Saturday, April 25, 2009

Uwajimaya No Haru No Matsuri!

Yay, today was the Spring Festival at Uwajimaya! It even rained for it, though it wasn't cold. Uwajimaya is the name of one of the larger Asian markets in the area, and they do celebrations and festivals throughout the year.

So first things first, get taiyaki, unfortunately this was the line for it.

Taiyaki is a warm dessert, made by heating 2 part fish shaped molds on a grilltop. Then you pour "waffle" batter into them, and let it cook a bit, before adding the filling. The traditional filling is Asuki bean paste, but I prefer the vanilla custard filling. Once the filling has been put on 1/2 of the mold, the other half is laid on top, and it's ready to serve. See, yum...

Once I had a couple of taiyaki it was time to find a seat and watch the performances.

This was a group of Koto players, I liked it, but it was making my friends sleepy. One thought it needed a good backbeat to make it more interesting.

I was only able to stay for one other performance and lucky, it turned out to be the Taiko Drummers! If I remember right they were from Monmouth.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Custom Dolls

I have developed an interest in acquiring a Blythe doll or possibly buying Pullip parts to make a doll with. Why? Because I've been looking at what people have done with them on Flickr and there are totally kick ass custom dolls out there.

The thing is that they are also very expensive, so I would prefer to do it myself. Now the other thing is that even the stock doll parts are not that cheap, so as a kind of primer I picked up a couple of inexpensive Barbies and a basic model paint set. Just so I could start playing around with them and see if it was something I could really be interested in long term.

Since I'd just seen The Wicked musical twice (I really liked it) I thought I could try making an Elphaba doll.

First thing was to get the stinkers out of the packaging, why they need to be so thoroughly attached I don't know. Another thing is when the heck did they start putting those little plastic things through the head? They're like that ones used for clothing tags and I couldn't get them out of the head, so I had to just nip them off as close to the scalp as I could and shove nub in with a pin.

This first round I was just testing the paint, I wanted to see how well it would work on the doll. Knowing this probably wasn't going to be the final product and not wanting to waste time getting the color perfect just to find out it wouldn't bond to the doll's surface, I just used the stock green, so it's too blue but whatever.

I did the first coat the night before I left for Sakura Con. in Seattle, while there I found out about a new convention specifically for doll customizers called Innocente Seraphim in August, I considered going and braving possibly crazy doll people to attend the panels so I could be more educated in my approach. Unfortunately it is the 8th & 9th and that interferes with Sock Summit, so I'm not going.

I did however get to sneak some pictures of other people's dolls while I was at the con, so here they are...

Getting back to my own doll, after painting the body I went to work on her hair, when I'd been at the store I hadn't been able to find a cheep one with long black hair, so I had to settle for dark brown. This meant I had to find a way of darkening the hair, a task made especially hard by it being synthetic.

Cosplay panel information came to save the day! One of the custom wig tips was to use a felt tip marker or sharpie, lay the hair out flat on some waste paper and run the marker along the strands. Well this worked great, though the hair is a little tacky, and it is fairly time consuming.

Another issue came up while I was coloring the hair and that was just in reposing the doll from when I hung it to dry, paint started chipping off at the joints. So once I was done with the hair I got to work on stripping the paint off. What's interesting is that the paint bonded really well with the torso & head, peeled right off the arms, and took some mild scraping to get it off the legs (mostly).

From there I just started testing a whole bunch of different things.

On the left arm I tried my old standby of nail polish, I didn't really think it would work but I wanted to just try it out. The coverage was ok, and it had a nice translucent quality, but as to be expected with an enamel, the first time I flexed the arm to see how it would hold up the stuff cracked and started flaking off.

On the right arm I tried Copic Marker, this was also fairly translucent, but it can be rubbed off so I'd need to apply a clear coat over it. The other issue with this method is the streaks, but I think that could be remedied by airbrushing the color on. I also used a black sharpie to see if it might stay on better and it did but the problem is the limited color variety and hard to work with tips.

Since there are so many different plastics used on the doll I also tested the markers on the legs and torso, because the torso is a hard plastic it seems to take everything pretty well. Oddly enough even though it's really flexible the head seems to do the same.

In an effort to find other materials to test, I watched some doll face painting videos on Youtube, and it's pretty common to use crushed pastels, and since I already have pastels I thought I'd give it a try. In the videos they were using brushes because they where going for a subtle look but since I wanted it as opaque as possible I just rubbed it directly on the leg. I think it looked pretty good, but I think I'd want to put on some workable fixative first, to give it something to grab ahold of and then clear coat it. Without that it just came right off.

Next I took the right leg I started out using a black Copic on the thigh but it wouldn't dry and was very easily smudged, I tried to fix it by dusting it with pastel and that helped but I'd still need a clear coat. On the lower leg I used the same green Copic from that I'd used on the right arm and it seemed to do better.

The lower left leg was for the sharpie test, and like I said before it covers well, and stays but it is a little streaky and I don't like dealing with the tips. On the upper part of the leg I wanted to give the acrylic model paint another try, but this time with a little more prep.

First I took a very fine grit pedi block and sanded the leg really well, taking care to not touch the surface with anything other than the block. Once that was finished I painted the leg, let it dry, and then applied the clear coat. It seems like it'll work so far, it's not peeling off at the joint like it did before.