kiyakotari: (Default)
2012-09-09 08:05 am
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Your Input On A Project Is Sought

If you read this journal, you probably know about Ǝrəšiš, my custom creation. A LOT of hours of work went into making this girl. She was created for the 2011 Uncanny Dreams doll art show in Seattle, WA, as one of my display pieces. I hand-worked every part of her. Of all of my dolls, she is truly "mine."

Since then, she has been incorporated into the sign for my Innamorata Eyes display when I attend conventions as a vendor.

I've had many people approach me and ask to purchase her, both at the conventions and online. Of course, she isn't for sale, and never will be. I'm very attached to her. In fact, she even has more than one mirror! (So that she can "change outfits," so to speak.)

However, spurred on by how many people love her, I've recently decided to make a second mirror ABJD and offer it for sale. I have already acquired the mirror that I am going to use, and it is gorgeous - heavy, solid metal, and brass-plated, with an ornate border and beveled glass.

My dilemma in this project is threefold:

1) I'm torn on whether I should offer this as a complete custom doll, made to someone's specifications (up to a point - I would, for instance, be willing to incorporate a head that they already own, if it were compatible with one of the bodies that I have here to work with, but would not go on a hunt for specific head XYZ if they wanted it), similar to how I made Ǝrəšiš for myself (eyes made to their specifications, wig made or customized to their desires, jewelry made based on their suggestions, etc), or whether I should simply make a doll that follows my own vision.

2) If I do make a doll that follows my own vision, rather than allowing input from the person who will eventually own it, should I make it male or female? I have the parts here for both, and both would be equally fun and challenging for me.

3) And finally, if I follow option number two, and make the doll without any input from the future owner, should I make it as a full custom (wig, custom urethane Innamorata Eyes, possible outfit/adornments, and head with faceup), or should I let the person who eventually owns it choose their own head (perhaps a floating head that they already own), and just make the body/adornments/perhaps wig, and perhaps offer Innamorata Eyes of their choice with it?

I'm really not sure which of these would be best. All of them could be very enjoyable for me. I really just want to make sure that whoever ends up bringing this doll home will love how it turns out, because I will probably never make another mirror doll again - they just take too much work. I'm trying to figure out which one of the permutations above would best ensure that.
kiyakotari: (Default)
2012-09-07 10:28 am
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A Darryl [& Talon] Retrospective

I've been meaning to put this together for some time, despite how embarrassing it is for both me and for poor, poor Darryl. I mean, really, I'm going to be trotting out photos of his earliest resin shells, from back in the days when I could barely work a camera. But I think it's interesting to see how he has evolved over the years, and how my skill has evolved, both as a photographer and as a doll owner. I chose Darryl for this project for two reasons; he is both my oldest doll (I had other dolls before him, purchased in 2003, but those have completely moved on), and also one of the dolls that I own that has gone through some of the most significant transitions while still remaining recognizable as a permutation of his original self. Because Talon also features so prominently in many of my photos of Darryl, this retrospective focuses somewhat on him, as well. SO! Carry on my wayward son, there'll be peace when you are done.

Circa February, 2005. This image is from one of the first sets of photos I took of Darryl, when he was fresh out of his LE Kohya box from Volks. His default LE faceup was summarily stripped off upon arrival (I don't think I even photographed it), and I replaced it with the clumsy, no-less-effeminate-but-at-least-slightly-less-day-glo one seen in this photo. Talon is also seen in this picture, despite being purchased well after Darryl, because his secondhand hybrid parts (Volks F-16 head, old Souldoll body) arrived before Darryl did. Talon is sporting probably the worst faceup I ever slapped onto a doll, and we're not even going to talk about the materials I used. Remember, this was back in the days shortly after DoA came into being in its present (forum) form, and information on these dolls and how to work on them wasn't widely available. It's amazing I didn't stain him.
The rest of the photos in the retrospective can be seen under the cut. )
kiyakotari: (Default)
2012-08-29 08:12 am
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Darryl Gets INKED

Darryl is back (or at least, Darryl's torso and left thigh are back) from a sojourn in Ireland with the inestimable hane, who made my descriptions of his dragon tattoo a vivid reality. His parts have actually been here for about a week, but I've been giving them a "no-chipping-or-wearing-off" treatment using painted-on coats of clear polyurethane resin (the same resin I use in making my eyes), so I haven't been able to assemble him until now. This tattoo is completely permanent. It will not wear off. In fact, all of the tattooed pieces have been sanded to remove (most of) the glossiness from the urethane coating, so that should give you an idea of just how durable it is. I may give them a hit of MSC or Zouk's spray in the future, just to matte up the parts where there are dips in the sculpt that were hard to sand and that still retain some shine, but I don't know if I'll bother. (I really hate the texture of spray coatings like MSC.)

So without further ado, I give you...Darryl's dragon tattoo.

Three more photos under the cut - warning for nudity. )
kiyakotari: (Default)
2012-06-11 03:30 pm
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Wren's Body

Thinking about getting a Granado Nuevo body for Wren, in sunshine skin. I like the build of the custom Nobility doll body she's currently on, but the posing on it is bad, the resin quality is bad, it has bad seams, the hands and feet are bad (though I do have a pair of jointed hands on order for her - if they ever arrive, it's been over four months), and the breasts are too big. And because of the poor resin, I can't do any subtractive modifications to it (to fix the problems it has) without having to purchase an airbrush, or send it out to someone to be airbrushed so that the modified areas will match. By comparison, the Granado body has the right general shape, is a better height for Wren (a bit taller than the ND body), and the resin on it can be sanded without having terrible color loss, so I can do mods on it to add muscle definition as needed. Plus, it's a great poser. And I already know that I love Granado's bodies, since I have their 64cm male one. The only things I don't love about the Granado body are the length of the thighs (they're a bit long in proportion to her overall leg length), and I'm not sure how I feel about the hip joint (it looks like it might not be able to splay outward - but that's something I could probably fix, if it is indeed the case). Of course, I don't even know if the resin would match, since I haven't been able to find any Iplehouse Real Skin/Granado Sunshine skin comparison photos...but this purchase wouldn't be for at least 2-3 months, anyway.

Pondering, pondering.
kiyakotari: (Default)
2012-03-17 03:41 am
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End of an Age

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
kiyakotari: (Default)
2012-02-03 04:12 am

Junk Eyes

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.
kiyakotari: (Default)
2012-02-01 05:37 pm

Making Progress

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.
kiyakotari: (Default)
2012-01-17 06:55 am
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The Tatami Room

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.
kiyakotari: (Default)
2012-01-13 11:50 am
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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. )
kiyakotari: (Default)
2012-01-09 06:25 pm
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Talon 2.0

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. )
kiyakotari: (Default)
2011-12-28 05:07 pm
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Wren and Darryl

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.
kiyakotari: (Default)
2011-12-08 06:04 am

Darryl 2.0

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.

kiyakotari: (Default)
2011-11-30 01:35 am
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Rupali in Cornwall Park

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. )
kiyakotari: (Default)
2011-11-14 07:31 pm
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Wren 2.0

I'm just going to leave this here.

kiyakotari: (Default)
2011-06-27 05:41 pm
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I just scored an Elemental Guardians Erzulie mushroom wig for toddler-Aiko. I'll give you three guesses as to who will be dressing as Amanita muscaria for Halloween this year, and the first two don't count. ^________^
kiyakotari: (Default)
2011-06-16 02:39 am
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Getting All Mathematical

So I've been thinking about the doll crew. Big surprise, huh? Anyway, I've been specifically thinking about the heights of the characters, and the relative heights of the dolls that represent them. Because these are the kinds of things that are important to me.

Wren is always supposed to have been 5' 7" tall. Jian Yuan's height has shifted a bit over the years (he and Wren were originally the same height), and he is supposed to be 5' 4" tall. Darryl has always been right around 6'. Talon has fluctuated a bit, but is generally right around the same height as Darryl, as is Tekla. And so on and so forth.

Wren 2.0 is a 60cm doll. Darryl 2.0 is 65cm, the intended Talon 2.0 is also 65cm, and Tekla is 65cm-66.5cm depending on what feet and shoes she's wearing. Since Wren is pretty much in the middle of the group, and since the height of the doll is a conveniently even number of centimeters, I worked off of her. 5' 7" is 67". There are 2.56 centimeters in an inch, so Wren is 171.52cm tall. Dividing the height of Wren 2.0 (60cm) by 171.52cm gives us .349813432, or thereabouts.

Now it's time to check this. If Darryl is supposed to be around 6' tall, is 65cm the correct height for the Darryl 2.0 doll? 65cm divided by .349813432 is 181.82cm. If we divide that again by 2.56, we end up with 72.59", or 6' ½". So yes, Darryl 2.0 is (delightfully) just the right height. From this, I can infer that Talon 2.0 and Tekla are also the right size without having to work their exact heights out.

This means that my formula for determining the necessary height of a WUNPO doll based on the height of a character (when "C" is the height of the character in inches and "D" is the height of the doll) is:

(C x 2.56) .349813432 = D

By this formula, the total height of Jian Yuan 2.0 needs to be 57.3cm. We can also reverse the formula, as we saw with Darryl, to determine the height of a character based on the doll that represents them:

(D ÷ .349813432) ÷ 2.56 = C

Using the reversed formula, Rupali (doll is 58cm) is just a hair under 5' 5" tall, which is perfect for her character (she's supposed to be between Wren and Jian Yuan in height, but I never set a specific height for her). And Rafe is 5' 9½", while Laith is just a smidgen over 6' 6". Again, perfect for the characters (I had been concerned that the Laith doll was too tall, but he's supposed to be 6½', so that's spot on).

The awesome thing about this isn't consistency in the doll collection, though. It's the fact that I can apply this formula to anything that I want to make for the dolls, to make sure it's in scale, as long as I know the full-size measurements of the item. For example, a WUNPO doll-scale AA12 shotgun would be 34.67cm (13.54") long, and the seat of a dining chair should be 16.12cm-17.91cm (6.3"-7") high.

This entire thing was brought on by the fact that I'm at work, and am supposed to be studying for my first attempt at an IAHSS certification, which my job now requires. I test in four hours. So far, only two of the six officers in my department who have taken this test have passed it. If we fail it, we have thirty days to prepare for a second attempt. If we can't pass on the second try, we're fired. I haven't read the book yet, and it's 38 chapters long.

Yeah. To say I'm unenthusiastic about this textbook would be an understatement.

EDIT: Passed the test. It was actually really easy (and I still haven't read more than five chapters in this book). Not sure what all the fuss was about, but have a feeling I'm going to be tutoring several of the guys over the next few weeks.