Monday, August 14, 2017

Singing the Blues

When I go fabric shopping, I tend to buy neutral colors, white in particular. My thinking is that I can always dye it. This project is one more reason why that is a smart idea. Last week, I discovered a link to a textile tutorial showing a super easy way to make Shibori printed fabric. Shibori, incidently, is the Japanese technique of folding, tying, and resist dying that leaves patterns on fabric. While I've been a real fan of hippy-dippy tie dye, I do like the discipline and tranquility emanating from this blue patterned material. Once I tried a couple of the patterns, I got hooked and found this to be as much fun as using my old Polaroid camera back in the day. You prepare a little packet, drench it in the dye bath, then open it up to discover the surprise print!

What's particularly nice is that you can plan patterns scaled for the doll can make only as much as you need for a particular look.  For this exercise, I put all of my energy into making 9x9" (24x24cm) squares. Instead of making real clothes this time around, I treated my mini-samples as doll sized scarves which I draped over the bodies of my divas for fast summertime fashion. I first used cotton muslin, then ventured over to other types of washable fabric. The important thing is to select natural fibers. Traditionally, this technique is used in conjunction with Indigo, a natural dye, however, I used what I had on hand (Rit dye). Indigo, usually sold in kits, generally produces a deeper, more rich blue. If you are making lots of doll clothes (or perhaps selling them) you might consider investing in a kit. Otherwise, an ordinary dye will still produce satisfactory results. Does it have to be blue? Hey, you're the designer. It's your fabric. Use whatever color you want!!!

I started out with the intentions of doing just three patterns, and as usual, I became so fascinated by the process I had to stop myself at six so that I could write this post!
The first pattern that caught my eye was one of stripes. For this project, you will need fabric, some sort of cylindrical object (I used the metal rod of my vacuum cleaner), cotton string, fabric dye, vinegar, salt, water, rubber globes and two containers--one for the dye bath and the other for the colorfast bath.

1. Take your fabric and position it diagonally against the cylinder.
2. Roll it up.
3. Wrap the string  twice around the pole and tie. Repeat every 3/4" (18mm).
4. Then crush everything down into one compact unit.
5. Prepare your dye bath. Since I make tiny quantities, I do what I call, "tea cup" dying. In a coffee mug, pour in 1 cup of boiling water, 2 teaspoons of dye and stir.
6. Take the fabric wrapped pole and FIRST, dip it in water. (This step is important.)
7. Now submerge the pole in the hot water for about 10-15 minutes.
8. Put on rubber gloves. Remove from the dye bath. Remove the strings
9. Rinse well under warm running water and rinse until the water runs clear. In the second bowl, mix together 1 cup of water, 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Drench the fabric well, then rinse once again to make it colorfast. Dry.
This is the result!!!
Here's another classic technique.
1. Again, I began by folding my fabric back and forth accordion style.
2. Fold it into one long length.
3. Fold the corner into a triangle.
4. Fold the triangle up and over into another triangle. It's like folding a flag.
5. Continue to fold until all the fabric has been folded up. Take a piece of cardboard and cut two triangles the same size as your fabric packet. Make a sandwich with these and your fabric packet but place them so the points are opposite to those of the packet.
6. Use a clip to hold in place. (You can also use rubber bands.)
Dunk in water and proceed with the dye bath as described above.
When it is dry, here is what you get! If you want your color to be darker, leave in the dye bath longer. For my results, I left it in for about 15 minutes.

By now I was having too much fun. So I surfed the internet for a few more quick and easy patterns.

1. For this pattern, you softly gather the fabric into soft (accordion) folds, forming a long strip.
2. Once in a long strip, begin to fold the strip into accordion folds to form a small, square packet.
3. Bind the packet by wrapping string around several times in both directions. The image on the left is what this produces.
Now that you understand there are so many different ways you can take this.
Here, we simply took the fabric and scrunched it up into a ball.
Next, we wound the cotton cord, helter skelter all around it.
The result is a sort of a techno sonic space print!
Let's do one more.
1. As with an earlier pattern, I begin by folding my fabric lengthwise in accordion folds.
2. Next, I applied a variety of clips and clamps to both sides of this folded material.
3. After the dye bath is completed, the result resembles a sort of Xray of bones!!!
As you see, everywhere the clip pressed into the fabric, it kept the dye away. The result is a random patterned ethnic-print.

What I will suggest is that you make a variety of experimentations using different fabrics, dyes, maybe even colors. For this project, I've used my samples as little scarves to drape the girls' outfits. But when cut into jackets, dresses, pants and tops....they all make for a stunning collection of summer fashions!!!

All photo and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist, 2017. Please do not use without prior permission. Thank you.

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Beauty Parlor

I remember my first experience with makeup. I was 12 years old and after saving my popsicle money for a few weeks, I made my first (clandestine) purchase of a gold-toned metal tube of pink lipstick. I lied and told the clerk it was a gift for my mother. But instead, I ran back home with my then BFF, huddled under a cover and then, taking turns, colored my lips over and over again. This was pretty much the sensation I had preparing this week's post!

Last summer I held a "Spa Day" for my girls which was enormously popular. This year, we decided to do a part two with our de beaute. Truth is, I've been very curious about the art of repainting dolls especially when I discovered how some artists use watercolor pencils and chalk pastels to make up the faces!!! As a former fashion illustrator, I am very familiar with this media, I just never thought of using them on my dolls. Oh what fun! But don't get me wrong. I'll never be the next Noel Cruz. All I want to do is to change up my dolls' makeup from time to time and maybe create a few looks that better correspond to those models on today's fashion catwalks.

Take It Off, Baby

When repainting a doll, the first thing in order is removing the  existing makeup. However, one site suggested beginners start by painting over existing makeup as an initiation to the art. While practicing, I was surprised to see how well the watercolor pencils (when applied with a wet brush) covered the painted surfaces. The best part is...when you make a mistake or hate your results, you simply wipe the doll's face with a wet cloth and start over again. Just like what I do for my own makeup! Since we're working with watercolor, it doesn't mar the original paint job underneath and you could do this forever and ever without disturbing the doll's original paint job. Hence I had the idea of using this medium as, well....temporary makeup that could be changed to compliment whatever the doll is wearing or the look I want to convey.

By the way, I did paint that blank doll face from scratch. The features are already sculpted in, however, I found the difficulty lies in working tiny features of the eyes. My brushes were small enough but the slightest wrong move had me....starting all over again! Nevertheless, I did create "Ingrid," a Swedish model with a fresh scrubbed, "unmakeup" look. I just bought another Black doll head and plan to design another "fresh face." From this experience, I learned that on a regular doll face where all the features are present, it is a good idea to leave the original eyes and eyebrow in tact. For the novice they are very hard to do well!  Once word got out around the house about our makeovers,  many of my girls (especially the older Barbies and the few My Scene dolls in the house) had lined up outside of my bedroom thrilled about getting a makeover. (There are still taps on my door and droves of dolls volunteering for this post!)

Tools of the Trade
1. #2 square bristle brush. I use this to dab on "blush" or "eye shadow" using chalk pastels (#10)
2. 12/0 Fine liner "detail) brush. I use this to paint on "eye liner" or put the sparkle in the eyes.
3,4,5 These too are fine brushes I bought in a pack at my crafts store. They are 3/0, 5/0 and 10/0 brushes I used for applying "eye shadow" either wet (moistened colored pencils #11) or dry, using pastels #10). This is really a personal choice. The temptation is to use the smallest brushes on the market. But smaller isn't necessarily easy! So you want to play with this. What is important is that the brushes you buy should always be able to hold a point. Natural hair brushes will always do this better than synthetic.
6. An old makeup brush for blending the "blush" or brushing over the face.
7. Cotton balls
8. Cotton swabs for removing lip color
9. Toothpicks for removing color out of the crevices OR....for making super thin swabs to use when removing existing eye color OR as tiny brushes for applying "eyeshadow" (#10)
10. Chalk pastels. "Blush," "highlighter," or eyeshadow. A good art supply store will sell these separately or you can buy a small box of quality pastels.
11. An assortment of watercolor pencils for lipcolor, nail color, eyeshadow. For how I use them, the inexpensive work about the same as the more expensive.
12. Acrylic paint. Good for "permanent" lip color and changes to the eyes. This tends to be thick. So you'll want to use this sparingly.
13. Small container of water. And don't forget the paper towels to mop up spills or blot your brushes.
14. If you decide to remove the existing paint from your dolls' faces, nail polish remover with 100% acetone is best. HOWEVER...don't get too crazy. I've read reports warning aggressive application can dissolve the vinyl...particularly the kind used for Barbies. So use as little as possible when removing old paint.
15. This is topcoat (for nails) I use as "gloss" to give a shiny look to the lips. I use the brush that comes with it, but also a toothpick for getting it onto the edges of the lips. I've also used colored nail polish for lipstick as well.

Tweaking the Makeup

Take a bit of cotton and place it over the end of a toothpick. Twist the toothpick to wind the cotton onto the end. This makes for a very tiny point, ideal for getting rid of makeup in small areas without disturbing the rest.

I didn't like the sparkle highlighter under Barbara's eyebrows. My handmade swab dipped in acetone was perfect for cleaning up this area.

I did have a bit of a problem removing the sparkles, so I used the bare end of the toothpick to help scrape off the specks, followed by the cotton tip. I kelp working until all the glitter was removed.

For the most part, I'm pretty happy with the way my Fashion Royalty dolls are made up. But every now and again, I question the designer's choice of eye shadow. This is Morgan on the left. I love her face except for the heavy handed purple eye shadow. Again, by using a toothpick wound with a tiny bit of cotton and with acetone, I was able to remove only the area I wanted without disturbing the rest.

The Eyes Have It
The issue I have with many of the playline dolls (older Barbies in particular), is that the eyes are usually bug-eyed or too round. The dolls always look astonished! A line applied under the existing "eyeliner," at the top of the eyes, is often enough to correct the problem. By giving the doll a little more "eyeliner," what you are doing, in effect, is to relax (or lower) the eyelid as I have indicated in my sketch at the top. Start by dipping the (#10) brush in water then rub it over the watercolor pencil. Apply to the eyes. What you'll notice is that the paint is transparent which acts to embellish the original makeup by adding depth.
You can also use pastels as eyeshadow. (How much fun is that!) Take the stick of pastel and scrape off a bit onto a piece of paper. Dip the brush into this and apply to the eye area. Depending on the look you're going for, you can use the wide or the narrow tip brush. OR the toothpick/cotton swab. You can opt for either eyeliner or shadow OR combine both.

She's Blushing!
Blush, highlighter, bronzer are all applied the same way.
Scrape a bit of pastel from the stick onto a piece of paper, dab the chisel tip brush into the "powder" and apply.
Biggest tip here is to apply by dapping the color onto the cheeks as opposed to scrubbing or wiping.
What's fun here, is that you can mix colors or sculpt the cheekbones using pinks, browns and ivory pastels. (Oh this is way too much fun!)
But what we are not doing here is "sealing" our work which makes it permanent. So when you've finished, just be careful not to smudge dolly's makeup!
Lip Service
Same doll, two different makeup looks.
 There are a couple of ways to go here. For some dolls, I decided to do away with the existing color and start afresh. On the other hand, I have many dolls with lip color I'm pretty happy with. For those dolls, I applied the color over the existing lipstick. Because I want to keep the doll's existing lipcolor, I didn't apply the topcoat. You will end up with the look of matte lipstick.
1. When removing the original paint, dip the cotton swab in acetone and quickly wipe.
2. Use the tip of a toothpick dipped in acetone to remove paint from the corners of the mouth.
3. You could use nail polish, however keep in mind, it is thicker and more opaque. If you want something lighter or don't feel like buying lots of different bottles of lacquer, use watercolor pencils. Again, begin by wetting the brush then rubbing against the pencil to coat the bristles.
4. Steady your hand as you paint. Put your hand on the doll, resting the side and baby finger against the doll (red arrow). You will move the brush with the thumb and two fingers (green circle). This keeps the hand steady as you paint.
5. You want to make sure you have enough paint on the brush and that, while applying, you paint using as few strokes as possible. Should certain areas not cover well, dab the paint on carefully.

6. Allow to dry, then brush on top coat.

 This notion of "temporary" makeup as so many possibilities! Pictured with FIMO brand metallic powder. Inspiration was taken from real live model, Wang Xiao (left) for Style magazine and interpreted for my dolls Liu (center) and Helena (right).
Lashing Out
Carla in natural lashes
In spite of my dolls' insistence, I discovered that lashes don't suit everyone. They tend to "shut" the dolls eyes somewhat (making them look a bit sleepy or tipsy). So it's up to you to decide on what's best for the doll's overall look. Also worth noting, I am using the normal eyelash glue instead of craft glue. This is because I wasn't sure I wanted to make it permanent, at least not just yet. (After all this is about temporary looks that can be easily changed.) However, if you decide on permanent lashes, a craft glue that dries clear is best.
 1. Eyelashes come in a variety of styles. I started out with "natural" wispy lashes because I felt that when cut down, they would be in perfect scale with the doll. These "natural" lashes are more pricey. On the other hand, the fuller lashes on the right were only $1 which was cheap enough to allow for several mistakes and mishaps.
2. You will need to cut off about 1/4 inch (7mm) of the width of the strip. Immediately reduce the length of the lashes. (About half is okay.) It's best to angle your scissors while you're clipping to achieve a more uneven cut.
3. Instead of having to buy an eyelash curler as some folks use, I bent my lashes around the narrow point of a toothpick and held for about a minute.
4. The glue that's already on the lash is enough to help you with positioning. I place the lash from just in front of the doll's iris to the edge of either her eye or the eyeliner (already drawn on the doll). Use the tip of the toothpick and press down at each corner.
5. Trim a little more off the lashes to get the look you want.
6. If need be, here is where (using tweezers) you can remove the lashes and add a tiny dab of eyelash glue to the strip. Wait until the glue is tacky then reapply to the eyelid. With the toothpick, hold the lash in place until it sets then gently lift up the lash, again, pressing down at each end of the lash to the eye.
7. Even though there were lashes drawn on my dolls' eyelids, that's okay. It adds to the super lashy effect of the look. The best thing--if you (or her) don't like the lashes or tire of the look--simply remove them with no damage to the eyes!
I added lashes to a number of my dolls (including Barbies). It glams up the look and adds a bit of "headiness" to the face. It also "relaxes" the eyes of those dolls with wide-eyed stares.What I do like about them is how they add dimension to dolly's eyes. 
Nailed It! 
If you've ever tried to paint doll fingernails, you know how frustrating it can be to control the paint. With the watercolor pencil, it got much simpler and plus, you've got a big array of color choices!
1. Dip the point of the pencil directly into the water.
2. Apply directly on the nail portion of the fingers.
3. You can use a wet brush to smooth out the finish if necessary. Allow to dry
4. Apply a dab of top coat with the help of a toothpick.
Getting Inked

All the dolls in the house have been admiring Nichelle's tattoos, especially Radiah, her sister who just arrived. BlackKitty first floated the idea of using nail art for doll tattoos on her Facebook page, "Multicrafteral Lab." I thought that was a great idea but couldn't find any interesting designs nearby. However, on a trip to Paris, I discovered these temporary tattoos at a local craft store. (You can find suppliers online by doing a Google search for "temporary tattoos."
I chose these metallic designs which come on a sheet. You simply choose the design you want, cut it out and wet the backing.
Hold the design face down against the doll for about 20 seconds.
Though I don't expect Radiah will want to, when the time comes to remove it, a quick swipe of acetone removes everything completely.

Hair Raising Tales
For awhile now, I've been scouring the internet searching for bloggers who specialize in cutting and styling Barbie doll hair.  One of the best, in my opinion, is a young man who goes by the name "EahBoy"  (Every After High Boy). I've included a link to his YouTube videos at the end of this post. Though he works primarily with Monster High dolls, his tutorials--each one of which run for 2 minutes or less--can easily be applied to other dolls. Guided by one of EahBoy, I trim Ingrid's waist length locks. Eventually I would like to cut her hair a bit shorter, but the tutorial wisely suggests cutting a little at a time until you are happy with the length.

1. Start by wetting the hair which makes it easy to work with. You can keep a spray bottle nearby in case the hair dries before you have finished.
2. Using a rattail comb, begin by sectioning off the hair at the back of the head. Clip or pin the rest together on the top of the head.
3. Comb the hair down and clip to the desired length.
4. Once you have clipped that layer, section off more hair which will fall over the first layer. Clip this layer to line up with the under layer you just clipped.
5. Continue layer by layer until the entire head of hair has clipped. Brush the hair and clip any stray hair.
6. Brush the hair in the front and trim according to the desired look. Allow the hair to air dry.

Here's another makeover using a different doll with thicker hair.
1. I have several of this same doll, so I wanted to distinguish them, starting with the hairstyle.
2. Using the instructions above, I've trimmed her hair to the desired length.
3. Kathy came with bangs already cut, so all I needed to do was to style the rest of the hair. I decided on a modern Brigitte Bardot. I sectioned off the hair at the front, pushed it up and, using a tiny butterfly clip, I pinned it. Here are all four views of the style.

"No cut" Hairstyle
Here's another proposal from EahBoy. The idea is to give your doll a shorter hairstyle without scissors. That's perfect because dolls hair does not grow back when you cut it. So instead of clipping Jourdan's long, lovely locks, I decided to give her a trompe l'oeil dramatic 'do.
1. Comb the doll's straight up.
2. Tie into a pony tail high on the head. I prefer to use twist ties instead of rubber bands. It's easy to remove it later and doesn't get tangled in her hair.
3. Take out a small lock of hair and wrap around the twist tie at the base of the pony tail.
4. Brush all around  the head.
You can add a scarf or, in this case, a length of beads to the base of the style for added glamour. I like this look a lot!

Easy Curlz
I've done boil perms with pipe cleaners and with braids. Unfortunately, the dolls that suffered through this all ended up resembling the bride of Frankenstein. Especially since we're talking style, I want soft, loose curls. After trying a few different methods, I returned to the way my mother curled my hair when I was a small child.....with twisted paper (grocery) bags! Craft paper is good because it won't fall apart throughout the process. For Apple, my resident My Scene doll, I cut 1-1/2x5 inch (39x127mm) strips, fold them lengthwise and twist.
1. Wet the hair slightly so that it's easy to work with. Starting at the back of the head, section off each lock and wind the hair around the paper twist.
2. Roll up to the scalp then tie.
3. Continue along the neckline, then proceed to the next layer.
4. Continue until all the hair has been rolled.
5. Prepare two small bowls of water. One should have boiling water and the other cold. Dip the doll's hair in the boiling water and leave in for about 10-15 seconds.
6. Remove from the hot water and immediately dunk into the cold water.
7. Towel dry.
8. Allow the hair to air dry. Inasmuch as it's summer, I sat Apple outside in the sun to speed up the process.
9. When the paper twists are dry, the hair is pretty much dry as well. Untie the twists and remove.
10. Instead of using a comb, I used my fingers to loosen up the curls.
11. The result is just as I remember my own hair when mom removed the paper twists. Apple's hair is soft and shiny. Her curls are soft and lovely.

Barber Shop
My fellas got into the act this year.  I discovered flocking on Phyllis's blog, A Day In the Life of My Dolls, after she flocked a couple of her dolls, I've been wanting to try this technique for quite awhile. I really hate those molded plastic hairdos Mattel is now putting on their Ken dolls. So I decided to flock a play line Ken because---I like the look of real hair!

Here's my guy in his original state.
1. I decided to make my own flocking. I had some hair left over from a wig making project. I cut it into very tiny pieces onto a sheet of waxed paper.

2. I slathered on a layer of ModPodge all over the doll's head.

3. Next, I sprinkled, then patted on the flocking. You can allow this to dry and add another layer of glue and flocking.

When it's all done, here is what my guy looks like. It's not the "clean cut guy" with the Weatherman style haircut, but instead, a beach boy with wind blown hair!

On a doll with a short cut, like Larry here, the everything looks very natural!

And while we're at it.... The problem with Ken dolls is that they are all clean shaven. I don't really like bushy beards on dolls, so I created something more natural looking. I used a dark brown watercolor pencil and wet brush to add a bit of stubble to Larry's face. This is quite easy. You simply dab the brush to make a series of specks above the lip line and on the chin! I also filled in his eyebrow line for a thicker brow.

Dolly Hair Stylists:


There are plenty tutorials on styling dolly hair if you know where to look.

Every After High Boy has numerous tutorials including:
How to Cut a Short Bob
How to Curl Short Hair
How to Cut Layers

"MakingKidsToys" has explored nearly every the A-list pop star and trendy urban hairdo on the planet. She has replicated the signature hairstyles of Ariana Grande, Rihanna and Taylor Swift, just to name a few for Barbie. Especially good site for those of you in search of "younger" edgy, dolly 'dos.

On her, A Day in the Life of My Dolls, Phyllis provided link for flocking: Chrystal Desilva's tutorial can be found by clicking HERE

Long before Mattel came out with cornrows Ken, our friend Muff of Hey, It's Muff, did her own tutorial on this hairstyle with a post entitled, "Flock Yo Cornrows. You can find it by clicking HERE

On your mark. Get ready. Makeovers for everybody!!!!

Except where indicated, all photo and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist, 2017. Please do not use without prior permission. Thank you.

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