that’s about all I had to say.  Just a quick FYI so people can go check it out. 😉  (I will try to get a real post together at some point in the near future…hopefully…)

Sorry for the lengthy silence

I feel particularly stupid about going silent for so long so soon after I promised more regular posts, but life is really messed up right now, for all of us.  I had actually been deliberating about making a post for quite a while on the subject of my plans regarding the artist’s loft boxed room (after toying with the idea of using foamcore for the walls after all, I’m back to my original plan of slowly making enough clay bricks to build it like a real building) but before I felt quite sure what I would say in a post, the murder of George Floyd sparked off all the protests about police brutality and systemic racism, and how could I make a shallow post about my plans to build a boxed room in the midst of the largest civil rights movement since the 1960s?


My discomfort at the idea of making shallow dolly posts during so much social upheaval has meant that I haven’t made any Pride Month posts, unfortunately.  It doesn’t help that most of my easiest Pride Month posts would be about Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, who (like most anime characters) have the socially disquieting situation of appearing to be white when they’re actually Japanese.  (Though if I hadn’t taken so long to get through Season 5 of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, I could have done some good posts with my Adora and Catra dolls…)

Anyway, I do want to have at least one Pride Month-related post, so here’s a (crappy cell phone) photo of something that I apparently haven’t posted about yet even though I know I took lots of pictures when I was unboxing them.  (I can’t even find the pictures on my hard drive, so I must never have even transferred them off my camera, let alone processed them!)

These are statuettes from the SHFiguarts Zero line (and part of a statuette of Poison Ivy from Batman the Animated Series which I happened to find on clearance at GameStop one day, along with a Shi-Shi Tiny Guardian blind box figure I got from a Kickstarter campaign).  I don’t know if I’ve ever shown the ones I have of Sailor Mars and Sailor Mercury, either?  I should do that at some point if I haven’t.  Anyway, these two were sold individually (thankfully I got a slight discount from Crunchyroll for being a subscriber to their anime subscription service) and it was actually surprisingly difficult to get them assembled together like this, with the magic in their bases interlocking.  Eventually, I’ll dig up those photos I took at the time and post them.  (If I haven’t posted any pictures of the other two yet, I’ll post those then, too.)

There’s been one other big change since my last post, a personal one this time, but not at all a unique one:  I lost my job due to COVID-19.  Honestly, I was shocked because it came so late (mid-June), but…I guess I should just be glad that a) it wasn’t because of anything I had done wrong and b) I actually have enough money to live on without my salary.  I’m planning to put out feelers and see if I can get an online job as a proofreader (primarily for independent games and self-published fiction) which could in theory actually pay better than my job at the museum did, though I don’t think it could ever provide the same job satisfaction.  Anyway, until I’m earning money again in some capacity, I’m trying to cut my spending as much as possible (unfortunately, it’s really hard to break my addiction to Kickstarter, but at least I’ve so far been good about cutting off my spending at Ruby Lane, Etsy and other online stores), so my new doll acquisitions are going to be few to none for the foreseeable future.  That shouldn’t interfere too much with my ability to post on here, however, since I have tons of dolls I’ve never photographed (some of them really exciting!), and there are a lot of posts I could make about dolls I’ve only shown briefly, too.

Like the doll I showed above.  I’d been planning on saving her for the right moment (and she’ll get her own proper post someday), but I’ll go ahead and show the other (crappy cell phone) picture I just took of her:

She’s a Tiffany Taylor doll by Ideal, and about the same size as the Crissy family dolls, so she’s been added to my Crissy display.  Like the smaller version, Tuesday Taylor, her hair is on a rotating thing to change its color, but when I tried it on a different doll, the hair had so molded itself to the one position over the decades (they date from the ’70s, after all) that it looked awful in the other color.  Still, I’ll try changing hers for her real post.

Anyway, so as not to end this post on quite such a somber, low-key note, please enjoy(?) this message I found in the blog’s spam filter:

Did you scroll all this way to get facts about crazy doll lady ? Well you’re in luck, because here they come. There are 161 crazy doll lady for sale on Etsy, and they cost 40,39 US$ on average. The most common crazy doll lady material is cotton. The most popular color? You guessed it: white .

So, apparently I’m made of white cotton and cost $40.39.  Who knew?  (Personally, I wouldn’t have thought I was that cheap!)

“New” Clothes

Before I get to the subject of Leann’s “new” clothes, one brief update and a random bit of nonsense.

First, the update into the ongoing saga of the boxed room.  So, last time I mentioned my plan to roll out the clay to the right thickness and then cut it into the right shape to match the bricks.  Here are the results of that attempt…

Yeah, all those randomly sized and shaped pieces of clay?  Those were the result.  I don’t even know how it happened.  I made every cut using one of the resin bricks as a guide for the size, but somehow they ended up all random sizes.  (It didn’t help that the clay kept sticking to the cutter, but that can’t have been all of the problem.)  And none of them are thick enough.  I have no idea what I’m going to use those pieces for.  (I should have just lumped them back up before they could dry.)  I may use them to build the fireplace for the apartment or something.  And as you can see below, I went back to using the mold.  😦  I have by now calculated the number of bricks I need, and they come to about 146 uses of the mold, rather than the 221 I started out thinking I would need.  So, a lot less, but still an insane amount.  (I’m up to 26.5 uses by now, I believe.)  I think my best bet at this point is to use 3D printing (via Shapeways since I don’t own a 3D printer) to make a “cookie cutter” for 1/12 scale bricks that will show if they’re too low or too high as well as cutting them all the same size and shape.  I don’t know how much it will cost, but the savings in time should be worth it.  (And maybe I could actually use it to make stuff I could sell on Etsy.  Like fireplaces and stuff.  Dunno.  Maybe not.)

I did, of course, after the fiasco with the roll-and-cut bricks, contemplate just constructing the roombox out of more typical materials.  I even went looking for instructions and how-to videos and so on.  And found out that most people just cut out pieces of foam core and glue them together.  No dovetailing or anything.  That is so not what I want to do.  I want something that I can feel like won’t fall apart just because I glued it badly.  Also something where the walls can’t be crooked if my hand slips while I’m doing the gluing.  So I’m still going to do the “build it from scratch with actual (air-dry clay) bricks” thing.  No matter how stupid that is.

So, moving on from that, while I was mucking about and trying to clear up some space to actually live properly in my house, I came across these two:

I don’t know how long they were sitting there, but their box was horribly ruined (slight pest situation…), to the point where I dumped it right in the trash bag and only once it was in there did I open it to remove the figurines, paint pots and paint brushes.  I got the kit at Walgreens ages ago (I’m thinking at least 8-1o years?) for very little money.  The statuettes appear to be made from a very cheap, very low grade resin.  (Though I could be wrong about that, but they’re  not plastic in any case.)  I’m definitely going to paint them, but not with the paints they came with, which you may notice do not contain any kind of skin tone.  Or, you know, enough paint to actually paint these.  There were originally two sets of these paint pots (both the same colors), but I decided I would use the black from one of them to try and darken some of the Crayola air-dry clay before moving on with the brick work.  Only it was completely dried out so that didn’t work.  😛  (I tried using the black alcohol ink I use for resin, but it didn’t work all that well.  And then I was low on soap and didn’t want to keep working until I got some more, since I have to wash my hands after every time I touch that clay.)  I’m going to order some paint from Michael’s or Joann’s to actually paint up these girls.

Anyway, now I can finally get on to the point of this post!  (There was a reason for the digression about Tinkerbell and her pal, I promise.)  I was looking at the newly posted listings for dolls on Ruby Lane, and saw someone put up an NRFB outfit for the Topper Dawn doll, and it was exactly the kind of thing I had recently been thinking I wanted for Leann.  (The dress she had been wearing, I realized, was really kind of digging in with its elastic and I was afraid that it would leave permanent creases.  Also it’s really hard to get on and off.)  Of course, I didn’t want to buy an unopened doll outfit from 1970 and then open it, especially since I wasn’t sure it would even fit.  So I looked on Etsy and quickly found the same outfit for sale loose.  But then I had a sudden thought:

“Wait, I actually have some Dawn dolls!  I should check that the clothes fit her first!”

I had bought a Dawn case with three Dawns, two Rock Flowers and one Dawn’s boyfriend.  (*cough*  Yeah, I’m pretty sure he has a name, but I’ve never bothered to learn it.  *cough*)  I fetch the case, open it, and realize I actually already had that exact outfit!

The photo on Ruby Lane didn’t look quite so neon orange.  (Although it does describe the color as “tangerine.”)

Here are a few of the dolls:  two Dawns, one in the signature outfit, one in the camisole that goes with the robe Leann was wearing in the previous shot, and one of the Rock Flowers.  (I have no idea if the outfit she’s wearing is genuine, clone or “mommy made”.  It doesn’t have a tag, but I didn’t see any tags on the official Dawn clothes, either.)

So here’s Leann wearing the camisole, and the spot where the lace wasn’t properly sewn to it really shows up a lot more on her than it did on Dawn!

Unfortunately, as you can kind of see in this photo, that outfit had left some staining on this Dawn doll, so I don’t dare have Leann wear it for very long at a time.

The signature Dawn outfit looks fantastic on Leann!  Or it would if it could be fastened properly…

The elastic loops that go over the little “pearl” buttons on the back have both stretched out by a ridiculous amount.  😦  Honestly, I’m tempted to try to get one of these with non-damaged loops, it looks so nice on her.  That or attempt to replace the loops.  (That would probably make more sense, lol.)

The dress the Rock Flower was in fits, but doesn’t look very good.  And I don’t much like long skirts on Leann it turns out; another thing that bothered me about that white sheathe dress was that I had to blindly adjust the position of her legs both at the same time, which they’re not really designed for.  I feel like at this point I’ve actually damaged one of her hips, but I’m not sure if it was from making her sit while wearing that white dress or if it was because of the time I tried to make her sit cross-legged.  (It looked great, but the contortions of her inner steel skeleton were insane, and it took quite a while before I could get her legs back into a neutral position without looking skewed.)

Odd thing about Mattel’s Rock Flowers:  they’re bendy dolls!  (That’s why she couldn’t sit up properly in the group shot, and needed to lean back on one of those unpainted fairies.)  This one is also extremely dirty.  😦

The other Rock Flower was wearing this number.  It’s extremely ’60s, so I don’t know if Leann can keep wearing it after the room is assembled, but it looks great on her for now, and it even kinda matches her gold bracer.

The male doll’s coat (he only had on a coat and undies, poor lad!) looks pretty good, too, especially in combination with this dress, but it very definitely says “boyfriend’s coat” and since Leann has a girlfriend, that didn’t seem terribly appropriate.

Anyway, the really important thing here is that now I can go on Etsy and search for Topper Dawn clothes as well as 1/12 scale doll clothes.  And more importantly I can be sure the clothes are actually intended for the dolls to wear them, rather than just to be displayed on a hanger in a dollhouse.  (In fact, I found a purple dress very much like the gold-and-turquoise one she’s wearing in the last two photos.  I’m probably going to get it so she and Val can match, even if the outfits are rather anachronistic for the era their apartment is probably going to be decorated to.  Though I’m not sure how much the era really matters; they’re both immortal mythical beings, so they could have decorated their loft in the ’20s and still be living in it by the ’60s or even later.  Or their loft could be in Valhalla and they just happen to like visiting the ’20s for furniture and the ’60s for clothing.)

A Matter of Time (Plus Some Dolly Comparisons)

The whole “brick factory” thing I was talking about last time went on for a grand total of two whole days.

Okay, actually, more like two half days.

This is as far as I got in the process before deciding that trying to make somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 bricks via a 16-brick mold was patently insane:

Yeah, not very far.  The really pale pink ones are the ones where I added the brick-red mica powder to the white air-dry clay.  I had to add a huge amount of it, and it still isn’t very bricky-looking.  But I hadn’t added enough of it to the terracotta clay to even make the difference visible.  (Though in person in good light, you can tell the difference, but only barely.)

Anyway, the new plan quickly became to roll out a layer of the clay that was the same thickness as these bricks, and then cut it into rectangles the same size as these bricks, and then I could use these fancy ones with holes at the tops of the walls and as the pavement for the balcony (although it’s probably really weird to pave a balcony on a non-ground-floor apartment with bricks).  This, of course, was hampered by the fact that I needed a rolling pin to roll it out flat enough.

I ordered one, along with some new air-dry clay that I hoped would be a little less stainy than the Crayola stuff, from a local craft store for curbside pick-up.  (I am going to be very glad when all this social distancing stuff is no longer needed and I can actually go into stores for myself again!)  So I get it home and decide to start out using the new clay for it…only to discover that this new clay came in a thin plastic bag (unlike the Crayola stuff in its reusable plastic tub) which had holes in it.  So I’ve had it in an airtight plastic tub with water at the bottom trying to un-dry the air-dry clay.  (Thankfully, it had only been mostly dry, rather than all dry.)  It should be useable by tomorrow or so; I’ve actually been able to make a few bricks with it via the mold, and they’ve turned out really great (if a bit too tan), but the distribution of the moisture is really weird in the main body of the clay itself, as some of it is still quite hard and unworkable and some of it is barely more than slip.  *sigh*  In the meantime, I have been too focused on that to try the roll-out version of the bricks with the Crayola stuff.

As to the flooring, I did some calculations, and realized that pretty much everything I had in mind would either cost a fortune or take forever.  (Except using printed paper.  That would be fast and cheap (other than the cost of a printer, lol), but I view that as the last resort of last resorts.)  So I came up with the idea of rolling out the white air-dry clay to the thickness of the bricks (so it’ll be the same height as the floor of the balcony), and then using something to impress the outline of tiles on it, and once it’s dry, to paint the tops of the tiles with high gloss paint to simulate tiles, with the unpainted white in between simulating the grout.  Should work.  I think.  I got the paints along with the new clay (blue and white, which I’ll mix with the blue in various ratios so it’ll be an assortment of shades of blue, since blue goes with everything), so we’ll have to see how it ends up working out.  I also finally decided where I wanted to put the room when it was done, and discovered that my previously planned dimensions weren’t going to fit, so the room is now about 10″ narrower than it started out, and 2″ less deep!  I haven’t recalculated the number of bricks I’ll need with the smaller dimensions (only just did the measuring this afternoon), but I’m thinking it’ll be a lot fewer than my last set of calculations.

The “matter of time” in the title is in more ways than one, though.  Because not only does it refer to the time required to make the room, but also to the time in which it exists.  Or rather, when the heck I want to say that Val and Leann are living in that loft, you know?  The loft I’ve been thinking of as the model is in late 1940s/early 1950s Paris.  I’m thinking Val and Leann are more in interwar Paris, probably the 1920s.  But I don’t actually know much about Paris in the 1920s; I only really know about the US in the 1920s.  I’m not sure there’s any particular reason to even put them in Paris at all (one of them is Norse and the other Irish) for that matter.  But probably I’ll go for roughly a 1920s period in the furniture; looking around online for “1920s furniture” gave me a lot of really nice styles that I liked a lot.

Though I’ve already fallen in love with one piece of miniature furniture that’s not 1920s (in fact, I did so long before I started wondering when the room should be set to) but since I don’t know that I could ever justify buying it, that probably doesn’t matter.  I took screencaps of it to show you how gorgeous (and expensive) it is:

Isn’t it sublime?  I can understand why it costs that much (all those tiny details to paint by hand!) but dang, that’s a ton of money for such a small item!  *sigh*  It’s absolutely exactly what I pictured when I tried to imagine what kind of bed they would have, though.

Anyway, leaving that aside, I wanted to explain what I said last time (or was it the time before last?) about Leann needing one more arm joint.  By way of comparisons with some others about her own size.  So first let’s met our participants:

Here we have Leann with the SHFigurarts Super Sailor Jupiter (1:12 scale) and the Figma Shin Megami Tensei Pixie (1:1 scale).  Sorry about the upskirt, Makoto; it wasn’t intentional.

And here we have Leann with Yvonne (1:8 scale?) and the Little Pullip head on a 1:12 scale Azone body (minus her wig because it was making it even harder to keep her upright; she has the Pixie’s stand behind her holding her upright as it is, but with the wig on even that wasn’t able to keep her up).

And last but not least…

Princess Alena from Dragon Quest IV, as rendered in 1:12 scale by SquareEnix’s new(ish) Bring Arts line.  (Like their old Play Arts line, only smaller.  And a lot less expensive than the Play Arts Kai stuff that replaced Play Arts.  Those things are crazy expensive.)

As I’m currently playing Dragon Quest XI (in the Switch port with all sorts of goodies like Japanese language), I had to play around with Alena’s accessories just a little bit…

The pot by her feet is one of the ones you’re always breaking in towns to look for medicinal herbs, gold coins, and other such things.  (Which is really funny in XI, because it actually shows your “hero” picking up pots and barrels and then dropping them to smash them.  Gives me the giggles frequently.  It looks so petulant, like a spoiled child.)  The pot on its side beside her is, of course, a mimic.   I forget the exact pun they’ve been using lately to name these awful things; but I’m sure I’ll be reminded ere long. 😛 (And yes, awful is the word.  These ones use instant death and mana drain spells.  Or they have in previous games anyway.)

Anyway, with that aside, now let’s dive into the comparison photos, beyond the “read more” tag.  Warning:  dolly nudity ahead.  (A warning that is more warranted in this case than in many others, considering that Leann is anatomically correct.)

Continue reading

My house has become a brick factory!

For reals.

(But only in 1/12 scale.)

However, I’ll build up to that.  (Um.  I didn’t…that wasn’t supposed to be a pun.  *cough*)

Okay, so, last time I got myself put together enough to post anything here, I mentioned the whole miniature room kick I was on, and showed just a few brief images of my new TBLeague Phicen 1/12 scale doll.  Well, despite a few posing issues (her arms lack a basic joint which I will go into more detail about in a later post when I think ahead enough to get some comparison photos), I realized I had to go ahead and pre-order her partner when it struck me that I had already named her.  (Last time I named a doll before ordering her was with Pyrrha!)  So, here’s an advanced look at my oh-so-creatively named Valkyrie doll, Val:

Professional promotional photo via Big Bad Toy Store. Click for link.

And yes, the doll herself — artist though she may be — will still be a Valkyrie.  And the doll I already have is, well, originally I wanted her to be one of the Muses, since as a model she would be the artist’s muse.  Only it turns out none of the Muses govern visual arts.  So I thought about what other mythological figures would be appropriate, and decided that she was a Leanan Sidhe…who now goes by the name Leann.  Because she only makes others creative, I guess?  *cough*

Anyway, I also ordered another outfit for Leann (Val doesn’t ship until June (assuming no COVID-related delays) so I can worry about her clothes later) for two reasons.  One, the outfit I already ordered her is coming from the other side of the world, and all shipping (esp. international) is much slower than usual because of the pandemic.  And two, the outfit I already ordered for her is black, which will stain her.  See, the whole staining issue didn’t occur to me until it was too late and the order was placed; I had picked black for her outfit because the choices were black, white and red, and I don’t like red, and since she’s the pale skin color, I thought the white wouldn’t stand out as much.  Only then once it was too late, I started looking into whether these dolls stain, and found out that they stain really badly, and really easily.  I’ll have to do a stain-proofing on the black clothes as soon as they arrive, and probably only have her wear them with some plastic wrap between her and them even then.  (Although on the plus side, apparently small stains have a tendency to be absorbed into the silicone “skin” and disappear after a month or two even without treatment, so that’s at least something.)  The new outfit is just a simple sheath dress, which you’ll see later in the post.

The main thing is that having bought two rather expensive dolls, and a small smattering of stuff for their place, I had to actually get their place.  Bit I had something very specific in mind, of course, and I wasn’t having any luck finding room box kits that fit what I wanted.  The closest I could find was a 1/18th (or maybe it was 1/45th?) scale kit that came complete with all its furnishings, not just the room.  (And the furnishings were nothing like what I wanted, even if the scale hadn’t been way too small.)  Eventually, I realized I was going to have to make my own in some way or another.  There was an Etsy seller I found who sold laser-cut roombox and dollhouse kits of their own design, who I thought maybe I could approach to see if they would design one to my specifications, but the thing about that is that it would be really expensive, even before you factored in shipping from the UK.  And as I was looking around for just sort of random miniature stuff (I have been keeping a file of notes on Etsy sellers who have various things I may want for the loft later on in its progress), I came across a listing for a miniature brick mold.  And at first I just jotted the seller’s name down on my list with a laughing note of “in case I want to build the whole room myself from scratch!”

But after a while I kept coming back to that idea.

Exactly the size I want.

Exactly the balcony I want.

Exactly the doors and windows I want.

And so I ended up buying the mold for 1/12 scale bricks, and from another seller some brick red mica powder, because I figured “I have all this extra resin I’m not gonna use because it was kind of no good for jewelry, and if I put it on a candle warmer it cures in about 1/8th the time.”

Here’s Leann with the results of my sole resin batch of bricks:

They look pretty good in that photo, don’t they?

This one…actually, my camera decided to focus on her bosom instead of the brick, so it’s sort of useless as a photo…

But here we get into the real nitty-gritty.  Looking at the resin bricks, you can 100% see exactly how the seller made the mold:  he 3D printed some 1/12 scale bricks and made a mold off them.  Which is fine.  Very creative of him.  Only he didn’t sand off the 3D printing lines, so they transfer perfectly to the resin.  Which, really, only makes sense.  He’s expecting people to use quick-setting cement with these molds, and I doubt that captures detail the way resin does.

Of course, it wasn’t really the lines that made me decide I couldn’t use resin for the bricks after all.  It was when I sat down and calculated that if I used resin it would take me somewhere in the neighborhood of two months to make enough bricks to create the loft.  (No, wait, actually I think that figure was just for the back wall of the loft, so the real figure would have been much higher.)

That was just not going to fly.

I tried to make myself buy a generic room box that was too small and just live with it, but since I had already bought the mold, that felt especially grievous, even more so when you consider that roombox kits are not cheap.

So I tried an experiment with the air dry clay I already had here, and found that if I defied all instructions on the package and put it on a candle warmer (don’t try this at home, kids!), then after half an hour it was just cured enough that I could demold it without ruining the bricks.  Of course, the air dry clay I had here was white, so I had to order some terracotta air dry clay to use.

This was the state of my brick-drying wax paper when I got up this morning.  (I figured I’d leave one set in the mold overnight rather than candle warmer-ing it, to get one more batch out of yesterday.)  You may notice that (apart from the white ones) the bricks are pretty much all the same color…and not really a traditional “bricky” color at that.  The Crayola terracotta air dry clay really loses a lot of its pigmentation as it dries, unfortunately.  😦  (It also leaves a lot of pigmentation all over your hands and anything else it touches!)  After I post this, I’m going to experiment with that mica powder, mixing some into enough of the clay for a couple of batches of bricks, see how that turns out.  May mix some in with the white clay, too, see how that looks.  (Which I really should have done before ordering the terracotta stuff!)  I don’t want the bricks to all be the same color, because I want an old-fashioned, hand-made brick feel.  (Since the bricks are, in fact, hand-made, they’d darn well better have a hand-made feel to them!)

Naturally, even with the air dry clay solution, this is not a short project.  I figured out exactly how many bricks I should need (measuring how high a stack of ten bricks was, and how long a row of six bricks was, then multiplying to get to the right dimensions) and figured that if I can do sixteen batches of bricks a day (two batches per hour for an eight hour day), then it would take me just under two weeks to make all the bricks I need.  Which is great, except that I was vastly overestimating just how many batches I can make.  Rather than two per hour, it’s more like three every two hours, because it turns out it takes me about fifteen minutes to empty the tray of the partially cured bricks and then fill it with more clay.  So it may take more than two weeks, a lot more, in fact, if the lockdown in my area ends at the end of the month as originally planned.  (Though it really shouldn’t, from the last I heard of the local situation.  We probably need at least two more weeks of stay-at-home to really halt the spread, and maybe even more than that.)

Of course, I already have a couple of different places I can order special mortar specifically for miniature projects, and a number of different places I can order the doors; a single door to lead to the hall of their apartment building, and a double “glass” door to lead out to their balcony.  I’ve found several places to order balcony railings, too.  As to the windows…

I’m not sure how, but somehow my search for porch railings for the miniature artist’s loft led me to the Etsy store where I bought these.  These are…I’m not sure anything about them, really.  (Not even what the seller intended them to be used for.  Scrapbooking, maybe?)  I think they’re laser cut, but the seller’s description doesn’t make that completely clear, as they’re trying to protect their intellectual property.  Whatever they are, they’re very thin and very pretty, and as I was looking at them, I was thinking how cool they’d look as stained glass windows.  So I’m going to use some resin to make them into just that.  😀  But first I have to paint them, because stained glass windows need metal in between the panes.  I tried to buy some metallic spray paint from Michael’s at the same time as the air dry clay (they have a contactless store pick-up thing right now so people have crafts to do to keep from going stir crazy), but only after I picked up my order did I get an email saying “oh, yeah, sorry, we didn’t have that spray paint you ordered so we didn’t charge you for it.”  While I’m glad they didn’t charge me, I wish they’d told me before instead of after.  Thankfully, my brother was able to pick up some for me from a different store since he needed to get some stuff for himself there.  So in a day or two I’ll have me some spray paint and can get going on making these into stained glass windows!  (I bought two packets (two per packet) of these, ostensibly in case I screwed up in my first attempts, but given how long it takes me to make these freakin’ bricks, I plan to use all four so I won’t need quite as many bricks.)

The floors, however, are a complete question mark at the moment.  I’m thinking the floor of the balcony should probably be brick (ack, more bricks!), but I don’t know what to do about the floor of the apartment itself.  (Or, for that matter, what I’ll be assembling it on.  Cardboard seems too flimsy.  Maybe balsa wood?)  The kind of loft in question would probably traditionally have a hardwood floor.  If I wasn’t building the entire room out of hand-made bricks, I’d just be like “hey, I can just get printed flooring paper that looks like wood and call it a day!”  But to match paper-for-wood floors with actual bricks (as opposed to printed bricks on paper plastered on top of a wooden wall) is going to feel really…wrong.  But if I were to try to make the floor out of popsicle sticks (or rather craft sticks that have never had quiescently frozen treats attached to them) then I would have to get my hands on all the tools needed to properly finish that flooring, and some stain, and…ack.  I’m getting hives thinking about layering all that extra work on top of all the extra work I’m already doing.  Especially since as it’s woodwork, it would need me to shell out for a lot of extra tools that I would have no good place to store when I was done.  I kind of want to make it a tiled floor, since I could make tiles out of resin (if I can find a mold and/or something I can make a mold from).  But who puts a tile floor in a cheap loft?  (Then again, who puts four stained glass windows in a cheap loft?)  Fortunately, of course, I don’t need to worry about that just yet. 😛

Anyway, as you might guess, this blog is likely to get more active again, but to be rather miniature-obsessed for a while.  I’ll try to get some posts up about dolls I’ve gotten lately in larger scales, but…with hopping up every half hour to make more bricks, I’m probably going to be pretty heavily focused on the whole miniature room thing for some time to come.

A Tiny Post

Despite all the things I should be posting right now, I am instead just going to post a little update on where I am and what I’m into right now.  Uh, apart from my usual “pretty much everything I see” situation.  (Being flighty in collecting is a real hazard when you also have the funds to pay for most small impulse purchases but not the space to display them in.  Though I realize I ought to just be counting my blessings.)

Anyway, in part because of a miniature exhibit at work, and in part because I was inspired by some fèves I found on Etsy, I have suddenly added an obsession to all my others.  But actually, let me share a few other small things first.  Specifically, a couple of fèves I got that aren’t part of the new obsession:

That little purple Mickey Mouse next to the tin dollhouse’s tin dollhouse is the new fève.  I had to get him for a very specific reason:  back in the 1960s, Marx Toys was making all sorts of plastic figures of various types, including of various Disney characters.  I saw some of these at the “Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s” traveling exhibit that was at our history museum for a while, and absolutely fell in love with the one of Tinkerbell.  Fortunately, I was able to find one on Etsy a while back that was just like her, which also came with two of the Mickey Mouse ones (though at least one of the Mickeys is actually a fake).  So this little bitty purple Mickey reminded me of those Mickeys, and I thought it would be super-cool to have something in my dollhouse that’s so close to something I really have.  (Would have been better if I could have gotten one in neon pink, but that one was sold out.)  Anyway, I added a couple of photos of the “Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s” Tinkerbell and part of a Mickey to the gallery for this post, if you want to have a look.

I’ve actually ended up getting a second tin dollhouse now (I have no impulse control) and Mickey is going to migrate to that one eventually, but it will be quite some time before I have a place to set it up, so for now he’s living in this one.

This photo here shows off how my dollhouse now has a miniature version of what might be my favorite of all the surviving ancient Greek vessels:  “Achilles binding the wound of Patroclos.”  Because I totally ship that.  (Yeah.  I really said that.)  Although I have to say that they didn’t recreate the painting quite as well as I’d have liked; there is something seriously misshapen about Patroclos’ genitals.

(Yes, I now have genitalia in my dollhouse.  But only two dimensional and very tiny.)

By the way, back in the background, near Alice, you’ll notice two more new fèves, of a most discordant scale.  The tall one is a Mycenaean figurine.  A number of these have been found and they range in size, but the ones I saw at the British Museum were…actually, I think there were some about the size of Alice there.  Maybe a bit bigger.  I think the biggest one I’ve seen in person at a museum was only in the 5″-7″ range.  The smaller fève next to it would need little introduction if you could see it well, but at that angle I’m sure you can’t recognize it.  It’s a tiny porcelain reproduction of the Etruscan-style bronze wolf that someone mutilated in the Renaissance by adding two glarpy little babies to it.  (The babies wouldn’t bother me if they were in Etruscan style instead of Renaissance style.)  Thankfully, this version only has the bronze wolf, not the babies.  But that wolf?  It’s like 30″ tall; according to Wikipedia, it’s slightly larger than life-size.  So the tiny Mycenaean figurine is huge and the large bronze is tiny.  😛

Clearly, the inhabitant(s) of the T. Cohn dollhouse is/are serious archaeology buffs. 😉  The inhabitant(s) of the Marx dollhouse are going to be more animation fans. 😀  But more on that whenever that dollhouse is actually set up in my place.

Continue reading

More of a Teaser than a Post

Because I was feeling too lousy this morning (when there was light) to finish taking the photos.  Also, I’m trying to conserve my energy today because I have to be at work tomorrow (I took a half-day Friday, and stayed home today) to help take an exhibit down.

Anyway, my final post for Black History Month this year hasn’t actually got much history to it, as it only contains dolls from last year.  But it does feature the only doll shown this month that I didn’t buy myself:

This Barbie of the X-Men character Storm was a Christmas present from my brother, one of the only times in which my doll collecting has crossed over enough with geek culture that my brother is comfortable buying something like this for me.  😛

I had seen pictures of the three Barbies being put out for Marvel’s 80th anniversary (yet for some reason only using X-Men characters, presumably because they’re the only ones that were both recognizable enough and hadn’t been made into dolls recently by…who was that, Hasbro?  Good grief, I bought like four of them, and I can’t even remember who made them?), but I hadn’t ever remembered to go looking for them to buy any of them.  I had, on seeing the pictures, said to myself that I should pick up this one.  And possibly the one of Mystique if I could find it cheap enough, because how often does one find a blue-skinned Barbie?  (Unfortunately, they’re Gamestop exclusives, as I recall, so the chances of finding one on clearance are…well, actually, Gamestop is a store I go to pretty regularly, because it’s faster than Target and more convenient than the anime store and there aren’t any toy stores anymore, so finding one on clearance is probably actually more likely at Gamestop than elsewhere, but I don’t think they were stocked in large enough quantities to ever end up on clearance, based on what I’ve seen in the stores.)

As my brother pointed out, the character illustration on the back is awesome.  (From the way he said it, I think it’s a pre-existing illustration that Mattel merely licensed, rather than a newly created one.)  I can’t imagine that I’ll bother removing her from her box, given how easily displayed she is in the box.  Plus the box shields her from dust. 😉  At some point, I should dig out the Storm doll that was made as a tie-in to the first X-Men movie and pose that doll with this one’s box. :p

Now, for the part that’s more like a teaser…

I remember seeing something about these dolls last year, in a promotional e-mail from Mattel.  (I’m not sure how I ended up on their e-mail list.  Buying directly from them, presumably.)  When I saw them at Target…sometime in January?…I kind of went overboard in picking up a full ensemble for the doll…

Unfortunately, all I have right now are the in-box shots.  😦  For that matter, I still haven’t opened the wig pack and the massive clothing pack.  The doll’s just wearing the clouds-and-blue-sky top, the rainbow trousers and the original wig.

Honestly, I was contemplating returning the wig pack, after seeing how poorly the default wig fits, but at this point I think it’s been too long.  Also I’m no longer sure where I put the receipt…

I’m going to have to come back and give this doll a proper post after I get better and can take the rest of the photos.  I also want to decide on a name and personality for them.  For that matter, I want to decide on a gender.

One of the selling points for this line is that the dolls are not gender-specific.  They’re neither designed to be girls nor boys, so their owner is free to assign them whatever identity and personality they want.

And that being the case, I don’t want to waste the built-in freedom by giving the doll a gender that conforms to the stolid male/female dichotomy.  But I’m not sure if I want to make them agender, nonbinary, gender fluid, or one of the less common gender identities.  Though I think I’m leaning towards gender fluid, since the clothing pack comes with a nice skirt, so the doll could present feminine one day and masculine another, and other days somewhere in between.

Closing with a back-of-the-box shot just because I have one.  😛

Long-delayed Report on a Kickstarter Doll

So, before I start, I did remember the 1990s doll I mentioned earlier; she’s a Bob Mackie-designed Barbie.  Unfortunately, by the time I remembered about her, I’d already gotten sick, so there’s no way I’m gonna get pictures taken before the end of the month.  I also did eventually go ahead and order that 1970s doll, but the seller’s out of town until March 2nd, so she won’t even ship ’till next month.

Anyway, the main point of this post (and it will probably be a long one) is to tell you about a doll I helped Kickstart like two years ago.  I probably posted a link to the campaign page at the time, but I’m much too lazy right now to look for the post.  The doll line is called Brains and Beauty Dolls, and the initial doll funded by the campaign is named Malia.

She’s an 18″ child doll, very much in the same vein as things like American Girl (only much prettier), which is not really the type of doll I typically collect, so my plan in backing the Kickstarter had been to take some pictures of the doll in her box when she arrived, and then promptly donate her to some local charity that would put her in the hands of a child who would benefit from the encouraging messages she can say.

The side of her box lists a few of the phrases she speaks.

Anyway, somehow or other, my plan did not end up acted upon, and she’s spent the last two years sitting in her box in my storage unit.  *sigh*

This shot of the back of the box gives you a hint of why I did not decide to donate her to charity now; the glue on the sides and top of the box had given way after all that time in storage, and the box was basically just falling open.  (I do feel guilty about it, though.  I should buy another one as Christmas approaches and donate that one to charity.)

This inner section of the box pretty much just fell out as I was lifting the box.  You can see in this picture that she’s wearing a net over her face and human hair, as well as some thin styrofoam padding around her knees to protect them from the industrial-strength zipties holding her to the box insert.  (One of the zipties was, in fact, stronger than the cardboard insert, and had ripped through the cardboard.)

Her default outfit (and the website doesn’t sell much in the way of others) is quite simple, but cute. Continue reading

Two from 1984 (or Thereabouts)

So, it took me way too long to get to this next post.  Sorry about that.  I really just seem to have lost the knack of this.  😦

Anyway, we’ll start out with the doll I’d always thought of as being from the 1970s:

Obviously, that costume does not scream out 1970s!  😛  The headset she’s wearing is an old-fashioned telephone operator’s headset.  (Which, if we’re being honest, I don’t think is a job that would have hired African-Americans in the 1950s, but…well, I dunno.  Not like I’d even been born yet.  I guess it just strikes me as the kind of job that would only have gone to people of color after the Civil Rights movement.)

In any case, this doll was actually released in conjunction with the telephone company, and I even have her box to prove it:

This box calls them “Telephone People,” but when I saw one of the others pictured on the website of the Strong Museum in New York, I’m pretty sure they called her a Bell Systems doll from the 1970s.  However…

Though the printing is a bit fuzzy (no, that’s not the focus on the photograph), you can see it clearly says 1984.

The one I saw a picture of from the Strong Museum’s collection was one of the Lineman dolls.  (Not sure which one, but I’m guessing it was one of the ones with “Bell” in the title, and that’s where the confusion (whether mine or theirs) came from!)  By the 1970s/1980s, there’s no question that African-Americans would be able to get jobs climbing telephone poles to work with the lines…but I find it unlikely that many women were getting those jobs.  (But given that all of those dolls were available in all variations, including the 1890s operator, I think this was definitely a doll line that didn’t care much about accuracy.)

And speaking of accuracy…

While I love the poodle skirt as a doll costume detail, I find it highly unlikely a telephone operator would be wearing one to work.  In fact, it seems to me that poodle skirts were more sort of a “teenager” thing.  That’s the way they’re usually represented in pop culture, anyway.  (As I said, I wasn’t born until the ’70s, so I have no way of knowing.)

This facial detail shows I’ve had her long enough for her to get dusty.  *cough*   It also shows that her face is rather generic.  I’d say these dolls are about one step away from being dress-me dolls.  Though at 15″ tall, she’s a bit larger than the typical dress-me doll.  I feel like the mouthpiece on her headset may be a little large compared to the ones I see in the movies (proportionally speaking), but those might have been the 1960s version?  (I’m trying to remember what movies I’ve actually seen them in, and sort of blanking a bit.)

The other end of the cord dangling from her headset has the little plug for the phone bank.  🙂  Unfortunately, when I got her (off Etsy), the plug had been taped to her hand with ordinary Scotch tape.  That left a rather nasty residue on both hand and plug for a while, but I think it’s finally dried out (or just thoroughly coated in dust) now.

Pretty much as soon as I saw the picture of the one in the Strong collection, I wanted to get one of my own, because how wild is that?  Telephone company tie-in dolls!  The jumpsuit for the lineman dolls was just too plain, though, so I was glad to find this one at an affordable price.  (I should admit that the lineman dolls at least had the very rare distinction of being dolls who come wearing hardhats.)

And moving on, my second doll for this post is also from 1984, but unlike this one, she’s an old friend from my childhood come back to me at last:

This is Onyx, from Galoob’s “Golden Girl” line, a She-ra competitor that actually beat She-ra to the market!  And while I never got to have She-ra’s friend Netossa in my collection as a girl (didn’t even know about her, ’cause she was introduced too late), I did have Onyx in my collection.  (You may recall me posting photos of She-ra dolls holding Onyx’s die-cast shield, in fact…)

Galoob doesn’t seem to have made these dolls as well as Mattel made the She-ra dolls, though.  She-ra dolls don’t often seem to develop problems other than the typical ones, but my previous post mentioned how the Golden Girl dolls had a tendency to lose their legs, and also to have the legs go green at the knees.  Well, turns out their faces can go green, too:

She’s got those green smears on both sides of her face.  But this close-up really brings up something that I keep wondering about.  Why in the world did so many early African-American dolls have orange eyes?  (Actually, not just African-American:  the same orange eyes often cropped up on Native American and Hawaiian dolls, too.)

This close-up on her accessories shows that while she’s got her shield and what I think is her right sword, she also is wearing a skirt that doesn’t belong to her:  it belongs to Angella, from the She-ra line.  (Which is okay, because my Angella lost her skirt ages ago.)

And one last shot, just because.  ;P

Anyway, hopefully it won’t take me so long to get to the next post.  If it continues going in chronological order…actually, it’s more like if I don’t get any new dolls (and/or can’t remember what doll I meant when I thought to myself I had a 1990s doll I could use for this series of posts) then we’ll be moving up to the late 2010s next time.

Though there’s one on Ruby Lane that actually is from the 1970s that I’ve got my eye on.  It’s just I’m trying to curb my spending a bit.  (Also I’m depressed into kind of not wanting to try anymore after someone else bought that Wee Patsy when the Ruby Red sale began this morning because it took me 15 minutes before I could get online to try to buy her.)