DIY Doll Makeover

I found this precious little gal at the thrift store a few weeks ago. She’s not particularly old or valuable, but something about her spoke to me. Her previous owners had slathered her in acrylic craft paint, and it was doing her no justice. I knew I wanted to make her look a bit like a Hakata doll, I just wasn’t sure how I’d go about that. It took a bit of experimentation, but I’m really happy with the end result.

Here she is exactly as I brought her home. Thick, streaky acrylic craft paint hid most of the details of her sweet little face, and the colours on her just weren’t to my taste.


So I stripped her down to bare porcelain with some 100% acetone, and gave her two very thin coats of matte white primer. She could have looked absolutely gorgeous all in white, but parts of her were in rough shape, no matter how much sanding and spraying I did, so I went ahead with my initial plan of colouring her. I tried several different types of paint (fine acrylics, watercolours, etc) but nothing was setting properly. Then I gave my alcohol-based markers a shot, and knew I’d found my solution.

 

The markers did a lovely job of covering her without making her feel heavy. The black marker I used on her hair has a brush tip, and I love the texture it gave her. I also used metallic paint pens to add a bit of depth and texture to her obi and the little flowers that were sculpted in relief on the kimono. I left her eyes closed, I think it gives her a pensive, focused expression. A young lady caught up in her dance.


She may not be perfect, but she’s entirely mine and I’m completely in love with her!

Art Gallery – Steven Universe Wafuku

And now for something a little different. A while back, I posted my watercolour style fanart of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson from BBC’s Sherlock dressed in Meiji-era wafuku. Recently, I’ve become hooked on Steven Universe, which is an utterly adorable and uplifting cartoon. I thought it might be fun to draw the main characters from the show in more modern wafuku. They were super fun to draw! I tried to convey aspects of each character in their outfits, but hopefully even if you’re not familiar with the show you can appreciate them. :)

Steven’s wearing a jinbei, featuring a motif of Cookie Cat, the mascot from his favourite snack. Jinbei are very casual cotton two-piece outfits. Adults will generally only wear them around the house, but it’s not uncommon to see younger kids wearing fun print ones to summer festivals and whatnot. I thought the cute, comfortable, slightly juvenile style would fit Steven well.

Connie’s wearing a yukata, which is about a step up formality-wise from a jinbei, but still very relaxed. The two of them could easily be going to a festival or hanging out at the beach. The music note motif is actually the viola sheet music for Do it for Her/Him, which is a song from one of the best episodes featuring Connie.

Pearl has on a fairly traditional semi-formal kimono, featuring a design of her favourite tree around the hem. It’s elegant and a little rigid, just like Pearl, but wearing flats instead of zori and a coloured collar are a little unconvetional, also just like Pearl.

Garnet’s outfit is retro and funky, just like Garnet. The bold pattern and longer sleeves are inspired by Taisho-era style, and she’s got on a shigoki obi under her regular obi for a bit of added brightness.

Amethyst is the youngest and the boldest, so I figured a bright fun coming-of-age furisode outfit would be the most appropriate.

Jasper is all about the big bold drama. She’s in a masculine-styled outfit inspired by the White Lion role in traditional kabuki. With that hair, how could I not? ;)

Peridot’s outfit is staid and practical and geometric, a relatively casual komon kimono with a coordinating haori. (Note that I drew these before the most recent episodes of the show, before her loyalties started to shift).

Lapis, with all her lovely song and fluid movement, is wearing a trailing hikizuri, or dance kimono. They are often worn by geisha, but all other manner of performers as well.

There are star accents on all the Crystal Gems and yellow diamond accents on all the Homeworld Gems, too. Their normal in-show costumes feature these motifs as a subtle visual cue about what “side” they’re on, and I wanted to carry that through in a way that still fit with the rest of the artwork.

Kimmidolls – A modern take on a Japanese classic

If you’re reading this blog, odds are high that you’ve got at least a passing familiarity with kokeshi dolls. They are one of the most easily recogniseable traditional Japanese art forms. The simple little dolls, with their smooth bodies and big round heads, are naive and charming, while maintaining that quintessential clean-lined aesthetic.

As you may already know, I work in a toy store and love hoarding collecting action figures and art vinyl toys. So imagine how thrilled to bits I was when I came across Kimmidolls. They are made in Australia, and remain true to the spirit and aesthetic of traditional kokeshi while also reflecting modern aesthetics and collecting. While they all have the same smooth body and blunt bob hairstyle, each doll has a unique facial expression and kimono. Rather than being carved of wood, they are made of a heavy and durable stone resin. They are all individually named, and each doll represents a positive emotion or personality trait. They are incredibly adorable and appeal to both my kimono fascination and my urge to collect things. There are four sizes, from the tiny key-chain models to the limited-edition extra-large ones, often decorated with Swarovski crystals.

My collection is small, but I only discovered these beauties late last year.

 

 

I’ve got a wishlist, and hope to keep my collection growing. They’re an affordable little indulgence, especially when I am too broke and too big to wear kimono as frequently as I’d like to.

Kimmidolls can be found frequently in Australia, Asia, and Europe, but may also be available in smaller art/collectibles shops in North America, and are easily available from online retailers such as Tokyo Otaku Mode, Chesterton Manor, City Lights Collectibles, and eBay. There is also the Kimmidoll International fanpage on Facebook, where they engage with fans and post about upcoming collections. And if you are lucky enough to find yourself at Walt Disney World, the Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Japanese Pavilion at Epcot has a huge selection. It’s where I got Airi and Chikako.

I purchased this item myself and chose to review it. I received this item as a gift.

Art Gallery – Chibi Kokeshi

This adorable little kokeshi doll is by Linda Kentie of Oranda Kitsuke. Several years ago, she was creating these precious little gifts for facebook friends whenever their birthdays rolled around. I’ve been meaning to share mine for years, and I finally remembered to do so! She did a wonderful job of re-recreating my first-ever kimono outfit. She also knows how much I love all things cephalopod and included the sweet little pink octopus on my head! I love this art so much. <3