Sunday, January 12, 2020

Nearly-Free Serafina

Happy new year!  I've been taking a very long and indulgent break from doll-making these last few months, and it's been fantastic.  However, I'm starting to feel antsy and am ready to get back to work!

I actually planned to post this particular doll before Christmas, but things got away from me and the doll put up a significant fight.  As usual, I'll tell you all about it.

This was meant to the the third doll in the series of Grab Bag Girls who would get to wear casual outfits from Fairy Tale Blessings (the artist who made the fairy outfits).  She's a 2003 girl with creepy eyes, a pale skin tone, and the Catherine face mold:

A 2003 My Twinn doll with the Catherine face mold.
She came to me in reasonable shape, but her armature was extremely loose.  It was weird.  She could still stand on her own, though:

She had a lot of pulls on her back:

And a large open seam on her arm.

She had another problem that I've noticed on many 2003 dolls...

...which is that her arms and legs were about three shades darker than her extremely pale face:

I find this flaw extremely frustrating.  It can be hard to see the color difference in photographs, which makes shopping for 2003 dolls risky--at least for me.  I tend to be very tempted by dolls with pale complexions (they make great redheads...) but with a doll from 2003, a pale face can often come with a very poorly-matched body.

Because this was meant to be a Grab Bag Girl, though, I forged ahead and tried to ignore her strange body.

A more glaring problem was this doll's huge, extremely faded pink eyes:

Here's a better look at the eyes and head after I removed the wig:

I figured that this doll would look about fifty times better the minute her creepy eyes were replaced, so I got straight to work on that job.

I follow the same procedure every time I remove eyes from a My Twinn doll, but this has never happened to me before:

The eyes completely melted!

Actually, this did happen to me once before, now that I think of it.  The first doll whose eyes I replaced (a My Twinn toddler) had melting eyes.

Anyway, it was a little freaky to watch, and smelled bad, too.  I was happy to pitch the eyes into the garbage.

It turned out that the melted eyes would be the least of my problems, though.  Getting new eyes into this head was not easy.  I've read that some of the China-era dolls can have slightly smaller heads (perhaps because molds were being cast from inside Denver dolls' heads?) but I've never experienced the magnitude of this size difference until now.

I literally could not get 20mm acrylic eyes into this doll's head:

Not gonna happen.
I tried two different brands of eye (Eyeco and Secrist), I heated the head until it was as soft as I could possibly get it, and I pushed the eyes in as hard as I am physically capable of pushing.  

When all of this failed, I ordered 19mm eyes (which fit into the sockets), but the pupils were way too small.  I wish I'd taken a picture of that.  It looked ridiculous. 

Anyway, I finally decided to cram some rejected silicone eyes into the head.  These eyes are way too bright for most of the dolls I work on, but I was getting desperate:

Eyeco Fantasy B111 eyes.
I was actually starting to think that these eyes could be a fun solution, but then I noticed that the process of jamming the eyes into sockets that were too small had actually creased both of the irises, causing visible damage.  

You can kind-of see one of the white crease lines in the lower half of this iris, but the defects looked much more obvious in person:

There was no way I was going to risk another pair of $40 eyes on this doll, so I did something I rarely do: I gave up on the doll.

Fortunately, I have some extra dolls in my studio, so I was able to quickly find a replacement:

This is a 1997, white-bodied Catherine doll.  She's also in the Grab Bag Girl category since she's far from perfect.  Her biggest flaws are that she has very loose (elastic-strung) ankles and wonky eyes.  All Catherine dolls has slightly wonky eyes, but this one is a bit more pronounced than usual.

Despite those flaws, the overall quality of this doll compared to the 2003 Catherine was striking to me.  I might have mentioned this before, but I'm never going to buy a 2003 My Twinn doll again.

I decided to name the new doll Serafina.  I like the mystical sound of this name, and I think it fits well with the theme I had in mind.

I removed Serafina's wig and inspected her face:

Her eyes are the purple/blue color that many My Twinn dolls from this era have.  This eye color tends to look pure blue in photographs, but it's not.

Even though the eyes are wonky (the right one looks off to the side a bit) and purplish in color, I decided to leave them alone.  They fit with the theme of the doll, and I didn't have any more spare eyes at this point!

The stitching on Serafina's back was very tight and puckered... I re-stitched it, but I don't actually think I made it any better.  If anything, it's a tad worse:

I didn't do much work on Serafina's face, but I did enhance her blush and re-color her eyebrows with purple:

And I also gave her eyebrows some white-blonde and pink accents:

Here's a closer look:

Those color choices give you a hint at what type of with I had in mind for Serfina!  Definitely not a conventional one.

Using a trick I learned from the fairies, I gave Serafina some new blonde eyelashes and then coated them with clear glittery acrylic medium.  Then I gave her a wonderfully colorful wig from Doll of a Kind.

I used all of the fantasy colors on this doll because I knew she was going to be dressed as...

A unicorn!

The Fairy Tale Blessings outfit included a unicorn tank top, a rainbow tulle skirt, and an amazing unicorn horn headband (with ears!).

I added some plain white tights under the tutu (it's very short and see-through) and also some stiff white boots that help stabilize Serafina's loose ankles.  The boots are from Deb's Adorables, on eBay, and are of very nice quality!

Here's a close-up of Serafina's completed face:

With the glittery eyelashes:

The wig is a mix of blonde, neon pink, blue, and purple.  Here it is from the back:

The tank top does not have an opening in the back, so it has to be slid off (which I recommend doing down over Serafina's legs rather than over her head!)

Serafina has a few more flaws that I should point out, including some bruise-like dark staining on her arm:

And a bit of pilling on her shoulders:

Here are some more pictures of this unicorn cutie!

I bought Serafina a pink unicorn friend (who's a little too large for her and clashes a bit with her hair...) but they still look sweet together:

I don't usually like it when the cloth body of a My Twinn doll shows underneath her clothes, so I bought Serafina a pink leotard, hoping it could be worn under her tank top.  Sadly, the pink clashes pretty badly with the tank.  

The leotard can still be worn without the tank top, though!

This wig is really fun to play with.  When it's pulled back, it shows a lot of hot pink at the sides, like this:

But when the hair is down, it's almost completely blonde on top!

Braiding probably creates the most beautiful effect, though:

I tried to pose Serafina with her sparkly little friend, but they never quite settled on a natural-looking position:

Here's the best we could manage:

The road to Serafina's completion was riddled with obstacles, but she's finally ready for a new home.  I did very little work on this doll (basically some paint accents and re-wigging), so she's not nearly up to the standard of my usual dolls.  

Here's a list of her primary flaws:
-she has loose, elastic-strung ankles
-she has staining on her arms (see picture)
-she has some minor pulls on her cloth torso
-her eyes are original, but they're not set straight
-her back-seam was re-sewn

The good news is that she comes with a colorful, thick, shiny wig from Doll of a Kind, an adorable unicorn outfit from Fairy Tale Blessings, and some tights and boots to complete the look.  She'll also travel with her neon pink leotard and her slightly large unicorn friend.

I don't feel right about using my regular pricing for Serafina, so I thought I'd celebrate the new year by offering her on Etsy for $2.20 (with free shipping).

In order for everyone who is interested in Serafina to have an equal chance at this deal, I thought it might be fun to hold a little drawing!  I'll pull a name randomly from everyone who'd like a shot at purchasing her for $2.20 on Etsy.  

If you'd like to add your name to the hat, please do the following (contest is now closed!)
1. Comment below with only the words "I'm in!"
2. If you do not have a name associated with your account, (anonymous users, for example) please add a unique identifying name to your comment.  Duplicates of previously submitted names will be deleted.
3. A mailing address outside of the United States is disqualifying.
4. If you are under 18, please secure the permission of a parent to enter your name and for the $2.20 Etsy transaction.

Serafina might have flaws, but I hope her rainbow of colors, sweet smile, magical horn, and affordable price will launch somebody's year off to a happy start!

Update: I'm planning a full series of girls wearing cute unicorn outfits from Fairy Tale Blessings, so if you missed out on Serafina, watch for that group!


  1. I'm sorry to hear that the 2003 Catherine didn't work out! It looks like the vinyl cracked at her left medial canthus too. I'll make a note to stay away from those dolls.

    Also, I LOVE the fun wig you chose for Serafina! It goes perfectly with the unicorn theme and tutu.

    1. Thank you, Cami! I love the wig, too. It was meant for the spring fairy, originally, but lots of things got shuffled around with those dolls!

      I didn't notice the vinyl crack with the 2003 Catherine, either! Sharp eyes. It's no surprise, really, considering how brutally I was trying to shove those new eyes in!!

  2. I'm in! Such a sweetheart!

  3. What a shame about the 2003. I have to admit, I hope she can be saved some day because I hate the idea of just giving up on dolls. I'm sentimental like that.

    Serefina looks awesome btw. Well done.

    I'm really loving these fantasy wigs and the sparkly lashes are brilliant.

    1. Oh, goodness, I know exactly what you mean! I get very sentimental about stuffed animals and dolls, too. I might have kept going with Catherine except that I wasn't really sure what my next step should be--risk ruining another pair of silicone eyes? Maybe cut open the back of her head and place some acrylic eyes that way? In retrospect, that's probably what I should have done. I'll add it to my arsenal for the future!

      Thank you for your kind words. I wish I could have included international shipping with this offer, but I was worried about the expense. :/

  4. Longtime lurker, I've been reading since the toy box philosopher days and I just had to comment to let you know this doll is beautiful and you're so generous to basically give her away. Thanks for the opportunity!

    1. Thank you so much, LissyLiz! I love seeing TBP friends here. :) I wish I'd thought of the idea of a giveaway sooner (I love giveaways!), but better late than never! I hope to do more of these in the future.

  5. Also it's really exciting since January 19th is my 17th birthday! Thanks for the opportunity!

  6. The Girl with the Green DollJanuary 14, 2020 at 11:48 AM

    I'm in!
    The Girl with the Green Doll

  7. I'm in!
    Heather Eble

    1. Oh yay!! I've tried for three nights to post! LOL I finally got on our desktop computer to see if it would let me post from there. whew!!

      Serafina is super cute! Thank you so much for the chance and for your generosity!

      I hate that happened with 2003 Catherine, but it's a great learning experience you've shared with us. Those eyes in Catherine are gorgeous, even with the flaw!! I hope, as well, that you're still able to do something with Catherine, flaws and all.

      Thanks again for this wonderful blog, and for the chance to own Serafina and/or future dolls. I'm excited to see what's next!!
      ~ heather

    2. Hi Heather, I'm so sorry it took you a while to comment! Glad it finally worked! :)
      In the future (or for anyone else having trouble) just message me through Etsy and I can help!

      I'm so glad you like Serafina! I'm much happier with the Denver version of this unicorn girl than with the first attempt. Giving up on a doll is a super-rare thing for me, usually the more damage the doll has, the more fun the challenge is! :D

      Anyway, thank you so much for your kind words.

  8. I'm in!
    She turned out absolutely gorgeous as all of your dolls do!

  9. So generous! She's a real cutie, Emily. Thanks for giving everyone this opportunity! I'm in!

  10. I'm enjoying your new blog so much! You are so patient and talented. I'd love to see you try makeovers of fashion dolls as well. I, for one, am inspired to pick up my neglected dolls to revive them.

  11. I'm in!

  12. I'm in!
    - RiverRain