Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Growing Pains

While Raleigh was very happy when her cousins Rebecca and Ramona moved in, things were getting a big crowded.
So, as darling divas do, the girls started complaining to me about there housing in the binders in the bookcase. I had to do something fast before they drove me totally crazy!

My first thoughts were to buy a pink, plastic, palace. When looking around, I realized they were over priced, for how they were made and what they were made of and wouldn't really suit the girls. Next, I looked at some wonderful wooden kits. These suited the girls better, but they were expensive and the rooms would be too small for the furniture I had already made for the girls.

I guess my only option is to build the girls a new home. Ok, so a beautiful house of wood.... No, that won't work. It would be expensive and heavy, plus, with my health issues, I can't manage most power tools any more. I needed another option before the girls got to hostile! Foam core! Perfect! Cheap enough, I can get it at Dollar Tree, light weight, I can carry lots of sheets at once and easy to cut with my Xacto or scissors!

Originally, I was going to glue all the rooms to each other, but changed my mind when I thought about the ultimate size of the house. I decided to build a series of boxes from the foam core and then stack them or place them side by side. I wanted the girls to have plenty of room, so each box is the size of a piece of foam core 30" x 18" with 15" high walls. Some of the boxes will be divided, some will be used as is.

The first floor box is divided and will be the kitchen and the bathroom. I should have taken pics of the box under construction, but I didn't think about it. I will do so for the 2nd floor box.

I needed wallpaper, flooring and such. There doesn't seem to be too much in 1/6th scale commercially made. Most of what is available is traditional doll house size, which is 1/12th scale. While some of that scale will work for Blythe, I decided to make what I could on my own. I went to Pinterest and found lots of miniature printables for just what I needed. Some I had to resize in Photoshop and some could use as is.

I decided to work on the bathroom first because I had the purple tub to use to create a color scheme. Of course, a bathroom calls for lots of tile. I found a great purple subway tile with a black border to use on the walls. Additionally, I found a purple  and white tile that I could use on the floor and the corner shower. I printed the tiles on photo paper to make them look glossy, like real tiles. Here is the coordinating  Bathroom Wallpaper, which I printed on standard computer paper. I glued everything on with a glue stick for 2 reasons, first, foam core will warp if it is exposed to too much moisture and second, I did have to seal my printies, which would run, if they were exposed to too much moisture.

Here are some pictures of the bathroom so far:

 The soap dish over the tub was a piece of plastic packaging and the soap is a scrap of foam core. The shelf is made the same way the one was done in the sewing room binder. It is longer and the shelf is made of corrugated cardboard. I cut down a bamboo skewer, painted it black, and glued it into the shelf brackets as a towel bar. The towels are a microfiber cloth from Dollar Tree and the bottles are beads I glued together.

The corner shower doesn't look like much at the moment. It is simply pieces of foam core glued together with the tile glued on it. The purple sun had a small mirror glued on the other side. I removed it, because of the weight, and glued it to the wall.
The first floor box has a divider, made of foam core, to create 2 rooms. On the other side of the bathroom is the kitchen.
I haven't done the wallpaper or the flooring yet, I may use scrapbook paper for it. The appliances and sink were all made by me using printables on photo paper, boxes, trash and cardboard. You can find the appliance printables on My Small Obsession. They are 1/12th scale and have to be resized.

The stove was made using a boutique tissue box with foam core for the top piece.

Rebecca is already cooking breakfast on it. 

The knobs are parts of snaps. Her pan, with the egg in it is an eraser.

The fridge was made from a shoe box.
The fruit bowl on the top was made from a cover and some pieces from a Christmas decoration.

Th sink was made from corrugated cardboard and a foam core back splash because I couldn't find the right sized box to fit between the fridge and the stove.

For the faucet, I used the hook portion from a suction cup and painted it silver.

The hot and cold knobs are beads and so are the cabinet knobs. The sink itself was a piece of plastic packaging that I also painted silver. I cut a hole in the card board and inset the plastic piece. You can see the hook also inserted into the cardboard. I covered this, and the foam core back splash in a black granite printable on photo paper.

The only piece I didn't make in the kitchen is the hutch. It is part of a Gloria Brand play set for 11 1/2" fashion dolls. It is missing the back piece. Once I make dishes to put in the hutch, I will put something on the back.

Both of these rooms still have a lot of work to be done and of course, there are a lot more rooms left to build. I will keep you up to date as I build. The other advantage of keeping the rooms separate is that I can work on whatever room I have the materials for.

If you would like to follow any of my boards on Pinterest to see where I get my inspiration, here's the link:

Also, if you would like to see what I have for sale right now, please visit me on Etsy at The Black Onyx Boutique

And last, but not least, yes, I am reusing the binders. This one used to be Raleigh's living room, now it is an idea book for their house.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

NKOTB! (New Kids On The Block)

NKOTB! (New Kids On The Block), No, not the boy band, although I have seen them in concert, in their home state of Massachusetts, back in the good old days. I have two new girls! Ramona and Rebecca have come to join Raleigh as part of my big eyed girls family.

The first girl who joined us is Ramona. She is a Middie Blythe, Jackie Ramone. I renamed her Ramona, to keep close to her stock name.
Middie Blythe dolls are only 8" tall. They are different from the regular Blythe girls in that their eyes are not different chips that can be changed with the pull of a string. Instead, they have one set of chips which can change from left, center and right gaze. They also have a tilt neck feature and their legs do not bend. I love this little cutie and think she make a great younger sister for Blythe.

Middies were actually introduced after the Petites were and currently, there seems to be less available for them. I have discovered that clothes made for the vintage 6" Holly Hobbie dolls fit her quite well. The outfit above was purchased on eBay and it was hand made to fit that doll.
In this picture, she is wearing one of Holly's original dresses. Although it is a little hard to see because of her black stand, Ramona is wearing black ankle boots made for Kelly, Barbie's baby sister. She can wear the shoes made for the modern version of Kelly, but not the older version. Although Kelly's clothes don't fit, some of the things that come with the doll work well.
Here she is with a scarf and Santa cocoa mug that came with a Kelly doll. As with any doll I have, I always look to see what I can borrow from others to see what might work. I came across this little dress, that also fit Ramona, but I don't know what doll it is originally from. Any help identifying it would be greatly appreciated.

My next new girl is Rebecca, who is a customized Jecci 5 doll. She is wearing an outfit I made for the January Sewing Challenge on Blythe Kingdom. It is also available on my new Etsy Store: The Black Onyx Boutique.
She was customized by Vertefae and I just love her. Jecci 5 dolls are approx. the same size as Blythe dolls. They have the color changing eyes and big head that Blythe is famous for, but the Jecci dolls are less expensive and the quality isn't as good. Being that I couldn't afford a custom Blythe doll, Rebecca presented a good option for me. Her customization includes matting, new makeup, carved lips, eye sockets and nose.

When putting Raleigh and Rebecca side by side, the differences become very obvious.

I have found that I do prefer the matte finish that Rebecca has on her face, but I would never change Raleigh's to be like that. Because Ashton Drake Galleries no longer makes Blythe dolls, I want to keep the original integrity as much as possible.

So now, with the Littlest Pet Shop Blythes and these girls, my Big Eyed family has grown to 7! I know that my collection will continue to expand, because I have my eye on several other dolls.

In the meantime, Raleigh, Rebecca and Ramona ask that you stay safe and warm, as this winter has been pretty rough for everyone.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Finders Keepers

Sorry it has been a while since I have posted, I just don't know where the time goes! This past week, I had a chance to go out and do some shopping and I found some interesting things for Raleigh.

As you know, I have been looking for a black entertainment center, instead of the silver one that is in Raleigh's living room right now. My Dollar Tree didn't have them, but one in another town did, YAY! The new one matches the end tables, so we are both happy about that.

I think all of you know by now that I am a bargain hunter. Next to Dollar Tree, some of my favorite places to shop are second hand stores, like Goodwill. I scored this fun and funky, purple slipper tub for Raleigh for only 99 cents!

Now I am going to have to create a bathroom to go with this great find. I wonder if I can find a purple toilet somewhere. LOL!

My next great find, at the same Goodwill store, is a Littlest Pet Shoppe Blythe! She was alone, without her pet and her shoes are also missing, but, she was only 49 cents!!!! I took her home and washed her up and her hair became delightfully curly. Isn't she adorable?
My other little girls said they would share their shoes and their pets with her, so she is a happy girl. If anyone knows what set she is from, I'd love to hear from you.

And the finds don't stop there! In Joanns, I found coffee and donuts for Raleigh to enjoy. Coffee and donuts in the fabric store you ask. Yes, in the bead aisle, of all places. I was checking out the clearance section, of course, when I came across this strand of glass beads.
See the little white coffee cups and the pink frosted donuts? I knew that they were the perfect size for Raleigh when I saw them. And you can see, she thinks so too. She is enjoying coffee and donuts while she watches the morning news.

Doesn't she look comfy and cozy in her flannel nightie and soft slippers? Your Blythe doll can have her own slippers too. I have them available in many different colors at: Colleen's Cottage Shop.

I made two more great discoveries while I was looking at Christmas ornaments and both will make great additions to Raleigh's living room. The first came from Hobby Lobby, it is this great ornament that will be transformed into a perfect chandelier.
The only thing that really needs to be done is change out the center crystal. It is far too long and will hang too low from the ceiling. Once I get a new crystal to replace it, it will be perfect.

The other ornaments that I bought was also from Joanns. Isn't this chair just too much! I fell in love with it.
All that I have to do is cut the silver hanging cord and it is perfect just the way it is. The color and fabric will be great in Raleigh's black and white living room.

Oh, I almost forgot about another find from Goodwill. Actually, Raleigh is mortified and didn't want me to show this to you.
She and I both agree that this is a very ugly chair, but for 99 cents, I couldn't pass is up. It has good bones, and I can reupholster it. I promised Raleigh that she could help me pick out the fabric from my stash when I had time to redo it, so we will save that for another post.

So next time you are out shopping, look beyond the normal scope of things for your girls. You never know when something you find will be a keeper.

P.S.: Christmas is coming! Make sure you have stockings for Santa to fill for you girls.
These are also available at: Colleen's Cottage Shop

Monday, October 28, 2013

Such a Snooze... ZZZZZZZ

Raleigh has informed me that her living room is so boring that she fell asleep on the couch.
Well, I have had some projects in mind for the room, so I figured I had better get started with them quickly. You know how those fashionistas can be if they don't get what they want and get it quickly.

The big bottom shelf of her entertainment center was still empty, so I figured that would be a good place to start. I had two pieces of plastic from some packaging that I thought would make a great aquarium. They fit perfectly into that empty shelf. I needed some fish and greenery, so I made some out of Sculpey. (No laughing)
Next, I would need a background and started searching the web for one. Well, it was then that I came across this: Hitty's Print Minis and there was a lovely, printable fish tank. It was going to look much nicer than what I could manage to make. I adjusted the print size so that it would fit on the shelf and printed it on glossy photo paper. I also found a picture of a can of fish food, shrunk it down and printed it on regular paper. I taped it around a piece of drinking straw and added a small button to the top for a lid. Here's what the entertainment center now looks like:
There's a Barbie boom box on the shelf next to the fish food. Barbie and Blythe are both considered to be 1/6th scale which is also called Playscale. I wish that the entertainment center was black like the two end tables. I did go back to the Dollar Tree looking for it in black, but they only have these desk items out during "Back to School" time. I did try to paint it with black acrylic paint, but it didn't stick well to the metal. I would consider spray paint, but I am afraid it would clog up the holes in the mesh. Maybe I will just wait until next year and see if I can get a black one.

Now I had gone through the trouble to make the fish and the greenery, so I didn't want them to go waste. I at least figured out what to do with the leaves. I added a little bit of green paint, in a darker shade, to tone them down a bit. Once they were dry, I coated them with clear nail polish to seal the paint and also make them glossy like real leaves. I rummaged through my "trash to treasure" drawer and found a cover to a glue stick that with a little ribbon added to it would make a perfect plant pot.
The ribbon wasn't quite wide enough, so I glued thin black ribbon around the top edge of the cover. I then filled it with scraps of Styrofoam and stuck the painted leaves in. I spread a thin layer of glue over the foam and then added coffee grounds over it to simulate dirt. I was very happy with the results and so was Raleigh. She was grateful it wasn't a real plant; she simply didn't have time for one with her busy schedule.

I did once last project to spruce up Raleigh's living room, I made her a floor lamp. It was another trash to treasure project. This is some of what I used:
I also used a button for the base and some pony beads.
I covered the spool with a piece of the plastic, black mesh and then painted it with black nail polish. The lamp post is made with a section of drinking straw that I slid pony beads onto. I had glued the first bead to a button to form the based and the last bead to the spool. Here's the finished lamp:
Raleigh is very happy with what I have done so far, but says it will need more eventually. Fashionisitas! There is just no pleasing them. Now she is complaining that she should have taken off her heels before she fell asleep and put on her new slippers.

Does your Fashionista need some new slippers to pamper her feet? You can find them in various colors at:
Colleen's Cottage Shop

Until next time, Raleigh would like to wish you a Happy Halloween!

PS: Her reversible dress is available at : Colleen's Cottage Shop too.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Off With Her Head! And This Time I Really Mean It!

If you are familiar with Blythe dolls, you know that by pulling the string on the back of her head, her eyes will change color. There are four sets of eye chips, in different colors, set at different angles, that make this possible. Even with all this fun eye movement, the one thing that her eyes don't do is stay closed. The eye lids do close in between each eye color change, but that's it. A lot of dolls have eyes that close when they are laid down. Blythe doesn't do that.

If you do a Google search, you will find many tutorials on how to give Blythe sleep eyes. The problem is that you have to open up her head to do this. Frankly, that notion scared me. It had made me nervous enough when I scalped her, never mind opening up her head.

Finally I found a tutorial that didn't require Raleigh to undergo brain surgery. LOL You can find it here:
Sleep Eye Tutorial. I found this a few weeks ago, but was still hesitant about doing it. After all, Raleigh is an Ashton Drake Gallery doll and they are no longer made. Her value (price tag) has gone up substantially since I bought her. And besides, I could never really replace her if she got ruined. Sure I could get another doll, but she wouldn't be Raleigh.

So the tutorial said to use a crochet hook. I didn't have one, so I substituted this hook tool.
Next, I was to pull on the little wire, that is part of a spring, in the slot, on the back of her head, until I saw an eyelet or loop. I proceeded carefully, but instead of seeing a loop, I watched the tiny wire slide through the slot into her head. I freaked out! I tested her eyes and they still worked normally. YAY! I knew I had to fix the spring and they only way to do that was to open her head. YIKES! That is what I was trying to avoid in the first place.

So, I found a tutorial about how to make the sleep eyes with her head open. Tutorial for Sleep Eyes. I got a screwdriver and took out the two screws in the back of Raleigh's head. Unlike some other brands, the Ashton Drake Blythe dolls have 2 screws and not 3. First thing that happened when the screws came out was that her head fell off her body. Now I am in complete panic! They don't warn you about that.
The picture is blurry because my hands were shaking. I was hoping that I didn't do any damage to the neck. Nothing I could do but to keep going and fix the spring.

The front and back plates had to be separated to fully open her head. There is a seam, so this isn't too hard. Since I had scalped Raleigh, it wasn't difficult to do. I am not sure how manageable it would be if her scalp was intact, but in the tutorial, they didn't remove it.
So now you can see the spring above her eye mechanism. There is no eyelet or loop at the end of it, which is why the wire went inside her head. Ashton Drake dolls differ from other in this case too. The end of the spring is just a small piece of wire, which has a slight bend in it, to hook over the slot in the back of the head. The only way to do the sleep eye technique, on an Ashton Drake doll, in my opinion, is to open her head.

The next step is to feed a cord through the hole where the spring is attached. I used a cord which is meant for making jewelry. Then, to keep the spring from moving around too much, you tie the cord to the other end of the spring. This was tricky without a loop to tie it through.
You can actually remove the spring entirely, but if you want to put her eyes back to normal, you will need it. I wasn't going to fiddle with it and so I just left it tied off.

After feeding the new cord into the slot. It was time to put Raleigh's head and body back together and test things. Thankfully, her neck was fine and everything went back into place perfectly. I tested her new skill and Voila! it worked!
I had to put a pull ring on the new cord, but I decided to use a charm instead. Since I was doing that, I figure I would also put one on her original cord and take off the very plain pull ring. I also shortened the cord at that time. I always felt it was way too long and it was always getting in the wasy.

This funky glass star and heart were in my bead stash and thought they were perfect for Raleigh. Now, when you pull the heart cord, Raleigh's eyes close. Note: if you do this, make sure you pull hard enough to hear the "click" from the eye mechanism, at least in Ashton Drake models. When you pull the star cord, her eyes open and have changed to the next color chip.

I am very happy with the results of this, it was just a bit nerve wracking along the way.

I will close by sharing a new dress I made for Blythe this week. It is reversible, so you get 2 looks for the price of 1. You can purchase it here: Reversible Dress for Blythe

I have more of these versatile dresses cut out and ready to sew. You can look for them in the near future.