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I have been moving very slowly toward sewing my own doll clothes. I have hemmed and altered existing clothes. I have also crudely constructed simple raw-edged skirts and capes, fastened with hot glue and/or a running stitch. I have not sewn an entire garment, using a pattern, from beginning to end. Taking on such a project seemed to be the logical extension of the modifications that I had already done.

I acquired a pattern for a Tyler doll from Andrea [DollsAhoy] for a collared shirt in October, 2014. I also took advantage of the Halloween season to buy three cotton prints -- dancing skeletons, bats and spiderwebs -- appropriate for Isabel’s tastes. Then all of the supplies just sat on my desk for about two months.

Earlier this month, the hiatus between Zombieville chapters gave me more time for other projects. My interest in sewing reawakened. I hit Joanne Fabrics for some quilter's packs of REALLY LOUD fabrics to supplement my Halloween prints. Armed with a high level of enthusiasm and approximately 0.5 of a clue, I set to work.

My first two attempts will not be exhibited here. They were too large and/or sloppy and/or filled with mistakes, which tends to happen when you only have 0.5 of a clue. However, I learned enough about what NOT to do from failures #1 and #2 so that I could apply my new skills to failure #3.

Behold now the glory that is failure #3! Modeled by Isabel [here and in chapter 5 of Zombieville], it's a snugly fitting collared shirt with long sleeves, intentionally constructed with contrasting prints, fastened with snaps.

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My Rement Pose Skeletons and sets, which I mentioned earlier, came last week. As usual with Rement, all items contain high-quality sculpting and amazing detail, especially for the price. Even the packaging [which shows one of the skeletons barfing into the toilet after drinking too much sake] cracks me up. I just wish the items had a bit more heft to them; their lightness makes them difficult to pose. That said, Isabel and I are already having lots of fun with them. See below.

For reference, the Pose Skeleton is ~8cm tall. The human figure, a Takara Microlady from the Material Force collection, is ~9cm tall. That single centimeter makes a significant difference at that size!

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Because I have a cemetery-obsessed main character [Isabel] and because I think they're hilarious, I am ordering 2 Rement Pose Skeletons, the coffin, the toilet, the desk and the IV pole. It would be awesome if they came in time for Halloween!

I'm entertaining the idea of Isabel doing photostories with the skeletons and possibly Jujube. In such a case, Jujube would be the main character, and one of the skeletons would play the Grim Reaper constantly hanging around her.

EDIT: Maybe my Takara Material Force Microladies would be a better choice for the living people in Isabel's photostories.
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This weekend I added a death's head to Isabel's bag, which becomes a plot point later in the prologue. I just printed out this design [a vector of a design element, used with permission from Gravestone Artwear] on a color printer, glued it to another sheet of paper to give it more rigidity, then used Mod Podge to attach it to the flap of the bag. Not bad for an eminently lazy execution.

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I got a 60mm macro lens yesterday. At $470.00, it cost more than my camera.

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In the 1990s, Acme made many refrigerator magnets of household appliances, some of which may be repurposed as 1:6 scale accessories. Here Isabel models my latest finds, a toaster oven with working door and a scale. I like the Acme magnets for their high level of detail and their realistic color schemes.

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In my recent travels, I have discovered the following Xmas ornaments that work well for 1:6 scale purposes.

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I finished Isabel's car, Eppie, a few months ago, but never got around to photoing it until now. Behold!!!Read more... )

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Isabel's glue gun is a ray gun from the Takara Cy Girl Aurora, repainted with green spray paint. I drilled a hole in the back end and inserted a polymer clay glue stick that DLSarmywife on Figurvore made for me. I wrapped a little tin foil around the nozzle for the metal and then added a blob of actual hot glue.
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Last night I took a class in making polymer clay foods with Melissa Cook, a local miniaturist. I really enjoyed myself as she taught us how to make jack-o-lanterns, apples, bananas and bread. She was teaching in 1:12 scale, but she provided enough clay for me to make fewer items, but larger ones.

Jack-o-lantern: formed, carved and baked around a core of loosely wadded tin foil.

Apples: lime green dusted with bright red pastel.

Bananas: bright yellow flattened to make four "ribs," brushed with lime green along top, bottom and ribs. Top to be colored with black Sharpie. Spots to be added with brown marker.

Bread: very pale tan with most color added via pastels: red, orange, brown, yellow, ochre. Red and dark brown look good for the toasted parts. Ochre gives the cooked parts a nice depth.

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As much as I enjoy constructing or customizing many of my 1:6 scale dolls, set pieces and accessories, I always appreciate an accurate, detailed, appropriately scaled piece that looks and functions great straight out of the package. Sometimes I just don't want to invest hours of work into everything.
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I have finished salvaging all those earlier wigs that I could, cutting out the hot glue center parts and stitching in hand sewn ones. I have taken the opportunity to try various hairstyles. Some of them even came out looking good!
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I have been improving some of Isabel's wigs this afternoon by trimming off the hot glued center parts, tracing the remainder on my Isabel-specific pattern and hand sewing them instead.

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I have refined my wig making procedure. I used to hot-glue both the hairline edges and the center part. Hot glue, however, is not that flexible, so it often rendered the center part blocky and unrealistic. I changed from gluing the center part to hand sewing it. The results are more flexible, and they curve around the head naturalistically. I'm still hot gluing the hairline, though.
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One Zombieville set that I will greatly enjoy making is Isabel's room, including her mess where she customizes dolls. The accessories for this set will be easy to furnish since I can use many of my own supplies for Isabel's. See:
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I created a workable pattern for Isabel's wigs! This is the second one that I made with the pattern. Shockingly enough, I got tired of plain ol' magenta, so I added a purple understory for variety. Came out well!

I see that I need to even out the pink highlights on Isabel's lips. Will she ever be done?!


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I'm in the midst of making a wig pattern specifically for Isabel's oddly shaped head. Here's the latest iteration of the pattern, almost there, but with too much bulk and height in the front hairline. Isabel looks great with 3" magenta shag as hair, though!

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Over the past week or so, I've been customizing dolls for Isabel with the aim of creating as many articulated dolls for her as possible. Like me, she works quickly and rather messily, using a lot of hot glue and not worrying too much about matching skin tones. :p

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I redid Béatrice's faceup over the past few days, as well as her hair. She used to have a faceup in unsealed Prismacolor colored pencil and no hair at all. Her faceup wore away with handling, however. I also found her blindingly white skin difficult to photograph. To cut down on the amount of blindingly white skin she shows, I made her a coordinating wig when I redid her faceup.

Faceup consists of the following: brown watercolor pencil for eyebrows, lashes and shading around nose, neon purple over neon pink acrylic for eyeshadow, neon pink with neon purple line for mouth, pink colored pencil for blush. Wig is faux fur with a blue 1" base, originally with 3" pink and purple spikes. I trimmed the spikes down to 1" as well and gave Béatrice bangs.

Everyone in Zombieville achieves a minimum level of loud tackiness, but Béatrice is especially loud and flamboyant. I mean, she wears neon lipstick, for shit's sake! She also chooses, as a cancer survivor who has lost her hair to radiation, to wear a tricolor wig. Plus she is actually really loud and pushy, in part because she is used to being literally overlooked.

She still needs her chandelier earrings.

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I redid Isabel's mouth and eyelids last night. This is what she looked like before:Read more... )
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Well, technically, it's Isabel's doll studio, but it's a barely organized heap of several projects in progress, so it's pretty messy. I should start making this. I've been amassing dolls, doll parts, shelves and tables for her for quite some time, and I think I need to just dive right in and do it. The huge list of supplies I want to stock her with looks daunting, but, as much of it is either easily made or cut down from my own supplies, I should be able to quickly generate it. 
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I found some sprays of plastic ferns in the clearance section at Michael's last week and couldn't pass them up. Tonight I broke out the ferns, some leftover dried moss and the Aves Apoxie Sculpt to make some more ground cover.
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Now that I have decided to modify Isabel's legs so that they have action figure ankle cups, thus allowing her to use my collection of bootfeet, I decided to take an inventory of what options for footwear she has:Read more... )

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I just got the best idea...I have lots of action figure bootfeet, especially from all my Cy Girls and from my modified Hasbro Shoezies. To expand Isabel's wardrobe [and to make her more stable], I should remove her feet and somehow string her with action fig ankle cups so that she can wear all those shoes!!! 
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Even though she's yellow and averagely sculpted, I really like her. So does Isabel. Now I just need to remove that embossed doggerel on the front and repaint her a marble or granite color, including some bird shit stains.

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Figurvore's first custom challenge is to make a 1:6 scale plant. I toyed with the idea of making a bonsai tree with some of my various wire for a skeleton and possibly some fauxliage as leaves, but that looked like it would require hours, rather than minutes, of effort, so I scaled back. I made an E-Z Cactus, as previously mentioned in an entry in December, 2012, but with some improvements.

I made the cactus by twisting together two shades of green pipe cleaners. Then I formed the pipe cleaners into a club shape with a projection on the bottom to stick into the soil unit. To help the cactus stand upright, I rammed a slender piece of bronze wire up inside it.

To make the soil unit, I filled a 1.5" diameter terra cotta pot with Aves Apoxie Sculpt most of the way. I snipped off small shreds of brown crinkle paper and stuck them to the top of the Aves Apoxie Sculpt to look like wood chips. Then I stuck the wire on the bottom of the cactus into the soil unit. When the Aves Apoxie Sculpt dried, I used hot glue and more "wood chips" to cover the areas where the soil unit showed.
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His shirt and vest do not fit well, but they do represent the type of clothes he should be wearing. Why do I get the feeling that Isabel is snickering to herself over Carter's style choices?
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One was Bering Lusk, my Harumika mannequin who went to visit Andrea a while, then came back when I decided that Isabel needed a lifesize doll. I discovered that Bering's arms popped out of their sockets, so I was able to dress her in actual clothes, as opposed to the strange tuck-and-wrap fabrics she was sold with.Read more... )
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New things since last time, going L to R, top shelf to bottom: Rement mushroom container with frog, 1:6 scale Vermont bicentennial license plate [scanned from personal collection], Rement vase of flowers, Rement orange pen [below vase], Mattel watch, Rement magnetic paperclip holder, Kitchen Littles mug with Rement utensil sticking out.

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I've gone off on a bookcase tangent. I'm trying to make its contents a little more interesting than just books, but generic enough so that the bookcase can be used as a general backdrop. I added three things today:Read more... )
I'd really like to stick some more office supplies in there. Possible additions include:
  • stapler
  • tape dispenser
  • calculator
  • pencil[s]
  • scissors
  • map of Vermont
  • box of playing cards
  • random money
  • candle[s]
  • CD[s]
  • cell phone/smart phone
  • flyswatter [hah!]
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As I've mentioned before, bamboo drawer organizers make wonderful bookcases with little to no modification.

Make page blocks for dummy books by hot-gluing together "signatures" of balsa, foamcore or craft foam cut to size.

Don't forget to vary the dimensions of the dummy books. No one's library contains uniform volumes of all the same size.

Use scraps of paper sticking out from between "signatures" for bookmarks.

Create the impression of a diverse library by binding your dummy books in a variety of papers. Magazine pages and origami paper provide aesthetically pleasing patterns. Used cheap self-adhesive gift tags for trim, stripes and further differentiation.

While you're at it, don't forget to distribute colors and patterns randomly amongt the stacks. Very few people shelve according to the color spectrum. :p

For added realism, make it messy. [Tip for the lazy: Falling-over books take up more room than neatly stuffed shelves!] Have some books stick out further than others. A pile of books can act as a makeshift bookend. Try shelving some books on top of other books.

Use some sort of adhesive to keep the books on the shelves, particularly those that are falling over or leaning precariously.

See these principles in practice below.

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I really need to put him together. He's a cool guy, and Isabel needs her twin brother/best friend.

In one of my trades that has yielded an extensive wardrobe designed for fat bodies such as Isabel's [and Carter's], I got a button-up, collared shirt with blue dictionary text on white background. This strikes me as very Carterish: formal, but also offbeat and nerdy. I wonder if I still have a tie?

I'm seeing Carter as more conservative [not politically!] and quiet than Isabel, which cracks me up because, when he went to college, he was a radical dyke with multiple piercings and various hair colors who went bare-breasted in marches. It also cracks me up because he works as a tattooist at Champlain Valley Body Art, and employees of tattoo/piercing parlors frequently have lots of tattoos, piercings and other body mods. However, Carter eschews these.

Now that I think about it, Carter values stability, routine and peace. In pursuit of these goals, he strives to be unremarkable. He just wants to be a normal guy with his normal girlfriend. He really wants to marry Novella and have kids and be a normal dad. Normal normal normal, which neither he nor anyone around him really is.

As I mentioned, he has a past of radical activism, which he has set aside. He characterizes his time in college as a "selfish period," during which he was "wrapped up in identity politics." His break from activism coincided with his graduation, move to Vermont, realization that he was trans and anti-trans experience with some former friends, fellow Smith alums, who started crabbing about "butch flight." He no longer wished to be part of an acrimonious community; to him, they seemed jejune and puerile in their attacks, so he removed himself from those particular people, as well as the activism associated with them.

Frankly, he also started caring less about "women power rah rah rah" [his words] when he was trying to figure out how to become the man he had always wanted to be. He thought of his and Isabel's dad as a model for masculinity, a dude who was a stay-at-home father for the first 7 years' of the twins' lives and who always said that the measure of a man was not in his toughness or his strength, but in his respect, loyalty and love to those around him. He wanted to be like his dad, who thought that being a father was his most important job ever. He wanted to settle down with the right woman and have a family, which seemed to him incompatible with "running around and protesting shit all the time" [his words].

Carter's desire to be a good man is also strongly affected by pop cultural conceptions of masculinity. This mostly manifests in his long-running preoccupation with exactly how to marry Novella. He is currently hung up on what type of engagement ring to get for her and how to propose to her.

Novella and Carter have known each other for about 5 years and been living together for about 3. They have cats together. They co-own their condo and their car. They have joint bank accounts, and they have set up their wills, health care proxies and powers of attorney to default to each other. Everyone who knows them treats them as a pair, and friends and extended family have been bugging them about the possibility of having kids. In other words, they're pretty damn committed. They also obviously love each other and demonstrate it frequently, so they don't have the "Does he/she even love me???" question.

The thing is that both Carter and Novella are pretty shy and kinda passive. I mean, they didn't officially call themselves a couple until after their friends kept assuming that they were one, which led to the following conversation:

"Hey, Carter, are we dating?"

"I dunno."

"Everyone thinks we're together."

"Well, we DO hang out a lot." [Understatement: At this point, Carter was spending 5 nights a week at Novella's.]

"And like each other a lot."

"Yeah, and have lots of sex."

"Isn't that dating?"

"Okay."

"Okay."

This is what happens when you have two socially awkward people who find it difficult to talk about their feelings. :p

Novella currently has the exact same obsession as Carter: how to marry him, starting with what kind of engagement ring to get him and how to propose to him. Carter and Novella do not know that they share preoccupations, but Isabel does, since she is close to both. This secrecy is integral to the subplot, its climax and its fallout.
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As you may know because I write about it all the time, my next series, Zombieville, is currently developing. Zombieville features people who eat brains and lose body parts, but they are not the mindless, undead creatures of pop culture lore. Rather, they are average, living people with a condition known as spontaneous disintegrative disorder ["spondis"] that causes physical and mental degeneration, which may only be arrested through a diet of at least 50% fresh human brains. Most people with spondis [PWS] see themselves as people with disabilities, while most of the public sees them as pop culture zombies. Conflict ensues.

In one planned episode, Isabel, protagonist and PWS, encounters a vending machine filled with zombie dolls. The manufacturers model the dolls after pop culture zombies [drooling blood, chewing severed limbs]. However, the dolls also have mobility aids that many PWS actually use. Isabel's response to these toys forms an entire story arc.

The foregoing explains why the creation of these zombie dolls did not just entail slapping red paint on some miniature figures. I wanted to make zombie dolls with electric wheelchairs, walkers and canes of the type that PWS would use.

Read more... )
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A test of the forest against the deciduous background reveals that it needs more filler.
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I finished the large trees tonight.Read more... )
Thoughts:
  • Though the forest is approaching completion, I still need a pine tree or two.
  • I also may use up my Apoxie Sculpt to make another stand of slender trees. However, I'm pretty sick of making stands of anything right now.
  • Rocks?
  • Stumps?
  • The forest looks sparse because it's against the sky backdrop; I assume that it will look fuller against the deciduous backdrop. Need to test that tomorrow.
  • I think I'll hit the big craft store nearby tomorrow morning to look for more options of green stuff.

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When we last looked in on my forest in progress, it was pretty much uniformly green. In the mean time, I have made some improvements.

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Erica's end of a trade -- a bunch of commissioned clothes for Isabel -- arrived earlier this week. Forthwith, pictures of selected items.
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I did a quick mockup of my spring/summer forest set. I used a moss table runner for the ground. The backdrop is North American Wildlife 2011 Forest Green cotton print by Elizabeth's Studio [no really!]. The trees are my aforementioned sticks.

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Some thoughts:

  • I really need to make weighted bases for my sticks. They keep falling over, whether I set them on my level desk or the uneven moss. The weighted bases will provide more support for the sticks and allow people to sit at the base of the trees without pushing the trees over. The bases will also add depth and variation to the currently flat ground.
  • I also need some ground cover, not a lot, but enough to make the ground look less relentlessly GREEN.
  • I have a functional foreground and a functional background, but I lack a functional midground. I need some undergrowth to provide depth to the scene and break up the line where the moss meets the backdrop.
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Hmmm, I appear to have acquired 7 Groovy Girls and their closet off of craigslist at $2.50 per item. The dolls do not come in the closet. They are definitely out of the closet.

I am purchasing them to see if their clothes fit my fat dolls. If they do, hooray, more meretricious clothes for Isabel and friends. If they don't, they'll hit Ebay, unless they tell me they're too cute to go, which Groovy Girls have a way of doing. >_>

Washed-out pictures from seller below.   Read more... )
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An orgy of hot pink, lime green and electric blue! I'm gonna pretend Isabel made it for her. ^_^

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Here she is with her BJD, played by Jujube. Isabel is about 11 inches tall [28cm]. Since 2 inches = 1 foot in 1:6 scale, Isabel would be 5.5 feet [1.67m] in real life. Jujube is about 5.5 inches tall [14cm], which would make her 2.5 feet high in real life. That's 76cm in real life, on the huge end for a BJD. 1:12 scale [Jujube] is like 1:2 scale for 1:6 scale [Isabel]. Therefore, even though Jujube is minuscule to me, anyone who sees her in Isabel's arms will certainly remark on how huge she is! ^_^

I improved Jujube this evening by wiring her limbs with 22 gauge wire, repositioning her wig and removing her way-out-of-scale shoelaces.

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...that Isabel needs some wig stands for her immense collection of wigs. In practice, this means that I I need 2 or 3. I can make these very easily out of fashion doll heads mounted on dowels in blocks of polymer clay or something. Knowing Isabel, she would repaint each of her heads and give it a name and a personality. ^_^
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Isabel got the two shirts and dolls shown from Andrea today. Isabel clearly likes coordinating her hair with her outfits.

Farking around with the "bloom" effect in Photoscape produced the halos of light around her head. Read more... )
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Back in my less discriminating days, I used to acquire stuff more easily that I thought looked great, but which I did not immediately have a use for. Now that I'm older, pickier and possessed of much less space, I have winnowed my collection of set pieces and accessories down to those that I can use in multiple situations. [Well, with the exception of my Shoezies shoe display rack -- it's so cool that I will write shoe stores into my photostories just so I can use it for its sole purpose!] Though I have drastically reduced my 1:6 scale stuff to the most practical and useful pieces, sometimes some stuff hangs around that I'm not sure what to do with.

Take this 1:6 scale cork scene, for example, with which Isabel is posing below. It's a cluster of miniature, carved, wooden buildings in a glass case with black trim.
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I got my AG Minis Groovy Room today. Here is Jujube hanging out in her new house, which is as tastefully decorated from the available pieces as I could manage.

NB: I was wrong in my earlier speculation that AG Minis room boxes are smaller than 1:12 scale. They are 1:12 scale, so Jujube fits perfectly! ^_^   Read more... )
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At Toys R Us, where I got Megan her slightly improved body, I also got Isabel some dolls in the form of Mattel Winx action figures. They are articulated at the neck, elbows, thighs and knees, which is also where Megan's new body is articulated. The Winx figures' soft, rubbery skirts and hair are supposed to permit posing, but they don't really. Their molded hair is way too heavy, making them pitch backwards. I plan to rip it off and replace it with fiber.

Read more... )

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