Today my name is…

Remember a month ago when I had all sorts of trouble with the American Girl website?  And for some reason after I’d finally gotten my order placed, my name suddenly changed and I was Shannon?  Well, today I was in just poking around, not even signed in and suddenly I noticed my name was:

What the?!?!?!?! Come on guys, if you are insisting that my name isn’t supposed to be Flo, can I at least pick something I like?! I liked Shannon better. I’m not a Janice. Janice is a girl I went to school with that had sparkling blue eyes and dark curly hair who sunburned easily. Not me.

I won’t tell you the rude comment my husband made about American Girl when I mentioned this, it’s not suitable for publishing. Oy vey!

The Super 8 Project–the sink

Hey everyone, thanks for coming back!  I have to say that my mind has been working overtime on this hotel project, and I’m so excited to show you what I’ve done so far and what I’ve found.  I think this one makes the bakery look like chump change!  And speaking of the bakery, remember this?

I made it from a small cabinet I picked up at Michael’s that started out as this:

 

I’ve already shown you the lovely set I found at Kmart by Newberry.  I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with this piece since I had found a better replacement.  And then it dawned on me!  If I changed a few things around, it would make an awesome sink.

Lucky for me, the pieces I’d used to line the shelves came out easily and the knobs I’d used for feet on one of the small drawers popped off easily:

Then it was time to get to work.  I had some scraps of the striped paper I’d use for the bathroom wall and decided they would be perfect to line the shelves.  I used a layer of poster board first, then covered that with the scrapbook paper to give it stability. I also needed to paint under the black portion of the small drawer I used for the bottom.

The next issue was that the sink sat too low as is.  In the AG version, it’s attached to the wall, but I didn’t want to do that as it would make it difficult so fold up the backing boards.  Then I remembered a Pringles can I had in my stash.  I cut it down, covered it with more of the black stripe paper, glued the can lid to the open end, and then glued it to the bottom of the stand.  I also removed the feet from the bottom of the stand, they pulled out somewhat easily.

And then I covered the top portion of the stand with some marble look paper I had in my stash:

Here we are after the transformation.  I do need to put a second coat of paint on that one drawer, I was concerned about how hard that black was going to be to cover up, and I was right.

Since I’m trying to use things I already had in my stash, I pulled out the sink (which I purchased from Amazon) I had from my bathroom project.  I think it looks awesome!

I needed a mirror and headed to Dollar Tree.  I did find a mirror, but I wasn’t totally happy with it.  On a trip to Target, I found this awesome mirror in the back to school section, it’s a locker mirror.  I think it’s perfect!  I will hang it one of two ways–since it’s magnetic, I am either going to glue a piece of metal to the backing board, or I will use Velcro.  I haven’t decided which I prefer just yet.  The brass buttons are supposed to be push pins to hang stuff from, but I’m going to leave them in place, they sort of look like lights. (sorry for the weird photos, but it’s really hard to photograph a mirror without getting a flash or other reflection!)

That’s it for this installment!  Stay tuned, I have more things I’ve been working on to share with you.  This project is turning out to be so much fun!

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.