Briar Beauty: A rose among the thorns

In my previous post, I wrote about how I bought the “Spring Unsprung”Briar Beauty in a bit of a rough shape and did my best to restore her to former glory. Even though ‘spring’ is far, far away, I wanted to celebrate with a floral photo shoot for her. Luckily, the local rose garden is still in bloom…

I never tire of expressing my surprise at how short summer always is, and with it, how fleeting the ‘neutral’ natural photo scenery is – blue skies, green grass… no autumn leaves. The latter have already been flying around, but luckily, not so much among the rose bushes.

Only the grass was never very green this summer due to intense heat… It shows sometimes in the background.

Nonetheless, this indeed turned out to be the prefect location for Briar, with so many varieties of beautiful roses. I suppose it’s not the most original of ideas, but I have no regrets about this. This is where she belongs πŸ™‚

In case you missed my last post, I had to replace Briar’s necklace with a homemade substitute. I also chose to add some detail to her other accessories. I usually prefer to err on the side of simplicity, but this doll is over the top in all the best ways and pulls it off.

I really like what they did with her dress. It’s mostly shades of pink, but the richness of forms makes it look so elaborate. The bubble-type skirt is perky with volume, the train flows delicately and majestically. The only contrasting part, the black and white skirt, looks very stark to me, but in a good way, making the design more mature.

Black and white elements seem to be the uniting element between all the Spring Unsprung dolls. I am also quite partial to Cerise‘s birch-like leggings.

Wow, was this really designed with children in mind? I wonder if they were able to appreciate the unusual styles. I know that I as a child mostly liked bright pink, glitter and opalescence. But, even if today’s kids are similar to past me in this regard, I believe that exposing them young to something different but beautiful can plant a seed and expand one’s tastes.

This was fun – no sewing necessary, and still so much enjoyment. SummingΒ  up, it may not be too late to get some sunshine and spring-like views, and it may not be too late to find yourself at least a second-hand doll from the “Spring Unsprung” collection. I’d hate to tempt, but I highly recommend πŸ™‚

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Fixing Up “Spring Unsprung” Briar Beauty

Recently I was shopping online for a certain Ever After High character – more about her another time… The seller also happened to have another doll available. Briar Beauty from the “Spring Unsprung” line. I had never considered buying this doll before, but at a good price and just one shipping cost for two items, I thought, why not. This is how people run out of shelf space…

What I did not notice in the photo was that she was somewhat beat up…

  • she was dirty and musty all over, there was a stain on her dress

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  • the paint on her lips and her flower crown had partially rubbed off

  • some of the hairs had been ripped out of her colourful strands in the front

  • the rest of her hair looked fine too me, but it desperately needed washing, which meant that the style would be lost

She was also missing her necklace – that part I had noticed before the purchase – and her handbag looked like someone nibbled at one of its corners πŸ˜€ I was fully aware I was buying a used doll, but from photo online – taken from afar, I thought it was a used doll coming from a collector, but clearly not.

First of all, I gave her a bath and boil-washed her hair. Next, I put the straw curlers in. I followed the advice from this video by JLantis: https://youtu.be/TTi95Z96VG4 .

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After it dried for two days, I took the straws out.

Before:

After:

I borrowed my husband’s paints (with permission :)) which he uses to paint his Warhammer and Warmashine minatures and I touched up the dolls’ lips and headdress. I even decided to add in some more detail.

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A mixture of the colours “Sanguine Base” and “Sanguine Highlight” happened to match her lips perfectly!

Before:

After:

I also trimmed her ripped hairs as low as I could.

Even though there was nothing wrong with her shoes, I went on a painting spree and coloured in some details there as well.

Before:

After:

As for her necklace, I did not feel like I would be able to recreate the original one, neither did I feel the need to. I took a polymer clay rose, shaded it with the above-mentioned colours and glued it to a ribbon, creating a choker of sorts. It simply ties around her neck.

The final result:

Spending some time working on this doll has helped me really appreciate her. Not long ago I barely remembered a doll like this existed and I never felt the need to own her, but now I am so impressed by her rich, extravagant design. This doll has helped me to remember and re-experience a better era of Ever After High, so I too don’t mind helping her shine again.

 

More photos of Briar coming soon πŸ™‚

Bug Catcher Holly

17 Bug Catcher Holly

It’s been a while since I did a craft and photo project centered around an Ever After High doll, but I’m happy to say that this unfortunate streak ends here. This is “Bug Catcher Holly” – the result of combining two of my hobbies – Pokemon and dolls – in one.

Bug Catcher Holly

This outfit and the overall theme were inspired by the Bug Catcher trainer class in the Pokemon games. My ambitious plan was to make a few dolls representing Pokemon trainers of different types. They could even have a Pokemon battle! Will that idea come to fruition? I don’t know know yet, but I would still like it to happen.

To be honest, I started working on some clothes and propsover a year ago, did most of the work and yet never finished them in time – before the summer was over. Like these overalls and the hat. They were lying for months in a box, a few stitches from completion.

I made them according to the instructions by My Froggy Stuff – this video https://youtu.be/Hdh6EU-xTYU . The hat was also based on her idea – it’s a no-saw, no-crochet recipe https://youtu.be/dRtNGwsAp5c

The original game sprite shows a top and shorts, but overalls are so much cuter on dolls πŸ™‚

The shoes that Holly is wearing came from the original Abbey Bominable doll. I don’t own her, but I bought the shoes separately, looking for something sporty for my dolls. As for the bug net, it was my own invention. I’m planning to describe the process in a separate post.

The Pokemon I used for these photos were also made by me. I decided to go with Butterfree and Weedle. These are not, by any stretch of imagination, exciting Pokemon. These are the common ‘rats’ nobody wants. However, design-wise, I think they are cute, quintessential bugs, with and added bonus… they were easy to sculpt πŸ˜‰

Not meta but pretty ❀

They are generally sculpted from homemade clay, but Butterfree’s wings and feet are felt. I painted on the design with acrylic paint. The white mouthparts were cut from craft paint. Now, the antennae are a curious case. I needed thin wire. I cut open an old charging cable and it had a thin wire covered in black casing – just what I needed πŸ™‚ I dipped the ends in paint to create the tear-shaped ends. They are poseable.

Now, Weedle is certainly no one’s favourite. However, sculpting it from clay, I rediscovered its design anew! Yes, it’s weak and painfully common in the game, but design wise, it’s actually quite brilliant. Almost every part of it is a sphere – or a bead, if you will – except for the stinger and the horn, which are still quite simple shapes. You could say it has a geometrical rhythm to it. And guess what – it’s original, Japanese name transcribes to Beedle πŸ™‚

While it was easy to shape, the figures were looking quite fragile in the process of sculpting, so I gave them both paperclip ‘skeletons’. In Weedle’s case, I had trouble shaping its tiny legs, so I used… coriander seeds πŸ˜€ The paint stuck to them surprisingly well. Finally, I covered the figures in varnish. For Weedle, I used an extra thick layer, so as to ‘swamp’ all the tiny elements and make them extra secure.

The Pokeballs were also made from cornstarch and baking soda clay, and the little carrier is a basically a little paper box with a clear plastic front.

 

For the first time ever, I used a fake grass mat – even though I took the photos outside. It can’t be me alone who noticed that real grass is always to high and too sparse for dolls 😦 Moss is great, but is a rarer find. I resorted to this solution, and it looks very good – except now I have to bring my grass with me πŸ™‚

I almost forgot to mention the small bushes in the background. They help to mask the sharp, unnaturally straight edge of the grass mat. I sculpted them from a sponge and painted them shades of green, a method borrowed from the modelling community. The miniatures and dioramas kind of modelling.

It took me a year of stalling, many days of active crafting and a surprising two hours of ‘photographery’ to put all of this together, but I’m pleased it finally happened. I don’t know if anyone out there shares my enthusiast for this mixed theme, but I hope you can enjoy the photos nonetheless πŸ™‚

Mountain trip with Cerise Hood

Is it really almost spring? With the past two weeks having been freakishly cold (around -10Β°C/14ΒΊF) I barely noticed. It was also about two weeks ago that I made a short trip to the mountains that was indeed very wintery in character. I better get to reporting without any more delay πŸ™‚

Of course, this will involve a doll…

OK, so I am pretty passionate about dolls, but the trip wasn’t about doll photography exclusively. You see, I love winter, skiing and snow, but there is rarely an opportunity to enjoy any of the above in the city (even though we do have an artificial ski slope in the area, and even despite the cold, it’s not the same without natural snow). I was delighted when my family offered to take me along for a short skiing trip. Even though it only lasted two days, I still greatly enjoyed the rare chance to feast my eyes on snowy landscape.

The above photos were taken on the first day. This location was especially picturesque, and the weather was wonderful. Unfortunately, I did not bring Cerise on that day, and the next day we went to a different spot, and the weather was quite different. It wasn’t quite as magical, but I did my best to get the best out of it. To be fair, backdrop options are still plentiful for a doll so small in a world so big.

I made her coat just before leaving using the free coat pattern from BFashions, except I gave mine a hood and white trim. The idea for it was born thanks to the felt that it was to be made from – as soon as I saw it at the craft store, I imagined a doll sized, sheep-skin-inspired winter coat. And Cerise seemed to me like the right character to brave the cold and climb the mountains.

I attached the faux fur to the edge of the hood using fabric glue, but now I regret it. It made it stiff.Β  I chose to make a slit in the back to let her hair out. It’s an odd feature, but it works on this scale.

The day that the photos were taken, the doll was in my backpack all afternoon while I was skiing. I was worried about falling and breaking her (and the camera), so covered her in bubble wrap. Luckily, in the end, there weren’t any such dangerous moment at all πŸ™‚

These two are my favourite photos of the day:

I keep saying it, and I will say it again – I am not happy with the colour balance that comes out of my current Panasonic camera. I do try to adjust it in the camera and in GIMP, but it only makes things look even weirder. It’s especially stark in this post, compared to my old Fuji camera, as seen in the landscapes (although in this case the weather played a role as well). I don’t normally use the old one any more because it has far fewer options and its buttons have been used to death and barely respond, but I do miss the colours. I had another Fuji in-between the two, the infamous XF1. After two of it – the original purchase and the replacement – died to the same defectΒ (“lens control error”) year after year I decided to sulkily part ways with Fuji. I loved it otherwise.

If it wasn’t for the unexpected adventure, I wouldn’t have had a chance to take any photos out in the real snow, and it would be a real shame. Even so, I still have a brand new winter outfit for Animators’ dolls that I made that likely won’t see any use this year. I do love a proper, snowy winter, so I hope the next year will be more up to my standards, even in the city.

OK, now I better start thinking about something nice for Easter, spring and general sunshine.

EAH “Birthday Ball” Cedar Wood: a review

Between procrastination, a very long cold, and terrible, snowless weather outside, the past weeks haven’t been a very good time for crafts and photos for me. However, the winter season is the best time of the year when it comes to expanding my doll collection! It’s of course because of Christmas, but also my birthday. Quite appropriately, “Birthday Ball” Cedar Wood was my birthday present this year πŸ™‚

Even though Cedar is one of my favourite characters in the EAH webisodes, I never seriously considered buying her doll before. But recently I went through a phase of fascination with 80’s and 90’s Barbie reviews, and suddenly, I began to miss all the sweetness, tackiness, all the tinsel, glitter and iridescent fabrics. The Birthday Ball line marries some of this Barbie-like magic with my favourite doll brand, and I found Cedar to be the sweetest of them all πŸ™‚

This line isn’t exactly new. But it certainly is something different! All the featured characters – attending an unspecified birthday ball – have pastel coloured hair and dressed inspired by desserts. Some of them, Cedar included, are also scented like their treats.

I wasn’t sold on the scent at first. Cedar is supposed to smell like an orange pastry, but it smells more like artificial vanilla to me. While still in the box, the scent was also quite overpowering, but after the doll has been taken out and aired out it’s become much more agreeable.

The packaging and the art is adorable!

Unfortunately, I already have a complaint. Every other of these dolls that I saw online or in reviews had a stand attached and visible in the box. My seller also used a photo featuring a stand, but the box comes with none attached 😦 I thought my box had been broken into and looted, but no. It isn’t even listed in the contents (and they also are). It’s a shame, I was looking forward to another doll standΒ  😦 I didn’t even realise this model was available in a variant without one.

I decided to keep the purchase, though. The doll herself doesn’t disappoint, and it would be a shame to have to part:

She is wearing an elaborate one-piece dress made from two fabrics, in pink and violet. I especially love the glittery, princess-like peplum… thingy (I have gone through an entire glossary of tailoring terms and I still don’t know what to call it). The hemline is scalloped, perhaps to look like a cupcake. Unfortunately, it isn’t hemmed, but it’s holding up for now.

There is also a removable belt and a necklace, both gold and decorated with a bow. The necklace is sculpted and painted very neatly (although the gems could use a bit of colour too).

Her shoes were definitely a positive for me!

I love the general shape, they are smart and fancy. They are certainly whimsical with, again, icing-like designs and little cupcakes in the front, but I am very glad that they still look like actual shoes that a human being could wear (some Ever after High and Monster High ones barely do). I feel like they can be used with many other outfits, perhaps as long as you don’t zoom in on the cupcakes too too much. They also look very neatly made.

Cedar’s handbag looks like a present. Or perhaps it really is meant to be a present box, as simple as that. It is made from two separate pieces of plastic, but it does not open. It is sculpted to have a wood grain surface with some frills on the front and back. Very cute.

Now for the doll’s face. Since she is the future Pinoccio, she has sculpted wood pattern on her forehead and her lips have her signature two-tone look.Β There is some pearlescent highlighter above her eyes. The pink lip colour and violet eyeshadow match her outfit, and seem to overall suit her.

Her hair is amazing! Certainly, it is a little on the tacky side, but how fun πŸ™‚ It looks like it has layers.

The colour is gorgeous. It is neon-pastel-coral – or perhaps salmon – with pink streaks. The streaks aren’t readily visible, but they add to the overall richness.

In the front, there is a short braid – reminiscent of her signature doll – and, of course, there is some tinsel magic. The strands of tinsel look like they have little shiny dots, but in reality, these are just shines on the facets created by the twists in the tinsel.

Cedar wears a bow headband in a light pink colour. I understand the design on the bow’s ‘body’ to be modelled after the decorative texturing on the sides of a frosted cake – but it is quite abstract. The middle piece is like a stick with two acorns, a chain of three links and three leaves hanging off it. It sounds a little odd, but I think it is to be understood as a reminder of Cedar’s connection with… wood. I can only argue any of the above interpretations based on the general themes of ‘Pinoccio’ and ‘sweet birthday treats’.

Some reviewers shy away from showing naked dolls, but if you’re not going to admire this doll’s sculpt, you’re missing out:

The light caught in her wood grain texture looks quite beautiful. This is my first Cedar and I’m glad to now have such a unique looking doll in the collection. Her limbs are also different in that she has faux wooden screws or hinges in her knees and elbows, but her actual joint mechanism and range of articulation are as usual in the line.

Not only is this doll unique among other characters, she is also especially sweet in this particular release. Her colours, her frills, glitter and tinsel make my inner 90’s child very happy πŸ™‚ Despite the decorations being dangerously far to the tacky side, I feel like the overall design gets away with it’s sweetness, because from the very beginning we know it’s all a part of a convention – the theme of a fairytale birthday party bursting with magical desserts.

The doll is very well made – there are no upsetting defects (there often are), the paint details are neat, the clothing is nice and elaborate. My only complaint is the unexpected lack of a stand – I swear, most releases of this very doll contain one!

Finally, I have to admit that for craft purposes she isn’t very customisable. No matter what I dress her in, she will always look like a magical wooden puppet with a crazy hair colour and tinsel. Well, at least I love her this way πŸ™‚

If you, like me, like something sweet from time to time, this doll and her friends from the “Birthday Ball” line are an excellent excuse to take a trip to the slightly better days of Ever After High.

EAH “Epic Winter” Apple White: a review

I love winter. I also love Ever After High. So when the “Epic Winter” line was released, I was ecstatic. What is more, it so happened that this was the first EAH line released after I started collecting – my first opportunity to look forward to new dolls along with other fans and collectors.

It was Apple that impressed me the most with her bright and fresh face, but I was on the fence because of the irremovable tights. This year again, as the winter season came around, the theme grew more and more appealing and I finally gave into this Apple’s charm.

All the dolls in the line came packaged in largely see-through boxes resembling blocks of ice. Pretty cool, no pun intended:

What you see here is pretty much what you get. There is no hidden compartment with a stand. It was the first time a major, deluxe release did not include one of those.

When I look at the product shots in the back, I get a strong feeling that the omission of a stand wasn’t the only deviation from the initial design and plan:

The dolls in the photo have extra jewellery and, perhaps more strikingly, still have their pre-reboot faces. Did the changes arrive so quickly there was no time to update the tell-tale packaging? How did they not know they would be altering their faces long ahead of time?

Also for the first time ever, the actual doll is cuter than the art – although that’s my subjective opinion:

I could swear they use the same drawing with every Apple White doll – unfortunately so, because her face is strangely far away from her neck. Only the rest of the body gets re-drawn.

But the actual doll looks so sweet and it’s all that matters πŸ™‚

Her face has many of the same colours as the signature (which I don’t own) when it comes to her features and her make-up, but the expression is very different. I do have a “Getting Fairest” Apple to compare, though:

"Getting Fairest" Apple White and "Epic Winter" Apple White

I’d say that the original looks more artistic when it comes to her face-paint, but the newer one looks more friendly. I’d also say that the re-boot sculpt captures Apple’s character as we know her from the series better – she is almost always positive and enthusiastic.

I am perhaps slightly bothered by the violet-purple line inside her eyes, under the eyelids. Actually, it turns out both versions have it, but it seems more obvious with the new release. Nonetheless, I think her face is overall adorable.

…mostly because she looks so frickin’ happy!

Even though, for me, the “Epic Winter” line marks the beginning of a decline in quality, in this case, the changes did not affect her articulation, so both her and me have reasons to feel happy.

Let’s talk about her outfit. It is a one-piece hybrid between a dress and a coat with someΒ  fur accents. It’s more pink than red this time around (red being her signature colour).

The main theme seems to be ice-crystals and snowflakes, with a personal touch in the form of Apples:

The odd part is that when you remove the belt (shaped like golden icicles?) it reveals a plain white band. It’s a shame, since I’m not a fan of the accessory and was intending to remove it, but now it has to stay on, I guess.

On the positive side, the outfit is made of three different types of fabric: satin/polyester, faux-fur and faux-leather. I think it makes it look interesting and more complete:

I’m also wondering if I would be able to separate the dress into a skirt and a separate jacket, but right now she feels too new for such a risky undertaking.

Part of the reason why I decided in favour of Apple and not Blondie (who is also cute and doesn’t have moulded tights) is that I really like her boots…

At first I noticed that hers looked the only boots in the line that didn’t resemble ice crystals. Later I realised that she wasn’t actually exempt from the theme: she too is wearing ice-boots, judging by the heels, but she is just wearing knit leg-warmers over them. I wish there were no crystals involved at all – I am a big fan of more ‘normal’ looking shoes – but since they generally look like super-cute sweater boots anyway, I am satisfied. These are perfect for Christmas outfits.

Then there is the head band. It’s all sculpted plastic, but it still looks sweet and cozy. The details on the band look like beads and snowflakes. Out of the box, it comes attached to the doll’s head. I still haven’t removed the tabs and bands from mine.

She comes with a solid piece of slightly see-through, glittery plastic for a purse:

Can I send it back to Mattel and asks for the jewellery from the box art instead? Because I think it would have made for a much better accessory.

Finally, the most problematic part of her ensemble – the infamous moulded-on tights.

I don’t like them because they limit the possibilities when it comes to redressing. I also wish that they were at least only painted on, without the sculpted pattern – it looks chunky and awkward to me. It’s also odd how the detail fades on the front part of her thighs. The mould-lines on the sides are very obvious, too.

Her hair is rather nice. It is styled into soft curls without the use of any gel. It feels silky and non-oily.

My only complaint is that there are sections where the hair has lost its curl, especially in the areas that were squished in the box.

Be forewarned that her head is hard. In the past, this have often meant future problems with glue leaking through the hair and making it permanently sticky. Hopefully they have learned since then and have used a different kind of adhesive. Time will tell.

Supplied with the doll there was a ring for the child. To me, it’s another useless accessory (along with the handbag). Not only because it is both too small and too silly for me to wear, but also because it’s not the best design to begin with: it’s supposed to be a magical rose under a dome, but it looks like chewed up gum:

The crystals around it also look strange in red. Like some evil substance from a sci-fi film. (perhaps it’s the crystals that the Sith put in their lightsabers). I do like the dome part itself. I might pick the ring apart and reuse this part for something else.

I think this covers all the important parts. Summing up, this doll represents a slightly lower standard than its predecessors when it comes to detail, but it’s still a pretty good design. If you like the reboot faces and can get over the moulded tights, it is a solid doll that represent a fresh new theme – quite perfect for the holidays, too. Most importantly, in my opinion, she does have the magic – that something special about a doll that makes you fall in love with her and brings you happiness.

 

 

EAH Bunny to Bunny head swap

Bunny Blanc re-headed

Not long ago I bought one of the recent dolls from Ever After High – The Archery Club Bunny Blanc. I did it specifically because I liked her reboot face more than the original:

Signature Bunny Blanc (left) vs Archery Club Bunny Blanc (right)

However, I found everything else to be far superior on the original release, and that including her body…

My intention from the start was to swap the heads on these two. I had never swapped heads before, so I was certainly a little nervous! I tried finding some advice online. I did find a few photos and videos, but all in all, I feel like nothing out there can thoroughly guide you through the process. You need to feel it for yourself to judge how much force you need to apply, and wiggle things around until the head comes off.

Nonetheless, here are a few tips that may make the process a little easier:

  • Carefully heating the head will soften it – some people recommend using a hair dryer, or putting the doll in a plastic bag and dipping her head down in very warm water (I went with the latter method)
  • Try removing the head from the ‘bad’ body first – the body is more likely to break (the parts inside the neck) than the head, so you probably want start with the poorer body for practice
  • This is what the neck peg looks for Ever after High. See the plastic getting white from the strain? These are the most endangered parts. Also, it is these thin prongs that you will need to somehow wiggle out through the narrow neck hole, probably one at a time.

 

EAH neck peg

I make it sound scary, huh? It was a little scary for me, but many people do this regularly with no casualties πŸ™‚ Pulling the head off is the difficult part. Slipping the new head on isn’t much of an issue.

Overall, everything went well for me – hurray!

Personally, I feel like this Bunny face-up is the prettiest and the most true to her character so far. I was expecting to see lots of head swaps with it, but I couldn’t find a single photo online. I do have a theory now why it may be so. Unfortunately, the skin tone match between the two dolls I used isn’t perfect:

Her body has a peachy undertone, and her face has a cool bluish undertone. The difference is easily noticeable when you look for it, but I feel like it isn’t particularly distracting otherwise. She kind of looks like some of us look like with make-up on, maybe? The difference is also less clear when she has her arms down, the white fluff of her vest obscures her neck.

Another thing worth taking into account is that her new head is slightly smaller, and her headband sits more loosely. If you move the doll it may slide off, but it stays on fine on display on the shelf.

Finally, the Archery head doesn’t have her ears pierced. I have seen a tutorial suggesting that it is possible to pierce them yourself, and I’m considering it. Frankly, though, her earring were never all that visible to begin with, so I’m not in a huge rush.

Overall, the re-headed Bunny is not perfect because of the slight colour discrepancy. It also bugs me that I reward the manufacturer’s mistakes with both releases by buying not one, but two dolls! But all in all, I feel like the resulting doll looks very much like the doll we deserved in the first place – both sweet like her character and properly articulated. A slight mismatch or not, I do enjoy her in this form way more than any of her official releases.

P.S. I almost forgot! This is what she would look like in her Archery clothes: