Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Lumi, the Winter Fairy

Well, that took longer than I'd hoped.  A few things happened while I was in the middle of this doll's makeover.  The best thing that happened was that I got a new dog!  He's a rescue dog, though, so he came to me scared and in the habit of peeing everywhere, so it took about a week of non-stop attention for me to make him feel at home.  He's awesome, though, and I can't blame him for the delay in my work!  Mostly it was problems with making all of the elements of this fairy come together and coordinate.  I'll tell you all about it.

But you've been waiting long enough already, so I'll cut the chatter and get started.  Here's the winter fairy as she looked when she came into my house:

My Twinn 2003 Danielle.
This is a 2003 Danielle who caught my attention on eBay.  I don't tend to seek out 2003 dolls, but this one had a nice skin tone and a face that I couldn't resist:

She looks paler as a blonde than she does as a completed fairy.  I'm not exactly sure what her skin tone is.  It's not ultra-pale, but I'd say it's a shade lighter than the typical My Twinn 03-range coloring.

I decided to name her Lumi, which is a Finnish name meaning "snow."

Lumi's body arrived in decent shape, with very few defects on the cloth torso:

Lumi is a pretty nice doll overall, but I've grown a bit wary of the 2003 My Twinn dolls for a couple of different reasons.

First of all, I've seen several 2003 dolls whose faces don't match the color of their limbs.  The heads tend to be a few shades lighter than the arms and legs.  This is the main reason why I'd never buy a 2003 My Twinn doll again.

Also, there's a pretty serious drop in quality from the 2002 (Denver) dolls to the 2003 dolls.  They just aren't made as well.  The heads are smaller, the vinyl is not as nice, and many of the eyes from this time period ended up fading.

However, this doll has a good match to all of her vinyl and her eyes were still clear.

She also has very few picks on her cloth torso: 

Although the stitching along her back seam was not perfect.

Mostly, it was this doll's face that made me want to include her in my fairy quartet:

I love the expression of the Danielle face mold.  The widely-spaced eyes and delicate mouth are very endearing.

Lumi came to me very dirty, with grit and dust all over her face, a scuffed area on her nose, several dark spots on her vinyl, and no eyelashes:

Another small abnormality is that Lumi's toes are really pale--as though somebody bleached out her toenails with hydrogen peroxide (not a recommended treatment):

There was nothing I could do to fix this.

Lumi's biggest flaw was her obviously broken left arm.  This was disclosed in the eBay auction.  

The arm flopped around and felt completely loose:

I was a bit nervous about whether or not Lumi's arm would be repairable (it felt much floppier than other loose-armed dolls I've worked on) but I jumped in and got started anyway.

I began by removing the wig to get a better look at the face:

The original eyes were pretty and clear, but the left eye was cracked:

Also, the eyebrows were blocky and unremarkable:

There was also some missing paint on the upper lip:

The biggest hassle with Lumi's head, though, was that it was slathered in super-sticky old glue:

It looked to me like there was factory glue plus an additional layer of glue that might have been applied by another owner.  It's always hard to tell exactly what has happened in the history of an old doll, but the glue definitely had two distinct colors and consistencies.

The lighter-colored glue was incredibly sticky, and left yellow stains all along the hairline:

It took me ages to get all of the glue cleaned away.  Any time the glue got warm (from hot water or from my blow dryer), it stuck to everything and created a huge mess, so I got into a routine of washing in cold water, spraying with Goo Gone, scraping old glue away with a spoon, cleaning with Formula 9-1-1, rinsing, and repeating until I felt like I could work with the head.

I have never encountered glue this resilient on a My Twinn doll!

I got the head to a point where it's much cleaner than it used to be, but there are still a lot of glue stains under and along the hairline.  I also had a hard time completely removing the old eyebrows.  They left behind faint yellow marks:

Not the clean slate I hope for.
The head spent a lot of time sitting overnight with either Goo Gone or Formula 9-1-1 all over it.  While I was waiting for those treatments to do their work, I took a look at Lumi's body.

Her broken left arm fell off as soon as I peeled down the cloth torso:

The cause of the defective arm was immediately apparent:

There was so much glue on the end of the armature, the flange that's meant to connect with the vinyl arm was obscured.

The vinyl part of the arm had virtually no glue on it.  The whole joint had been held together solely by the cloth torso.

This glue was a little easier to work with than the glue on Lumi's head, but it was still very firm and hard to soften.

I managed to excavate the flange:

Then I inserted the cleaned-up flange into the vinyl part of the arm.  I actually had to make the arm hole a little bigger before I did this.  I don't think there was any way for the flange to fit inside the original hole--even with the vinyl heated!

Then I carefully held everything in place while I glued the armature down:

Then I glued the foam back into the vinyl arm:

While I had the cloth torso pulled down, I inspected the right arm.  

It looked fine but felt a little loose:

I assumed that I'd find a similar problem to what I'd found on the left side, but when I got the foam stripped away I saw that the armature was broken:

Not good.
In this case, I suspect that the glue bond between the flange and the vinyl arm was so strong, the armature just above the connection took all of the stress and ended up broken:

I was hoping that I could just heat up the plastic armature and pop the pieces back together, but a small crack in the plastic of the armature made my stomach drop:

That's a serious break.

I was tempted to scrap Lumi at this point and try to find a new winter fairy, but I decided to try my hand at fixing the armature.

I fit the two pieces of armature together again and then used two small cable ties to hold the cracked piece tightly together:

But neither of the cable ties was able to close the crack significantly--no matter how tightly I pulled on them.

This is as small as I could get the crack:

So, I decided to fuse the joint.  I poured a ton of super glue into the crack and into the seams between the cable ties and the plastic:

I did this twice, letting the glue dry for several hours in between.

Next I covered the whole joint with a layer of my super-strength hot glue:

I tugged and pulled on this joint quite a bit before I covered it up.  It feels secure now, and the nice thing is that because My Twinn dolls have so many joints in their arms, the loss of movement in this area is barely noticeable.

I also lubricated the two joints just above the fused pieces.  With these joints moving freely, there's less pressure on the repair.

Once I was convinced that the arms were sturdy and flexible again, I re-sewed the back seam:

Thinking I had the hardest work behind me at this stage, I set the body aside and turned my attention back to Lumi's head.

I sanded down some scuffs on Lumi's nose, and also tried to sand away some of the yellow stains along her hairline.

Every time I tried to sand the glue stains, though, the sticky residue would just pick up black bits from my sandpaper.  It was a bit of a pain:

I did my best with the sanding, and then figured I'd try to cover all of the old glue with the new wig.

Next, I set about replacing Lumi's cracked eye:

The eyes came out easily, but the crack was way worse than I'd thought!

Yikes!  How does that even happen?
This is as good a time as any to mention that this doll smells like melted crayons.  She smells a lot like crayons when I have her head heated, but even when she's cooled off, there's a faint smell of wax on her head.

I've noticed this scent with other 2003 My Twinn dolls.  I'm not sure if it's the glue or the vinyl mix in the head, but it's something to be aware of.  I don't think the smell is bad, but it's not something you'd ever notice on a Denver doll.

Anyway, Lumi's new eyes are Eyeco Fantasy B109 silicone eyes.  They are metallic silver-grey, and I love them!

The eyes glow when they're in the right lighting conditions, and the color is beautiful!

People have different ideas about fairies, I suppose.  Some might imagine more of a Disney-style fairy princess, but I tend to picture fairies as slightly creepy--with a little bit of otherworldly mystery.  I don't know if that vision comes through in my completed dolls, but it's certainly in their eyes!

Once the vinyl was cool again, I painted Lumi's lips and cheeks:

All of the paint on Lumi's face has a tiny bit of iridescence in it.  I wanted her whole face to have the hint of a shine--as though she was frozen.  It's really, really subtle (I wish I'd been bolder with this particular effect) but you'll notice some sparkling areas in some of the pictures.

I also gave her some dramatic silver eye makeup:

You can see the shine on her face in this picture.
Here is when things started to go wrong again.

I'd planned on Lumi having a snow-white wig (and this is the wig that Julie used to inspire the dress she made) but the wig I ordered, a Dollmore creation, was not a good match:

First of all, the wig was way too big.  The bangs hung down over Lumi's eyes, and the wig cap didn't even come close to fitting the head.  It fell down over the ears and would not stay in place--it just slid right off.  I think part of this is that Lumi has a small head, but it's also that the sizing on this wig is different from the other Dollmore wigs I have.

In addition, the wig didn't seem like it was very well-made.  I could see all of the stitching through the thin hair fibers on the top of the head:

Not what I've come to expect from Dollmore.
I tried to find another white wig in this size, but it's virtually impossible.

So, I ordered a Dollmore Selena Sobazu wig in light grey.  I know I like the style of this wig (Orla is wearing one) and the color is beautiful:

However, what's not clear from the pictures online is that this wig has a lot of purple in it.  It's basically a light grey wig highlighted with lavender.

When the wig arrived from Korea, I loved how it looked with Lumi's makeup, but it did not match the dress Julie had made at all.

I have to take away some of the suspense at this point and show you the outfit as it was when Julie completed it:


Pretty, right?

The dress is mostly white and silver, with pale blue accents.  It does not have a lot of grey, and there's no purple whatsoever.

The bottom of this gown is comprised of a pure white underskirt covered with silver and blue accents made from cut strips of fabric.  The strips of fabric are jaggedly cut and have singed edges to keep the fabric from unraveling.  The dress had a very shabby chic vibe, with elements of glamour mixed with rugged finishing.

Here's a look at the crown that went with the dress.  I wish I had a better picture of it:

I decided that I would set about trying to modify the dress to match the new wig.

Does this sound familiar?  The nice people at Jo-Ann Fabrics are getting to know me pretty well.

As I was manipulating the dress to try and dream up a solution, I noticed a few things that bothered me.

First of all, after dressing and undressing Lumi's body a few times, the finishing along the sheer chiffon-like sleeves started to look tenuous:

I was worried that the whole sleeve would unravel.

A fraying sleeve might work with the shabby chic vibe of the skirt, but I still wasn't comfortable with it.

Also, I noticed some faint marks and stains along the hem of the skirt:

I tried soaking the bottom of the skirt in bleach to remove these marks, but they seem pretty permanent. mission with the dress evolved into:
1. adding some purple and grey
2. lessening the blue
3. edging the sleeves
4. covering the stark white of the skirt

The first thing I did was to construct a ribbon skirt overlay.  I chose a fun mix of silver, grey, pale blue, and purple ribbons:

The strips of ribbon are all glued to a thin ribbon sash, and then everything is hand-stitched together along the top.  I covered the stitching with a piece of the grey ribbon.

I tried placing this ribbon belt under the strips of fabric on the original dress and over them, but neither looked very good to me.

I had some distinctly "make-it-work" moments trying to figure this all out, but my solution ended up being to add purple ribbon to the strips of fabric at the top of the skirt and then braid the strips and ribbon together into a peplum shape.  I also added a sequined accent to the waistline.

Here's a preview:

Next, I attached the ribbon skirt under the peplums.  The ribbon skirt is glued and tacked into place at several locations all along the waistline.

To reduce the blue in the bodice of the dress, I covered the blue snowflake appliqué with silver glitter.  I also added purple crystal accents:

Just as I was feeling pretty good about how things were shaping up with the dress...the new dog ate Lumi's crown:

Bad dog.
I have no idea how he got up onto the table to grab this (maybe the little dog helped him??) but I almost cried.

Instead of crying, I smiled through gritted teeth at the new dog, yanked a plastic snowflake out of his jaws, and then inspected the damage. 

Fortunately, the main structure of the crown was still in tact.  So, I ordered some more crystals and figured I would do my best to get the crown back to something like its original glory.

With my vision for the gown complete, I turned back to Lumi's face to give her some final touches.  First, I painted on some white-grey eyebrows.  These mostly cover the yellow from her old brows, but not completely:

I don't know if you can see it in this picture, but Lumi also has a few remaining dark spots on her face.  There's one on her right cheek, and another on the bridge of her nose.  I didn't really notice these until I was painting her eyebrows.  They're very faint--like tiny veins or bruises.

Last, I gave Lumi some black eyelashes tinted with silver:

This is the point during all of my makeovers where I literally hold my breath to see if everything will come together.  In Lumi's case, I was especially nervous!

In the end, it's actually hard for me to tell the success of this particular doll.  She came out much better than the little glimpses I got of her earlier incarnations, but I'll have to leave the ultimate judgement to those of you who are seeing her for the first time:

For these first pictures, I tucked Lumi's hair behind her wings:

Lumi's wig is gorgeously long and dramatic, and I really love the color!

The purple in the wig doesn't come through in all of the pictures, but believe me--it's there!  

I tend to prefer the photos taken with my iPhone, but my Canon captures the purple in the hair a bit better.  Here's an example:

Here's Lumi with her hair spread out around her wings:

And here's a peek at her from each side:

Lumi is wearing hair clips with chains of crystals attached to them.  The clips are hard to use (I made them myself) but I like how the crystals look framing her face!

 I did a little bit of work on Lumi's wand, just so that it would match the modified dress:

I covered the blue snowflake with silver glitter, added some crystals to the top of the wand, and changed the mix of ribbons so that they match the ribbon skirt of the dress:

I don't think the crown is quite as good as Julie's original crown, but I wove in some wired crystals and added some purple rhinestones:

I also covered the back of the headband with purple ribbon, and added a minimal ribbon veil:

Here's a look at the crown on its own:

I snapped a few pictures of Lumi without her crown:

Here's a close-up taken with the Canon so you can see the purple in the wig:

Lumi's wings are made out of glittery white felt, and they loop over her arms with stretch rubber bands:

The felt is intricately cut into spiky ice-like patterns, although the dark pen that outlined these patterns is still visible in some areas:

The wings are made out of two pieces of felt glued together.  The seam is concealed underneath Lumi's hair:

Here are the wings on their own:

Julie is so creative!

With the wings and crown removed, I can give you a better look at the dress:

Here's the bodice:

I trimmed the sleeves with sequins.  The sequins are glued on with Fabric-Tac because I thought that would help to stop the chiffon from unraveling, but they are also stitched into place by hand.

I already showed you this, but here's another look at the modified bodice:

The skirt of the dress looks the most different from its original form:

The waistline is accented with sequins (these are glued in place--not sewn), the strips of fabric are braided into peplums, and the ribbon skirt has been tucked underneath the peplums and stitched into place:

The ragged edges of the fabric strips are still visible at the very tops of the braid:

I wasn't exactly sure what to do with the ends of the braids, so I wrapped them in silver ribbon and twisted them into curls.  The curls are stitched in place:

In theory, the dress could be returned to its original state by just cutting the braids free and removing the ribbon skirt.  I didn't cut or remove anything from the original dress.

It's much easier to pose Lumi when her wings are removed (those rubber bands are tight!) so she took a minute to stretch and show off how flexible her repaired arms still are!

And also to show off her beautiful wig a little more:

Lumi will come with four crystal chain hair clips.  I really like using these--even without the crown:

Here are a few pictures of Lumi with nothing in her hair:

Like this she looks more like a princess than a fairy, but there's nothing wrong with that!

I gave Lumi back her wand...

..and her crown:

Here's another close-up with the purple-loving Canon:

She seemed happy to be back her in full regalia!

I straightened Lumi up for a portrait shot (I love how her eyes glow in this picture!):

And I got an "after" headshot for my GIF.  Here's her transformation:

And here's a regular version of the after shot:

And one last pose with all of the accessories!

Over the weekend, I took a few pictures of Lumi outside in my yard, but none of them turned out especially well:

I think it was too sunny for a winter fairy!

This shot was my favorite from that day--probably because of the darker lighting:

But then something amazing happened!

We got our first snow of the season.  I think Lumi must have ushered in the change of weather herself!

I had a really fun time taking a few last portraits of sweet Lumi in her element.

Thank you for being so patient while waiting for this fairy to arrive.  I feel confident that the next fairy will be less trouble, since I already know that her wig and her dress work together, but at this point I wouldn't dare to make any promises!

The dolls who give me the most trouble often end up being my favorites, and Lumi is no exception.  Early on I flirted with the idea of cutting my losses with her crayon-smelling glue-covered head, her badly broken arms, and her ill-fitting wig.  However, after a lot work, a lot of ribbons, and a bit of winter magic, I feel a surge of true affection for this sprite.

Here's a list of all the work that was done on Lumi:
-her head was removed, stripped of glue, and cleaned
-scuffs on her nose and temples were lightly sanded
-her eyes were replaced with Eyeco soft glass (silicone) B109 Fantasy metallic blue eyes
-her face was repainted, including lips, eyebrows, blush, and decorative eye makeup
-she was given new eyelashes, which were tinted with silver acrylic paint
-she was given a new Dollmore light grey Selena Sobazu wig
-the armature of her left arm was re-seated and glued into place
-a break in the armature of her right arm was tightened with cable ties and fused in place with both super glue and hot glue.  The joint is no longer mobile. The two joints above the repair were lubricated to reduce friction and improve movement.
-the body was reassembled and the back seam re-sewn
-the head was re-attached to the body with professional strength hot glue
-Lumi was given a new outfit from Fairy Tale Blessings
-the dress was modified to coordinate with Lumi's purple-tinted wig.  The dress modifications include: addition of sequin and silver glitter accents, a new ribbon skirt layer, braided peplums, and cleaning
-the crown from the outfit was re-built after a dog accident, and the wand was modified to match the dress

Lumi's biggest flaws are:
-her head smells vaguely of crayons
-she has very small dark areas on her face--like little shadows (one under her right eye and another near her nose)
-her old eyebrows are faintly visible underneath the new brows
-she has glue stains around her hairline, most of which are completely covered by the new wig
-her arm repair required the fusion of one of her armature joints.  This does not limit her flexibility in a noticeable way
-her toenails are oddly pale
-she is a 2003 doll, not a Denver doll

I hope Lumi was worth the wait for some of you.  She certainly timed her completion well with the sudden (and bracing!) arrival of snow and cold here in Maine.  One thing I can say for sure is that a lot of love and care went into the saga of her creation.

Lumi has sold.  Thank you!


  1. What a trip this rehab was! I'm so glad you were rewarded in the end with such a lovely result! Good luck with the new dog-I'm glad he found a loving home!

    1. Thank you so much, Micah! We've been eyeing this particular dog for a long time, so I'm very happy to finally have him here. I can't believe nobody else wanted him! He's such a gem--even with the crown-snacking! ;D

  2. She came out gorgeous! Those eyes are amazing!
    What kind of dog is your new one?

    1. Thank you, Willow! Aren't the eyes cool? I just love them. Eyeco does a nice job with some of their fantasy colors. I like that these fairies gave me an excuse to try a few of them!
      The new dog is a mutt. We think he's Chihuahua mixed with some Jack Russell? It's hard to tell. He's lovely, though. Somebody did a number on him, but he's settling in so nicely. Thank you for asking about him! :)

  3. Gorgeous!! I love seeing these transformations so much.

    1. Thank you so much, Hannah! For some reason I have always loved makeovers (even as a little kid) and so I'm always glad to find others who share my passion!

  4. you know, a princess-themed set of dolls sounds like a pretty great follow-up to this one... just saying. ;)

    1. Yes!! I had this thought, too. It's a wonderful idea! I have two other little collections in the planning stages, but this theme is definitely on my mind--assuming Julie would put up with me again! She makes beautiful princess dresses and we've already talked a *little* bit about it. :D

    2. Sweet, I can't wait to see what you come up with!

  5. Como ela ficou linda!! Fui lendo e ficando cada vez mais ansiosa em ver o resultado final e me surpreendi.
    Espero que seu novo cachorro te traga muitas alegrias.

    1. Muito obrigado! Sempre fico surpreso com a aparência da boneca completa também! :)

  6. Hi Emily
    Any advice to get my daughter's My Twinn doll a new wig? My daughter is 32 and has always cared for her My Twinn since she was a little girl. Unfortunately, my grandson decided to make it "His Twinn" and chopped it's hair off. Any advice please? My daughter is devastated and loves her son, of course, I love them both. I would like to "fix it" for her as I did when she was a little girl.

    1. Not a terrible problem to have, believe it or not! Wigs are easy and fun to replace. I replied to your message on Etsy. :)

  7. Thanks for giving a second chance to the dog and this doll!