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This is (most of) the rest of the last batch of eyes, which were doming yesterday. (I can only dome seven pairs at a time, because of space restrictions.) They're not quite done, obviously, and one or two of them have minor imperfections, but I like them. They'll all be added to convention stock.

The domes on the pink ones turned out too tall, which make them hard to position and magnifies the pupils a lot (it's why they look so big), so I'll have to fix that.

The teal 14mm ones on the lower left will probably be discounted, because one of the pupils ended up off-center. Despite that, they're gorgeous, and if they're positioned correctly you can't tell. I might also be able to correct it by reshaping the dome a little, but I'm not sure.

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These are some of my most recent eyes. Most of them are stock for the upcoming doll convention in Poulsbo, WA. They're not quite finished (the domes on them just finished curing), but at this stage, they're far enough along to give an accurate idea of what they'll look like when they're done.

Some close-up shots. )

Some Eyes

Apr. 16th, 2012 08:48 am
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Here are some eyes I've made.

This is a prototype eye. I was playing around with a junk cast sclera (ran out of resin and didn't have enough to fill all my molds, so this eye has a hollow back/no stem) and the idea of foiling an iris instead of coloring it. I think it turned out pretty interesting. It does have some fairly annoying bubbles, but I wasn't being very careful when I made it, since it was just an experiment. It's a 16mm eye.

There are some more pictures under here. )
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Life here has been a bit of a whirlwind. The medical stuff has been...rough. Cut for long-winded exposition of my recent medical situation. )

In other news, I think I've solved the bubble problem I was having with my eyes. I built a vacuum chamber (James helped with the hole-drilling I needed), and was very confused when my completely bubble-free resin seemed to spontaneously develop bubbles during it's curing process. Most sources online seemed to maintain that the bubbles were there in microscopic form despite the steps I had taken to remove them and my inability to find them with a flashlight and magnifying glass, and that they magically expanded when the resin hardened. Not satisfied with this explanation, I did some research on the actual chemical composition of polyurethane resins, and I learned some very interesting things. Notably, that curing the resin in areas where the humidity is too high or the temperature is too low will result in a change in the chemical reaction that causes the resin to harden, and will cause the resin to off-gas. While this off-gassing isn't a problem in the earlier stages of curing, once the viscosity of the resin has become high enough the gas being released will become trapped inside, which forms bubbles.

We happen to live in a humid climate, and the daily temperatures here are low from late October through the end of June, sometimes even into July.

A bit of research into localized humidity control methods and the judicious application of a space heater and I'm watching some test eyes (made with junk casts from cleaning my master molds) cure that appear to be almost entirely bubble-free. Since they were testers, I wasn't as careful with them as I usually would have been, and there are a few bubbles in them that I introduced myself. But there don't seem to be any spontaneous "magical" bubbles so far, which is a very good sign.

In other other news, I'm reading Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow's The Grand Design, and thus far it is highly entertaining.
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The Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art is what got me into dolls.

When I was in high school, my girl scout troop did a badge on dolls. For the badge, we went to the Rosalie Whyel museum, and one of the dolls (a bisque Amakusa Shiro in the contemporary dolls display area, made in 1996 by Teruko Miwa) really caught my attention. I tried to look him up online, to find photos of him, but was unsuccessful. In my frustration, I typed "Bishonen Doll" (literally "pretty-boy" or "pretty-man" doll) into a search engine, and stumbled across Volks' Dollfies and Super Dollfies. This was back in late 2000/early 2001.

Being someone who had never had any interest in dolls, my sudden obsession with these things caught me completely by surprise. As a young teen (I was about 14 at the time), I didn't have the resources to purchase the larger resin dolls (remember, this was back when there weren't any lower-priced dolls available on the market - the cheapest were a whopping $500+, and they had to be purchased through a shopping service, because none of the half-dozen doll companies producing ABJD's sold internationally as of yet). So I contented myself with collecting and customizing the cheaper 1/6 scale vinyl Dollfies and Obitsu dolls. I still have a box of them in my closet.

Eventually, I became old enough to hold down a real job, and finally was able to save up enough money to start seriously considering the larger resin dolls. In 2003 I purchased my first three - a Volks SD13 boy with no head, a Volks Dollfie Dream with a resin SD13 Kira head, and a Blue Fairy 1/4-sized Dana. I never looked back. I no longer own any of those dolls, but the Dana is still a part of my life, as I gifted her to one of my best friends.

Fast forward a decade, and here I am, making high quality doll eyes from scratch, the administrator of one small and controversial doll forum, and a moderator on one of the largest and busiest English-speaking doll forums in the world. And it's all thanks to that bisque doll that I saw in the Rosalie Whyel museum.

When I heard that the museum was closing its doors for good on March 1st of this year, I convinced one of my friends to visit the museum with me again on February 27th, just a few days before it closed. They didn't allow photography in the museum, and never have, but this time around I thumbed my nose at the rules and took a picture of the Amakusa Shiro doll with my cell phone. For me, he's the doll that started me on this path, and I am thankful to him, and to the Rosalie Whyel museum, for this amazing gift.

Shiro Amakusa
Teruko Miwa, Japan, 1996
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I love the Neutra Face parody, but this one is also excellent, and has a powerful message behind it.

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I'm kind of sad that I have to send these on to their new owner. They're really lovely.

In other news, the eye making is coming along well.
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The PNW BJD Expo, which I'll be attending as a vendor, has put up a promotional video. It features two photos of my eyes; three lone eyes shown in a group at 0:38, and one photo of a pair of eyes in Darryl at 0:59.

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I haven't been around much since the last post about the eyes. The eye stuff is probably going to be on hold for a bit (though who knows - I might find I need the distraction).

Remember that cervical strain I had back in August, when the gang fight walked in the front door of the hospital? It hasn't gotten better, and has been causing lots of pain and keeping me from sleeping much. Also, my right hand went numb about a week and a half ago. As such, I went to see another doctor, and he ordered some x-rays (which none of the previous doctors did, for some reason) and physical therapy. The x-ray revealed that the injury resulted in a reversal of the lordosis in my cervical spine, which basically means it's not curving properly. Because of this, the doctor referred me to a physiatrist (spine specialist) and scheduled me for an MRI.

In the interim, I began my physical therapy. This resulted in a sudden and totally unexpected, extremely dramatic increase in my pain levels, constant headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, and constant (though fluctuating in intensity) nausea. The doctor put me on some heavy painkillers (Vicodin), so I've basically been mentally absent for the past week. James took several days off of work to keep me from falling apart all over the house.

This morning, the MRI appointment rolled around. Tonight, the doctor called me to deliver a quick overview of the results, to be discussed in greater detail during my appointment with him next week: reversal of lordosis; indications of muscle, ligament, and tendon inflammation; bulging vertebral disc. Also, the MRI incidentally revealed a tumor on my spine, in the chest area.

Yep, a tumor.

The doctor has no idea if it's benign or malignant. It's possible I was born with it, or have had it since childhood. It's also possible that it has only just developed recently. He told me all this while I was sitting on the floor in front of the toilet, wishing I could vomit to help relieve the nausea that's been keeping me awake all day.

I kind of want to take a break from reality.

Junk Eyes

Feb. 3rd, 2012 04:12 am
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Here are some more of my junk eyes. I'm still having problems with air bubbles, particularly during the doming process. All of these eyes have imperfections that make them unsaleable. The purple eye is the worst - it shifted in the pressure pot during the curing process, and the dome ended up moving WAY off-center, so it looks like it has some kind of growth. The darker blue eye was a test subject for several different things, including touching the resin before it was fully cured to see what would happen. The answer? Lots of tiny, tiny gouges in the surface of the dome that make the eye look cloudy. The light blue eye actually turned out the best, but again has bubbles in it. For some reason, the clear resin isn't responding well to the pressure pot (not de-bubbling, surface texture going "wonky"), while the white resin does just fine in it. I'm really hoping I can solve the bubble issue without having to build a vacuum chamber. Building the pressure pot was difficult (and expensive) enough!

Since these are junk eyes, I probably won't bother removing the stems from the back. For the eyes I actually intend on selling, the backs will be removed, resulting in a flat-backed/half-round eye.
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My eyes have improved by leaps and bounds over the last few weeks. You may remember these prototype eyes that I shared a while back. The eyes below are the exact same pair, with some updates. (They're junk versions, full of bubbles and stuff, but I've tried a few different techniques on them and learned what I do and do not like, as far as results go.)

Getting close to the finish line, now.
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Because it's snowing, and I work at a college that has a small Japanese garden on campus, I slapped a kimono onto Darryl and brought him to work with the intention of taking photos in the snow.

Of course, by the time I actually got to work, it was raining and windy.

So instead, I took him into the tatami room next to the garden and shot a couple of quick photos.

Two more under the cut. )

We're, uh, not going to talk about the fact that it's a fairly girly kimono.
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Talon, Darryl, and Rupali have a little chat.

(This is just an excuse to take pictures, don't read too much into it.)

Four more photos. )

Talon 2.0

Jan. 9th, 2012 06:25 pm
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Like several of my other dolls, Talon has recently undergone an upgrade to a more realistic and mature sculpt. I'm really, really ecstatic with how well he turned out.

He looks great with Darryl, too. ^__^

Three more photos under here. )
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I broke out one of my photography backdrops, and finally got a chance to take a couple of shots of the new Wren and Darryl together. Still getting the hang of this DSLR. It's a doozy, and way more complicated than my previous cameras. It took me ten minutes today just to figure out how to turn off the flash!

I really need to start on the backdrop stand that I've been intending to build. These things make my photos look so much better. I want to get more backdrops, too.

Darryl's head is quite a bit more yellow than his body right now (though the difference is more pronounced in pictures than in person), but I have no doubt that will change as the body mellows. It's currently still paper white.

Darryl 2.0

Dec. 8th, 2011 06:04 am
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Just a one shot. Darryl's new self finally has eyes (of a sort). They're urethane prototypes that I made a few months ago, and have some problems, but they'll do for now.

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Just finished an interview for another part time job. It's a substitute security officer position with the local school district. I think it went well. Hopefully, I'll be able to report "JOB GET!!!!"
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I'm not a gun expert by any means, but I know my way around alright. Because of this, I've had other writers ask my advice on handguns and a few other varieties several times. This is a far better reference than anything I would think to tell you.
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A small selection of a bunch of photos from months and months ago, taken at Cornwall Park, a few blocks from my old apartment.

More photos under the cut. )