The Making of a One of a King Doll

This blog focuses on taking a production doll and changing her into a a One of a Kind (OOAK) doll.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Re-rooting: The Part

If I being honest, I'd admit that doing a part on a Silkstone is the hardest task that I do while making over a doll.
Re-rooting Silkstone is very time consuming since I have to keep re-warming the head up to place the plugs. Getting a nice even part is very hard when you have to keep dunking the head and then drying it off.

Whenever I attempt a part (notice I use attempt) I alway going over Dan Lee's tutorial on re-rooting first: Wide Eyed Girls Re-Rooting Tutorial  I know the information by heart but I always find it inspiring to look and read a true artist's instructions first.

 Here is the doll before. (Notice I  changed the part to a more center location before starting.)
 The tools: Hair, Long Needle, Scissors, Rubber bands, a towel and HOT water

 Half the center part in place. It is nice and thick on one side and thin on the other. 

Before and After (with the finished part and the head placed back on the doll.)

Let me know what you think so far.

I had a question yesterday about removing  a Silkstone's heads. If it is like removing any other doll's head. It is very similar to removing other dolls' heads. However there are a couple of differences. (Anyone who removes a doll's head, does so at their own risk. )

a. The Silkstone head is made of very hard vinyl. You have to warm it up so it is soft before removing it. You can soak the head in hot water if you are not concerned with the hairstyle. OR you can wrap the hair with a cloth and use a heating pad to warm the head up. Both methods work well. Once the head is warm squeeze the head in at the ears and gently starting pulling it up. (If the head doesn't squeeze easily, warm it up more.)

b. The prong holding the head on is unique. It is made of plastic and it it can break or come out of the neck if you are not careful.

Here is a picture of Honey's body with the neck knob showing. Notice the neck knob looks like an arrow pointing up.

Hope this helps. Feel free to ask me any questions, I'll "try" and answer them.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Getting the Re-root Started

So I haven't been around for about a week and a half. I do have a pretty good reason. My 2 boys that are homeschooled had their state testing. Now that doesn't sound huge, but it is. They each had to take Math, Reading and Grammar. Each test takes about 3 hours and it has to be done on "my" computer. (which is hooked up to the internet.) Not only did I have to watch them and make sure there is no cheating, but I had to keep the student not testing and the 2 toddlers quiet and happy so the tester could concentrate. (whew!)

Then yesterday, I had to give up an afternoon so I could take a class and test for my food service card. (For our youth football program.)

So today I'm back on track! :)  When I left you and Miss Honey, she looked like this:

I had removed her bangs only for her partial re-root. I will admit it is slightly easier to remove ALL the hair on the doll but since Honey has a hair color I like, it seemed silly to remove all her hair and spend days (weeks) putting the same color back in one plug at a time.

I used  a re-root tool, crochet hook, and a pair of tweezers to help me remove her bangs only.

Here is what I did: using the tweezers, I pulled as much if the bangs out as possible. I grab a few hairs as close to the head as possible and pull. (And keeping pulling.) Some plugs loosen up this way and the whole plug will come out. But with Honey all I did was break the hair very close to the head. Then I cut first row of plug and the leftover  bang hair as close to the hair as possible. 

Then using the crochet hook, I pulled at the bangs. I was asked how I could tell if I had the bangs or not. And it is really hard to tell sometimes. I did look in the head and knew about where to place the hook. It took a while but finally a whole clump of hair came out of her head. I then used the tweezers again to remove any hair left in the holes.
 Now for the re-rooting. I ordered my hair from I ordered 2 shades: Platinum blond and Snow White. I've learned if I don't know the exact color of hair to order a couple of shades, so you can better match the existing hair. (Honey's hair BTW is a perfect match for Snow White.)

The Supplies: The Head you are re-rooting. A Long doll needle (I normally buy one when I order hair), a fine tooth comb, the hair, a towel and a cup of hot (boiling) water. (Yep, the towel and hot water are necessary for re-rooting a Silkstone's head b/c the heads are sooo hard. The water softens the head so you can re-root it. The towel helps catch the water from the head, which will go every where.)

First place the head in the water to warm up. The first time I do this, I let it set 4-5 mins.
 (the warmer the head then easier it is to re-root and the less likely the vinyl will tear.) Each time after, I soak for about a minute or so. (When it gets to the point, you are soaking after each plug and it is hard to push the needle through the head, it is time to warm the water up again.)
 While the head is warming, place a "plug" of new hair through the needle eye.
 Once the head is warm, let it drain and then place the  needle through on of the holes.

Being careful, not to pierce the doll's head, pull the needle through the head. Then remove the needle from the plug, knot the plug and pull it back up through the head.

 A couple of plugs in
 A few hours later she is done. I used about half a bag of hair for this part of the re-root. And I had to re-heat  the water 3 times, to keep her head nice and pliable.

While her hair was still damp. I combed a part into it.I used the fine tooth comb and the needle to make the part as clean as possible.  (This is so I can re-root a part tomorrow.)

One other note:
This is a "re-rooting" tool I purchased from And I have used it for the purpose of actually rooting plugs into a doll's head. With this tool, you just poke the hair into the head and then add a nice thick layer of glue to the inside of the head when you are done. It does a fairly good job and with the glue, it hold very tight.  But I have found out is is very useful to have around for other re-rooting methods. Right now, I have the re-rooting needle backwards, with the sharp point out. With the point out, I can poke my own holes in the doll's head, enlarge holes, and part the hair for plugs. So even though I don't use it as intended very often (mostly b/c Silkstone and FR heads are too hard for the tool.) I still like having it around.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hair, Hair Hair

Staying with the theme "Simple can be Better", I'm going to discuss hair today.

I found this Corduroy Cool Barbie at Goodwill. I won't even mention how evil my husband thinks goodwill is. I have found some very nice and rare dolls there over the last few months and since I'm out of room, I shouldn't be buying nude dolls at goodwill. That doesn't stop me if the doll is rare and in decent shape though. So David has this love-hate relationship with Goodwill. (He "loves" it when I drop stuff off, he "hates" it when I buy stuff there. It is the same relationship he has with eBay.)

This doll actually needs quite a bit of work in my opinion. She has missing hair plugs, she has an eyebrow rub, and her eyes need quite of bit of work. But all I've done so far is to wash her, switch bodies to a Fashionista body and comb her hair. (Now some people might be wondering why I'm not using Honey and I'll get to that later.)

One of the best (and most simple) hairstyles to learn is the "ponytail".
This ponytail is fairly simple, can be changed easily and some simple variations can make many looks.
The most important aspect of a good ponytail is that to pulled back part of the hair should be smooth (and not bumpy or ragged) . I use a very fine tooth comb and teeny-tiny rubber bands to make my ponytails. I often will dampen the hair to help with fly-aways. You also need to learn to center the "tail" on the head. (I know there are many side ponytails and pig tails styles out these but those need to be properly placed on the head too.) The great thing about a ponytail is position is everything. If you center the ponytail high up on the back of the head, an more glamorous look can be achieved. If the ponytail is centered lower, that is a more classic and timeless look.

I placed this ponytail on the upper part of the back of her head but kept it off her crown. I think it is a fun playful look.

Once your ponytail is in place there are several different looks you can achieve from this style.

You can twist the hair up into a bun:

You can add a rubber band to the bottom of the "tail" and roll is under for a classic updo:

Or you can roll the banded her upward to form a Balenciaga 50's Model" "do":

Both of the above dolls have a ponytail that has a small rubber band at the end of the tail and then rolled forward. It is a very useful style to learn.

And her is an update on Miss Honey, my project doll:

I have been busily working on prepping her for her partial re-root. Since I love her hair color, I decided a full re-root wasn't necessary. I've removed her bangs and I'm waiting for the new hair to arrive. (And I wish I would have had the forethought to take pictures of her for the hairstyle blog before ripping her bangs out :)  )

I will go over the basic process of removing her bangs next time. (And hopefully cover some basic re-rooting skills too.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sometimes Simple is Better

As an OOAK artist and collector I know that sometimes simple is better. Meaning you don't have to make major changes to every doll you own. Trust me once you go down the slippery slope of OOAK-ing, things can go downhill fast. It starts with a simple outfit change, then a new hair-do, maybe painting some new lip color over the old and BAMM! You are making at least minor changes to every single doll in the house.

I have found it helpful to only purchase dolls for a project. At one point, I was buying nude dolls like crazy for "one day". One day I'd love to re-root a Capucine into a Chantaine. One day, I'd love to repaint a Steffie mold. Oh, I love "so in so's" OOAK doll, I need to buy doll "X" so I can make my own version, one day. I'm a lot better now, though I do still have a box of "project" dolls in the hall closet, just waiting for me to get to them.

But you don't have to make major changes to a doll to make more unique or to change the look. Sometimes a simple change is all you need. Take Palm Beach Honey, my doll for this project,

I don't think the Yellow coloring of the outfit is very flattering to her skin tone or make-up palette. (Though the yellow does make the peach lips look more pink.)

By simply changing her outfit, you can get a more appealing look:

In white:

I think the color white works well with this doll. The white really shows of her skin color. It makes her platinum blond hair look blond, instead of white. The pale peach flowers on the dress, match her lips. The only thing that really stands out (and out of place) is her aqua eyeshadow.

In Aqua:
By matching the color of the dress to the eye make-up, the aqua now looks appropriate. The peach lips warm up the tone of the doll. (I love this color on her! In fact, it makes me wonder why this color instead of yellow was used. Or if the designer wanted to use yellow, then why wasn't a different face-up palette choosen.)

In Black:

Again by choosing a neutral color, the doll looks completely different and more pulled together. The black accents the skin-tone, make-up and hair color. I was surprised by how good this doll looked in black!

On a side note none of these dresses fit Honey. I had heard that the Palm Beach line of Silkstones was larger then the earlier lines and it is true. I couldn't button a single dress pictured and the black one was made for the Silkstone line.

This brings up another simple change that could have made the doll better. Lip color and hairstyle.

This is a picture of the 45th Anniversary Silkstone. She looks a LOT like Honey. There are a couple of differences though. 45th has the regular skin tone and pink lips and her platinum blond hair is in a ponytail. I really like this doll and think she works a lot better then Honey.

So small changes can make a big difference if you don't like a doll straight out of the box. Redressing can greatly improve a doll, as can simple hair styling which I'll go over tomorrow.

The Doll!

How do I pick a doll for a project?

There are a couple of ways:

1. I have a dress/costume in mind and I "match" some part of the doll for the look I want.
For example: I LOVE Doll of the World. But many of the "dolls" from the 80's and 90's use the big smiling, blank staring superstar mold and  blond fluffy hair. This look is  not "my taste". (And I do like many versions of the the Superstar Mold, but most of the DOTW are terrible IMHO) So I look at costume and over look and go from there. I  try and decide what I think the skintone, the facemold and hair color and hair style. Then I look for a doll that has as many traits as possible in one package already. 

2. I like part of the doll but hate another. 
For example: I don't like uneven or "wonky" eyes on dolls. So I will just repaint the eyes to my liking.

3.  I have a certain character/design in mind and  I'm trying to recreate it in doll form.
For example: I loved the concept of Mattel's "Splash of Silver" Barbie, but I didn't like the face mold (or platinum label) that was used on the doll. So I created my own "Splash of Silver"  out of a Silkstone doll. 

4. The doll speaks to me. Somehow, someway my "inner eye" sees something different in the doll.

I know many other artists see or feel a character in the doll and bring it out. And I'm sure there are as many reasons and ways to choose a dolls as there are artists. (Go to ebay and search for OOAK dolls and see how many different types and style show up.)

My this project I choose Mattel's "Palm Beach Honey" as my base doll. She was last year's Barbie Fan Club's "Club Doll". (Meaning to had to belong to the online club to purchase this doll.) I waited and finally found a nude doll for sale, at a good price. I choose "Honey" for one simple reason: She inspired me. I don't like this dolls as a "full package". I think the way she was dressed and her face-up coloring is unfortunate.  However I saw this doll redressed, and the ideas started flowing out of me. If I change "X" and "y" and add "z" then I might really like this doll. And ever since then I've been a little obsessed with getting this doll and trying out my ideas.

Here is a picture of Honey before:

You can see she has the "tan" skintone and long platinum blond hair. I find this combination very striking. In fact it is the main reason I choose this doll, instead of one of the others from the Palm Beach line. (The only line with the "tan" Skintone to date.) However that is about all I like about the doll. I find her make-up (or face-up) a bit odd. Her eye make-up is a mixture of aqua, charcoal and shiny pearl, that not only goes well above the eye, but below it. The pearl surrounds the charcoal on the bottom, giving the doll the appearance of dark circles. (I don't know about you, but I try to hind my dark circles, not accentuate them.) Her peach colored lips while pretty, don't really go with her other make-up . And when you add in the yellow of her original outfit these choices seem even more strange.

I don't have the original outfit from Mattel but I think this yellow swimsuit gives a decent picture of the overall look from the box.

Next I will discuss, how simple changes could have made this doll better.

The Art of OOAK

My name is Marta and I'm a doll artist. I know that to many people that sounds a little strange. I mean most (sane) people give up on acquiring dolls (and other toys) long before they become a teenager. However I'm a little different, I collect Fashion Dolls! (The most well known being Barbie) I'm sure there are many people wondering why a grown semi-sane person would collect dolls. Well for me it is easy. I'm a stay at home mom to five little boys. And my days are filled with cars and trucks, dinosaurs, snakes, lizards, and balls, lots and lots of balls. Football, Basketball, Baseball, wall ball, yard ball. And honestly while I love my boys, I can't take all that "boyness" 24/7. I need something that is mine, and mine alone. It doesn't include balls, blue jeans, or mud......... I want pretty dresses and fancy hair do's. I want shoes and purses that match and accentuate outfits. And mostly I want something that little boys are only mildly interested in. So I turned to dolls.

Now I'm NOT the type of collector that keeps her dolls in the box. I prefer to display my dolls in a cabinet. And often, I will swap outfits or change a hairstyle to make a doll better suit my taste. And some how, some way that led me to being one of those people, who takes a perfectly good doll and turns it into something else. I will cut all the hair off and reroot (though I will admit once Boy #4 and #5 came along my time and patience for completely rerooting a doll's head is not much.) I will remove the face paint or part of the face paint with acetone and then paint on new features. I restyle hair with boiling water, straws, pins, fine tooth combs and glue. And then I take pictures of my creations and share on at least one of the dolls boards I visit and share them with other people who share my love of dolls. 

I'm starting this blog to share the experience of making an OOAK doll. I just received a brand now doll today, that I bought for a "project". And I think (hope) it will be interesting to see how this doll is transformed from a production doll to a one of a kind work of "art".

I'll talk more about the Doll tomorrow but here is a sneak peek of the dolls I'm working on: