Thursday, October 17, 2019

Ione, the Spring Fairy

At long last, here is the second fairy!  This one had quite a few unexpected delays in her makeover, so I'm especially happy to finally be able to share her with you.

I decided to name this fairy Ione because it means "violet" or "violet flower."  As you'll see, this ends up being a really good way to describe her final look.

However, when I first got this doll--a pale-skinned Denika from 2002--there wasn't much about her that conjured violets or spring:

2002 My Twinn Denika.
Ione came to me in pretty good shape.  Her body has a few squeaks in the armature (especially in the arms and neck), but nothing that I thought needed fixing.

I chose her because of her face (one of my favorites) and because of her pale skin tone.  This color tends to work well with the some of the more creative and colorful wigs, and the first wig I picked out for Ione was very colorful!

She doesn't have too many snags on her cloth torso:

And she didn't have too many stains, either--just this faint water mark on her belly:

And some pink stained areas on her back near the midline:

Ione's vinyl limbs were really dirty and badly scuffed:

As bad as those white marks look, though, they're usually pretty easy to remove with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and some good old fashioned elbow grease.

Ione's original eyes were a faded hazel color and her wig was a frizzy mess, so I didn't feel too bad about replacing either of those:

Ione's original eyebrows were nice, but they weren't artist brows or anything extraordinary, so I also figured it would be ok to modify those if I wanted to:

And I definitely wanted to.
Her only troubling facial flaw was a series of very small dark stains that made it look like someone had poked her in the face with a ballpoint pen a few times.  These marks are hard to see in photographs, but they were focused around her left cheek and the left side of her mouth and nose:

I got started by removing Ione's wig and taking a closer look at her:

She had a ton of glue residue on her head, and some older stains that suggested that she'd had a re-wigging or at least some new glue placed under her old wig at some point:

I also noticed right away that she had some defects in her back seam, including some thread that was coming loose at the very top near the cable tie:

I also saw a bit too much air in between her head and her armature, so I removed the head.  

I'm glad I did this, because there was barely any glue holding the head on!  It's hard to believe that this scant amount of glue held the head in place for 17 years:

That is very strong glue.
I cleaned up the body and set it aside while I worked on Ione's head.

First, I washed the whole head with soap and water and scraped away all of the old glue:

Next, I went after some of the scuffs and stains on Ione's face, like the white marks above her right eye:

And those pesky, tiny ink marks:

I also stripped away Ione's original lip paint because I didn't like the shape of the upper lip (too pointy), and the color wasn't right for my vision (too orange):

Mr Clean Magic Eraser took care of the white scuffs and lip paint pretty well, but Ione was still left with the small ink marks.

So, I put some tiny dabs of Remove-Zit on the marks and left the head to sit for a while.

After a few days the vinyl started to swell in the areas where I'd put Remove-Zit, so I washed it off and hoped for the best.

The stained areas looked paler than the rest of the vinyl for a while, but this paleness faded over time:

I didn't get all of the ink marks to completely disappear, but I have to look really hard to find them now.

Once the Remove-Zit was thoroughly cleaned away and I'd given the vinyl a week to recover, I popped out Ione's old eyes and gave her these incredible metallic green eyes from Eyeco:

Eyeco Fantasy B108 silicone eyes.
These eyes are from Eyeco's Fantasy line of soft glass (silicone) eyes.  I absolutely love them!  They strike a great balance between realism and magic.  And they're also ever-so-slightly eerie, which I think is perfect for a fairy.

With the new eyes in place, I set about painting Ione's face.

First, I added new lip paint and blush:

And then I started to paint the new eyebrows.  

At this point I was assuming that I would use the "Magic Violet" wig from Doll of a Kind.  Here are the colors of that wig:

Spring typically comes with an explosion of floral colors, so I thought this wig's mix of bright tones would be great.

Hoping to match the face paint to the wig, I painted the eyebrows bright purple:

With little flecks of hot pink:

These brows matched the wig pretty well, but I thought that the color was too bright.  Eyebrows tend to be a shade or two darker than head hair.

So I toned down the color to a darker, more realistic shade of purple:

Still with some very subtle hints of pink:

Next I lined the eyes with metallic blue (this color matches parts of the dress):

And I darkened the eyebrows even more.

I also experimented with various colors of eyeshadow (blue, pink, yellow) and ended up using highly diluted silver for a really subtle colorless shine:

I gave Ione blonde eyelashes:

And then tinted them with hot pink to match the wig:

The paint was a little thick, though, and I was getting an uneasy sense that Ione would end up looking more like a clown than a fairy:

Having some doubts.
This was the point when things started to fall apart.

I put the wig on Ione's head and then held the dress up next to it.  It looked bad.  I think the biggest problem was that there were too many colors involved, and none of them matched especially well.

So, I tried a different wig (a green wig from Dollmore), but it had a triumvirate of problems: it didn't match the dress, clashed with Ione's eyes, and certainly didn't match the eye makeup.  Ugh.  I tried a third wig (also from Dollmore) with a mix of pink and blue shades, but the lack of purple in that wig made it a bad fit, too.


Fighting off panic, I ordered a fourth wig from Dollmore--with absolutely no idea what I was going to do if it didn't work.

To accommodate the new wig, I removed the pink eyelashes and replaced them with another set of blonde lashes that I tinted with clear glitter.  I also painted some little designs next to Ione's eyes to bring out the color of the new wig:

I actually had the new wig in place while I was tweaking the eye makeup (just to be sure everything would work) so you can get a sneak peak of the (very purple) wig!

Ione's face paint was cohesive now, at least, and I felt pretty confident that I could make the face and hair work with the dress:

I should mention that in preparation for dressing Ione, I also re-sewed her back seam and repaired the little defect near the cable tie:

As you can imagine, the dress Julie made for Ione is spectacular.  However, because the dress is purple and the new wig I'd chosen for Ione is also purple, I needed to adjust the purple balance in the dress in order to make everything work.

Without revealing too much about the dress all at once, here's snippet from one of the pictures Julie sent me when it was first completed:

The bodice of the dress is made out of crocheted lavender yarn.  This is beautiful, but the wig is a very different shade of purple--more like the darker parts of the yarn near the neckline--and has no trace of lavender.

So, I packed up the wig and went off to Jo-Ann Fabrics.  I purchased every piece of ribbon and yarn that I could find that coordinated with the wig and eyes (there weren't many!), and then took everything home to work out a solution.

What I ended up doing is weaving the ribbons through the wide holes of the crocheted bodice until it looked like this:

I also added in some new yarn to the skirt, but you haven't even seen the skirt yet, so let's jump right in and take a look at everything!

Here's Ione in her full ensemble:

I think the colors came together well, especially given the fact that this was definitely not my original vision.

Ione has certainly lived up to her name, though, don't you think?

Definitely a violet flower.
Let me take you on a tour of this amazing outfit:

The dress is made entirely out of yarn.  The bodice is crocheted, and the skirt is a cascade of yarn in a delightfully eclectic mix of colors and textures.  It reminds me of a grass skirt, with all of the colors of a wild meadow.

The wings strap on over the arms with clear rubbery loops.  The loops look fragile, but seem fairly durable.  The fit of the rubber loops is tight over the bodice of the dress, but I work the wings on very slowly and carefully, easing the rubber over the sleeves and making sure it doesn't wrinkle the underlying bodice.

Here's the view from the back:

And here are the wings on their own:

 Julie makes these wings from scratch!

I added the purple flower in the middle because I like how the flower on Orla's wings looks, but my flower seems off-center if you look at it from the back (it looks fine from the front):

I absolutely love the floral crowns that Julie makes.  This one is perhaps the prettiest of the whole bunch:

The wire is wrapped in tulle and there's a small plastic comb at the back to keep the crown steady on the doll's head:

Not all of Julie's fairy outfits include a wand, but Ione has a gorgeous butterfly wand!

The wand has a clear rubber handle so that Ione can hold it up in the air:

Here's a look at some of the detail:

To ease the transition from the crocheted bodice to the full skirt, Julie designed a beautiful belt with a bouquet accent:

The flowers are glued to a purple satin ribbon that makes the whole belt easy to put on and take off.

With the belt removed, it's easier to see the amazing yarn skirt:

The pieces of yarn are looped into the bottom of the crocheted bodice.  I love this design because it was super-easy to seamlessly add in a bit more yarn using the same technique.  I added some of the purple tones that coordinate with the wig.

The skirt is very thick and it completely conceals Ione's legs when it's hanging straight.  However, if the yarn is pulled to one side, it's easy to see the bare legs:

There's so much yarn that it's definitely possible to play a bit with the skirt while keeping the legs completely concealed.

When Ione is wearing her full outfit, it's difficult to move her into different poses.

It's a good thing that she doesn't need to move very much to show off this gorgeous ensemble!

Because of her heavy dress and accessories, I would recommend a doll stand for this doll.  I'm considering offering stands with all of the fairies, but it would raise the price of the dolls by about $10.  Feel free to let me know what you think about this idea!

While I was at Jo-Ann Fabrics, I found these adorable foam birds that I thought would be nice companions for Ione.  This one even matches her dress!

The birds come on little metal clips.  I think they're meant to be accents for floral arrangements.

I was having a lot of fun posing Ione with her sweet birds, but before I get too much further, let me show you a quick GIF of Ione's transformation:

And here's a plain version of her after shot:

At this point I wanted to remove Ione's crown so that you could get a better sense for what her wig is like.

The wig is a Dollmore Eldorado wig (violet).  It has a brown wig cap (not a white one like Orla's) and is set into ringlet curls.

The wig has been tied back in all of my previous pictures.  When they are not tied back, the ringlets near Ione's face hang right into her eyes:

The wig is very long in back, but it's not very thick.  This works well with the fairy wings.

The ringlets are cut in two different lengths, some of them stopping just past Ione's shoulders, others cascading down past her hips:

That picture, above, is probably the most accurate representation of the true color of the wig.  It's not quite as brilliant purple as it looks in many of the other photos (including Dollmore's official photos).

It's possible to brush this wig (I brush out each ringlet individually, curling it back around my fingers as I brush) but I actually like the slightly messy appearance of the hair.  It seems perfect for a woodland fairy!

I think the hair looks best when it's pulled back at each side, like this:

Using some extra ribbon, I made two slightly ugly hair clips that can be used to accent the sides of the hair when it's pulled back:

Using only one clip is slightly more dramatic:

And since the little bird is also a clip, he can be used as a hair accessory, too!

But I think Ione prefers to wear her crown and have her little bird friend perch on her shoulder:

Here are a few more shots of Ione posing indoors:

One thing I noticed while I was photographing Ione is that her head does not tip backwards very well at the neck joint.  I easily could have missed this since I rarely try to tip dolls' heads backwards.  Her head articulation is fairly stiff (and squeaky!) overall.  

Still, she can look down and to each side easily, and she can also cock her head with no problem:

She's met another little bird friend!

This is one of my favorites photos of Ione:

I think it makes her look regal and alert, but it shows a softer side of her personality, too, with that little bird nestled in her hair.

Even though it's looking decidedly like fall outside these days, I took Ione out for a few quick shots in the spring-like sun.

I love how the greenery of the woods looks with her eyes!

The sun brings out the yellows and reds in Ione's coloring and makes her whole ensemble incredibly vibrant--just like a spring fairy should be.

Making these fairies is the most fun I've ever had working on My Twinn dolls.  I'm so grateful that Dollmore makes beautiful fairy-like wigs and that Eyeco has a line of eerily beautiful fantasy eyes.  And of course I'm most grateful to Julie for dreaming up outfits that inspire me to take my makeovers into a magical realm.

Here in Maine, spring can feel like the most elusive season.  We'll often get a few days of beautiful weather and new flowers punctuated by another couple of inches of snow!  I suppose, then, that it was fitting for Ione to have a bumpy path to her completion.  

Here's a summary of everything that was done along the way:
-her head was removed and all old glue was cleaned away
-her face was cleaned and sanded and small ink spots were diminished using Twin Pines of Maine's Remove-Zit
-The Remove-Zit was cleaned away with Formula 9-1-1, soap, and water
-the vinyl limbs were scrubbed with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
-The old faded eyes were removed and replaced with Eyeco's Fantasy B108 soft glass (silicone) eyes
-the face was repainted, including blush, lips, eyebrows, and fantasy eye makeup
-the head was re-glued to the body
-new eyelashes were placed and then tinted with a clear glittery acrylic medium
-a new Dollmore Eldorado wig was placed (glued at the front, back, and sides)
-the back seam was re-sewn
-Ione was dressed in a fairy outfit from Julie Kelly's Fairy Tale Blessings Etsy store.  The outfit was enhanced with ribbons, additional yarn, and some bird accessories

Overall, Ione was in excellent condition when I got her and must have been very well taken care of for the last 17 years.  However, since she's an old doll, she is not perfect.  Here's a list of her main flaws:
-she has some faint (and very small) remnants of ink spots on her face.  These are very hard to find
-she has squeaking in her armature
-her neck joint is a little stiff and doesn't bend backwards very well
-she has some faint stains on her cloth torso, including a pink area on her back
-she has some small scratches and shiny spots on her vinyl limbs
-she has a few picks on her back

Ione has sold.  Thank you!


  1. Ione came together beautifully in the end! I'm glad you found the perfect wig for her. I'll admit, I used to not like any sort of fairy or fantasy dolls. Your makeovers have changed my opinion on that! I think you are great at finding the right balance of fantastical and realistic. Even though she has fantasy eyes, they're still green; she has whimsical eye make-up, but her lip paint is soft and natural. I can't wait to see the rest of the fairies :)

    1. Thank you so much, Cami! I'll admit that I have the same hesitation with fantasy dolls. Part of me wishes that I could let go and do something really creative and bizarre, but I tend to keep everything grounded in realism. Ione will probably be the most ornate of the four main fairies, given what I know at this point. Although the lesson I've learned is that they never turn out exactly how I think they will! ;)

  2. I would have loved to see how the first wig looked on her! But then I am terrible at matching colours so I am probably not the right party to judge :p

    But she came out fantastic! Loving all the purples.

    1. I definitely should have snapped pictures with the other wigs, just to tell the story better, but it really was a bad fit--like an explosion of color, but not in a good way! Apparently I'm not the best at matching colors, either, since it took me four tries to get it right! ;D

  3. Que bela ficou!
    Ainda bem que você encontrou essa peruca, realmente a colorida não ficaria com um resultado tão perfeito.
    A roupa também é show!

  4. Hey Emily,
    I've been following along with Toy Box Philosopher since 2013, but I just discovered this new blog this week. (To give some context with that, I started reading as an eighth grader and am now a junior in college!) I'm in love with everything you're doing with these and I can't wait to see Ione and her friends up for sale.

    1. Oh, wow! That's amazing! I mean, my life has changed since the beginning of TBP, too, but your landmarks (8th grade to almost-done-with-college) really put a fine point on it! It truly warms my heart that, first of all, you would follow along during such a busy and transitional time in your life, but also that you've carried your love for dolls with you as you launch full-force into adulthood! Good for you. And thank you so much for this note. It means a lot to me!!

  5. I'm speechless, she's incredible! I know you went through a lot for this girl, but I have to say it was so worth it... The details in her paint and her outfit are just mind-blowing! I'm loving these fairies so much, as much as I love your realistic paints there is just something especially compelling about these. Is there anything you've learned from these fairies that you might take back to your realistic paints? (Please don't feel pressured to answer until the end of the series, haha! I'm just very curious since they're so different to your usual work!)

    1. Ooh! Wow. Excellent question. Definitely something I'd have to ponder. It has certainly expanded the way I look at My Twinn dolls. And made me think about future projects with a bit more creativity.
      The winter fairy is kicking my butt right now, though (not the doll at this stage--the dress) so it's probably not the best time for me to answer! But I'll definitely think about this and try to form some thoughts by the time Miss Winter is done (maybe this week??).
      Thank you for your kind words about Ione, too. :)