abby doll

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Given that I’ve been flat out lately, spending my days grooming dogs, working on custom dolls, watching TV and wasting time, I thought I should share some of the dolls I failed to share.

Abby from NCIS was the first doll I ever tried re-rooting. (Which is not something rude, but the act of replacing the original hair with new hair.) I did it ’cause I needed a Bratz doll with pale skin and black hair. And I didn’t have one. So I watched some YouTube videos and went ahead and bought some black hair from CustomDollHairAu on Etsy. She sells luscious hair blends and tools as well. I now have a collection of gorgeous hair blends and a lot of doll heads I plan to re-root one day…

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Anyway… I got started re-rooting with a needle, the hard way. Well, ok, not hard as such, but the longer way… It took ages to re-root the whole head but I loved the result. And to be honest it’s a kind of relaxing zen sort of activity.

Since then I’ve re-rooted 2 more dolls and I tried the rooting tool… I watched the videos. I tried doing it. I stuffed up. I watched more videos. I tried again. I stuffed up again. I broke so many needles it wasn’t funny. I have no idea what I was doing wrong.

I went back to the needle.

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If it works for you, stick with it, right?

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For this particular doll makeover I repainted her face, re-rooted her with black hair and adapted original Bratz clothes and boots to achieve the Abby look.

All in all, I was very happy with my first re-root!

This little girl has been sold through my Etsy shop.

z

helen of troy

Not too long ago I got an order for a Helen of Troy doll. Now that she’s in her new home I thought it’d be a good time to share her.

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I was asked to make a doll to match Helen from the movie. I had a few photos as reference so I found a doll to use and began work.

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First I had to buy various beads and gold bits and pieces. Then I had to make an outfit.

Of course, I had to work on the doll too. Most dolls I work with need their hair restored from frizz to pretty (if not completely replaced). This time I was lucky, I was able to restore her hair.

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After removing the factory face, I painted in my own Helen of Troy face.

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I made her a crown and earrings out of the gold bits I bought. I made her some jewelry as well.

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Her sandals are Bratz sandals which I repainted gold. I curled her hair and here she is.

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Her new owner is thrilled with her. And I’m pretty pleased at how she turned out too!

I’m currently working on three more special order dolls. I’ll share them when they’re finished!

Aside from that, I don’t have a lot to share. I’ve been very busy but I have a few little things on the go, so stay in touch!

z

a quirky business card holder

What do you do with vintage electrical plugs? You make business card holders out of them of course!

Well… I do anyway.

You saw my first such offering here. It was time for more. I have more on the way, but this one is special.

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I started off with a dark brown electrical plug and a wooden mount (in old houses here in Australia light switches were mounted on wooden blocks to hide the wiring, cause wiring was usually ON the wall, not inside it). But this was a large wooden block, meant for two light switches… what to do with the extra space…?

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I rummaged in my various boxes of extra handy assorted junk that I collected cause I knew I’d find the perfect use for it one day and found this odd little clamp.

It was perfect!

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I sprayed the clamp with some varnish to seal the rusty bits (cause I love rusty bits), added a touch of oil to the bolt, then drilled a hole in the side of the block to hold it in place. The little butterfly clampy bit does a great job holding down a stack of business cards.

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You know. For extra business cards. In windy conditions. Display some on the plug, keep extras on hand under the clamp.

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How can you not love this quirky little piece? I bet no one else has a business card holder like this one!

Soon to be listed in my Etsy shop.

z

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i once wrote a book

Like many people, I lived under the illusion that I could write (and illustrate) books for a living. Especially children’s books.

Do you know how hard it actually is?

Anyway, one day I actually did write a book which I self published on Lulu.com, the DIY online publishing place. This was quite a few years ago, there may be other places now, but back then I think that was it.

This is the book:

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Scooter was my second toy poodle ever. He was the first one I got while living in Australia. He was a real character, a little man with a huge attitude. He was hilarious. When we lived in Fentonbury the paddock next door was sometimes home to cattle and Scooter was game to take on anything. This is a true story. It happened one day while I watched. It was too good not to capture and share.

I think I sold about 10 copies. All to me. Ok, maybe a couple to a friend or two. The problem is that Lulu charges so much, its a ridiculous price to pay for a slim book!

I actually made heaps more selling the original watercolours on ebay.

I began illustrations for a book about Billybear, my other toy poodle, but never got past that to the story. One day I’ll finish it. Maybe.

You can see a bit more about my Scooter book and, if you have $$ to spare, you can order it online here.

Meanwhile, remembering this book got me to thinking about writing in general and beginnings specifically. I remember hearing somewhere that starting was the hardest part. I beg to differ. I can start anything, at any time.

Its finishing (or continuing) that’s the hard part!

In my mind I’m always writing first paragraphs for books. Its fun!

Like this:

The man lay in bed, watching the neon light outside the cheap motel window flash pink then red then white. He couldn’t sleep. He was too conscious of the loaded gun on the bedside table next to him. If he failed tomorrow he was as good as dead.

Or this:

Megan was woken by the cold. She reached for her comforter but something was wrong. She couldn’t move her arms or legs. Her eyes flew open and she looked around the dark unfamiliar room. She was lying on a mattress on a dirty floor, cable ties around her wrists and ankles. She remembered the man in the mask and she began to cry.

Yes. I obviously love crime and suspense books. Does it show?

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Ok, how about:

Amy looked up as Troy put a large coffee on the table in front of her. Soy milk latte with a dash of vanilla, just the way she liked it. He sat down opposite her and smiled. He was such a nice guy, considerate, kind, attractive. They had heaps in common. He had a good job. Her parents loved him. Yet Amy looked watched him stir sugar into his coffee and felt like the walls were closing in around her. 

The second paragraph? So much harder to do! LOL

z

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gloss black cake stand

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So… one day someone posted on Facebook about wanting to buy a large wooden cake stand.

I contacted her as I had a couple I’d made using recycled bits and pieces. Wooden platters, lamp bases, whatever. This is one of them.

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Yeah, I decided to try copper coloured paint instead of my usual pastel chalk paint. Not sure if I like it…

Anyway, back to the lady and the Facebook post.

Turned out she wanted an extra large cake stand. 36cm across. I didn’t have anything that big so I cut the circle out of some MDF. I cut it at 38cm. A bit of breathing room for the cake….

But it was boring. Just plain MDF… BO-RING. meh.

I could do better.

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What do you think? Can you tell what I did? I used small wooden beads I ordered on ebay. I got those little suckers and glued them to the bottom of the circle. I love them. They add a bit of fancy to the cake stand.

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Its going to be used for a black & white themed 21st birthday party, so the lady wanted it gloss black. I gave it 2 coats of black after giving it a coat of sealer. Done. Just like a bought one.

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Very darn cute. Those little beads just make me smile.

A fun project and a happy customer. What more could I want?

z

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i found the floor!

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At least that’s what I tell Wayne.

But the truth of the matter is that even I can’t live with this:

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Yes. Disgraceful. I know. That is my office.

To be fair, that was about halfway through cleaning up, the goal being to find the floor. As everyone knows,  you have to make a bigger mess to clean up a mess.

I have so many hobbies and have so many THINGS that I plan to do creative things with, that the office is chock-a-block full of stuff. Its hard to keep it all contained, let alone organised.

Especially when in the middle of a project or five.

Part of the problem is that I don’t work on one thing from start to finish, then put all the bits away before starting something new. I’ve never got the hang of focusing…

That means I have 3 commission barbies on the go right now, necessitating hair, rooting tools, fabric for clothing, shoes, etc to accumulate on the desk. I also have some wire projects in various stages of un-finished-ness. Add wire cutters and pliers and wire to the mix… Then, just for the fun of it, I have a couple of small sewing projects – nothing too boring. Top it off with fabric, scissors, beads, buttons… oh and paper to draw up patterns.

You’ll notice the photos somehow avoid showing you the table…

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I ended up moving a few bits of furniture to make the office a bit more user friendly. This side of the room is dedicated to dolls. The cupboard holds glues and sprays, felting wools, as well as some boxed items for future projects. The boxes on top hold dolls and accessories. The little wooden cabinet holds old diaries, notebooks and folders and the drawers hold doll accessories. The shelf on top holds all the dolls that are finished or in progress.

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The opposite wall now holds all my fabrics and sewing machines. The fabric does need to be sorted and folded better, but for now the top shelf holds doll costume fabrics and the bottom shelves hold my crazy critter type cotton fabrics.

Much better.

I wonder how long it’ll take till I fill it up with crap again?

z

step ladder

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When I first saw this little step ladder it was looking pitiful. The top was broken in half and the red paint was mostly rubbed off.

I got it at an farm sale a couple of years ago. I put it in the shed with all the other projects I would get to one day.

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You know one day, don’t you? Its that day that may or may not come around sometime this year, or three years from now. In this lifetime. If you’re lucky.

Well, one day came for this little step ladder… though, to be totally honest, it had a few false starts. First I moved it from the shed to the laundry area. Left it there for a while. Then I moved it to the storage room. And left it there a while longer. Then I got tired of moving it so I got out the glue and clamped it tight and left it a little longer to dry.

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But I couldn’t rely on glue alone to hold together the top. There’s too much strain on it. Not that I recommend anyone use it to actually step on! GOSH. No way. Its a cute step ladder, but its step laddering days are over. Its more a plant stand or side table these days.

Anyway, my solution to the broken and glued back together again top was to bind it with some metal strapping.

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I don’t know what this strapping came from, but we’ve got quite a bit of it rusting away in our top paddock. I’ve collected some to stop it from rusting any more and Wayne has used it for a few of his projects.

I think it really suits the little step ladder.

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I also repainted the top. I forgot to mention that. Nothing else needed painting or fixing, just the top.

It turned out great. And now it has a new home. I sold it at the market on the weekend. I couldn’t find a spot for it here. I already have enough side tables and ladders, mores the pity… sigh…

z

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it’s been a while

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Yes, I know. I’m a bad blogger. I go missing without any warning at times. Regularly. Like the last few weeks. I’m sorry. Life just gets in the way sometimes.

Lots has been going on since I last posted. Here it is in no particular order:

We’ve got a mouse plague. The little buggers brazenly run across the living room floor while the dogs lie sleeping on the couch and I’m watching TV. I water the garden, a mouse runs out. I move a pot, a mouse runs out. I pick up a boot, a mouse runs out.

I like mice. They’re darn cute little critters. But I do not want them in my house! Or in my garden for that matter. They bring snakes!

Something has died under or inside the stove. I cleaned the stove. I moved it out, I checked under and behind it. Nothing. But the stench persists. I sure hope its a mouse. How long would a mouse stink for? Not as long as a rat!

I feel sick.

I had a stall at our local market again and spent more than I made. Eh. That’s ok. I have gifts for my family in Greece for when I visit.

I’ve paid for my ticket to Greece so now there’s no backing out. I’m so excited. This time round I’m stopping in Singapore for one night and having breakfast with the orangutangs on the way back!

I was having headaches and saw the dentist. I’ve cracked a tooth (thank you olive pit on a pizza slice!) and need a root canal done. You don’t even want to know what the bill for that will be! Let’s just say, if I hadn’t already paid for my trip to Greece I would be getting the tooth done instead. Not quite the same amount of fun as time on Paros. Now I’m just gonna have to scramble to pay for both.

Turns out my high school is having one of their famous island reunions on Syros this summer, and I’ll be in Greece at the time! On Paros, which is only a hop, skip and short ferry ride away! I went to the Naxos reunion 3 years ago and had the best time. I can’t wait. Plus I’ve always wanted to visit Syros. Here is my chance.

I caught up with Season 8 of The Walking Dead. OMG.

I’ve been watching Married at First Sight and annoying the hell out of Wayne.

I got 4 commissions for my repainted dolls: Helen of Troy, Katy Perry, Abby from NCIS and Amy Winehouse. I sold the first Amy and Abby I made.

Other than that, life’s been pretty normal. Working lots grooming, never totally finishing anything until the last possible minute if I have a deadline… otherwise things just kind of linger…. Like the bathroom. The corners are still not gap-filled. The cabinet is finished but not totally finished… And now I’ve decided I dislike the colour so I’ll be repainting it. Ain’t that the way? Well… It is if you’re me.

The garden is suffering. We’ve had some record hot days. Then cool days, wind and rain. Though not nearly enough rain. I need to weed and cut back plants. I still have plants in pots which I bought ages ago and still haven’t put in the ground.

I don’t do well in the heat. When its hot I sort of just melt and end up getting real sleepy. My hair has gotten long enough to make tiny pony tails again, so I’ve been looking like this:

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Boo from Monsters Inc.

My cousin Zefi in Greece says I look like Pikachu… only not so cute.

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I’ve been working on various projects, but as I mentioned above, things are all over the place. I do a bit of this, a bit of that, never quite finish anything, then flake out in the evenings.

I really need to get a grip on this scheduling thing. I really suck at it. Maybe I need a clone. Or two. Yeah. That would fix the problem!

z

rockabilly diner doll-o-rama

I’m sure I haven’t shared this. Its a post I began ages ago and forgot in my drafts. Ooops. So here goes now.

What’s a doll-o-rama you ask? Its a doll display box x diorama. I mean, its obvious isn’t it?

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I’ve made a few of them since I started this post, but this is the first one I made for one of my repainted dolls.

I had this Monster High Operetta doll that I decided to repaint into a rockabilly chick. Here is the before and after…

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This doll was crying out to be a rockabilly really. She already had tattoos and bright red hair… it was an easy decision.

After stripping her factory paint, I gave her a new face, coloured in her facial tattoos, gave her a quiff and new clothes, and voila.

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I really wanted to have a proper background for her though. I made a box out of some timber I had and created a diner space for her to stand in. The whole idea was to make it 3D enough to give the illusion of depth, but to make it simple to put together.

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I created the background with royalty free images I found online, putting them into Photoshop and putting them together to create the space I wanted. I printed out the image of a jukebox I found, mounted it on board and glued it in place halfway back in the box.

I secured the doll in place by making a little bracket out of black wire attached to the back of the jukebox. That way the wire ‘doll stand’ was almost invisible and the doll was easy to pose in a natural position – leaning against the jukebox.

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The little holes one the frame are there so a piece of perspex can be attached to the front to keep dust out.

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All in all, I think its a great little display. I listed her in my Etsy shop for a while but she actually sold at the market.

What fun!

z

falling down places

I don’t know about you, but I love falling down, abandoned houses and sheds. There’s something so sad yet beautiful about them. I love the faded colours and the weathered timber. I mourn the waste of these places, left to disintegrate ’cause for whatever reason, no one wanted to live in them and love them any more.

A few years ago I spent time photographing old sheds with greyed timber and rusty roofs. This trip I couldn’t resist some of the abandoned buildings we saw. There are too many of them…

This old church was one building we were able to walk around and even inside.

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Inside it had a lovely curved roof and a small stage. Vandals had broken windows and most light fixtures. Rain and critters had done their share of damage as well.

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Nature starting to assert itself, bushes starting to grow in through broken windows.

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Around the back two outhouses, one still standing, the other on a serious lean. Would you visit this outhouse? I’m sure the redbacks living in there wouldn’t mind…

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Next, a simple old farmhouse, one which already had plants growing over the porches and inside the front room. You can believe me when I say I stomped around really loudly as I explored. I wanted to let the snakes know I was there.

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Around the back things were sadder. I know there are lots of reasons old homes might be abandoned, but it still makes me sad to see.

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What was left of the sheds was a mess, but offered some great textures for photos.

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This is one of my favourite photos, an old door and a bit of old metalwork…

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This old house stole my heart. It would have been such a beauty when it was loved.

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As it stands now, sagging verandah and rotten timbers, I wondered if it would be possible to restore it or if it was too far gone. Too far gone I think. But what a lovely old home… A part of me wants to know if its for sale…

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There were sheep grazing in the yard so I’m guessing the old farm was bought by a much larger property, the old farmhouse not needed and left to eventually become part of the landscape.

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Sigh…

This little cottage is definitely beyond any hope. From the outside it looks a bit of a wreck…

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With the leaning chimneys…

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And inside is more of a wreck. The place has perhaps been gutted as well.

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Look at the colours of the ceiling timbers! If I was salvaging bits of this house I’d be taking those ceilings, rotten timbers or not!

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And look at the old bits of newspaper and wallpaper still clinging to the walls.

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If I can’t restore and love these places, can I at least salvage from them?

Apparently no. It’d be considered stealing.

No fun!

z

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