My Dolly Obsession, And An Introduction Of Ensuing Customs

I have really tried.  For a year and a half, I have been pretty mum on the doll business over here on the blog.  There was the occasional thrifted score that I had the chance to coo over, like my vintage Darci and the armless Blueberry Muffin, but in general, I have kept as quiet as I could about that particular obsession.  There are a couple-few reasons for this keeping mum, really.

One is that grownups that meet other grownups that are into dollies tend to think that those dolly-lovers are a buncha weirdos.  I get it, I do, I am completely grossed out by the reborn doll fanatics.  (If you tend to think that dolls are creepy and you don’t know what a ‘reborn doll’ is, google cautiously.)  Those people tend to bathe and diaper those things like real babies, and it *creeps me out.*  So horrifying.  I just don’t get it with them.  I mean, you know?  If you are going to go to that trouble to *care* for something, get a pet.  So, I guess I totally tend judge those people on the same level outsiders judge me– although I’m not trying to– so I am really understanding when it comes to how I may be perceived, I am….

I’ve experienced the scoffing.  I take pictures of expensive dollies wearing handmade dresses and holding tiny lollypops in parks, and I tend to do so whilst ignoring the world around me.  I do not care if nearby picnickers find me bizarre, as I’m sure they often do.  It doesn’t really bother me.  I don’t know these people, and they don’t know me– and if they DO know me, they understand, because, hey, it’s just part of the quirkitude that is Amber.  My life goes on unaffected.  But I will never, ever forget getting onto the tight elevator in San Fransisco’s Coit Tower with my Blythe, and the faces of all of the other tourists as they piled onto the tiny car after me.  A little girl says, “That grown lady has a dolly, Mom.”  Her mom shushes her, giving her the alarmed don’t-talk-about-the-freak-in-front-of-the-freak face, complete with wide eyes.  I wanted to laugh.  Generally the Blythe lovers I know are into Doctor Who and Harry Potter, that kind of weird, not like– pretending that they live in a foot-tall world or anything.  We’re nice people with big imaginations and a love for fantasy, but we don’t believe we’re Gulliver or anything.  So you know, there must be some difference between us and the dolly-weirdos, but I don’t know what it really is or how to articulate it to you in a concise way.

A big part of the whole thing for me is also nostalgia, most of the miniature things I go for have a bit of a childhood connection to me.  Strawberry Shortcake, definitely; Vintage Barbie, absolutely; Blythe?  Eh, it could be argued, but not really.  The Ever After High doll stuff is delightful for me as a sort of Barbie extension– modern Babs doesn’t really appeal to me at all, sadly.

But another part of it is such an easy and delightful creative outlet for me.  It’s almost hard to explain.

There is the home decor aspect, wherein I can take a wee house (I have at least twelve dollhouses, by the way) and change the curtains, the wallpaper, move the couch all over the room, and never break a sweat.  Whole rooms’ decor schemes come together in just an afternoon, and prints on couches are no real commitment, as I know I’ll just change it later if I don’t like it for the next project.  I can go bolder than I really ever would in a functional house (because, they’re dolls, they don’t need comfort!), and play up the whimsy I love designing with so much.  I’m the only taste that needs to be considered in that realm too, as it’s all for me, seen through my eyes.  In my real home, I consider my husband.  I include my son.  These are necessary and important (and not at all difficult) things, but I certainly make different choices with them in my life than I would when I lived alone.  There was a lot more pink back then in my single days, for sure.  Probably even more pink than I do now for the dolly dioramas.

Fashion is another element.  Whatever body issues we may have at whatever time in our lives, the real truth is that I just don’t have anywhere to *wear* gorgeous cocktail gowns and platform heels anymore.  I’m a home decor blogger.  Even if I could afford a closet full of that type of finery, and I had the most fantastic bod I could possibly have, where am I going to GO in something like that?  Buuuuut, I can guarantee that Blythe is *always* going to fit into that adorable little Dolls Ahoy! dress, and she won’t complain if I pair it with a sweater, and printed tights, and heavy cowboy boots in August, either.  It’s all just easy and fun!  Shoes never pinch her toes, and if they do– I don’t have to hear her whine about it.

Miniatures also have this magical hold on me because it combines all of the crafty things I love to do into small, manageable little desktop projects.  Have you ever put a piece of IKEA furniture together?  Then completely repainted it?  It’s really easy and quick when you’re doing it for something wee.  You don’t even need crazy little widgety tools!  Whole bedding sets can be stitched together over the course of an hour, and dolly-girls never forget to make them up in the mornings.

Escapism at it’s finest, it is.

Muffy And Berry, Best Friends Forever!

Muffy And Berry, Best Friends Forever!

*****

So, I love Strawberry Shortcake.  I collect the vintage ones from the late 70’s and early 80’s, as I was the audience for those girls when they first came out on the toy market.  Not only was she cute, sweet, and my age, but she was a redheaded freckled dolly, and I certainly didn’t have any of those!  Blonde Barbie, Skipper, PJ, even Ken!– no one had the ginger thing happening in my collection until Strawberry.  She was me, as a dolly, I was pretty sure of it.  I even loved making Strawberry Shortcakes for dessert.

Over the years, my love for some doll lines have been lasting (Barbie), and because I have a large stash of those from my own girlhood, adding to that collection has been somewhat easy.  Other dolls I have purchased way too many of, and then eventually passed on.  I am just now getting to this sort of collection perfection, where I’m only keeping the things that I love and that inspire me.

And inspired I have been.  I love Mattel’s new line of Ever After High dolls, they have all of the wonderful things I really really liked about Monster High–standing/ poseability; detailed outfits; clever backstories; fun accessories– without all of that creepy, monstery business I care nothing about.  They’re perfect!

But, just like the Monster Highs, I have been buying basically every edition of the dolls that have been introduced, and I realized that there would become a saturation point where I had something like, eight Apple Whites, and no interest in (or space for!) displaying them all.  I don’t even have a concern for keeping them in minty condition.  I want all of the clothes and accessories and wee bits that they come with, but I’m not a stickler for things being perfect or pristine, and everything being kept with their original figure.  In other words, I needed to come up with an idea to customize all of these excess dollies.

I really first got the idea with Madeline Hatter (the Getting the Fairest edition), and her gorgeous blue pigtails.  I had just been cleaning up that aforementioned armless Blueberry Muffin, and putting her piggies back into place, and it hit me!  I could use these extra dolls to create one-of-a-kind teenaged versions of Strawberry Shortcake and all of her friends.

So I have been.  My thought process has been to base the doll on the most appropriate hair color in the group, so I can keep all of the original factory hair, and make my customs with changes like cuts and restyles.  In some cases I have repainted features, like eye colors, shape of eyebrows, lipsticks, and all dolls have had freckles added.  The freckles seem to be one of the things that propels them forward into being “Strawberry Tallcakes,” I think.

Their clothing has been researched pretty heavily, and is based on a combination of the original illustrations found in the corresponding greeting cards and children’s books, and the original editions of the dolls.  I am heavily inspired by those originals, but I have not really limited myself to them.  I want my versions of their ensembles to be super-kawaii, current, and reminiscent of those first looks to the point where you understand which character is which just by looking at them, but not to where they look bizarre.  IE, if this were placed on an actual human in a fashionable scene somewhere, no one would look at the freak in the ginormous, poufy, pink hat with strawberries all over it.  I’m also thinking it would look better if everyone wasn’t wearing freaking identical green and white tights, so I’m dealing with these things in a myriad of ways.  I’m wanting to toe the line of at least creating something *moderately* realistic, here.  (Although, show me the teenaged dude that is willing to wear a green striped bandana that matches his cuffs, and I will show you a gay teenaged dude.  So… forgive Huck, you could say I am *making* him do this.)

I have finished five, and I have at least three more to complete (but already underway), and I am SO excited by how they are all turning out.  I’m attempting to create all of their original pets and corresponding desserts, too, so I’m having wicked fun.  It’s like the best of all worlds for me, and  a really engaging test of my skills, and I’m loving it.  I’ll be introducing them all to you, one at a time, starting with Blueberry Muffin– Or “Muffy” as she’s known around here– in the next few weeks, and giving you the breakdown to all of her details.  Thanks for reading and putting up with my “dolly weirdness!”


 

2 Responses to “My Dolly Obsession, And An Introduction Of Ensuing Customs”

  1. Eh, well, you know my opinion on the matter… *grin* It’s always so satisfying when all the different interests can get combined, too–dolls + painting + sewing + craftin’ stuff + photography + interior design…one nominal hobby (in this case, DOLLS) actually encompasses so much more than people outside the hobby know…

    • Amber

      Oh yes, my dear, its soooo TRUE! It’s like I can do all of this fun stuff I like, to create on this *one really neat thing!* Plus, you can play at almost any price point, depending on if you thrift, and and do trades, or you buy expensive figures from Japan, or like me, a mix of both! It’s all fair game.


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