DIY Blythe Face Guard

15 Apr

nimes travel 04I am going on a trip with some friends for a weekend next month. I’ve made a list of things to bring for that weekend, light clothing, comfortable shoes, camera- all of the usual stuff- BUT since this will be a weekend with other doll collectors like me, I figured a doll (or two) was in order.

Since I’ve met Nimes (Blythe Slow Nimes), I’ve never been without her for long. I take her almost everywhere, even to the most unexpected places, because she’s always such a pretty addition to the places I go to. Despite being reminded now and then that I do have other dolls to play with, I’ve decided Nimes will be my companion on my weekend trip next month.

There are, however, certain challenges to bringing a Blythe doll everywhere. When I travel within the city, I carry her in a clear plastic box or a small doll carrier. But this planned weekend is starting out with minimal luggage so that means not only do I have to be spare in my essentials, I will also have to squish my doll in with the rest of my things. This poses some problems with dirt and staining; her hands and feet have gotten dirty at times because of this. It’s a good thing a little washing did the trick but I’ve since learned to always wrap her in a white bird’s eyeweave diaper to prevent direct contact with things that can discolor or stain her.

Beyond this, there is also a problem of accidentally ruining her eyelashes or her face. Sometimes, when she is squeezed tight with other things, her face could get scratched or her eyelashes inadvertently folded. As such, face guards are a necessary addition to a traveler’s doll requirements.

I’ve only seen one type of face guards sold online and that is Cool Cat’s Face Guard for different dolls. They are very affordable (less that USD2 a piece) and well worth the money you will spend on protecting your Blythe’s face.

Cool Cat Face Guard 01

Each face guard is made of molded plastic and comes with an optional foam to put around the face. Rivets hold the elastic band in place. Very nice, right?

Cool Cat Face Guard 02

I’ve made a note to ask A♥ to get me some, but in the meantime, while I wait (and the real gist of this story was that I couldn’t wait, haha!) I was seized with the idea to make one. A DIY Lightbulb moment- ta-dah!

You know those plastic bits that come with your Blythe dolls, the ones designed to cradle the head or hold the feet?

Blythe Face Guard DIY 08

I’ve kept all of those in a separate box when I flattened the original boxes and carrier cardboard. I didn’t think I’d ever find a use for all of them but I was just hesitant to part with them all. But this afternoon, while looking around the house for an item that could serve as a potential faceguard, I suddenly thought of them.

Blythe Face Guard DIY 01

A quick inspection showed that this particular piece of plastic- the head cradle- works well when turned over and placed over the doll’s face. There were no points of direct contact to the cheeks, forehead, or eyelashes, and the smooth plastic was not likely scuff up the doll.

Blythe Face Guard DIY 02

I cut around the edges to reduce volume, making sure to cut in rounded corners to prevent pointy edges that can scratch. And then I manually bore two holes, one on each side, to thread ribbons or elastics to hold the face guard in place. And what do you know- it works perfectly!

Blythe Face Guard DIY 03

I tried using a ribbon first and while it was nice to look at, the ribbon also had more “give” and was looser than a thin elastic band.  Changing it into an elastic, or a garter, as we call it here in the country, made the fit better. Instead of knotting the elastic, I sewed the edges shut to prevent it from slipping through the holes in the side.

Blythe Face Guard DIY 05

See? It fits perfectly!

Blythe Face Guard DIY 06

Now, she is ready to travel!

Blythe Face Guard DIY 07

Try your very own DIY face guard- it’s quick, easy, and I love that we have repurposed and upcycled what was supposed to be thrown away. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.” :-)

~0~

Sisyphean

23 Mar

Original article was published on HerWord.com, March 20, 2014

I used to think of my son Alphonse’s labors to fit in the world around him as a “Sisyphean” task, that is, until I sisyphus copyremembered that in mythology, Sisyphus was a deceitful, conniving king who was forever doomed to roll his massive stone up a steep hill, only to have it roll back down again. The difference is Sisyphus had it coming to him in his eternal life, and Alphonse does not.

When I see my son struggle to learn or master a skill, say, something as simple as just wiping his hands, it brings me back to the early days of his diagnosis, when everything he did was a source of sadness and guilt. And this sadness also fills me with a momentary anger, one borne of frustration and helplessness, for despite all the years we’ve poured into making his life “normal,” sometimes, there are things we cannot ever claim to have control of. Alphonse’s life is one of them.

While other children have proms, graduations, and moving-up ceremonies, while young men and women Alphonse’s age worry about college and relationships, we seem to be stuck in this twilight zone where Alphonse and many other young people with similar abilities and dis-abilities hover in. For us, there will be no graduations. There will be no moving up or moving on. We can only live for today, for today is all we are really sure of.

So we strive to make each day work. We wake up, we put on a happy face, we resolve to keep busy with meaningful tasks to fill a day. We get down on our knees to pray, and yes, to play.  We move, we dance, we sing, we pound on the table when lunch is late, we laugh, we cry. And we count the seconds- one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four—until the day comes to an end and we can focus on, well, another “today.”

Still, if there’s anything I’ve learned from my son, it is the courage and the strength of the human spirit, the very same one that exists in all of us, disabled or not. It’s a spirit that cannot be shackled into labels. It is one that breaks free his desire to connect and be connected to others. Despite the belief that Alphonse exists in “a world of their own,” the truth is, he wants to be part of our lives. I see that every single day. The way he tries to catch our eyes when he does something he is particularly proud of. The way he giggles when we praise him. The way he engulfs us in huge bear hugs when he is happy or when we are sad. Over the last few months, we’ve seen our son blossom into a happy, helpful young man, one who is always proud of his work, however menial or lowly some may consider it to be. He tries very, very hard.

Alphonse at work2Work is a Blessing

It’s not easy; I see that too in my son’s struggles to communicate and be understood.  We take language and speech for granted, when these are some of the hardest things to learn in the world. There are many mistakes along the way, and just as each step in the right direction feels like a triple-crown victory, each mistake feels like a miserable failure. So, yes, perhaps Alphonse’s life is indeed Sisyphean, with him rolling a boulder up the mountain of his disabilities, only to have it come crashing down on him. It is to his credit that he throws himself into it completely and pushes back up again.

There are days, however few and far-in-between, when the boulder stays on top for a few seconds, these are the times we dare dream of beyond today.  True, there will be no moving up, no graduations, not even proms. But what we have are constant beginnings when each day, with all its mistakes and sadness, can be wiped away clean and began anew. Surely there is magic in that too.

Happiness is… Repaint Project One 2014 (xx)

14 Mar

I’ve been meaning to ease myself back into repainting some of my old doll houses, but I wasn’t really sure I could commit to such a lengthy process right away. I’ve had the materials on hand for a while now, but I couldn’t get myself to jump in on a project. That is, until a perfect “practice” project came along.

I am talking about a Licca dressing room I got recently through a Facebook contact. I got it at a very reasonable price, albeit it was not complete and was, in fact, missing a very important part- the cover for the main dressing room. It also had minor discolorations and small chipped parts. Still, I was very happy with the purchase because it was small enough to work on and not have the project drag on for days, or weeks even,

Brand new, the Licca dressing room would have looked like this (pictures borrowed from Playmoya Japan:

Licca dressing room

Licca dressing room 02

Licca dressing room 03

Very cute, right? I think it’s a very nice playset, functional too, as the shoe closet also serves as a carry case for a Licca doll when traveling.

Now, this was what I got, and mind you, I still loved it, flaws and all:

Repaint 02

This Licca dressing room was missing the hinged flap that serves as a cover to the room. As you can see, there are two exposed hinges on the side where the plastic hinge of the cover should be.

Repaint 01

The good news was that the door was in great condition, save for some dings on the sides and small scratches on the design in front.

Repaint 03The back and sides also just had minor discoloration strewn here and there in small, irregular patches of yellow.

It took me just ten hours to finish this project, spread over two days and with long drying times in between. I actually spent more time waiting for the paint to dry completely, so I did chores at home or worked with Alphonse while I waited.

The plan was to make it less childish in appearance by changing the color palette to one more suited for an adult doll collector. Choosing white and gray as its base colors and gold as an accent made this project elegant and less plasticky in appearance.

This is the finished project:

Repaint 04

Front

Repaint 05

Front with open shoe closet

Repaint 06

Back

Repaint 12

Details

I used a stone acrylic paint spray for the roof to add texture to the gray primer and base pant. The white I used was a mixture of flat white primer and pearly white acrylic spray. A bright gold was painted on selected parts to serve as accent color.  I also covered the cardboard backing with a printed sticker (printed on matte sticker paper and sealed with a clear sealant to prevent smudging or running) and kept the black and white theme on it to make it less fussy.

I sealed the whole thing with more clear spray and waited overnight for the seal to dry. Just this morning, I tried it on for a few pictures with my dolls, just to see how it would look with them.

Repaint 10

Nimes: “Hmmm… I hate it when I have nothing to wear… Sigh…”

Repaint 11 copy2

Sitti: “Oh, c’mon, Nimes, stop dawdling around! Wear your jacket and let’s go! We’ll be late for school!”

Success! I like that I now have an extra closet for Blythe doll clothes. I will keep looking for that missing hinged part or perhaps replace it in the future with a home made cover. Another option would be to hang sheer white curtains in front (with tiebacks) to keep the clothes covered when not in use. In any event, this modded set will certainly get a lot of use as Nimes, Sitti, and their Blythe sisters play dress-up.

Am I ready to remake a Sylvanian building now? You bet I am ! On to the next project!

Wishing for Ribboneta

3 Mar

Ribboneta is 2009′s Hello Kitty x Blythe collaboration especially created to celebrate Hello Kitty’s 35th year. She is one of my dream dolls, a grail doll, if you will.

Back in 2012, when I first dreamed of getting a Blythe doll for myself, the very first thing I did was to search for her. Alas, even then, her price had soared to a point where you could easily buy two or three new Blythe releases. And because I was unsure then if I really wanted to start another collection, I let that dream go, but not without regrets.

Fast forward to 2013, and the day I received Slow Nimes. Who knew I would love Blythes as much as I do Hello Kitty and Sylvanian Families? These days, they (the Blythe girls) coexist happily with my other collections, forefront among them, my Sylvanian Families. :-)

Now, back to Ribboneta. As most Hello Kitty collaborations go, she is one special girl indeed.

blythehellokitty

She has reddish brown hair fringed with bangs. Her hair holds a slight curl at the ends.

Blythe ribboneta 02

Her eye chips are special too, as they have been marked with a ribbon in one of the irises of the pink and green forward-facing eyes. Her eyelids are light pink. :-) Blythe ribboneta 07

She has one of the prettiest clothes ever, with a pink shantung silk halter dress and a magenta bolero which matches the ribbon in her hair. The dress also has a ribbon behind the neck and more colorful ribbons near the hem. Small faux pink pearls are seeded on top of the ribbons.

Ribboneta has a Hello Kitty bag with handles made of the same faux pink pearls and a Hello Kitty necklace (HK head in a gold chain). Matching pink stockings and shoes complete the outfit and scream “Hello Kitty!” from top to toe.

Blythe ribboneta 01

When RW was released in 2009, she was pegged at JPY21000, or something like USD207 in today’s exchange rate. Today, a quick search of eBay shows the price to have gone remarkably from its original SRP to as much as USD700 for a never opened, MIB (mint-in-box) doll. Oh, my aching heart!

I’ve sort of resigned myself to never ever owning Ribboneta Wish. It’s just too much money for one doll, and unless I win the Lotto soon, I can’t justify spending that much money for her. Still, a part of me longs for that unattainable doll, and will always do.

There is a happy ending to this sad tale, though. Just when I thought I would never even see a glimpse of RW, here comes A♥ to the rescue! No, it is not Ribboneta, but close enough: RW’s stock clothes! *squeals*

And so, despite not having Ribboneta, I am ecstatic that Nimes can wear her clothes and pretend to be her, even for a short while. Moreover, being the recipient of such a thoughtful gift, well, that alone is a remarkable gift in itself, one I will always remember with love and gratitude.

Nimes as RW

Now, can anything be lovelier than that?

If Alphonse Could Speak, Would He Ask the Same of Me?

20 Feb

This was just too good not to share. :-)

Dancing Through Life

11 Feb

As Alphonse acclimatizes to being a more regular part of our home life, he is exwipe tablepected to help with chores around the house. One chore he enjoys a lot is clearing and cleaning the dining table after meals. He picks up plates, glasses, and utensils with amazing dexterity, balancing them on his hands and carrying them off to the kitchen sink. Of course, we have long given up on glassware. Part of the tradeoff of living with our son is we have to use nonbreakable dinner ware, and that means melamine and plastic (happily, Urban Kitchen does a great job of replacing our Corelles with beautiful and serviceable plastic wares).

Last night, after dinner, his nanny handed him a clean, wet rag to use on the table. Alphonse moved the chairs a bit and started to work. I watched from across the table and gave him verbal prompts, but for some reason, he was a bit distracted. His hands were only moving in one direction- up and down- instead of up and down AND left to right. So, I reminded him to do it correctly.

dance steps 2 copy“Alphonse, move,” I said loudly, trying to catch his attention.

He looked at me quizzically, one eyebrow raised. He stood still for a few seconds, and then, his eyes widened as if a lightbulb went on his head. He looked at me in complete understanding. He even flashed me one of his  drop-dead gorgeous smiles.

He took the rag, moved his hand up and down, and… danced the two-step! 

Wipe up, step to the left, wipe down, step close. Wipe up, step to the right, wipe down, step close. He finished cleaning the entire table. humming, smiling, and dancing.

Sometimes, it really is the little ones who show us the way. Would that we could all learn to dance through life, one step at a time.

dancing through life copy

Social Story: Alphonse Visits the Doctor (ENT)

4 Feb

Alphonse will need to see the ear, nose, and throat specialist this week. We saw him last week, and while Alphonse did well enough, we felt we could prepare him more this week to lessen his anxiety.

At last week’s visit, we were mighty proud of him, and how, despite his instincts to bolt and run from unexpected circumstances, he held his own together. He was scared of the otoscope but after modeling for him and showing him that it would not hurt a bit, he allowed the doctor to take a peek at his problematic ear.

I’ve taken the liberty of blurring the doctor’s face on these photos. Alphonse’s version will be uploaded to his iPad (and mine) for his reading, but since I was not able to ask our doctor’s permission to feature his head in my blog, his face will not be shown here. I’ve also made the sequence of events more specific for his requirements (for example, if he were seeing the pediatrician, I would include photos of auscultation or getting his height and weight checked).

For easier access to this story, this will also be uploaded under Social Stories, so please feel free to check it out there.

Wish us luck this week!

Doctor Visit 01

Doctor Visit 02 blurred copy

Doctor Visit 03

Doctor Visit 04

Doctor Visit 05

Doctor Visit 06

Doctor Visit 07

Doctor Visit 08

Doctor Visit 09 blurred copy

Doctor Visit 10 copy

Doctor Visit 11 blurred copy

Doctor Visit 12

Doctor Visit 13 copy

 

 

 

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