Doing the math… (or “how I spent my birthday”)

By now you are probably sick and tired of hearing about my love of the Jess mold.  I don’t know why I like it so much, but it has definitely made an impression on me.  It all started with Cassandra, then I became obsessed with custom dolls made with the mold which led me to Alya.  I’ve since seen some other custom dolls made with this mold, but none impressed me enough to think about buying them.  However, it did inspire a ton of ideas.  A few months ago I saw one done with Marie-Grace’s blue eyes and Mia’s strawberry blonde hair.  I thought she was pretty, but something didn’t sit quite right with me.  Finally it dawned on me what I didn’t like.  The blue eyes.  I know it sounds strange considering that Alya has blue-ish eyes, but with her dark hair it works.  With strawberry blonde, it just didn’t work, at least not for me.  Idea on the back burner for the time being…

In doing some further research, I found that this seller also had a website.  She had some interesting dolls, but nothing that appealed to me enough to buy.  Something else did though.  This lady sold wigs, and gorgeous wigs at that.  She does a lot of custom work and apparently has contracted with a company that makes wigs for her customs.   Her prices were reasonable.  And she had a drop dead, stop in your tracks, strawberry blonde one.  And it was shown on a classic face mold with brown eyes.  At that point I realized what looked great with this color of wig.  Uh oh.

I bookmarked the site for later use and put everything on hold for the time being.  My original thought was to wait and see what the Girl of the Year for 2016 looked like.  Not too long ago I saw some leaked photos of the mini doll, and I’m not wild about her.  Then it happened.  I got an e-mail from American Girl with a code that was good for 20% off any regular price order over $100.  At first I thought “there is nothing I need” and actually deleted it.  But then I came to a realization.  I could get a doll with it.  (insert ominous music here)

Because both Cass and Alya are made from the standard Jess mold, I’d decided if I ever did do a custom, I would prefer to use a #64 since the eyes are slightly different.  I have no experience with wig removal and I didn’t want one with bangs to wrestle with, so that eliminated a used Ivy or a newer #54.  The issue though was it would be a while before a #64 would be in AG’s reduced dolls or turn up on Ebay.  It got me to thinking about using that 20% off coupon…this is where the math comes in.  At 20% off, it would reduce the price from $115 to $92.  Hmmm…  Then I realized that this doll would be in a Truly Me outfit.  I already have one of these, so that would give me a dress, shoes and activity set that I could flip on Ebay.  After doing a little research, I found that I could be safe in assuming I would make about $20 by doing that.  Price was down to $72.  The wig I wanted was $38.  That would make the grand total for my custom doll $110.  Considering the majority of the custom dolls out there sell for $150 – $250, it lowered the expense considerably, plus I would have the wig to sell if I managed to get it off the doll in one piece (should I choose to get rid of it).  This was a Saturday, the coupon expired at midnight on Sunday, so I decided it was best to sleep on it.

The next morning I decided to go for it and placed the order.  On Monday I ordered the wig.  By Thursday both items had arrived and I set them aside until I was sure I had enough time to do it.  On Sunday (my birthday), I decided to start working on the wig removal.  Since I’d never done something like this before, I had no idea how long it was going to take me, so I set a goal of getting it at least part way off.

Here are some photos of #64 by herself and alongside Cassandra so you can see the differences.  The original wig she came with was unimpressive to begin with, and made me feel less guilty about removing it.  I think her eyes are just a bit smaller than Cassandra’s too.

rewig 1

rewig 2 rewig 3

#64 on the left, Cassandra on the right.

My tools:

rewig 4

Two different sized metal spoons and a product called UnDu.  I know a lot of people use Non-Acetone nail polish remover, but not only would I have to go buy some, I HATE the smell of nail polish remover.  It gives me a first class headache.  So much so that I recently had Evil Twin get me a bottle of pure acetone for when I actually need to remove nail polish because even the stuff they sell to the public with acetone in it is diluted and it takes far too long to get the polish off for my liking.  (she’s a former hairdresser)  UnDu smells no worse (at least to me) than a Sharpie marker. (NOTE: DO NOT use nail polish remover with acetone in it for wig removal, it will melt your doll!)

UnDu is a product I discovered many years ago when I worked as a picture framer, it breaks down adhesives with certain base ingredients, but doesn’t damage other surfaces.  Keep in mind it doesn’t break down ALL glues and adhesives.  We literally went through gallons of it there, and I found it to be quite handy when scrapbooking and paper crafting too.  I used to love to freak out a newbie too with it when I taught scrapbooking, inevitably someone would stick adhesive on something and accidentally drop it where they didn’t want it.  The look of horror on their face was hilarious as I would douse the item with UnDu, and I usually got the “isn’t that going to ruin it?” comment.  Nope, it didn’t, they could pull item apart without damage and reposition it.  I should get some sort of commission from UnDu sales, I converted many people!

The other reason I wanted to try UnDu was because it has a rapid evaporation point, so if you did accidentally get a little of it in a dolls eyes, I highly doubt it would do any damage.  The bottle has a nice point to it too, making it easy to direct it where you want it, eliminating some of the risk.  I squirted some of it about an inch along the hairline in the front, waited about 30 seconds, then I started to work on it, using a spoon to try and break the connection between the wig and the head.  It worked!!!

rewig 5

I continued the process around the front until I could get the wig back far enough to work on the center.  After about an hour of squirting and scraping, (and a break here and there) I got the wig off.  Yee haw!!!  I honestly expected it to take longer than this, so it was a pleasant surprise.  I decided since things were going so well, I’d go ahead and put the new wig on.  At this point I realized I didn’t have the right glue, oops!  To the Batmobile!

rewig 8
rewig 6
Some wig hair sticks, totally normal FYI
rewig 7
Most of this is hair that came loose, not in the adhesive area, not good!
rewig 9
She’s even pretty with no hair!

If someone had seen me in the glue aisle, they would have thought I was nuts.  Glue is one of those things that can be daunting, so many selections and for different things.  At least I had it narrowed down to two thanks to reading different accounts of doing this: Alene’s Tacky Glue and E6000.  Alene’s threw me a slight curveball, they now have this stuff called Turbo Tacky Glue.  I quickly eliminated that.  E6000 had me running in the other direction too when I saw the word “permanent” and it had a lot of ventilation warnings (headache alert!).  Since this was my first attempt, I decided to go with Alene’s and I’m glad I did.  I’d used it many times before and never had any issues with it.  I would NOT recommend their Clear Tacky Glue though, in fact, I wouldn’t recommend it for much anyhow.  I’ve had nothing but trouble with it, and in all honesty, don’t quite see the point since the original dries clear.  I’m actually thinking about throwing what I have of it out, that’s how much I don’t like it!

Here is where I made my mistake (and the reason I’m glad I used Tacky Glue).  I applied the glue to her head because I figured I could use the glue lines left behind as guides.  Great idea had I been gluing the wig in the same position.  I wasn’t.  (hit forehead here)  I didn’t like the large amount of forehead showing on the original.  Also, the wig base was just slightly smaller than the original too.  I didn’t realize this though until it was too late, so now I not only have some clean up to do around her hairline, but I got glue in her hair.  Ugh!  Thank heavens Tacky Glue is water soluble, so it will come out, it will just take a bit of work.  A good project for when I’m sitting in front of the TV, using a damp washrag and done in little sections.  Live and learn.  I know for next time (if there is a next time).

Once I got the wig positioned, I laid her, face down on the dining room table to prevent it from shifting.  I also checked on it several times over the next hour to make sure it hadn’t moved.  Once I was satisfied it was going to stay where it was, I left her alone overnight so it could dry.

I suppose by now, you are wanting to see her…presenting Fiona Brown!

fiona 1

She’s named after a Coronation Street character, inspired by the strawberry blonde hair.  Other than the clean up due to my own error, I’m thrilled with how she turned out.  And this wig–OH MY!  This is one of the nicest wigs I have ever seen.  It is so thick and full of body.  I thought the wig on Marie-Grace was awesome, this one is even better.  I took her to show a friend and that was the first thing she noticed, she said it almost feels like real hair.  Best part is that in all the combing, wrestling and so forth, only ONE strand of hair has come loose.  Wish I could say that about some of the recent AG wigs. 😦   I’m very impressed and I feel confident that the other wigs this woman sells are every bit as nice.

fiona 2
A back view of the wig, it does need a minor trim.

So, would I do this again?  Maybe.  I say that for several reasons.  It was a wrestling match getting the wig off that my arthritic hands did not appreciate.  And I’ve now got both of the custom ideas I really wanted.  I don’t have anymore dolls in mind.  I’m thrilled to pieces with how she turned out, even with my error, and it was a fun experience.  However, it kind of falls into the “been there, done that” list, so I doubt I will do another.  But I’ve learned, “never say never!”

fiona 3 fiona 4

I’m still working on Fiona’s back story, I will share it with you later on.  I think she is so pretty though, and so unusual looking.  And before you give me a hard time about the “not having room”–I actually had this doll idea factored in a while ago.  Louisa screwed that all up since she wasn’t part of the game plan!!!  (Sorry Louisa…)

Here is a picture with Cassandra, Fiona and Alya so you can see just how different the same face mold can look with simply a change of eyes or hair.  Amazing!  She and Cassandra look the most alike, but the change in eye shape gives her a slightly different look now with the hair color change.

fiona 5

In case you are interested in getting a wig or even a custom doll, the person I bought mine from has an Etsy store, an Ebay store, and a website under the name Beautifully Custom Dolls.  And if you want a specific custom doll and you’re not crazy like me to try it, Ashlyn can make what you want!  (within reason)  Her website has lots of photos of dolls she has for sale currently as well as ones she’s made for other people, so there are plenty of ideas to be found.  And FYI, no, she’s not the person I got Alya from, that was a different seller.

Have you ever done your own custom doll?  Or have you been thinking about one?



22 thoughts on “Doing the math… (or “how I spent my birthday”)

  1. I have definitely been thinking about a custom! Marie-Grace mold, grey eyes and Caroline’s hair (although not MY Caro’s hair! I love her too much to steal her wig). So at some point, when I have money and the dollhouse is finished so that I have more room hahaha, I need to start looking for a TLC M-G with hair in terrible condition and then eyes and a wig. A local gal here does eye and wig swaps. I’ll probably try and flip M-G’s eyes.

    Your Fiona turned out amazing and I definitely want several Jess molds in my army.

    • That sounds very pretty too, I can’t believe that they haven’t done more with the MG mold because I’ve seen some other ones done with it, and they are gorgeous! I imagine you should be able to find one in need of TLC because her hair is a bit tricky, even if it’s been straightened because it is such a thick wig.

      Thanks! Yes, you need at least one Jess mold 😉

    • LOL! This was the last of my ideas that I really wanted to do, so hopefully I’m done for a while. I guess we’ll have to see what they come out with new in 2016, but it’s going to have to be pretty darned spectacular for me to buy. About the only exception I would make now is if I came across an awesome deal at a thrift store.

      The good part is that Bitty Baby is going to be re-homed soon, which frees up some space that her crib is taking up!

    • Glad you found some info. I think there is a real call for people who can do this kind of stuff, the people who are currently doing it seem to be very busy. I know that the lady I got Alya from said she was having a hard time keeping up. The wig wasn’t horrible. Eye swaps scare me though. You’ll have to let me know if you do!

    • You can find my e-mail address in the “about me” section. I don’t post it in responses or posts to prevent spam. Looking forward to seeing it! (or should I be scared???)

  2. Wow! I really love the pairing of the Jess mold, strawberry blonde wig and brown eyes! I’ve caught the custom mood recently and this doesn’t help! Could you give me a link to the wig seller? The new wig looks so nice I want to see if I can re-wig my Mia without replacing her head.

    • If you go to the last paragraph, you can click on the words Etsy, Ebay and Beautifully Custom Dolls and it will take you to her various sites. Last time I looked, she was sold out of this wig, but she has a constantly changing inventory, so you might find something else gorgeous too! Good luck 🙂

  3. She looks great! You did a great job and that wig looks great on a Jess mold. I have done multiple customs on my dolls, but they weren’t very serious customs. It was mostly cutting hair and adding freckles. I would like to possibly do a re root on a Barbie, but I am still somewhat afraid that I would mess up the doll O.o
    Have a great day!

    • I thought about giving her freckles, but once I got her put together, decided against it. I bet you could find a Barbie super cheap at a thrift store or yard sale, I think that would be interesting to try! Jan really could use a hair redo, but that’s another thing on the back burner.

    • Thanks! I really would love to try and do an eye swap but I’m so afraid of damaging something or that I won’t be able to get the eyes back in. This will have to do! Prior to this, the only thing I’ve done was a head swap that Evil Twin and I did on her Felicity doll, she wanted her to have the slender body so she could wear modern clothing. That was pretty simple in comparison.

  4. Happy Birthday Flo!
    I love how you rationalized the funding of this project. I do the same exact thing before making a large purchase! 🙂
    Fiona is stunning! I have to say, I saw a very similar custom on Pintrest that I fell in love with as well. I think it was the Ivy face with a strawberry blond bob wig. So cute! Thanks for sharing your trials or what worked and what your process was.
    I think eventually I might do an eye swap with Caroline and Rebecca. I don’t have Rebecca yet and I really love her as she is, so maybe not. But I would be interestedin seeing a version of her with the striking aqua eyes as well as seeing Caroline in the hazel eyes.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I had to at least figure out it would be less expensive SOMEHOW! LOL

      Caroline with hazel eyes would be very pretty. I have seen a Rebecca on Ebay with blue eyes and it was very attractive!

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