Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dolls celebrate Girl Scout Week and more miniatures

If you want your doll to be a Girl Scout, you can either buy one of the official GS dolls, buy a GS outfit on ebay or make your own.  Today I will show you all three options.  I will also show you how to make miniature accessories for you GS doll or any doll.

My daughter and I displayed some dolls for a recent Girl Scout event to celebrate 100 Years of Girl Scouts.

American Girl dolls as GS leader, junior GS new (scrounged) outfit, Junior GS older (ebay) outfit, official Paradise Gallery GS doll and AG doll wearing the old brownie (ebay) outfit.  Zoarzoar (left), Heather (2nd from left) and Kirsten (farthest right) are all ebay rescue dolls.  Kirsten still needs some work.  Her "plastic surgery" will be a future post.

It's easy to make your own GS style outfit if you can sew.  Here is a close up for the 3 "junior GS" dolls and you can see the differences.  Heather with homemade outfit, Kit with ebay outfit and Lili (Paradise Galleries)  licensed "official" GS doll.
Heather (left) is wearing a white long sleeve t-shirt and tan pants from AG outfits that we already had.  The new GS uniform is a white shirt and khaki pants, so no need to sew or buy them if you already have some.  She is also wearing a vest I made.  I traced a doll clothes vest pattern that I already had.  I cut the seam allowance off the arm holes and outside edges of the vest.  I picked some green fabric I had and some green bias binding I had that is close in color.  I sewed the shoulders and sides of the vest.  Instead of making a lining, I used the bias binding around the edges.  This is fast and much easier sewing than a lined vest.  Next I used fine point permanent markers to draw a troop crest (cardinal) and the GS idenitifiers on white felt.  I made a pin tab from felt and bought real GS miniature membership pin and WAGGGS pin.  They are about $5 each, so you could save some money if you drew them too.  I really wanted the real pins, so I bought them.  Here are close up shots of the items on the vest and Heather wearing the vest.  She looks very cute!


This vest may not look perfect, but the felt is sewed on (not a picture like the ebay vest) and the pins are real.  It was fun to do this and someday I might make some interest patches for Heather's vest too.  It wouldn't be too hard and I could make badges that my troop really worked on when they were juniors.

My "fun" item for our GS celebration was to dress ZoarZoar, my first ebay rescue doll, like a GS leader instead of a girl.  She is wearing a GS vest that also came with the doll from Paradise Galleries (most leaders don't wear vests.. they are not the official adult uniform).  Zoarzoar is carrying two huge totes to the GS meeting.  This is what most leaders look like going to meetings.  They don't really sell miniatures of the things a leader would carry, so I got creative.  I made the minature magazine by finding GS books and magazines for sale on the GSUSA web site.  (These are copyrighted images so you cannot sell them or use them to make a profit.  I'm only making them for personal use and will not make any money from showing them to you, so it's okay).  From my last blog I told you that a typical magazine scaled to 1/3 life size will be 2.5 inches wide and 3-3.5 inches high making it doll sized.  My photo program didn't have that size so I printed both wallet size and contact sheet size and picked the ones that looked better.  To make them thicker, I glued craft foam on the back.  YOu can see the sizes from the measurements on the cutting mat.

I put these in a small tote bag I had that came with a stuffed animal in it.  Things like tote bags come in all kinds of sizes, so just look around.  There are many that will work and craft stores sell little tote bags to decorate.  Sometimes you can even find things like that at a "dollar store" that will work.  I added some other things to the tote bag... small felt shapes I had, some thin embroidery yarn that would look like string or regular yarn, and a small sized American Flag (the kind they give out for 4th of July).  I stuffed the bag with tissue paper almost to the top.  I didn't want to waste time making things that would be in the bottom of the bag and wouldn't show.  I put the items on top and even I pulled some of the books up so it looked like they were almost falling out.  I think that makes it look like Zoarzoar has a lot of supplies stuffed into her bag.

The GS leader always needs snacks for the meeting.  I used a tiny shopping bag from American Girl Place.  (They give you a tiny bag like this if you buy doll earnings or something small).  I found some doll sized drink containers we had around the house.  I think these came with a set of baby doll dishes.  The labels looked pretty fake, so I just pushed them down further into the bag.  They look okay.   I used a real "lunch box size" bag of snack chips that looks like a big bag for the dolls and a bag of Kiwanis peanuts (the kind you get if you donate to Kiwanis fund drive during peanut days in the fall).  I don't think it is as convincing as the tote bag, but it looks pretty good.   When you see them with ZoarZoar, the effect is pretty realistic.

ZoarZoar is a very creative GS leader who makes her own jewelry.  In the next post I'll talk about making doll jewelry either from the American Girl kit available from AG and Michaels, or by using your own jewelry supplies.  Come and see the next post and tell your friends about my blog.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Making and scrounging miniatures for your dolls

Here is a picture of ZoarZoar in her "living room."  I made a few of the miniatures myself and found the rest around the house.  You can save a lot of money by making your own miniatures or "shopping in your house" for items you already have.  This post will focus on things I bought or already had.  Next time I'll talk about making minatures.  So.... read here and then start looking around your house for things you can use! 

You can use math and the scale of the dolls.  Your 18 inch doll reprenents a 8-11 year old girl. The average height for girls is 50-57 inches.  Let's use 54 inches as the height of the girls.  This is in the middle of the range and divides by 18.  So, a 54 inch girl is 3 times the height of an 18 inch doll.  This means your minature should be 1/3 the height and 1/3 the width of the real life object.  You don't have to use fractions of inches.  Real objects vary a lot, so round to the nearest half inch and you'll be okay.

If you have objects that aren't quite the right size, try them out.  They will work if they are close.  After a while you will get really good at judging.

ZoarZoar's sofa is a sewing pin cushion/thread storage miniature that I got on sale at a sewing notions store a friend of mine owns.  I didn't measure it at the store, but thought it was about the right size for a small love seat or bench.  It looks a little short here because ZoarZoar is standing on a doll stand that adds about one inch to her height.  It looks better when she isn't in her stand.   

It is close to two real benches I have.  Both are 44-45 inches wide.  ZoarZoar's bench is only 12 inches wide... a little small (3 X 12 = 36).  It should be 14.5 or 15 inches but not all benches are exactly the same size, so a little difference is okay.

The depth of the real bench seats are 16-17 inches.  ZoarZoar's 5.5 inch deep bench is in the range (3 X 5.5 = 16.5).  The height of the real bench seats are 18 inches and 21 inches on the cushioned bench.  ZoarZoar's 6.5 inch high bench seat is in the range (6.5 X 3 = 19.5). The back on my real benches are 36-37 inches.  ZoarZoar's bench is 10.5 inches which is a little small, but still pretty close to the range (3 X 10.5 = 31.5) so it works.

Two of ZoarZoar's baskets (on on the left here) are miniature collectable baskets I bought many years ago.  They can be pretty expensive, but if you already have them, they are "free" to use. 

The basket on the bench in her room (right here) is from JoAnn fabric and was very inexpensive. 

Remember that real basket come in all different sizes from the size of a coffee mug to the size of a laundry basket or a hamper, so most mini baskets will work if you use them for the right purpose.  As you can see, ZoarZoar's little gold basket is s pin cushion I made years ago and decided to donate to ZoarZoar's room.

Books and magazine:  Books can vary a lot from a paperback book (Real magazines aren't all the same size, but most are about 8 inches wide and between 10 and 10.5 inches high.  These numbers don't divide nicely by 3, so just get close.  Use 2.5 inches for the width and 3 or 3.5 inches for the height.  The book of about 3.75 by 7 inches to a big "coffee table" type book 9.5 by 11 inches to 11 by 14 inches.  This means that the miniature quilting book 3 by 3.5 inches would be real book of 9 by 10.5 inches and fits into the coffee table book size.

The quilt on ZoarZoar's bench is a miniature quilt I made with tiny scraps from a little quilt.  I didn't make it for ZoarZoar at the time, just for fun.  This is one of the things I found when "shopping around my house" looking for things for ZoarZoar's living room.  It is 5.25 by 7 inches so it's a little quilt for ZoarZoar that she might use as a wall hanging or as a doll quilt.

The quilt on ZoarZoar's wall is a little quilt I made a long time ago.  It is 17.5 wide by 21 inches tall and might be just the size quilt ZoarZoar would make for a nice lap quilt so I hung it in "her room."  The denim wall hanging was made for ZoarZoar's room from scraps I had made testing my needle felting machine.  I put them together to look like a fiber art wall hanging ZoarZoar could have made.

The biggest secret to making a miniature room look real is to avoid oversized (real size) objects being too close.  Look how you can tell ZoarZoar's room is tiny when you see the real furniture in my sewing room.

Friday, October 7, 2011

What is Doll Science?

Doll rescue is fun, saves money.  It is a good way for girls to learn about polymer science.  It is also environmentally friendly.  It doesn't cost much to fix up a doll if you use my techniques.  The initial purchase of the cleaning supplies will cost a little money, but they give you enough to rescue dozens of dolls.  If you cannot afford the special supplies, Dawn dishwashing detergent is pretty safe but might not work as well.  Taking a doll that was ready for the garbage can and turning her into a doll that you or someone else can use is an example of how good chemistry can help you be green.  It means that the doll won't end up in a land fill.  It means that new plastic won't be needed to make a new doll.  It's thrifty and it's fun.  What more can you ask?

I rescue used dolls and fix them up.  Usually I give them away to girls who like AG dolls but can't afford to buy them.  Some I keep for myself, like my first rescue ZoarZoar.  I have a few rules about this.  First, I don't buy new heads or new wigs.  The fun part for me is taking a sad-looking doll and making her better with my own hands.  There are lots of sites that tell you how to do this.  Some don't use good science and tell you to do things that can damage the doll in years to come.  I read all about plastic dolls, which are usually polyvinyl chloride, and learned how they are made and how to take care of them.  This is what I call Doll Science.

I use Dawn dishwashing detergent to wash the hair then an unscented fabric softener soak.
I clean my dolls bodies ONLY with products from Twin Pines of Maine.  These products were designed by a polymer chemist and are safer for you dolls than most home remedies.  His name is Nicholas Hill and he wrote a book about dolls.  You can find the products and book on their website.

Check out Recusing ZoarZoar for a photostory of my first doll rescue.

Rescue Dolls-ZoarZoar

                                                        ZoarZoar's story:
ZoarZoar came from ebay.  This picture is from the e-bay sale in her old home.  Her former owner was a little girl who decided to be a doll hair dresser.  This must have been her first cut or maybe a goth style.

My daughter Lily, who knows a lot about AG dolls, thinks ZoarZoar started her life as the American Girl Molly.  Molly has braids and cutting them off could explain this weird cut.  ZoarZoar was probably left in a hot car or hot place too.  Her face is a little bit warped and you can see that the left eye socket is rounder than the right one. 

Vinyl dolls are a "thermoplastic." Thermoplastics can be melted down and remolded many times.  This means they can soften enough for the vinyl to move and change shape if left in hot places.  These really can't be fixed without reheating her and risking more damage.  (Even though you can remelt and remold polyvinylchloride plastic, it loses some strength each time you do it).  I decided not to try to soften and reshape her face because it might make her worse.  I thought she would look fine once she was cleaned up.  Check out the process below and I think you will agree.  (In case you are wondering about her name, I named her after the seller's e-bay profile name.  It seemed to fit her.)

ZoarZoar's hair was very uneven.  She didn't have many stains, but she had been played with and was dirty. Her legs were a little loose and floppy.  She did have a stain on the cloth body, that might be glue.  ZoarZoar's seller was very honest about ZoarZoar's condition.  This is important.  If you by an e-bay doll, read the description carefully and ask questions if you have any.  These are also pictures from ZoarZoar in her old home.

The first thing I did was take ZoarZoar's head off, remove her stuffing.  I decided her legs were not floppy enough to restring her.  (Restringing is a long process).  Instead I used the "hair tie" trick I found on many websites.  You just pull the leg strings up and wrap a hair tie aound the strings below the old crimp.  To be safe, it is best to use one of the "ouchless" hair ties that doesn't have any metal on it.  Metal can react with your dolls "skin" and turn it colors.  After that I restuffed Zoar Zoar with new fiberfill stuffing and put her head back on.

I washed ZoarZoar's arms and legs with Formula 911 from TwinPines.  I washed one limb at a time using a wet paper towel and rinsed it right away.  I was careful not to get her cloth body wet.  I washed tight spaces with a bit of paper towel folded over a toothpick.  For stubborn places, like between toes or edge of the mouth, I carefully used the round end of a flat toothpick without the paper towel.

I put vaseline on the painted parts of ZoarZoars face just to make sure they were not removed by the Formula 911.  I also covered her eyes before I washed her face and used a paper towel that I dipped in the cleaner.

I tried to get the stains from ZoarZoar's body with formula 911 but they wouldn't budge.  I really think they were dried glue or something like that.  Nothing I tried would soak into them but was making her body damp.  I decided they wouldn't show with clothes on and I didn't want to get her body any wetter.

Next I trimmed and washed her hair so it would be clean and flat for her final hair cut.  I worked slowly and carefully so I would not get her eyes wet or get the wig glue wet.  I dried it right away with a paper towel.  NEVER use heat to dry a dolls hair.  It is plastic, not real hair and it will melt. 
I decided that Zoar Zoar needed to look pretty next.  I cut her hair.  In truth, I'm not much better at hair cuts than Zoar Zoar's previous owner.  The only difference is that I'm an adult and so I have more patience.. and probably thought about how to cut it a little more before I tried.  I cut it longer at first and slowly shortened and layered it.

So the next part of pretty was to pierce her ears.  I had read on other web sites that you could do this with a thumbtack.  I decided to use a push pin instead.  It's not easy and you have to push pretty hard.  This makes holes the size of earrings for humans.  The pin tends to snap down suddenly when it breaks through and you can see the dent left in her ear by the red part hitting so hard.  They went away by themselves later.

Some doll supply companies sell a special doll ear piercing kit that will make bigger holes.  These will fit the doll earrings that American Girl and some other companies sell.  It makes a big hole and I was worried that ZoarZoar was a little old for that rough of treatment.

I decided to repaint her lips and eyebrows.  I used acrylic paint that I already had.   I mixed the paint with Fabric Medium.  Nicholas Hill (Twin Pines) says this will prevent the paint from bleeding into the liquid plasticizer in the doll and spreading.  In this picture, her lips are the right eyebrow are repained.  The left eyebrow is the original.  See what a big difference this makes?  I also added some freckles with a toothpick dipped into the brown paint.  The nice thing about the fabric medium, is that the wet paint will come off easily if you make a mistake.  I know this because I did it a few times on her lips.  I did my painting with a tooth pick and a very fine point brush.
Finally her hair last hair trim and a little silicon spray to make her hair less fly away and shinier.  Take her picture with sunlight and wow!  What a makeover! ZoarZoar before on left and after on right.  She can wear her bangs feathered back, like in this picture, or straight across, like the picture below.

ZoarZoar lives in my quilting room.  This is her first spot in a home made outfit.  She has a nicer spot now that I will show you sometime in a future post when I talk about making things for your doll using craft techniques with leftover fabric scraps.   Yes, there is a little science in these crafts and some more green ideas.  So come back and visit each month to see the new posts!

Also visit my daughter's blog,  & web site to see more cool doll stuff including her e-bay rescue of Chance... who also had a really unfortunate hair cut and a felt tip marker bathing suit.