Sep. 23rd, 2012 12:58 pm
kiyakotari: (Default)
I was bored, and as is so often the case, this led to mischief. I have given in to the swell of technology and joined tumblr.

Unstructured Meanderings of an Insatiable Mind

I have resisted this trend until now, because I am wary of the casual approach to content ownership that "reblogging" promotes. However, I believe that to truly understand something, one must participate in that thing, and that censure without experience is pointless. So I delve.

Also, setting up my theme was fun.
kiyakotari: (Default)
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.
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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)
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)
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.

Gave In

Sep. 16th, 2010 02:08 am
kiyakotari: (Default)
I just ordered the new Kindle. (Just the wifi version, not the wifi+3G, as I don't have any need for the 3G capabilities. Plus, I plan on loading most things onto it manually from my laptop, so I probably won't even use the wifi all that much.)

I also shelled out the extra $4 for overnight shipping, so it will be delivered tomorrow (Friday).

I'm stupidly excited about this thing. I already bought an EVA cover for it, from China, and it should be here sometime next week or the week after.

In other news, I'm once again trying my hand at making a crew cut wig for Hunter. (The faux fur was a miserable failure, totally the wrong texture.) To that end, I'm spending all of my free time hand-tying kanekalon, four strands at a time, to a Monique wig cap onto which I have added French lace edges. Once it's done (which will probably be sometime next year, if my current progress is any indicator) I'll cut it down to the right length and style. Hopefully.
kiyakotari: (Default)
ACK! My plane to Oakland leaves here tomorrow at noon, and I'm absolutely not ready. @_@ I have so much crap to do still. I have to pack(!), which means I need to do laundry. I also need to clean my apartment a bit more, because my sister will be living here, taking care of my animals, for the ten days I'll be gone. I need to get the doll stuff located, sorted out, and packed, I need to vacuum, I need to go to the laundromat to wash some linens (comforter is too big to fit in my washer here in my apartment) so my sister can sleep in a nice, clean bed. I still need to make a headset for Darryl (though I might just bring the supplies with me and do that while I'm in California).

I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting things, too.

EDIT (06/01/2010, 07:42): Okay, I'm ready to go! I've got two more things to do, but I can't do them until an hour or so from now, anyway. And I've still got just over 3 hours before I have to check in for my flight. I'm packing up my laptop now, so if anyone (GJ, that's you) needs to get in touch with me, it'll have to be on my cell.


May. 28th, 2010 04:31 am
kiyakotari: (Default)
Finally got around to going in to the local police department yesterday and filling out my CPL form, so I should have a concealed-carry permit waiting for me in my mailbox when I get home from California on June 10th.

Yay! My gun is pretty much the ultimate concealed-carry pistol. It's tiny and can fit in my pockets without even needing a holster to disguise the shape. And yet I have been unable to carry it, because I kept putting off going in to fill out the form, since it's only open two days a week, and it's at an inconvenient time. Daniel (one of my coworkers, ex-military) has been doing the same thing, and he finally told me last weekend that I needed to come pick him up from his apartment on Thursday, and that we'd just go in and do it together. I laughed, but we did, and now we're both eagerly awaiting our new licenses.

That is all.
kiyakotari: (Default)
So, I've always known my eyes were kind of strange. I've got this orangey-brown area around the middle of each iris. People occasionally comment on it, because it becomes more apparent when my pupils change size, or in certain lighting.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered this weird thing has a name, and a cause! I apparently have "central heterochromia." It's not as rare as the other kinds of heterochromia of the eyes (where one eye is a completely different color from the other, or where one or both eyes have big blobs of different colors in them), but it's not terribly common, either. However, it might explain my lifelong aversion to sunlight, since it's often connected to low levels of melanin in the eye. I work graveyards because sunlight gives me a headache, has since I was little.

It's also very difficult to take pictures of your own eye.

And here's the right side. )
kiyakotari: (Default)
I've pretty much given up on Souldoll ever producing their Queena in tan skin again. This was upsetting me, but then I saw that Supia's Rosy is available in tan skin. How was I not aware of this previously?! I've actually LOOKED at Rosy before, long before Queena was ever released, and wished she was tan, because she would be PERFECT for Rupali.

Go figure. Guess I need to go update my wishlist.


Apr. 30th, 2010 04:22 pm
kiyakotari: (gecko)
Spent most of the day helping B&A move stuff around between old apartment, new apartment, and storage unit, but we did have a chance to stop off at one of the local pet stores, and I dropped $270 on the awesome Exo Terra terrarium I wanted (I opted for a full kit, with additional accessories, for an extra $80 - I could have got the terrarium alone online for $120-ish, but then I would have had to pay shipping, and I would have had to purchase most of the supplies it came with anyway, so this was actually cheaper), along with a basket full of various supplies. I still need to get another $100-150 worth of supplies before it's snake-worthy (though the $30 powerstrip with individually time-controlled sockets on it is more to make my life easier than to make the snake more comfortable), but I already knew getting into this that the setup costs were fairly high. Barring complications, the maintenance and caring costs will be much less than these initial ones.

The terrarium is currently sitting on its new table home, all assembled (bar substrate, animal, and bulbs for the lighting system) and pretty.
kiyakotari: (gecko)
Having researched even more in the past few days, I've definitely settled on the larger Exo Terra PT-2607 (18x18x24 inch) terrarium, but I've decided against trying to incorporate live plants into the environment at this point. The humidity and temperature levels for this particular species of snake are rather specific, and I don't want to try to also manage the needs of the plants at the same time. Maybe once I've had it for a year or two, I will be better equipped to balance the requirements of both snake and plant health. For now, though, it will be artificial plants only.

The reptile dealer I've been speaking to is checking the sexes of his Rough Greens today (I want a male) and will be getting back to me.


Apr. 25th, 2010 09:57 am
kiyakotari: (gecko)

I've been thinking about getting a snake - and I mean seriously thinking, weighing pros and cons and doing research, not just idly wanting one - for about half a year now, and I've finally decided to take the plunge.

To that end, I'm in communication with a reptile dealer regarding some Rough Green Snakes (Opheodrys aestivus) that they have for sale, in particular a young male that has caught my attention. I've also narrowed my terrarium selection down to a few options (I'm really favoring the Exo Terra PT-2607 18x18x24inch, but will probably start out with a Zoo Med NT-2 12x12x18inch, due to the current small size of the snake I'm hoping to adopt) and am looking at the best possibilities for substrate and foliage.

Taking the bright green scale color of Rough Green Snakes into consideration, I've been looking for terrarium- and snake-friendly plants with leaves in colors other than green (or at least in sage greens or dark greens, rather than the striking "emergency exit sign" green of the snake). So far, I've got a list to look more closely at that includes Cryptanthus bivittatus ('Ruby' cultivate), Oxalis hedysaroides ('Rubra'), Oxalis regnelii ('Francis'), . I'm also looking at Selaginella kraussiana brownii and Bacopa aff. monnieri as ground covers, despite their relatively bright green colors.

However, it's totally possible that I'll end up going for artificial (silk) plants rather than live ones. I might not be up to handling the balance of both snake and plant environmental needs, yet.
kiyakotari: (Default)
I just beat Mass Effect (I would have finished it ages ago, but I've been so sick I've not been able to coordinate things well enough to stay alive in the game, so I've not played it since shortly after my last post about it). This was awesome, but also made me incredibly melancholy. I really, really love this game, and I wanted it to keep going on and on and on forever. Thankfully, there is a sequel (and I've heard it's much better than the first one), but that's not the point. This is a good sign - I feel about this game the same way I feel about books that I really, really love. I've never had another game (or a movie) elicit this reaction so strongly in me before. It's a GOOD game.

Potentially spoilerish pondering under the cut, but the text is in white so feel free to click. You'll only see it if you highlight it. See, I don't give spoilers without warning. )
kiyakotari: (Default)
So, I'm still happy-excited about Sakura-con, and I still want to make the Katsushiro costume.

I'm just not sure the two are going to go together.

I've been laid out sick for a while now, and even though I've managed to drag my ass to work (almost) every day despite it, I haven't had any energy left over for anything else. And I'm STILL sick (albeit it seems to be a different beast than the one I started out with...and a worse beast, at that).

I don't think I can get the Katsushiro costume completed in the time I have left before the convention, partially because of funding - the fabrics I'm looking at are NOT cheap - and partially because of time restrictions. Oh, sure, I could make something, but I don't think it would be up to my standards, and then I'd just be pissed off and hate wearing it even more than I usually hate wearing the things (I'm more about making than modeling).

Maybe I should just pull one of my old costumes out, brush it off, and give it a whirl?

Or just have fun in street clothes, like a normal person?
kiyakotari: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] lionhearts, you are a genius. I LOVE Mass Effect. XD

I named my character Wren by accident - I thought I'd changed it to Lynn, and apparently I didn't. =__= But since everyone calls her "Shepard" throughout the whole game, anyway, it doesn't really matter much. (Also, she keeps hitting on Kaidan. I was hoping she'd go for Garrus, since he seems far more interesting to me, but apparently he's not a potential love interest until Mass Effect 2.)

My next play-through will be named Lynn, and she's the one I'll import to ME2.
kiyakotari: (Default)
Being ill, and stupidly incapable of breathing for more than three minutes straight without coughing helplessly (or of speaking without sounding like a deranged frog), I have bowed down to the inevitable and called in sick to work. And of course, that means I will call in sick tomorrow, as well, because that's how these things work - once you do it, it's best to keep doing it until you no longer need to, because if you tough it out and go back for one day, then need to do it again, it counts as two events out of the maximum of "three events in a six month period" that Human Resources allows, rather than just the one event it counts as if you call in for multiple consecutive days. Apparently HR does not forgive people for trying to be good, dedicated employees. This is possibly an envy issue, HR, being as it is, rather lacking in good, dedicated employees.

But all that bullshit aside, I have taken this time to watch the rip of The Book of Eli that one of the guys from work gave me. It was...excellent. Superb. I heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoys post-apocalyptic fiction and films. The filming (or perhaps post-processing) was very high contrast and low saturation, which may take some people a bit of time to get used to, but it works wonderfully to convey a feeling of a world in which the atmosphere is so damaged that going for more than a few minutes in sunlight without eye protection will blind a person forever.
kiyakotari: (Default)
Okay, WEIRD question, I know. But I'm a crazy hybrid person, which should be obvious by now, so just bear with me.

Does anyone on here who has both an SD13 boy (relatively recent body sculpt) and either an SD10 or SD13 girl (or both, again relatively recent sculpt) have the time to show me whether or not the boy legs will fit in the hip sockets of the girl bodies? Pictures of them strung and standing would be a major plus, but even just a shot of the hip piece held together with the thigh, nor elastic involved, would be quite helpful.

I, uh, do kind of need them to not be wearing any clothes, though. At least from the waist down.


EDIT: Got pictures from [livejournal.com profile] twigling! Thanks so much, everyone.


Feb. 2nd, 2010 03:08 pm
kiyakotari: (Default)
The saya I ordered for my Katsushiro costume arrived today. It's a bit scuffed in a few places, but I'm not bothered by that - I already decided that my costume is going to be more realistic and rugged than the shiny!new!anime!pretty costume style that most people at cons like to make. I prefer a more distressed look.

I think I've rambled about my approach to and views on cosplay on here before, but there's always time for the soapbox. ^__^

Basically, I see most people who do costumes going out of their way to make themselves seem as much like the target anime character as possible. If the character has bright hair with psycho spikes, so do they. If the costume always - no matter what trouble the character seems to get into - looks pristine and lovely, so does theirs. (Heck, even with characters that don't always look pristine, few people seem to try to anything other than fresh-from-the-dry-cleaner.) Bold colors and lines and borders remain such. I take...a different angle.

When I cosplay, I try to recreate the character as I imagine they would exist if they had to live in a world constrained (for the most part) by our own laws of physics. I select fabrics based on what would be most practical for a person in that character's position to wear. I design my costumes to be functional as well as to be visible replicas of the characters' outfits. If the character's features are at all unclear - for example, Katsushiro is often portrayed as having blue or green hair, in varying shades, but he has no official stats that I can find anywhere, and his hair color in the show runs the gamut from gray to greenish-brown to a dark teal to black - I will go for the options that make the character seem less fantastical and more real.

In this case, I'll be doing black hair, because I believe that Katsushiro's wildly varying hair color is a result of the artists wanting his hair to be visible against different backgrounds, and that his design actually called for black or VERY dark blackish-green hair. I'll be using very heavy and fairly stiff fabric for his jacket, because it seems most fitting since it's based on a classic military design, but the burnt-orange sleeves will be lighter, probably a knit that has better drape to it so that I can get the flow that they seem to have when he's moving about in the series. I'm going to try my damndest to find fabric that's as close as possible to hakama fabric for his pants, because even though they're obviously not hakama (they're more like clown pants, actually...), I think that they're meant to be a more modernized take one something that would fulfill some of the same basic functions - helping hide leg movements due to being so wide-legged, and giving plenty of room to move - and because it makes sense for them to be made of something durable. Katsushiro is a ronin. He has no home, he wanders from place to place trying to prove himself as a samurai in a world that is rejecting the path he has chosen to follow. He would have to carry everything he owns with him, so it makes sense that the things he owns would need to last him as long as is possible. I'm debating adding a canteen to the costume, on his right side, because it just seems...fitting...even though it's not in the original design at any point.

I always over think these things. <3