Art Gallery – Fuji Musume Doll (and repairs)

You may have seen the little souvenir doll I fixed up recently, and maybe even the ceramic hakata-style dancer I refinished, but this pretty Fuji Musume has been waiting for her moment in the spotlight since February of 2016! She had a very brief cameo on my Instagram account but has been in hiding ever since, unless you’ve been in my bedroom.

I found her in an antique shop near my house before I found the other two dolls. The owner tried to tell me she was in “perfect condition”, but once I took her out and had a good look at her I could see that absolutely was not the case. The delicate painting on her face was faded and chipped, her wisteria branch was sun-damaged and brittle, the structure under her hair was almost bleached, and there was a not insignificant crack in the bisque on the back of her neck. I managed to talk him down to a more than reasonable price for her and her glass case. I knew I wanted to restore her beauty, but I had no idea where to start, aside from the obvious things like getting her a new wisteria branch. While that was in the works, I focused on the other dolls and the things I learnt doing those two helped prepare me for more on her.

Jess from Tiaras ‘n Teakettles came to the rescue for the wisteria! I sent her photos and measurements of the original branch and she crafted this beautiful tsumami branch by hand. It’s got a lovely weight to it, the dangles flow gracefully, and it fits perfectly between her hands. I didn’t even have to glue it, it balances so well.

Once that was sorted I knew it was time to tackle the more serious issues. Her lips were lacquered in an almost glassy red that had cracked and split and faded over time. I ended up having to use Tamiya paint thinner to strip the original off properly, and then used watercolours to repaint her lips and add a tiny hint of red to her eyes. I feel like it helps breathe new life into her facial features.

Next up was the most challenging bit; repairing the cracked bisque on the back of her neck. Thankfully it was just a surface defect, not a structural one, and with the way she stands in her display case it’s virtually unnoticeable, but I knew it was there and I wanted to fix it. I tried a few different things before stumbling upon crafting chalk paint. It’s easy to find in any large craft store such as Michaels. I bought a bottle of white and mixed in the tiniest amounts of peach and brown to make it warmer and less stark. I worked in incredibly thin coats, brushing it over the crack and wiping away the excess each time, essentially filling the crack in with the chalk paint and blending the edges out with a wet brush. If you’re right next to her or looking through a camera lens you can see it faintly, but it’s nearly gone.

Finally I used a black marker to fill in the bald spots on the sides of her hairstyle, repositioned her obiage and gave her a new obijime. I felt that the original one she came with was too big in scale and to starkly white, but I found this thinner gold cord that works perfectly.

I am so glad I waited to work on her, because I know I’ve done the best job possible instead of eagerly rushing through things as I am sometimes wont to do. I love her to bits, and she occupies place of pride on a table next to my sofa now.

Also, you may be thinking to yourself “Isn’t this primarily a kimono blog? Why aren’t you posting any actual kimono lately?” and I would like to address that briefly. I’ve been feeling under the weather, and combined with the heat and humidity this summer, I have no energy to even wrestle with the mannequin. However, I do have a big project in the works, and hopefully it will make up for the sparsity and somewhat disjointed nature of the posts lately! I just need the weather to calm down a little, and the last of the pieces I’ve ordered to arrive in the mail.

Tiny Doll, Tiny Makeover

Hello! Just a quick post today. A few weeks ago, I found this charming little doll at one of the thrift stores near me. I posted a photo of her (along with the rest of my haul) on my Instagram but now that she’s had a bit of a face-lift I felt like she needed her own post.

She’s nothing fancy – maybe 4″ tall and made primarily of plastic. I assume she was a cheap souvenir or something. But I was really charmed by her, and wanted to give her a new lease of life. I was inspired by my friend Naomi, who has been rescuing dolls from thrift stores for ages now, and my friend Vi who runs The Heirloom Smith, a small custom design and restoration business.

The biggest and most obvious problem was her head; her hair was a wreck and there was a flat circle of paper glued to the crown of her head, where a hat had likely fallen off. Thankfully, she had two other hats – one in each hand! I carefully pried the hats off and put them aside, and moistened her hair so I could brush it and try to tame it down somewhat. I then soaked her hands carefully in warm water to dissolve the leftover glue and paper. However, without her hats her pose definitely looked a bit funny, and the fact that her hands, feet, and face were made of cheap yellowed plastic was very apparent. I re-posed her slightly (thankfully, her body is a wire frame so she’s relatively flexible), covered over her yellowed bits with white chalk paint, gave her a cute little umbrella to dance with, and glued one of the salvaged hats onto her head. The last step was to give her slightly more subdued facial features with watercolours over the newly-painted surface of her face. She looks very at home in the cabinet with the ceramic doll I repainted a while back. I’m so happy Ito have given both these girls a new home. Their big sister is also in the works, I hope to be posting about her sometime soon.

I didn’t take too many photos during the process, and the ones I did take were done at my desk with my phone so they’re not fantastic, but it’s still nice to see how she progressed to the final result up at the top of the page.

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!

Fun With Kimono Dolls, part 2!

I had so much fun making the first Fun With Kimono Dolls post, I decided it might be good to do it again! Here are a few more reasonably accurate kimono dress-up games for you to play with when you’re bored 🙂 Have fun!

Elouai's Candybar Dollmaker - This is NOT specifically a kimono dollmaker, there is an enormous selection of clothing, accessories, backgrounds, facial expressions, hair, etc. Sadly, no options for skin tone though. I had this doll as my avatar on the sidebar of this blog for a very long time!
Mega Yukata Creator - Lots of options for traditional-style and modern sexy style yukata here. Great selection of hair, eyes, and skintones. Sleeves and kimono construction are not totally accurate, but it's still fun. 🙂
Folk Fashion Kimono - Nice doll with a few hairstyles, and a large selection of accurate kimono and obi.
Kokeshi Maker - Not exactly kimono, but totally adorable! Make your own kokeshi by selecting base skintone, hairstyle, and outfit.
Kimono Girl - Cute dress-up game with lots of hikizuri and fun accessories. Doll base (skin, face, etc) is not customiseable.

Fun with kimono dolls!

Have you ever had the urge to make a kimono outfit or play around with coordination, but didn’t have time? Or perhaps your collection isn’t big enough and you don’t have a lot of pieces to play with? Maybe you’re just too tired, and want to do something fun and relaxing! Fear not, the internet’s come to the rescue again! There are plenty of very fun little interactive kimono dress-up dolls out there to play with.

Wabitas Simulator - Fun simulator with tons of colour and pattern options for the juban, kimono, and haori. Solid colour choices for obi, no options for obiage, obijime, or zori.
KainoaTec - Cute modern furisode simulator. You can choose the furisode, obi, obiage, obijime, date-eri, zori, and hair accessory. Hairstyle and face are not customizeable. There are also three different poses available.
DollDivine Kimono Maker - Slightly ukiyo-e stylized geisha simulator. You can choose the juban, hikizuri (long trailing kimono), haneri, and obi as well as tons of customization options for the hairstyle, face, and accessories. Plenty of skin tones, and lots of hair and eye colours, both natural and fantastic.
Yukata Girl - Modern yukataHIME style, with lots of crazy hairstyles, footwear options, three lengths of yukata, and plenty of customizable patterns you can layer for even more personalization.
Kimono Girl - Adorable chibi-style simulator, with tons of kimono options, as well as obi, obiage, obijime, footwear, and hakama! Skin tone, hair, and face options too.
Kimono Maker - Design a kimono. Choose the base colour and then choose patterns and accent colours. Doll itself (skin, hair, makeup) is fixed.

Have fun, and if you make any awesome outfits using these, please share! 🙂