I’ve Learned Not To Say Never…

Back when I did my first custom that became Fiona, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do anymore custom dolls.  Then I decided to do Abby earlier this year.  They were both pretty simple customs in that I just had to remove their existing wigs and replace them.  Wig removal can be a bit of a wrestling match, and I wasn’t sure I felt like trying it again.  Then I happened to see a wig over at Beautiful Customs that I thought was really pretty and different.  Originally I thought about re-wigging Zyra, but after the wig arrived and I sort of tried it on her (as best I could) I decided I didn’t like it better than what she already had.  So I had to get a doll to redo.  To Ebay!

I kept an eye on a number of auctions for about a week, and then I came across one that wasn’t starting out at a ridiculous amount.  Plus it was going to end during the day on a week day, so chances were good I could snipe it, and snipe it I did!  With shipping I paid just over $60 for the doll.

I was a bit irritated though with the seller before this was over with.  First off, this is what she arrived in:

Yes, that’s all the packing materials that were in the box.  And yes, that’s newsprint/newspaper.  And her arms and legs were exposed to it.  Grrrr…  The only thing wrapped was her head and it was a very poor wrapping job at best.  Thank heavens she didn’t have to come from very far, or who knows what kind of shape she would have been in.

She also had two marks on her that weren’t disclosed in the listing. Luckily I got her cheap enough, but I did let the seller know that I wasn’t very happy and this was a very poor way to try and sell a doll. She gave me some excuse about it was her daughter’s doll and she let her pack it. Okay, I get that, but you are the person whose selling reputation is on the line, so perhaps it would have been a good idea to have checked before shipping it out! Whatever.

Unknown stain on torso


Black mark on index finger

Once I got over my annoyance at the situation, I set her on the sofa in my living room. This was in the midst of all the craziness, so she sat there for a while until one day I decided it was the day for a dolly redo! Waiting had given me some time to research, ask questions and think about exactly what I wanted to do.

First thing I did was remove her head (sorry to anyone who is squeamish about this kind of stuff) and clean her torso.
And out came my cleaning kit:

Baking soda is a great cleaning tool for so many things, including dolls! The mild abrasive removes dirt and grime as well as deodorizes the doll. It’s great at removing shine too, without damaging the doll. It will only remove shine up to a point, but in this case, it worked fantastic. I poured a little bit of baking soda into a bowl, dampened a clean dish cloth, dipped it into the baking soda and started scrubbing.

Apologies for the bad photo there, but you get the general idea! Afterwards I rinsed the cloth out thoroughly, then used it to wipe off the residue. Then I dried the legs and arms with a clean towel. She looked so much better!

I used a Lysol disinfecting wipe on the mystery mark on her torso. I then used the dampened cloth on it to remove any soap residue left behind. Then she got to hang out in front of one of our vents, and I turned the fan on so she would dry.

Then it was time to work on her head. First I removed the wig. Because she’s an older doll, it wasn’t too bad getting it off, although I did manage to put a hole in her wig. I think I can repair it enough to reuse it. Seriously thinking that Jan Brady may become a brunette…

I then gave her a baking soda facial to remove any dirt and grime that might have been on her. I did notice a tiny mark on her nose as well. That mark, as well as the one on her hand will get the acne cream treatment someday when it’s A) sunny and B) not ridiculously hot.  Only time will tell if those marks will come out.

Be very careful when using the baking soda scrub treatment on the face, you don’t want to get any water or baking soda in the eye area!!! The cloth I used was fully wrung out before I put baking soda on it so it didn’t drip, and I did the same when I removed the baking soda as well. I’ve actually seen some people put tape over the eyes, but if you are extremely careful, you can skip that step.

Here she is, ready for the next part!

First off, I knew she needed some lip color. And this particular doll is going to be a bit of a diva, so I knew I wanted her to have a somewhat intense color that looked like lip gloss. I mixed my own color, using a bit of red, and a bit of white. Some good advice I got from someone else who has done some customizations was to be sure to mix more than what you thought you would need because if you run out, it’s very hard to match it again! My own tip is to use a foam paper plate as your palette, it makes a nice surface to work on and the paint doesn’t soak in. Plus you just toss it in the trash when you are done.

Using a very fine paintbrush, I colored in her lips. Here she is at the halfway point:

Here you can see just how fine the brush I used was. I probably could have used one that was even finer than this, but I was able to do what I needed to do. It was kind of cool after I thought about it too, this brush was one that had belonged to my mom. She used it for numerous different ceramics projects, primarily for painting eyes. She was known in her ceramics class as “the lady who really knows how to paint eyes”. So it was kind of like having mom helping me again, and I had a lot of good memories from when she painted a nativity set. That brush has seen a lot of use as you can tell from all the paint splatters on it!

After I was done with the lips, it was time to do some work around her eyes, as well as give her a “beauty mark” (mole). I first mixed black and a medium brown together to make a grayish brown tone for the first layer.

A little tip for painting moles or freckles–or anything that just needs to be a dot. Don’t use the brush end–use the handle! Most paintbrush handles are round, and you can get a nice, nearly perfectly round circle by doing it that way. Just a little trick I learned back when I did ceramics.

I then mixed more black with my grayish brown to make it even darker, and added another layer of lashes as well as the mole. I just wanted enough lashes painted to fill in the space on her outer eye when her eyes were open. I’ve seen a lot of different styles of painting lashes on dolls, and this particular style is my favorite. Once I was done painting and I was sure it was thoroughly dry, I sealed it all with some glossy mod-podge. It gave me the desired effect as well as made the paint safer for play. Mod Podge goes on white, but dries clear.

Now it was time to put her wig on. This wig was an especially tight fit in the trial run, so I decided to try a tip I’d read somewhere. Unfortunately I did have any push pins, but I did have thumb tacks! They worked just as well, but as you can see, this wig was very thick and they nearly got lost in all that hair! They were a fantastic help though, it made it possible for me to get the wig placement correct and properly stretched over her head. I left them in for a while until I was sure the glue was mostly dry.

Isn’t this a fun wig? I am not a big fan of the ones that are wild colors throughout, but since this one started out with blonde and light brown with pink mixed in, it was much more realistic looking. Hey, I’m a bit jealous, I’ve always wanted to do something like this with my hair!

And now it’s time for the big reveal!!!

Meet Allison Renee Rhodes. Her friends and family call her Allie!

Here are side by side shots of her without a flash and with flash:

Allie and her family have recently moved here from Arizona. Look at all that hair!

She can be a bit of a diva sometimes, she does love her fashion! But she’s a sweetheart who loves animals, especially her dog Aspen.  She also is a bit of a musician so we may see her performing with The Beacons at some point.  She’s a huge fan of 90’s alternative.  And on her birthday, she insists on cheesecake, it’s her favorite.  No chocolate cake!

I’m really pleased with how she turned out. Hard to believe it’s the same doll! Even my husband was shocked.

Allie will be hanging out with the gang a good bit. She is especially fond of Sophia because of her fashion sense, and I have a feeling she and Evil Twin’s Trudy will hit it off too.

Now for the big question–can anyone figure out where Allie’s name comes from? First person who figures it out and answers correctly in the comments section will get a little prize from me!  There are a few hints throughout the post that might help.  You just have to figure out what they are.  I will give the answer on July 31st if no one has figured it out by then.

A big thanks to Ginny from Faking it Mostly and Jen from Mini Mad for all of their advice, information and encouragement in trying this customization.  Allie’s wig came from Beautifully Custom.  Her top from Beky’s Doll Clothes, her skirt from If Dolls Could Dream and her boots from American Girl.  Aspen is from Nat and Jules.  Allie’s base is an older American Girl #28.


24 thoughts on “I’ve Learned Not To Say Never…

  1. I love the custom job on Allison, especially her wig. Did her name come from your mother? Was her name Allison?

  2. Ah! Thank you. I’ve been debating head off first to get the wig off an old Lindsey or having it on the body for leverage. The head needs to come off anyway for a legs repair (my first! Think good thoughts). Any suggestions?

    • I’ve done it both ways and prefer to take the head off first. It just makes it easier to handle without it wiggling so much. I use a teaspoon and one of those old style fat metal baby spoons to break the glue loose. The more worn it is the better because it is almost sharp and cuts through the glue. I’ll be anxious to see how the leg repair goes!

  3. Beautiful job. Now, my oldest granddaughter’s name is Allison Renee. We call her Alli. But of course, I don’t believe you named your doll after her. Lol😊

    • Thanks, the painting really went much better than I expected. I did keep a damp cloth near while I did it so if something didn’t turn out, I could immediately wipe it off and I was pleasantly surprised at how easily the paint would come off as long as it hadn’t dried.

      No, no Ally Sheedy. Additional hint here: she isn’t named after a real person.

    • Thanks! I wouldn’t mind doing another, but I need another doll like I need another whole in my head. It was fun though seeing how she changed as I worked on her.

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