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!

Soft spring outfit

So my health is still a bit wobbly and on top of everything else I have a terrible cold, but I’d been itching to attempt the kamifusen (paper balloon) musubi and figured this sweet pussy-willow unlined komon I bought in NYC a few years back would be a great way to coordinate a pretty little casual spring ensemble.

I followed this great tutorial from Bangasa Kimono on youtube. Because the obi I chose to work with is incredibly slippery I ended up needing a hand from my eternally patient father, but we got it looking adorable in the end. Because the obi is quite long, the “bow” portion under the “balloon” portion ended up very wide, which I think makes it even cuter! I also love the pink and blue willow buds on the kimono, and chose to accent them with pink and blue in the accessories. I know I use this blue and pink haneri an awful lot, but it just works so well with so many of my coordinations! The obijime is pale pink on the solid side and blue, brown, and white on the other. I’d forgotten than I had it, but I don’t think I could have found a better one to tie all the colours in the outfit together.

Happy Hina-matsuri!

Today is 雛祭り or Hina-matsuri! Literally translated as doll festival, it’s also referred to as Dolls Day or Girls Day. Dolls representing the Emperor and Empress (and, should you have the space and budget, also members of the court) are set out on a display and people pray for the happiness and health of any girls in the household.

Originally, I had planned to do a coordination on Tsukiko, something girly and pastel and princessy, but that idea got a bit derailed today. I might give it a shot tomorrow.

Instead, I remembered I had a new kimono doll post in the works, and figured what better day to finish it up and post it than today? These kimono dolls posts continue to be some of the most popular features on this blog if my back-end statistics are to be believed. I’m glad people enjoy them as much as I do. Especially with my health issues, and living in a country where it can go from -40 to +40 in the span of a few months, these dolls give me a way to enjoy coordinating and experimenting with kimono in a way nothing else can. Kimono and wafuku continue to grow in popularity and their presence is becoming more and more mainstream, which means lots of fun new dolls to play with! Here are a few recent ones I’ve found and particularly enjoyed.

cde-seikoSeiko Dressup - A very cute, chibi-style doll with lots of wardrobe options. She's got a selection of traditional and hime-style outfits, and the option to mix and match top and bottom halves. There are accessories to play with and you can change her makeup, but the doll base is fixed.
cherry bloom girlCherry Bloom Girl - A fairly decent selection of kimono, obi, accessories, and hairstyles. However, not all accessories fit with all hairstyles, and not all obi fit with all kimono. Still quite pretty and fun to play with though.
coupleRoyal Couple - Cute graphics, and lots of pretty options for the Empress, but I feel like the Emperor was an afterthought. He's got way less options, and most of his outfits feel more like yukata than courtly wardrobe, so there's a bit of a disconnect when the two are together.
japanese girlJapanese Girl - Despite the name, the doll in this game doesn't strike me as very Japanese-looking. She's pretty though. There are a few hairstyles to choose from, and ten kimono. However, the kimono and obi are connected, so there's not a huge amount of mix-and-matching here.
kitcuteKit the Kimono Designer - This is one of the best new kimono dress-up/creator games I've seen in a long time. It's got a very sweet hand-drawn art style and a ton of customisation! You can customise all aspects of the doll base and then create hundreds of possible kimono variations by mixing a huge selection of colours and patterns. Be careful with this one; it would be very easy to lose track of time while playing with it!

I also made my own origami Obina (emperor) and Mebina (empress) origami dolls. You may have seen them already if you follow me on Instagram, but here is a better photo.

hina

Heart Obijime Knot Tutorial

Recently, someone posted a photo of this adorable heart-shaped obijime knot in a Facebook group I’m in. I fell in love and decided I would figure out how to tie it, and it’s surprisingly simple! It works best with a slightly longer than average round obijime. The one I used has contrasting colours which looks very sweet and also makes the tutorial easier to follow, I hope.

Step 1 – Begin with a standard obijime knot (if you occasionally have trouble with this, don’t fret! A lot of folks do. This tutorial is a great place to start).
Step 2 – With the long ends of the obijime coming out of the top of the knot, tuck them down behind the cord around your waist.
Step 3 – Make loops with the long ends and bring them back up behind the central knot.
Step 4 – Bring the long tails in front of the obiime and through the loops made in Step 3.
Step 5 – Tighten and adjust the loops and tails as need be until everything is nice and snug and in the right shape. Cross the tassels over each other, and voila! A sweet heart knot, perfect for Valentine’s Day!

I hope that was easy for you to follow. If you try this knot, I would love to see it. Please feel free to post photos or links in the comments. ♥

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.