Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beaded Doll Purses!

Dolly friends, I have a confession to make. Yesterday I stayed up until 6 in the morning, working on a new project. If you guessed that the project was two shiny new handbags of the beaded variety, you're either psychic... or skilled at reading titles. Either way, here they are!

If you follow my Saturday Sequins blog, you know that I'm a beader. I started out making jewelry for people, but recently I've been interested in making things for my dolls, including the beaded bag I shared in this post.

Lately I've been focusing more on sewing and re-rooting, but the beading bug bit me a few days ago when I saw the gorgeous statement necklace the Fashion Doll Stylist made for her dolls. I wanted to make a necklace of my own, but then I remembered that beaded bag. I looked at the book shelf across the room from me and noticed that there were two beaded rings right at my eye level. Two rings that couldn't be worn, because while they were pretty, they were also huge. Uncle John couldn't even wear one as a thumb ring.

Just like a ring is a tube, a bag is a longer tube with the bottom edges stitched together. So I added a few rows of beads to each side, added some handles, and by the time the sun came up, I was exhaustedly weaving the remaining thread tails into the beadwork. And then I fell asleep until sometime in the afternoon.

When I woke up, one of the first things I did after gasping at the clock in horror was look in my doll room for the right clothing and models. Here are Melina and Mara, holding their new accessories and excitedly planning a new set of beaded goodies. If they have their way, there will be many, many more in our future.

"I love this zigzag pattern," says Mara. "I want a belt to match. And a bracelet, and a necklace, and an anklet, and...."

"Look at all the space on those shelves," says Melina. "I think there's room for a boutique! We'll put some purses over there, and over there, and over there. Beaded belts will go over here. And what do you think about beaded hat bands? Does Mom make hats?"

"She can learn," says Mara. Both of them burst into maniacal laughter.

Oh, those girls! So spoiled, but so cute, which is why they get away with it. Both are sporting new hair, since both came with heads full of glue and are founding members of Glueheads Anonymous. Mara has some maroon highlights in her dark brown hair, and we're thinking of giving her a boil perm as soon as I perfect my technique. I like Melina's hair just the way it is.

Melina is wearing a pair of the pants I made. Stretch velvet leopard print, made from material I had in my collection for so long that it's practically vintage. She's also wearing a felt shirt I made by loosely following this post by Almost Unschoolers -- one of the first shirts I've ever made.

Mara is wearing a dress I made out of hand-painted fabric. If you're interested in painting your own fabric for doll clothes, I go into a little detail in this blog post. I also added some sparkly fabric paint after the dress was sewn. It makes the fabric a little stiff, but... sparkles. Enough said.

I may not actually bead enough bags for a boutique, and Uncle John's books probably wouldn't appreciate the dolls moving in on their territory, but I will definitely make more. As I type this, I have my supplies out, and I have an idea for an even crazier bag. I might even try a different beading stitch. I'll keep you all updated.

Much love,

Sarah J Sequins

(And dolls)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Re-root: Samira

Dolly friends, I am so excited to share one of my latest re-roots with you!

This is Samira. She was a 2014 Holiday Barbie, on clearance for just under twelve dollars. Even though I knew she would have a head full of glue, I just couldn't resist her at that price because she was so pretty. So I bought her, took her home, and immediately removed the hair and glue. Poor thing sat bald on a shelf for several weeks (or months?) while I finished up some other projects.

At first I thought it was a shame to have to re-root her. It's always sad to put new hair in a doll who would have perfectly good hair, were it not for the goop seeping out of her scalp. But when I finished her, I was happy I had. She was pretty before, but she's gorgeous now! The extra length and thickness really accentuate her beautiful face.

And... then there's also the little surprise underneath. Here's a glimpse of it from the back.

Yes, that's a little bit of red peeking out. You can see it better in the next photo, with her hair floofed out.

Samira is living in the red and black room on my book shelf, with her friend Kyla. She is part of a support group, Glueheads Anonymous, formed by some of my other dolls, where they get together and celebrate being glue-free. They also console other glueheaded dolls who are waiting for their turn in the salon, and who are a bit nervous at the prospect of having their heads popped off and all their hair yanked out.

In addition to having new hair, Samira got a new body. She's happy to be able to move her arms and to sit. She's wearing a new hair clip from Meijer (clearance sale last week... couldn't resist) and a necklace I made; I forget where I found the fine chain, but I love how proportionate it is. She's also wearing a black dress I made. I'm fairly proud of it, considering it's my first time putting darts in stretchy fabric. I hope to make many more and to become as comfortable with darts as I am with hair.

Looking forward to sharing more re-roots! I just finished rooting a Glam Luxe Midge with long brown hair, and now that I know how to thatch a part, I did one for one of my earlier re-roots. The difference is amazing! I may have to show off my girls in groups of two or three, because I am an impatient creature. I just hope the girls understand.

Thank you for checking out my work! I've made a lot of progress since my early, sometimes terrible re-roots in 2000, so I do enjoy showing off. I have to say, though, that I owe a lot of the credit to better doll hair! Thanks, Restore Doll and Dolly Hair!  And equal thanks to Dan Lee for his instructions on thatching a part -- they're the best I've found.


Sarah J Sequins

(And dolls)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dear Me...

Two of my favorite doll people -- in fact, two of my favorite people in the whole entire world -- are Mommy and Gracie from Youtube. I love them because they're intelligent, funny, wacky, and obsessed with dolls. The kind of people I'd love to be friends with in real life.

Today, Mommy posted a video called Dear Me, which was a message to her 13 year old self as part of International Women's Day. It was emotional and insightful, and it made me think back to myself at that age. It also inspired me to do a blog version, since as I've said before, I'm not technically sophistimacated enough for video. So... here goes.

Dear me,

At age 13, you are going through one of the hardest times in your life. As you already know, your best friend Mary, who you played dolls with, and who you built an entire imaginary world with, has decided to leave that world, and you, behind. She was your closest friend and the only person you could be your crazy self with, and you're devastated. It certainly doesn't help that you're about to suffer another loss of someone you're close to, and that you're about to discover that you have not one, but three health problems that make everyday adolescent life harder than it should be.

It also doesn't help that when you reach out for help, the people you reach out to just aren't emotionally equipped to give you what you need. These people include your parents, who have serious issues of their own, as you will learn in due time.

Honey, I can't tell you that things will get easier, because they don't. You're an incredibly smart, sensitive, creative, crazy person who marches to her own percussion section -- forget about her own drummer -- and things are never easy for people like us. But what I can tell you is that you hang in there, and that everything you go through makes you a stronger person. While things aren't necessarily easier in adulthood, things get better. A whole lot.

Over the next few years, you'll put away the dolls in an attempt to be like other kids. You'll do a few other things to fit in, but my love, you will fail miserably! This is splendid. The most meaningful times in your life will happen when you stop trying to be a character in someone else's book and focus on writing your own story -- I mean this literally and figuratively.

The great thing about you, though, is that you do very few really, seriously stupid things to fit in, and so you go through your life with your sense of self more or less intact. When you're 23, you meet the very first truly kind and supportive person in your life, and he will change you in ways you never imagined. He will teach you to be a problem solver! I know, 10 years sounds like a long time, but he will be worth the wait.

And just a few years after that, you will find a new best friend. Someone you can be your silly, crazy, introverted, imaginative polymath self with, and someone who is a whole lot nicer than Mary ever was. And you'll learn that not everyone runs away when things get tough. You two will have tons of adventures together. You'll make art, you'll laugh until you cry, you'll eat tons of ice cream, you'll tell each other amazingly vulgar jokes. In a lot of ways, you'll feel like your life really and truly began when you met him.

You'll also find a writing group of people as strange as you are. And a group of people who share your love of beads. And even some people who love writing, telling, and listening to scary stories. Some of these people will be the family you never had. Some of these people will not stick around, but you'll still learn from them.

You'll also keep collecting and playing with dolls. Play time doesn't come to an end for you, no matter how many people, yourself included, try to dissuade you! Bit by bit, you'll realize that all the best people still know how to play. You'll also discover that while Mary becomes very happy, she lives a fairly conventional adult life, the kind of life that would stifle you. You'll realize that the two of you needed to separate to become your own people. And while you will still miss playing dolls with her, you will be happy that she's happy.

You'll come to understand all the people who couldn't help you. When you are 32, you will understand that your mother has something called Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is why she behaves the way she does. A lot of it had to do with the way she was raised. Your off-the-charts brilliant father was probably on the autistic spectrum, which explains why you didn't always understand the things he said and did. By the time he passes away, you will have forgiven him and realized that he had his own childhood trauma to work through. You'll even realize that as limited as he was, he did love you. You'll fully realize this while watching the pilot of Hart of Dixie, and you will cry alllll over the place.

Yes, you will continue to wonder what you will do with your life, what mark you will leave on the world, and you will feel as if your many passions are at odds with each other. But you will keep working on it, and you will be able to do this because you are finally safe enough. One thing all the instability in your life taught you was a profound appreciation for the safer moments on your life, and I'll even go as far as to say that you wouldn't appreciate them half as much if you hadn't waited so long for them.

In short, my love, you will be OK. And if any young person is reading this and going through something similar to what I went through, I just want to say, you will, too. If you learn to be tenacious. To be a problem solver. To be self-reliant when others let you down and compassionate towards those same people, no matter how hurtful they may be. To be open when you finally meet the people who understand you. And above all, if you keep your sense of play.

Much love,

Sarah J Sequins

(And dolls)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

My first diorama... in a gallery?!

I have another recent photo to share!

As it so happens, last night Uncle John and I went to an art exhibit for the Hatch festival, a series of creative reuse-themed events. And as it so happens, we went to see my very first diorama, which was on display along with several other amazing pieces.

(Including, I kid you not, a necklace made out of tiny plastic hotdogs! As a jewelry maker who does not wear a lot of jewelry, I seldom think about buying it. But this piece spoke to me because it was just crazy enough to fit my personality, and I'm pretty sure it would speak to my dolls, too. But for different reasons, like growling little stomachs.)

It was an amazing night. When I put the piece together -- with plenty of help from Uncle John, as you will soon see -- I liked it. I thought it was a lot of fun. But it didn't occur to me that so many other people would like it... and that some would love it. One of the other artists even said it reminded her of her first sewing experience, since she learned to sew by making Barbie clothes. She looked very happy as she explained this.

So it looks like I'm not the only fan of dolls and miniatures in my town! A pleasant surprise. Anyway, without further ado, here is the box:

The diorama was actually Uncle John's idea. Seeing how crazy I was about decorating doll rooms and researching tutorials on Pinterest, and knowing that the Hatch show was coming up, he asked me... how would I feel about putting together a dolly craft room? And I answered in high-pitched squeals and immediately started collecting materials, choosing dolls and outfits, and looking up... yet more tutorials.

Uncle John made the box, since woodworking is one of his many talents. I painted it and put the wallpaper up -- which is Idea Store scrapbook paper -- and he installed the floor and the molding. He also did the lighting, which was added after these photos were taken.

The dolls are Lillian, Trisha, and Steve (also known as Schmidt). The girls are wearing dresses I made, and the dress on the mannequin is hand-beaded. Steve is wearing an Idea Store outfit and Goodwill shoes. He's an Idea Store doll, and Lillian is from Salvation Army. Even though they aren't from the same line, or even the same company, they were originally Prince Charming and Cinderella, respectively, which they find very funny. The mannequin was made from a doll with a broken neck, and I bought Trisha years ago when I first started customizing. 

The furniture came from Savers and the Idea Store. Just about everything else is from the Idea Store, including the mini sewing machine and pincushion, the rug, the glass jars, the fabric on the fabric bolts, the embroidery floss, and the flowers in the vase.

(Yes, I shop there a lot. Uncle John volunteers there, so I'm always popping in to visit him... and see if they have any new dolly things in.)

When the show is over, I hope to put the diorama in my doll room/bedroom, on the wall. I'd like to add a few things, like a ball of yarn and some knitting needles for Steve, and Trisha will probably let another gal, Tori, have her spot. Tori and Schmidt are dating, and they miss each other terribly -- a fact they let me know at every available opportunity.

Making the diorama was so much fun, and participating in the exhibit was so rewarding, that I'd love to make something else for next year. I have a lot of whims, and Uncle John has a lot of other projects going on at any given moment, so I can't be sure this will happen, but some thoughts are: a garden, a clothing boutique, a miniature jewelry store, or a miniature... Idea Store.

I've also been thinking... since someone entered a chicken (seriously!) in a tiny knitted sweater into the Trashion Show this year, it would be fun to enter some doll fashions next year. And unlike the poultry, the dolls wouldn't need to be on leashes! At least, not all of them....

Much love,

Sarah J Sequins

(And chicken)