Thursday, February 16, 2017

Artwork: Isiah & Elijah (Part 6)

Artist: Raezyn101


At long last, I have come to final volume of artwork featuring the adorable and charming, Isiah and Elijah. Huzzah! Or should I say, farewell?

It's been fun revisiting all of the artwork I've collected with these boys. It's so inspiring to see how much they've changed throughout the years, and all the artistic interpretations they've been through. I really need to get back to drawing them myself!

Artist: ZeeKayArt
Artist: zombiesara

Artist: grimlywoven

Artist: Raezyn101

Artist: Raezyn101

Monday, February 6, 2017

Advice: 10 Tips for Choosing Your First Doll

Despite my 10 of years experience in the BJD hobby, I still find myself hesitant to really give these sort of tutorial-guide-help-thingy articles. Yet I find them quite enjoyable to write, and I'm always hopeful they will somehow becoming a useful tool to even one new collector just starting out. So I picked over my brain on a topic that has long since become my past and decided to write upon an issue pretty much every new BJD owner comes face to face with: how to decide on which doll shall be your first. 

So in no particular, here are my Top Ten Tips for the beginner BJD collector!


1. Why: Yes, the most obvious of the obvious. Yet, ironically, a question that can easily be overlooked. But I really feel it's one of the most important things of all to consider. After all, we don't all collect for the same reasons, and while there is no better or worse reason than another, it can certainly influence your final choice.  

So I challenge you to really think about exactly why you want a BJD. Make a list, and write it all out. Do you want one solely as an art pieces to display? Do you want a buddy to tote around with to the ends of the earth? Maybe you want a project to work on, to experiment with different tools and methods. Some people want a hoard of future dollies to fill every nook and cranny of their humble abode while some shudder at the thought of more than a couple. Some want their dolls as art or photography models while other dolls will spend most of their time tucked securely away in their box.

In my many years of experience, both in my own collections and from observing the collections of others, the answers to these types of questions are usually directly linked to the types of dolls someone is interested in. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, but for someone newly getting into the hobby, where it's very easy to be overwhelmed by the vast multitude of choices, narrowing down your reasons can also in turn help you whittle down your choices as to which doll will best fill your need. 

So think about it, if your new resin buddy is going to be toted around for sunny beach photo shoots complete with sea-water dunk ins and seaweed playtime, is a beauty white Limited Edition 80 cm behemoth really the most practical of choices? Maybe. Maybe not. Reflect on it.

2. Open mind: I think it's important to realize that you don't have to keep your very first doll. 

I know, that's a little bit of a taboo thing to say, but take a breather, and step back. I know that purchasing a first doll can be scary, and that there's a lot of pressure to 'bond' with that first doll. But the truth is, it's just a doll. It doesn't have feelings, and if you find that it isn't what you hoped or it just working out, that's okay. There is no rule stating you must keep your first doll, or ANY doll for that matter. Don't feel trapped into a purchase.

Pictured below is a Dream of Doll Kirill, the very first doll I truly fell in love with and wanted more than anything. In 2007 he came home to me, and in 2015 he went onto a new home. I was sad to see him go, but in the end it was the best choice for me.


Dream of Doll Kirill-my very first doll
3. Price: Let’s face it. Most of us aren’t hoarding a golden egg laying goose in the furthest corner of our closets. As much as the mantra of ‘Save up and buy what you love’ is a nice little saying, somewhere in the backs of our minds money will inevitably factor into this purchase. So be realistic. If extra income doesn’t come easy for you, how much are you willing to sacrifice in order to save up? How long are you willing to wait?

There's no shame in a little bit of impatience. A lot of people don't want to wait up to a year or longer for their first $600+ doll. And that's okay, but again, it's about being realistic. There are plenty of beautiful, lower budget dolls ( I suggest checking out Doll Leaves, Doll Love and Mystic Kids for some gorgeous options), often available for 2-6 months of layway through dealers such as Alice's Collections or Mint on Card. Be flexible. Look into your options, and don't be put off by a lower price tag. There is no shame in a cheaper doll. 

4. Engineering: It seems we can’t go a day anymore without some new doll being released with yet some new-fangled type of engineering that allows her to bend backwards and touch her toes. For a simpleton such as myself that can seem extravagant when all I really need is for my dolls to look at me and be pretty (though it would be nice if my Glorydoll could at least sit up straight without aid).

Maybe you’re like me and couldn’t care less for double jointed knees or elbows, jointed fingers or even if your doll can properly look up or down. But maybe you want your doll to do yoga with you and dance the ballet. Not all dolls are capable of much more than being extravagant bookends while some have so many points of articulation it’s a feat in itself to get them to just stand up straight lest he crumple into a dolly pretzel. Decide where you want your doll to be on that spectrum. This in turn will help direct you where to look. 

5. Availability: This doesn’t just go for Standard versus a Limited Doll, although that is something to take into consideration.  But likewise, this is a question that really taps into your personal patience level as well. Once you’ve spent however long it takes to save up for your little resin sweetheart, are you prepared to wait the 2+ months usually required for the darn bugger to actually be cast and shipped off to you? 

For some folks, it’s no problem or the wait is worth it. But maybe you don’t feel comfortable spending so much money on a company whose office is halfway across the globe, and that's a perfectly valid concern. In that case, maybe an in-country dealer may be a better choice for you as they shall work as the middle man between yourself and the doll company. This may limit your choice of dolls available to you, but it’s a trade-off that may be worth it.

6. Size: Now more than ever these dolls come in a huge variety of sizes, from itty bitty 12 cm cuties to 80cm arm weights. And if you’ve never seen one before sometimes these various sizes can be a bit difficult to visualize- I encourage you to try it anyway. Are you ready for an army of hulking beefcakes taking up an entire wall of your teeny apartment? Or do you not know what size is best suited to fill up that gorgeous antique dollhouse that’s been in your family for fifty years? Do you want your entire future collection to all fit together proportionally? If so, think about proportion here-will it bother you sitting your mature Fairyland minifee next to your chubby, wide-eyed Volks SD?




7. New or Used: This can be a biggie, especially if you’re used to trawling the marketplace at DoA looking for some sweet deals. Buying a second hand doll, especially one from your own country, can sometimes really help to save a couple bucks, or may even come loaded with extras as a sort of ‘starter kit’. Always? Nah. But the right amount of patience and searching does sometimes produce a lot of gems. 

Does the treasure hunt sound like the route for you? Or since this is your first doll do you want that sucker to be brand spanking new, just for you? Remember the added cost and time that factors into that and decide what it is you really want.

8. Hybrids: An immediate concern if you’re intent on purchasing from a company that only produces heads. Unless your content with collecting a hoard of floating heads, a body will likely be in your future someday. This in itself requires a bit more legwork-finding bodies that look proportionate, a resin match, if the body fits your aesthetic tastes, if the body is easily available or will require extra searching, the extra shipping costs, all of these are aspects to consider. If this is your first doll is this an extra amount of research you are willing to put in?

9. Color: Back when I accumulated a majority of my collection, there wasn't nearly as much choice in terms of color as there is now. Most companies offered the basic pale, peachy sort of resin tone, and occasionally some companies would offer a stark, paper white option. Before I took my brief BJD hiatus, the option of both darker resin and fantasy colors (such as green or purple) were slowly on the uprise, though they were often still limited to only a handful of companies, and usually in limited amounts.

Now that I've returned to the hobby, even my mind is boggled at the wonderful variety there is now in resin tone! While not every company is capable of producing some of these amazing colors, there are certainly a lot more now than there were back in 2007. So take a second and think about what color you'd like your doll in. If you're pining for something a little different, realize this may limit your choices. A dye job is always an option of course, but modification brings a long its own host of questions to consider. 


Image from Iplehouse.com
10. Meet-Ups: I highly encourage just about everyone looking to purchase their first doll to take a moment, pause, and see if you can’t find a meet-up in your local area. Sure, sometimes this isn’t exactly feasible if you’re the only collector in your lone little forgotten town in the middle of nowhere (such as I am) or your schedule simply doesn’t allow any spare time to pencil a few hours in of playtime. But if the opportunity is there and you can manage to make it work for you, I absolutely urge you to go ahead and attend. This first hand experience could change or solidify everything you know or view about a certain doll, type or size and if someone should so happen to bring the exact sculpt you’re eyeing for your first it’s a fantastic chance to really examine it up close.

Bonus! Included Perks: Sometimes newbies can forget to read the fine print. Yes, it’s common, but not all dolls come with free eyes and a wig. Some companies toss in a simple, ‘starter’ outfit, some don’t. Some sand the seams, some don’t. 

For the most part the dolls will come already assembled but if you’re buying second hand sometimes it won’t. Some offer simple, basic face-ups, some don’t. Some companies offer all these perks but for an added fee. Even when buying a fullset, be sure to read every last tiny little italicized detail on that page before hitting that infamous Buy button. No one likes sad surprises when opening their first doll, and knowing exactly what it is you’re getting in the mail can absolutely help out in preparing for any added extras you may wish to purchase before your resin darling shows up at your door.


So there you have it!  Hopefully my post has helped at least one new collector on their path to their first doll. As always, if you have another point you think should be included, leave me a message! I love reading your input! 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2017 New Year Goals

It's that time again! I know this is typically something most people like to do at the beginning of the year, but I wanted to give myself the month to really think about what I'd like to accomplish in my creative and doll-collecting life this year. As usual, there are some repeats, as well as some smaller goals that will be a little bit easier to achieve. 

Tiara's excited for a new year in her new home!
1. Complete a first draft of a novel
Ah yes. The big one. And this year I am more devoted than ever to throwing myself into my writing. Ideally I will be able to complete MORE than one first draft, but to give myself some breathing room, I'm officially only listing one first draft. I've sacrificed my writing a lot in the last year, and this year I'm ready to bring it back to the top of my priorities.

2. Every doll needs a wig
Wigs! How I love BJD wigs! Unfortunately, at the moment I have 6 little ones without their proper wigs! I already know Duchess is going to be a major pain to find her proper wig, but I have all year.

3. Complete outfits for Chibi Isiah & Mini Isiah
So quite a few of my dolls actually need outfits. Unfortunately, I'm pretty terrible at putting together nice outfits for my dolls, and usually rely on fullsets of some sort. This doesn't really bother me, it's the expense that kills me! So I'm focusing only on one boy this year, Isiah, who has 2 forms. Thankfully this guy has a pretty easy clothing style, and a cheap one to boot, so I'm going to try to focus on him specifically this year.

4. More sewing
Time to get back to the sewing machine! I was able to stretch my skills a little bit last year, but when my life became consumed with martial arts, my efforts were quickly thwarted. I'd really love to get back into the swing of things and create a few really solid patterns for future projects.

5. More crafting
I know that sounds super vague, but at the moment I just want to do ALL the things, and it's difficult to know exactly what I'll have time for. Specifically I'd really like to get back to sculpting and casting BJD accessories (tiaras and crowns in particular), sewing BJD skirts, and creating BJD jewelry.

So there we have it! A bit of a short list this year, but it's filled with a LOT of exciting stuff! We just adopted a new puppy, so I expect a bit of my free time to be taken up by her for a few weeks. But even so, the year's just begun, I'm hopeful as to where it will lead me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Artwork: Isiah & Elijah (Part 5)

Artist Unknown

Time for another art post!

I know, I know, even MORE of these guys. What can I say, these nerds have just such fun character designs! But I have to admit, looking back at all of this beautiful artwork really makes my heart sort of ache. I don't really commission artwork anymore, and it's something I wish I had more spare cash to spend on. I do think it'd be fun to get back to it though, and maybe I'll seek out some artists for a few small pieces in the future.

Anywho, here's part 5 of Isiah and Elijah!

Artist: Raezyn101
Artist: ZeeKayArt
Artist: salpe

Artist: shironamida

Artist: stepinahalf

Artist: Remok

Monday, January 23, 2017

Monthly Book Draft Challenge!

This is a year of (what I hope to be) many changes! Positive changes! Changes in MY control! And one of the biggest changes I'd like to make in my life, is getting back to my writing.

I have many novels in various stages of completion (you can read about them more in my Novels tab!), and I'd like to really buckle down and focus on them. I know this is going to be a slow process. I don't yet have the discipline or time to sit down and pound out a thousand words at a time, and I don't intend to. For now, the goal is simply to get myself writing every day. Whether it's 5 words or 500 words, I'll be happy. And to keep a visual of my progress, I went ahead and created this:


Voila!

I know, it's not incredibly fancy and there are charts and things I can use online, but I wanted something a little more basic, and that I could save on my desktop. It's updated in 1k word increments, so while it's not incredibly accurate (I never round up), I still feel like it gives a pretty good idea of my general direction.

At the moment I am only working on first drafts, which, for me, tend to wind up fairly short. I am also trying to keep myself on track by only working on 3 different projects at a time, which will hopefully give me enough variety to help prevent boredom while also staying limited enough that I don't lose my steam. Admittedly, this is very difficult for me to do! As you can see, I already have 2 other novels in the works (with many others lurking in the back of my mind that I'm trying not to give too much attention to), and I'm absolutely chomping at the bit to begin Tin Heart! But even so, I have to finish one first draft in order to begin a new one.

I'll try to check in at the beginning/end of every month to get an idea of my general progress and to hopefully help prevent myself from falling off the wagon. Let's see where I wind up!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

So many critters!

Every time I start to feel like I'm "done" getting new dolls, my plans are foiled!

Last year, after Doll in Mind announced they were discontinuing all of their dolls, I decided to make the jump and ordered 5 heads from them. These 5 heads completed all of the characters I had planned for my collection. Sure, I still need a few bodies for them, but I felt pretty content that collection was finally "whole" in a way. I'm very particular about the characters I decide to shell, and although there are a few beautiful dolls out there that I definitely love to ogle, none of them really tugged enough at my heartstrings enough to demand they be brought home.

Hallelujah! The time of new dolls was at an end! Right!?

Oh how naive...
Doll Leaves Lulu
You see this adorable little deer? Well, when I made a pretty large Doll Leaves order last year, I just so happened to qualify for not one, but two of these little darling event dolls! So I opted to get one in white resin, and other in pink-normal. They're both still blank, and while I've never really collected animal dolls before, they were free and oh-so cute, how could I turn them away? Besides, they weren't like my human dolls, I didn't feel a burning need to give them characters or anything, so I figured there was no harm in keeping them around.

Aimerai Bonnie Melody & Nana Baby
THEN THESE GUYS HAPPENED.

Oh wow. Oh WOW. I admit, I was quite sad when I realized how limited/large the Doll Chateau Alicorn was as I absolutely adore unicorns, so when I saw these little guys on my Tumblr, my heart just about melted on the spot. Look at them! Oh my goodness! So beautiful! So tiny!

But how could I? Over the years I've been quite good at not being pulled in my limited dolls (my DiM order notwithstanding as I had intended to order all those sculpts for years and had already made plans to order 2 of them anyway), and besides, I don't collect animal dolls!

But what about my 2 deers? Oh, I guess I DID have some animal dolls after all.

I tried to put these cuties out of my mind, but instead of forgetting about them, I thought of names for them (BonBon and Bubbles if you must know).

Doll Family Luca
Then this little guys was posted on the BJD Addicts Facebook Group. He's even on sale for 50% off at the moment. And if all the others are in pairs, how can I possibly only get one!?

I feel like I'm teetering on the edge of something quite dangerous, but when danger is this cute and tiny, how can I possibly resist? While I intended for 2017 to be the year of Bodies, there a good chance it may turn into the year of Critters instead!

Friday, January 6, 2017

2016 Resolutions Review!



It's that time of year again! Yup, the start of a NEW year! It's time for a fresh start, a renewed sense of hope and the enthusiasm of things to come!

Like many, I like to start my year by looking back at all the things I was excited to do at the beginning of last year, and reflecting on how well I accomplished them. So I've pulled up my list of goals I made of 2016, and let's have a little look through!

1. Buy my first Yo-SD:

Yes! After falling in love with Doll Leaves Connie, I was more determined than anything to bring that darling face home. And in May, I brought home not one, but two of them! This also marked a second special occasion for me, as I welcomed into my collection my very first tan BJD! I absolutely adore these two little ones and they were well worth the wait. Fortunately I think this pair has sufficiently filled the Yo-SD-sized hole in my heart, and I won't be adding any more dolls this size to my collection anytime soon.

2. Add to my Ever After High Doll Collection

No. Sadly, after I moved into my new home (with my new husband!), we had very little space in which to display things. That of course meant some things had to be put away into storage, and unfortunately, my Ever After High girls didn't make the cut. With them safely tucked away in the back of the closet, it's difficult to justify adding more to them when we hardly have space for the ones already here. I haven't forgotten them as there have been a few particularly pretty new dolls released this year that I love to look at when we're out shopping, but for now I think these ladies will have to stay on the back burner.

3. Shoes!

Of all my dolls, only one received a pair of shoes. Which sounds like a tiny win, until I remember I brought in 5 new doll bodies last year! 5 new pairs of feets! Ugh, doll shoes, why do you vex me so!? As always, this will probably be on my goals list for this year as well.

4. Start sewing

Yes and no. For the first time in years I managed to pull out my sewing machine-I even got the darn thing to work! And for a few very short weeks, I stretched my sewing muscles, working on some simple skirts for my 1/3 girls with some scrap fabric I had. It was enthralling! I sketched up new designs, worked on my patterns and general fit, and I was ready to keep going!

But then I stopped.

Not to get too off topic, but I have been training for my black belt this year. Starting in July, my classes and workouts were doubled, leaving me with very little time time at home, and even less energy. Life became a mix of work, martial arts and napping, and many of my artistic pursuits fell to the wayside. Like sewing.

I'm not going to call this a complete loss, as I DID try my best with the limited time I had. I have a few practice skirts that I didn't have before, and a renewed sense of hope that this is something I can actually do.

5. Practice photography

Nope. I still don't like it. I should probably stop forcing it at this point.

6. Write/edit a full manuscript

No. This is one I'm particularly sad about. Yet once again, I vastly underestimated just how much of my time was going to be devoted to training for my black belt the second half of the year.

That's not to say I didn't try though. I did start up three new novels over the year, one of which was my annual NaNoWriMo project, and while I didn't win, I still came in at a respectable 17k words. That's 17k more than I had at the beginning of the year! I continued working on it off and on for the rest of the year and I've already added a few more thousand words.

So while I didn't meet my goal of working on a entire manuscript from beginning to end, I still feel I gave it a pretty good try. A for effort!

7. Upkeep this blog

Yes! Even though there were a few slow months, I feel pretty proud at how this blog is turning out. For this year I'm hoping to focus a little bit more on actually delving a little bit more into my dolls' characters and their numerous (including their original) stories.


So out of 7 major goals, I have 3 Yes's and 4 No's. Okay, maybe not the greatest, but I'm still darned pleased with what I did manage to accomplish this past year. Hopefully with my time not quite as tied up with training this year I'll be able to devote myself a bit more to my more artistic passions.
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