Say Hello to Akane!

Everyone, please say hello to Akane!

I found this little lady on a shelf at my favourite vintage shop. She’s not particularly old; she’s made of a sort of soft vinyl instead of ceramic and gofun, and seems relatively mass-produced. Nonetheless I was utterly charmed by her and knew I had to bring her home. I was drawn immediately by her bright red kimono, which inspired me to name her Akane (茜), which means deep red and is a traditional girls’ name.

Unfortunately that kimono was pretty much all she had! There was a piece of cardboard wrapped in pink satin tied around her waist like a sort of obi, and a scraggly little piece of twine in her hair, but she had no real accessories or anything, so I decided to make her some custom pieces as well as give her a bit of a glow-up. I did take photos of the whole process, but since it was done more to relax and unwind I took the photos on my phone, wherever I happened to be working so I apologise for the quality and messy background of some of these.

Her face shape is adorable, but it felt very flat due to a lack of shading. She did have some pink blush on her cheeks but aside from that, she honestly looked like a cute potato. She also had lower eyelashes but no upper ones, and nearly invisible eyebrows. Using a combination of actual cosmetics and chalk pastels I gave her some shadows and contouring, deepened the flush on her cheeks, and gave her eyelashes and more defined eyebrows. It’s a subtle change, but she’s gone from a potato to a peach. You can also see the false eri I sewed for her to give the impression of a proper under-layer.

Next up was fixing her hair. Her bangs were quite uneven, but much worse was her hair in the back. I’m not sure if someone tried to trim her hair at some point or if she was made this way, but her hair was very lopsided in the back! I straightened it out and snipped away any broken or kinked hairs I could find. Then I tucked these cute little plum blossoms Kansai_gal sent me. They’re actually from packaging or something but I like that I’ve given them a second life. Since her head is vinyl I was able to just push a straight pin through them and they’re very solidly anchored in there.

With the cosmetic aspects taken care of, I got to work giving her a proper obi. I used some scrap kimono fabric and sewed a cute little tsuke-obi, and used some of the same textured white fabric from the eri to make an obiage. The whole thing attaches with a magnet and then a length of gold cord works as an obijime. Her socks are a bit of a cheat – they’re simply two fingers off a pair of white cotton polishing gloves! They fit her more perfectly than anything I could have sewn.

I’ve never named a doll I’ve fixed up before, but none of them have captivated me nearly as much as this little girl has. All the others reside in a display cabinet but she lives on my bedside table. Maybe I should sew a little zabuton for her to sit on. XD

Never too old to play with dolls

Now we come to the last of my ridiculously indulgent birthday coordinations using items from last month’s kimono bazaar. I fell in love with this obi the moment I laid eyes on it – the dolls are just too cute for words.

The colours in it paired up perfectly with the colours in this vintage-feeling komon Naomi gave me several years back. I also happened to have a haneri and obiage that were a spot-on match for the olive green tones in the kimono. I was a little stumped when it came to the obijime until I remembered I have this one that is an exact match for the navy background and pink momiji leaves in the kimono. I couldn’t be happier by how well every item in this coordination calls back to at least one other item.

Quick note – I am in the process of changing how images are stored. I used to upload them all to my flickr account and then create linked galleries, but they are now confining free accounts and it’s a system I’ve always found a little inefficient anyway. I used to get traffic from there but I don’t any longer, so I’m going through the arduous task of downloading all my content, hosting it locally, and editing every single entry that contains images from flickr. If you’re browsing and see things broken or missing, please be patient! Thanks for understanding!

Items used in this coordination

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!