Friday, May 30, 2014

Monster High Doll Hair Removal Tutorial- the FAST and EASY Way.

I read a lot of message boards and I always see the exact same advice given on how to remove your Monster High Doll's hair. Following this commonly found advice you can expect to spend 30-60 minutes picking out hair from your doll's head.  In this tutorial I show you how to remove doll hair in less than five minutes.

The first thing we are going to do is prepare your Monster High doll to remove her hair so that you can reroot her, make her a wig, or apply mohair to a nice clean bare scalp. No messy nubs left!

I hope you will excuse me for using two different dolls in this tutorial as I forgot to photograph a few steps with Draculaura.

The prep time is about ten minutes, but the actual hair removal process is only a couple minutes. It is important to use the tools I list below. The common method everyone seems to use utilizes tweezers. This is what takes so long. They simply cannot grab and yank like the tool I use that makes it so super fast and easy. With a tweezer you are going to be pulling tiny bits and it can take 30 minutes to a hour this way.

Tools needed: Scissors, a metal letter open, a Hemostat ( a WHAT?)

remove doll hair with a hemostat
Metal letter opener and a hemostat

WHAT is a Hemostat? A hemostat is the device above. It has a handle that looks like scissors, but the other end looks like flattened blades with serrated teeth. These teeth grab the hair and hold on. The scissor style handle  allow you to tighten or loosen your grip on the hair. I cannot stress how easy it is to remove doll hair with a hemostat. I bought mine about ten years ago on Amazon for less than ten bucks and it has removed the hair from hundreds of dolls. What makes a hemostat so great is that the blade part is long and skinny enough to fit inside a Monster High ( or Barbie ) head and reach all areas inside the head easily.

This is the exact one I use to remove doll hair.

1.) Cut all her hair off as close to the scalp as possible. If you use a nice sharp sewing scissors, it is easier than using some kind of craft scissors which are usually not as sharp.

how to remove your monster high dolls hair
Draculaura has her hair cut down to the scalp

2.) Next, you have to remove her head. We can do this one of two ways. The first way is to aim a hot blowdryer at the back of her neck where it meets the head. In a minute or so the vinyl will be soft enough so that you can pull her head straight up and it will release easily from the anchors that hold it on.

The second way to remove the head will work well for this particular hair removal as it utilizes something we need anyways- a pot of boiling water.

Put a pot of water on the stove and when it comes to a boil, turn it off and place your Monster High doll's head into the pot of hot water. Leave it for a minute or so. Remove from water and using a towel to protect your hand from burns, grab the head and pull straight up. It will pull right off.

3.) Now, take the head and toss it back in the still hot water. Leave it for about three minutes but not so long that the water cools. The head has to be in HOT water- really hot.
Do you know why? To melt all that ungodly glue that Mattel puts in Monster High doll heads. They don't do this glue thing to Barbie dolls so I have no idea why they insist upon it for Monster High dolls.

Make sure you have your letter opener and hemostat handy. You are going to have to work quickly.

4.) Use a tongs to remove the head and drain the water out. We need to work FAST at this point so the head doesn't cool. This is really important because if the glue starts to solidify, you have to start all over with reheating the head in boiling water.

5.) The clock starts NOW. Take your metal letter opener and start scraping all over the inside of your Monster High doll's head. You will literally see the hair disappear inside the doll's head as the metal edge scraps it free. Use your hemostat to pull the hair that you have scraped loose from within the head. Scrap and pull. This should take you less than 5 minutes. It takes me about two, but I have been doing it for years.

Above- Insert letter opener and start scraping away the hair. 

 Above: Notice the hair is disappearing? It is inside the head.

Remove hair from monster high doll

Above: The hemostat was used to pull out all the gluey chunks.

THIS is what came out of Draculaura's head. Huge gluey chunks of hair. Do you really want to sit there with a tweezers and try to get that mess out?

The hemostat is especially important to get the hair out that is in the part. This area is always more heavily rooted and requires more effort to remove the hair. A hemostat makes very short work of a part. You have to exercise some caution however, as you don't want to use excess force or you may rip a hole in the scalp.

Here is a Frankie I did recently and the large section of hair you see came out in one piece from the part. 

And there you have it- a nicely bald Monster High doll ready for a reroot or a wig.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Monster High Dracualura Doll Repaint~ Demo

After I finished giving my Monster High Doll Draculaura a new cute and sassy hair style, I gave her a repaint. This post shows some of the progression photos from start to finish on her repaint.

 Above: I always wrap the heck out of the dolls hair. I fashion a wrap from a white paper towel, tape around the edges and pin it to the head. The body is wrapped in a white cloth. Why the emphasis on white? Cause dyes from paper towels can stain the doll. Guess how I learned that?

Next, Factory paint removed with 100% acetone, as always. She is now ready for about three layers of spray sealer. I generally wait 15-30 minutes between coats of sealer.

Draculaura monster high doll repaint demo

 Something strange happened with the above photo. It looks different here than on my computer- it appears here as if there is a dark shadow in the tear duct of each eye. There isn't. It's pink like it should be. Odd.

Above- I have started to place the outline for the shape of her eyes and irises. I want smaller, more realistic eyes on this Draculaura repaint.

Draculaura repaint in progress

Above: Eyes have been given more defined shape and upper eyelid sketched in with watercolor pencil.  I have begun to draw in  the base shape for the brows in a lighter pink shade of watercolor pencil. Rose toned pastels were used around nose and between eyes.  The first layers of color have been added to the irises. I sealed her after this layer of color.

Monster High Draculaura repaint in progress

 Above: Eyebrows have been deepened with pastels and a darker shade of watercolor pencil. Brown pastels used under eyes. Lashes penciled in. Iris color was made darker with more layers of pastels and watercolor pencils.  Again, she was sealed.

Draculaura monster high doll repaint demo

Above:I have started shading in her lips with pastels and added facial blushing. Another layer of lashes was added in a darker shade. Iris color deepened.  Almost done.

Repainted draculaura monster high doll demo

 Above: I have added the highlights to her eyes and done some more detailing on the lips. She has a slight sheen to her lips as I use a layer of Liquitex sealer after the last coating of spray sealer was used.  The repaint part is done.

Her hair, however, is a mess. The bangs need to be fixed. I read about a really simple way of doing this kind of hair fix for messed up bangs, and I can't believe I never came across this in the past 13 years I have been customizing dolls. You can learn new stuff all the time! I didn't save the link but I remember what they did.

To fix Draculaura's messed up bangs, I used a damp cloth ( white ) and an iron set on LOW.

I wrapped Draculaura's head in the damp cloth, making sure her bangs were covered.

 When the iron was warm, I ironed over her bangs to press them down into position. The damp cloth prevents the hair from getting too hot, which of course would melt it as doll hair is made from synthetic materials. I had to go over the bangs a couple times to make sure they would lay flat.

Bangs are laying flatter than they were...LOL!!

Repainted Draculaura Monster High Doll

Above: The completed repaint and hair. Super cute if you ask me. :) Better pics will be taken for her Etsy or eBay sales page. Thanks for looking.

Draculaura and Lagoona Hair Restyle Short & Curly Boil Perm

I saw the cutest picture on Pinterest of one of the Monster High Dolls with a short curly hair style. Usually I am a fan of long hair and don't do many short hairstyles for my Monster girls. This was too cute to resist and whenever I see something I like I have to try it.

I decided that Draculaura should have the new cute look, but then Lagoona asked me for it as well. So, I had to comply.

Draculaura Doll Monster High

Lagoona Doll Monster High

Normally when I do a boil perm on a doll I use perm rods- real ones- the kind us humans use on our hair.  Perm rods are usually best when you want to do a spiral perm or create a cascade of curls due to the length of the rod, which lends itself to rolling up lots of hair.

End papers and perm rods
Perm Rods and End Papers

In this case though, I needed to roll up smaller sections of less hair so I had to revert to an old tried and true method of using straws as hair rollers. When you use straws as hair rollers you have to use pins to attach them to the head during the process. With perm rods. once you roll them up, they stay in place by themselves.

I started by trimming the girls hair by about half. I wanted it around shoulder length, but any shorter and I would not have been able to roll it up. There needs to be enough hair to go around the straws.

Lagoona and Dracualura boil perm

When you roll doll hair on a straw or a perm rod, you have to use "end paper"- this is very thin small sheets of paper that is sort of like tissue paper, which you can substitute for end papers. This keeps the hair in place on the straws or perm rods. If you are using straws, you will have to cut them into shorter lengths of about an inch or so. You need to stick pins through the straws into the head to hold them down.  They can be seen in the above photo.

As you can see in the photos above, I have rolled the hair on straws. You always have to wet the hair prior to rolling it up for perming. Also, make sure you do this BEFORE you do your repaint or faceup. Excess handling of the head and steam could ruin your repaint if you tried to give your Monster High Doll a boil perm after the faceup.

After the hair is rolled up, get a pot of water on the stove and let it come to a boil. The head is dipped into the boiled water for about 30-45 seconds for saran hair, about 20 seconds for nylon. I "think" these girls have saran hair. I read it online somewhere.

As soon as the hair has been immersed for the desired length of time, plunge the head into cold water to set the curl and stop the action of the hot water. The hot water breaks down the plastic so it softens a bit allowing it to take on the new shape of the curl, and the cold water sets the shape.

I like to leave the hair on the rollers and let it dry naturally. It may take several hours to dry. Once dry, remove the pins and unroll the hair. I always add a little hair gel to the curl to allow it to set and not get all frizzed out on me.

Here are the girls when they were done and have had had their repaints done.  You can see Draculaura's repaint procedure in the next blog post. Leave me a comment if you have any questions. Thanks :)

Draculaura and Lagoona repaint

Draculaura and Lagoona repaint and boil perm

Friday, May 23, 2014

Briar Beauty ~ An Ever After High Repaint

 Today's repaint is on Briar Beauty. Briar Beauty is one of the Ever After High Doll original characters from the first wave of dolls released.

Briar Beauty Ever After High Doll
Briar Beauty Ever After Doll

Ever After High Dolls are similar in size to Monster High Dolls, but not as thin. They have the same articulation, and their hands pop off as well for ease of redressing.

The only thing that many of us don't seem to like as much about the Ever After High Dolls versus the Monster High Dolls is that they all share the same face mold. Their faces are rather large and flat, with no definitive eye mold. This can present a problem for some people when repainting them, especially those who are new to repainting.

For repainting an Ever After Doll, you have to be able to draw on the eyes evenly, which vexes a lot of us even after many years of repainting dolls. However, it also presents a great opportunity to drastically alter the appearance of these dolls.

You can make the eyes large and comic like, or smaller and more realistic. The shape of the eyes can range from almond shaped, round and doe-eyed, slanted, narrow or even closed. That is one of the fun things about repainting Ever After High Dolls, their flexibility.

I'm drawn to painting smaller eyes on these dolls, as I prefer a more realistic appearance and try to keep away from a cartoonish look.  But once in a while I wander off the beaten path. Today's repaint of Briar Beauty falls somewhere in the middle. She has larger eyes, but I painted them conventionally, with a neutral pallet aside from her iris's.

Here is her repaint progression in pictures. I'm not showing every single step as that would make this a book instead of a blog post. :) Only the obvious steps have been noted. In between various steps, sealing has taken place.

Briar Beauty repaint
Picture #1 Just starting the outlines of the eyes

In the above photo I have begun to outline the eye shape and applied some shading with pastels below her eyes. The outline was done with A Derwent watercolor pencil in Burnt Umber. I like this color because it usually goes on dark enough to see and is also good for eyebrow hairs and eyelashes when you want something less deep than pure black.

Briar Beauty repaint
Picture #2 Shadow and light added

Above: Using pastels in a muted brownish-pink I shaded above her eyes. It is a Unison color, #RE5. Unison doesn't give their pastels names, just a number. It's a nice earthy neutral that is good for shading when you want something less pink.

The shading above her eyes lays the base for a build up of color. Building up color in layers is the trick to creating seamless blended shading for a gradient effect.

I highlighted under her eyes and above her eyes with very thin Golden brand fluid acrylic paint in Titanium White, I also added highlights to her lower lip and above her upper lip. Her sclera was given a preliminary application of white pastel. I no longer paint in the sclera ( eye white ) as it is too harsh for my taste. I also don't bother trying to use a white  watercolor pencil as that doesn't work well either. Building up the color in layers of white pastel work best for me.

I decided on a side glancing eye and lightly penciled in the shape.She will be looking up and to the left.

Briar Beauty Ever After High repaint
Picture #3 Lips and shading

Above: Lots more happened here. I penciled in the lip shape and when I was happy with it, I painted over it in a wine color. I left the center unpainted to let the highlights show through. It will be shaded in later. I decided I wanted her to have a slightly open mouth so I painted in a hint of upper teeth, using Golden brand Titanium White.

Shading with a raw umber pastel was added above the eyes and the upper lid was drawn in with a watercolor pencil in burnt umber.  The nose was outlined and shaded. The tear ducts have been shaded with a light pink.

Briar Beauty Ever After High repaint
Picture #4 Briar gets her eyebrows

Above: I stared drawing in the shape of Briar's eyebrows. Usually I do this much earlier in the repaint, but somehow didn't this time. The outline is done with watercolor pencil in burnt umber again. Burnt umber,  black, and white are possibly my most used colors.

A thin wash of color was painted on her lips and as you can see, the highlights below still show through.

Ever After High Doll repaint
Picture #5 Nearing completion

Above: individual hairs were drawn in on the eyebrows. A little color was added over the pencil with a very light brown pastel. White highlighting was added under the brows.

I have started to add more color to the iris's. I usually use a combination of watercolor pencils and pastels to shade iris's. Pencils used were Derwent in King Fisher Blue and Jade Green.

As usual. I got caught up in my work and neglected to take subsequent photos of Briar's repaint process. Before we see the finished doll, I will add that I also used cadmium yellow and grass green pencil to finish her iris's.

Her lashes were done in 2-3 layers with burnt umber and bark pencils by Derwent.

Facial blush was applied with pastels.

The eyes were sealed with a very slight gloss, and the lips with a high gloss sealer. These are brush on sealers, which I use OVER the spray sealer once it is dry. I use Liquitex sealers in matte and gloss.

Her body was sprayed with sealer and shading added to appropriate  areas. I also painted her fingernails. 

Here is Briar Beauty- repainted but still nude. I will do her final photos when I put her up for sale.

 I hope you enjoyed watching Briar's repaint. Come back again soon and please share if you like my post.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Best Kind of Pastels to use for Monster High Dolls ~ Repaint and Faceups

 What kind of pastels to use for Monster High Doll Repaints or Faceups?

As I sit here doing a faceup ( or repaint ) on my Catrine Demew doll, I'm noticing which of my pastels work best. I felt inspired to tell you about what pastels work good on dolls, and which ones are not so great. If you are just starting to use pastels on dolls, you may not know about the differences in the types available.

The way I use pastels for doing doll faceups, they need to be very soft and powdery. If they are at all hard they are too difficult to use. If you have to use an emery board or something else to make powder from your chalk pastels, I suggest getting a better brand.You will be so happy that you did when you see how simple good pastels are to use.

You shouldn't have to fight with your  pastels to get them on your brush. When I started using pastels, all I had on hand was some cheap ones that were very hard. I managed to get them to work but I had to shave the color off to use them. It was just not as easy as it should be. I couldn't blend them easily and I got very little depth of color.
This is the set I used to use for doll faceups when I started. ( See below )

If you want to do good faceups on dolls by using  pastels, you must use nice soft ones. Of course they are more costly, with very good reason. Cheap pastels that you can buy at the local "craft" store are mostly binder, which is what makes them hard, and there is very little actual pigment. This means you have to work a lot harder to get decent results. And if you are just starting to learn to do faceups on dolls with pastels, you don't need it to be more difficult by using a cheap ten dollar set of hard as a rock pastels like the ones below.

hard pastels set
Hard Pastels- no good for dolls

 I did a little investigating and came across the names of some better brand soft pastels that the ball jointed doll ( BJD ) artists were using.  I figured if they were using these brands on the very expensive BJDs, then they were good enough for my Monster High Doll faceups. ( repaints )

I bought a few different brands to see how good they worked on my Monster High Dolls.  I bought Schminke, Unison, and Sennelier.  Of the three brands of soft pastels that I bought, the Sennelier was the hardest. Schminke ranged from pleasingly soft to a few colors that needed a bit more work to transfer color to the brush. Schminke is definitely my second choice.

soft chalk pastels for doll faceups
My Pastels that I use on my doll faceups

By far the best pastels for doing doll faceups is Unison brand. Keep in mind, I have only tried a few brands, but from the three, the Unison is hands down amazing. These soft little chunky sticks of color are so super soft that you have to keep the wrapper on them or else they can break up. The color literally flows onto your brush and sweeps onto your dolls face with no pressure or scrubbing or effort.
Unison soft pastel for doll faceups

I found some great pastels sets on Amazon, which as a rule tends to be cheaper than buying them one by one in an art supply store. You don't get to choose your colors when you buy them in a set, but chances are you would end up using most of the colors eventually.  Of the 36 colors I have ( and I really need a LOT more ), there are only two colors I use far less than the rest, and that is pure red and orange.

If you are just getting started you will want a couple shades of pink, blue, green, and a variety of earth tones. You will want to make sure to get both warm and cool colors as your needs will vary depending on the doll you are using. Many of the Monster High dolls come in blue, green, purple, and everything in between. A variety of pastel colors will ensure you can create a variety of looks and shading on your doll.

If you need any help using pastels or learning to repaint Monster High dolls, I offer an instructional tutorial CD that shows you all you need to know. Have fun with your dolls. :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Removing stains on vinyl dolls

 How do you remove stains from vinyl dolls? 

 Whether you have a Monster High or a Barbie or another kind of vinyl doll, you may find there is a stain on her face and you want to know if and how it can be removed.

Dark clothing is notorious for staining dolls.  Color can bleed from paper towels, newsprint, colored tissue paper- basically anything that has color on it can potentially stain a vinyl doll. Once, after I ate some raw carrots ( by hand ) I noticed to my horror that one of my Monster High Dolls had orange coloring on her..that wasn't there before. It took a while before it dawned on me that the orange from the carrots had stained my fingers, and then I touched a doll. FYI- I would avoid Cheetos too!

Some of the Monster High Dolls that are white vinyl, such as Spectra Vondergeist and Catrine Demew can pose problems when repainting due to the fact that they stain so easily.

 Spectra and Catrine are two of the Monster High girls with white vinyl. Every time I repaint one of them, I have to be extra careful that I don't have a speck of pastel color on my hand that may inadvertently touch their face. Because they are white, anything that touches them can stain them.

As a rule, I draw on the eyes and mouth prior to repainting with a watercolor pencil, using a very pale color like pink or light grey. Sometimes I don't get it right the first time, and I have to wipe off my work with a wet Q-tip. On a white skinned doll, even if you wipe the lines off, you can see a residual outline or color because the colors stain quickly.

With this in mind, make sure you know what colors you want to use on your white skinned Catrine DeMew or Spectra Vondergeist. If you change your mind and want to wipe it off, you may find that the color has stained the face and you have to go to great lengths to disguise it.

I love color, and like to use vibrant shades of pastels for eye shadow on my dolls sometimes, but never again would I use them on a white vinyl Spectra or Catrine due to the staining issue. I repainted a Spectra last year, and used super bright colors for her eye shadow. I really didn't like the doll after she was done, so I wiped her face clean of  her repaint. When I did, her entire eye area was stained yellow. Was my doll ruined?

My doll might have been ruined if I didn't know about the little secret product that doll artists rely on when they have a doll with stained vinyl. Actually there are several products that remove stains from vinyl dolls. The one I use is Clearasil Daily Clear Vanishing Acne Treatment Cream which has 10% Benzoyl Peroxide. A commission customer of mine sent this to me many years ago. I have used it to remove stains on Barbie dolls, as well as Monster High Dolls.

How to remove stains from vinyl dolls: Take the product and apply a tiny bit just to the stained area. Please note that because these kinds of products have peroxide in them, the can bleach the vinyl in areas where you didn't want. So, only apply to the stained vinyl on your doll.  You will have to leave the treatment on for a few days. Wipe it off with a damp cloth and check how the stain looks. If it is still there, add more cream. Wait a couple days and check again. This is not a quick procedure.

There are a couple other cream treatments that work just as well, according to my doll friends. One of them is Oxy Maximum Action Spot Treatment, 0.65 Ounce. You would use this the same way as Clearasil Cream.

I have removed stains from all kinds of Barbie dolls, and Monster High dolls using these treatments. It takes a few days to remove stains from vinyl dolls, but it does work.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Monster High Doll Commission Tales - The Peacock Part Three

 Monster High Doll Peacock Fairy Commission - Making the Peacock Feather Tail

Continued from Part two-

With the hair, repaint, dress and wings complete, the last thing to do was make the huge tail for my Peacock Fairy doll.

 I decided that the feathers for the tail had to be attached to something other than the dress. I needed to construct a base of some sort. I ended up buying a peacock feather pad like this one.

Ironically, most of the peacock feather pad ended up being hidden by the additional feathers. I added peacock eye feathers and more of the green coque saddle feathers all around the edge till I got this:

Peacock Feather Tail

So I had a beautiful tail made and now had to figure out how to attache it to the train of the dress.  The problem I was going to have was that when I packed this doll for shipping ( halfway around the world no less ) I didn't want the tail to be damaged. Keeping this in mind, I determined that it would have to be removable.

How do you make a feather tail removable? The only way I could come up with was snaps. It had to be easy for my client to attach the tail.

So I had to make a base out of fabric that the snaps could be sewn to. I used heavier snaps because I didn't want the tail to fall off easily.

The snaps and the base for the tail

Looks pretty awful I know, but this is all going to be hidden.

Now that I had the removable base made, all I did was attach it to the feathered tail with FabriTac Glue.

Feather pad glued to snap on base

When I tried in on the dress it didn't lay right, so I added a row of marabou trim around the bottom that matched the trim on the back of of the wings.

Marabou trim added-looks better from all sides.

I snapped it on the back of the dress and it was perfect! Now the tail can be removed and packed securely for shipping. Here are photos of the finished doll, my Monster High Doll Peacock Fairy is complete.

I hope you enjoyed reading about this special OOAK Custom Peacock Fairy Doll.