A Sunday Afternoon Walk

This walk actually took place back in early June, when we had a few hours of sunlight and my husband wanted to take us to a new park he’d found. I wanted to take Kirsten to take her birthday photos but also got a little too excited and wound up taking FOUR dolls. This was the first time I’d ever taken dolls to photograph away somewhere, rather than just to a park or something around my house. At first I was a bit shy but found that the more I photographed, the less I Really cared about the people walking by. It probably helped that my husband and toddler son were with me.

So here are some of the pictures I took. It started to rain towards the end so we had to wrap it up. Also I refused to edit my photos because I have just do not have the time, haha.

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Happy Birthday, Kirsten!

A birthday post on time! Oh man all I’m doing a birthday post ON a birthday and it’s extra incredible because this has been a bonkers week with a super sick kid. The weather has also not been great. But last Sunday we had a few hours of decent weather before it got cold and rainy and, knowing Kirsten’s birthday was coming up, I took Kirsten and Addy out for some photos.

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Kirsten was one of the dolls that got me back into collecting as an adult. I loved pioneers and the Oregon Trail as a kid and my godmother had given me all Kirsten’s books, but I never got the doll, so when I found out they were retired, I ran to eBay to buy Kirsten and Felicity. Of course, since I didn’t do ANY research beforehand, I wound up with two Mattel dolls and just didn’t quite click with them, though sometimes I regret getting rid of my Kirsten. She didn’t look like book Kirsten to me, but she was a pretty doll.

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Did I get rid of this brown dress? I didn’t remember making it and don’t remember seeing it in her clothing box… maybe I put it in the “for kids to play with someday” box? Hm…IMG_9712

Anyway, the hunt was on for the perfect Kirsten and one day she popped up on eBay, a white body Kirsten with the sweetest little face. Unfortunately, she was dirty, had cut hair, and her fingers on one hand had been chewed off… But I bought her anyway, scraped the paint off her face, and eventually hunted down donor arms.

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The wig was a harder fine. I tried several blonde wigs but they all just looked too modern next to Kirsten’s. Finally I took a chance on some Engelpuppen wigs from Germany and the curly banged blond wig was perfect! Makes sense since that company made the original WB wigs. Maybe book Kirsten didn’t have pretty soft curls but I think she’s lovely and am happy with how she’s turned out, even with my kind of terrible face paint refresh.

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Poor Kirsten gets overlooked a lot. Her time period isn’t my favorite to sew for since there isn’t a ton of variety, and her things on the second-hand market are soooo pricy. Someday I do hope to track down pretty much her entire collection, because I just love all the wood and painting of her pieces.

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Ugh, now I’m feeling guilty. Maybe I’ll make another dress for her next. 🙂 I apreciate that she’s such a sweet girl, and I do really like her character in the books a lot too. I even like that simply by existing, Kirsten’s presence in the American Girl line-up helps reiterate that being born in the country is not what makes you an American, and that this country is made up of people born all over the place who found their way here (in both good and bad ways).

So Happy Birthday, Kirsten! I promise to make you a new dress soon.

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Final Doll Group Photos

I don’t mean final ever but good god I am not doing this again until I have a house with a doll room and can make some proper risers and set up my lighting kit and do the whole thing in stages. Also because, to be honest, looking at my collection as a whole makes me both happy and guilty. I have SO MANY dolls, and it feels selfish when we’re saving for a house and have a kid and all that. Doll collecting is such a luxury and I’m grateful for the time and money I’ve been able to put into mine. I try not to let myself feel too guilty.

Ok, more than guilty, I feel tired and lazy. Taking aaaall the dolls out of the dollhouse and getting them aaaaall set up at varying heights and checking aaaaall their hair and skirts and then making sure they’re aaaaaall facing the camera and then putting them aaaaaaall away… it takes forever!  have so little time for this.

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So anyway, here they are:

IMG_1478Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is the most POORLY laid out photo of a doll collection that has ever existed. They are at all sorts of different, weird heights. The photo can’t be cropped so you can see my kid’s toys and dog toys to the side. There’s a shadow cast by me and a shadow cast by the window shade so the girls in the back are 7 miles away and blocked out by the light?

You know what? Too bad. 🙂 This is all I had time for and I’m not redoing it. Do you know what a time-consuming thing it was to even construct this awful photo? My photo teachers from college are turning over in their beds (not their graves! I’m not that old!)

So I was unhappy with the photo but not about to set them all up again to redo it. Instead, I decided a more manageable way to photograph my collection for now was in clusters. Ok, also I’m just a big nerd and I like categorizing things a LOT and I’ve made enough lists just writing out my dolls’ names in the past few weeks to look crazy, so this was an excuse to do something dorky.

Now, don’t be prepared to be amazed just because I decided to do smaller group photos. These photos are still TERRIBLE. But you try photographing a collection of like 34 dolls with a toddler who’s cutting his molars. It is not easy!

First, the fantasy girls: Kestrel, Evelyn, Delaney, Tinuviel, and Eirlys.

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Then the 18th century girls: Kaya, Felicity, Vivienne, and Rosie.IMG_1480

Now the photos get even worse than standing on a blue towel. The 19th century girls: Josefina, Jemima, Caroline, Kirsten, Addy, and Gracie. (First, did you know I was almost named Jemima? I’m disappointed. It’s cute. Second of all: YES, I am trying YET ANOTHER doll for former-Ellen-then-Deirdre-now-Grace.)IMG_1505

What’s that? You miss shadowy pictures? Ok here you go! 20th century girls: Samantha, Nellie, Rebecca, Odette, Kit (whose eyebrows get totally lost), Bea, Emily, Molly (who needs her bangs cut), Maryellen, Nina, Meldy, and Ivy (who refuses to look at the camera). Also my dog Watson’s face because he refused to move away.IMG_1527

And finally, the modern girls. I don’t think i was even trying at this point. It looks like someone sneaking a cell phone picture on a closed movie set. Uh well. Here’s ???, Parisa, Margo, Flora, Leyla, Lenore, Sorah, and Kanani. Top left girl needs a name. Kanani has dark hair since this picture was taken mere days ago. And Margo and Flora have both been contemplating some time travel lately, so we’ll see what happens with them. IMG_1531

Ok, whew. We can all agree those are terrible pictures but there’s the fam and let’s not do this ever again*.

*Ever being until we get our house like I’m dreaming of and I have a dedicated doll room because I’m an overgrown child who refuses to buy a house that doesn’t have enough space for a dedicated doll room. 

Snow for some 19th century girls

OH MY GOSH, this never posted?? I’ll post it in May, fine. Obviously this did not just happen in May.

We got more snow! And despite the fact that my backyard is small and ugly, I still wanted to snap photos of a couple dolls out in it. Kirsten was an obvious choice because this is the first winter I’ve had her snowshoes and ribbons. And Addy made even more sense as well because it’s Black History Month (separate celebration post coming) and taking pictures of this beautiful girl is one of the small ways to celebrate.

So without further commentary, some pretty pictures!

Of course I JUST realized that one of Kirsten’s mittens slipped off. I had my toddler and two puppies out with me so there was a lot going on. But I rarely wear more than on glove (I keep one hand free to do things and just put it in my pocket to keep warm) so maybe Kirsten takes after me. 🙂
I also repainted Kirsten’s and Sam’s lips recently and I think I finally got the color right! Hurray!

Ok bonus pictures of my son and pups.

Pajama Party

I forgot to post this in January, but that’s the month each year I put my dolls in their PJs. For me, it’s because January is the worst month –the holidays are over, it’s cold and dark and snowy, and I’m always in a slump. This year wasn’t so bad, since my kid kept me hopping, but it still made me warm and snuggly to see everyone looking cozy in their jammies.

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School Photos 2016

My apartment has TERRIBLE lighting. You’ll have noticed almost all my doll photos are taken in the same place, which is actually in the entryway against a wall where we sort of get a little light in the late morning. If it’s sunny. And the actual lights in the apartment are harsh and yellow. So I decided to investigate a lightbox kit and it turns out they aren’t so expensive! $30 for a box, several colored backdrops, and two lights! And what better way to start familiarizing myself with it than doing class photos? I’ve been meaning to more standardize my “Crew” page for a while.

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It’s been several years since I’ve done individual portraits of all the dolls. I’ve done a group shot more recently, but there’s been turnover since then. For a number of reasons though, the group isn’t likely to expand any time soon (it’s highly likely I’ll be bringing GOTY 2017 home but that’s about it). We’re trying to save up for a house! Also, taking these pictures really cemented with me how HUGE my collection is. My collection has grown VERY rapidly in the past few years, and I think it’ll be good to just enjoy what I’ve got for a while. (Yes, I have said this all before. But I mean it this time! More importantly, I want a house!!)

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Anyway, on to the photos. Some of the girls definitely presented a challenge. Clothing had a big impact on how the dolls photographed; I discovered this when I changed Ellen’s and Ivy’s clothing and found the lighting worked much better for them. Some dolls gave me a perfect photo from shot one, while others I’d take a dozen and finally just have to settle.

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You’ll also notice breaking news. Elizabeth is gone; I spent my whole vacation thinking she just wasn’t right. Instead she’s now Pippa, my English Regency girl! And the modern girls who weren’t SUPPOSED to stay have names and let’s face it aren’t going anyway.

Now without further ado (and then off to redo the crew page!)

I also decorated the dollhouse for Halloween… I’ve put most dollhouse work on hold just because space is at such a premium right now since all the girls have to fit. My dollhouse is a big part of my real house daydreams, when I’ll be able to expand and the girls will all have a lot more room! But recent dollhouse questions made me realize I hadn’t photographed it in a while either, so here’s where it is right now… pretty crowded!

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Of course Kaya, not pictured, is on her shelf where she gets all the elbow room she wants.

My one regret with these pictures is that I decided to use my phone instead of my big camera. I thought “well, my phone photos usually look great, and they’re plenty for a blog.” However especially the group photo wound up pretty grainy when you start reformatting. Uh well. Next time. Maybe Christmas? We’ll see!

And thus concludes the doll portraits! All in a day’s (ok 2 days) work! Now to reorganize the crew page. Gotta love organized formatting!!!

New Years’ Eve Spa Day

Today kicked off what I thought would be a multi-day process of washing and changing all my dolls! Instead I did it in one afternoon, and even started in on some of the project dolls, although I didn’t get very far before we needed to prepare for company coming over. I took the opportunity though to take stock of everyone’s condition so I can be thinking about what to tackle next. Below are spa day report cards for everyone!

Kirsten – Washed and changed. Has a purple mark on arm and sometime soon I will probably want to wet and curl her hair, though it curled up pretty nicely even after being in braids for two months. Eventually her eyebrows may want darkening.

Kit – Washed and changed, and got rid of some spots on legs with Magic Eraser. All four limbs need restringing.

Felicity – Washed and changed. Hair washed and conditioned and is so much softer now!

Kanani – Washed and changed, hair washed and conditioned and recurled. She’s drying with her curls pinned right now, but is otherwise in great shape.

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Ellen – Washed and changed and cleaned off some spots with Magic Eraser. She has quite a bit of work needed: eyelids need painting, lips could use a touch-up, still a few spots remaining, and her legs are pretty loose.

Kaya – Washed and changed. Perfect condition otherwise!

Ivy – Washed and changed. Perfect otherwise!

Rebecca – Changed, since she’s brand new. Perfect condition.

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Samantha – Washed and changed, some spots removed on legs and I did a little bit of work on the staining on her legs from her black tights but it didn’t seem to do much. Her legs are a little bit loose but not too bad. Her body is pretty stained if I ever get around to washing bodies.

Nellie – Washed and changed. She has pretty loose legs too, and her legs are also stained by the same frigging tights. I have three different black tights I put them in though and I’m not sure which pair did it! I’m 99% sure it’s the one that came with Samantha’s new Holiday dress. 😦

Molly – Washed and changed. Great condition!

Emily – Washed and changed. Perfect condition!

Delaney – Washed and changed. Perfect condition!

Tinuviel – Washed and changed. Perfect condition!

Josefina – Washed and changed. Legs are slightly loose but not bad.

Addy – Washed and changed. Perfect condition!

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Vivienne – Washed and changed. Perfect condition!

Peter – Washed and changed. Discovered his right hand has some subtle pink nailpolish in the nail beds. Peter came from a board member via eBay several years ago, and I’m sort of surprised she’d have let that slip, but then I didn’t notice for 3 years either so… I’m going to experiment with eye swapping and painting with a project doll and if I like it, I’d like to paint his eyes.

Cordelia & Evelyn – Neither one got washed or changed because neither girl has a nightgown. Oops! Probably doing a JoAnn’s run tomorrow to remedy.

As you can see, quite the ordeal! I mainly used baking soda and warm water for washing, and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on tough spots. I don’t think it’s quite the miracle worker people on the board said it was, but it did successfully remove a lot of spots baking soda didn’t, so I’m glad to have it.

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All of that took at least four hours, maybe another half hour on top of that –I didn’t do a good job of keeping count. But I wasn’t quite done, so I started a little on the project dolls, but I’ll get to them more tomorrow!