Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Layla's Little Finger

Sorry for the delay in between posts, but somehow I got working on three dolls at the same time again, which always slows down my blog progress.  Despite what I said last time, I have three more Unicorn Twinns to show you, one of which will be another $2.20 "giveaway" doll.

Two of these remaining girls will be showcasing wigs from ZaZou Custom dolls.  Danielle from ZaZou has ordered a whole new supply of 13-inch wigs, and they're all fabulous!

One of those new ZaZou wigs was perfect for this special girl:

2013 My Twinn doll with the Denika face.
This is a 2013 doll and therefore not from the Denver era, but I bought her because she has the very dark skin tone that the My Twinn company was offering during that time frame.  It's a beautiful skin color, and I really like that the company made a good effort to match the shade of the body fabric to the color of the vinyl.

I've actually seen several dolls from this era with a dark skin tone and the Denika face mold.  It seems to have been a favorite combination in 2013.

After some haggling back and forth, I got this girl for $100 on eBay--despite one rather glaring flaw that I'll show you in a second.

She is a gorgeous girl, though.  I decided to name her Layla, which means "dark beauty."

Layla's original wig was in bad shape, her factory eyebrows were blocky, and she had scuffs and scrapes all over her vinyl limbs, but the cloth part of her body was in surprisingly pristine condition:

She has virtually no picks on her torso, and no squeaks in her armature:

Layla's glaring flaw is that a dog chewed off her little finger:

The damage was pretty bad.  Not only was the little finger missing, but there were bite marks and chips in the surrounding vinyl:

Because of the damage to her hand and the other scuffs and shiny marks all over her arms, I can't help but picture Layla being dragged around somebody's house by a triumphant small dog.  This is why I live in fear of my four small dogs getting into my workroom!

Here's a closer look at Layla's face:

In addition to her crude eyebrows, she had light brown eyes that were starting to fade.  She also had several scratches and scuffs on her face.

Her wig looked salvageable from a distance...

But there was a lot of stiff, yellowing glue residue around the hairline:

And a medium-sized bald spot right in the front:

I don't have any tricks for fixing thin wigs at this point, but those thin spots make me feel happy.  Dolls like this must have been well-loved, with lots of hair styling and brushing sessions in their past.

Before I did anything with Layla's face or hair, I decided to see if I could adequately fix her finger.

Because Layla's head was glued very securely to her body, I left the head in place during all of the body work.  This is a bit of a pain, but it's always nice to know that the neck joint is secure.

Here's the damaged hand up close:

The most worrisome thing was the big chip in the vinyl of the ring finger:

I sanded the damaged areas as well as I could, which always makes things look worse:

Many of the scratches were too deep to remove without changing the shape of the fingers or weakening the structure, so I had to stop sanding before the hand looked perfectly smooth.

After all of the rough edges were marginally improved, I molded a new finger using Plastic Paste.  I tinted the molding mixture with some brown acrylic paint so that it matched the vinyl a bit better:

The color still isn't a good match, but it's better than bright off-white.

I sanded the whole area again...

...and then I sealed the hand with Mr. Super Clear sealant:

It was still a pretty bad-looking hand at this point.

I added several layers of paint to the replacement finger and to some of the surrounding areas:

Once the paint was dry, I coated the hand with sealant again.  Because the sealant changes the color and texture of the vinyl slightly, I also sealed the opposite hand and both arms so that everything would match.

The finger doesn't look perfect up close, but now it's hard to tell that there's anything wrong with Layla's hand from a distance.  The finger repair was good enough, at least, that I felt I could invest some time into fixing Layla's head.

Here's the head after I removed the wig:

One of the first things I noticed was that Layla's eyelashes looked strange:

I think she was given upper lashes on both her upper and lower lids.  I have no idea if this was done at the My Twinn factory or by another collector.  It doesn't look bad, really, just unusual for a My Twinn doll.

Here are the four lashes on their own--they all look the same:

Layla's original eyes were well-placed and pretty, but they had definitely started to fade and blur a bit:

I removed the old eyes and then got to work sanding away the scratches and marks that were all over her face.

With a little bit of sanding, I was able to clearly see the shape of each scratch, like this w-shaped mark on the left cheek:

And then with some more vigorous sanding, I was able to reduce most of the scratches down to very subtle marks:

The worst mark was a gouge in the lower lip:

I sanded that area with extra enthusiasm:

Here's the head after all of the marks were sanded, the factory paint was stripped, and the head was re-washed:

I coated the head with a few layers of Mr. Super Clear sealant.  As you can see, this helps reduce the shine in the 2103 vinyl:

I chose some Eyeco A264 brown eyes for Layla.  These are acrylic eyes, but they have a nice dark brown color:

Unfortunately, I had a tough battle with the left eye, and managed to scratch the surface of the eye while I was trying to move it into place:

There were two scratches over the sclera and a longer scratch that ran through the iris.  I marked those areas in case they're hard to see:

The scratches were fairly subtle, so I decided to leave the eyes alone and forge ahead with the face paint.

First, I painted Layla's lips:

I gave her a bit more blush...

And then I started to fill in her eyebrows:

The eyebrows went through several stages of paint, with me adjusting the length and darkness a little bit each time:

Here's the final iteration:

At this point my perfectionist self stepped in and demanded that I removed the scratched acrylic eyes and give Layla the beautiful glass eyes that she deserves!

Here's Layla with her completed face paint and some D400 Hand Glass Craft eyes:

They make a huge difference.

As I was putting these eyes in, I noticed that the right eye has a small scratch (not from the insertion process, but from international mail).  Unlike the scratches on the acrylic eye, though, this scratch is tiny and nearly impossible to see.  I can't even find it now that the eyes are in place.

Last, I gave Layla her new eyelashes and her new wig!

This is the pre-braided "Venus" wig from ZaZou Custom dolls.  It's amazing to me that this braided wig costs the same as the regular wigs.  The amount of work that must have gone into those braids is impressive!

The Venus wig is beautiful on its own, but I had this overly-ambitious notion that I would add colorful glass beads to the ends of the braids.

I'm not sure I did the beading in the best way possible (it took *forever* and was a bit sloppy) but I'm fairly happy with the end result.  It's a good first attempt, at least.

Here's Layla in her unicorn outfit...and with her braided, beaded hair!

Layla loves the color purple, and so she insisted from early on in the project that this all-purple ensemble from Fairy Tale Blessings be reserved for her.

I think the outfit suits her nicely.

Here's a closer look at the beads in her hair:

My intention was to have a high concentration of purple and white beads, but the purple beads I ordered ended up being a bit darker and less vibrant than I'd hoped.  Still, I think the rainbow of colors is a good fit for a unicorn girl.

The braids are a little messy, especially at the ends (where I had to try and shove lots of hair through a small bead...) but they're secured very well and should not come out easily.

Let me take a minute to show off Layla's fun unicorn outfit:

It has a beautiful, glittery purple unicorn horn headband with rainbow ears and delicate flower accents: 

The shirt is purple, with a unicorn head iron-on:

The unicorn decal has an imperfection near the unicorn's nose (some of the iron-on ripped off), but this area is transparent, so the damage is not too noticeable.

The bottom of the outfit includes a whimsical tulle skirt:

The skirt is very sheer and short, so Layla is also wearing purple leggings with a sparkle print:

I completed the look with a pair of purple suede boots.

This outfit makes me smile because I feel like it must resemble what a lot of free-spirited little girls are wearing during this pandemic.  It's a bit like pajamas, with the modified onesie top and loose-fitting leggings, but the tutu and headband give it exactly the right spark of fantasy and creativity.

Layla loves her outfit, and she loves to wave with her right hand--mostly so that you can see her new finger!

From a distance, the repair is pretty convincing:

If you get a little closer, it's possible to tell that something's different about that part of the hand:

As you might imagine, Layla's glass hair beads make her wig very heavy!  She's a little harder to balance than some My Twinn dolls because of this extra weight.  She'd do well with a nice Kaiser doll stand, but sadly I'm no longer including these with my dolls--they make shipping too expensive.

The hair is fun to play with, though, and I love that no brushing is ever required!

I took Layla's headband off for a little while so that she could really show off her hair:

Here's a look at some of the messier braids:

There are a lot of little bits of hair that stick out towards the end of each braid.  I'm not thrilled with this, but I'm also not sure how I would avoid it in the future.  Wider bead holes would certainly help, but these beads are already quite big.

I want to reiterate that the messiness was not in the original wig.  It's strictly from my beading process.  The only potential problem with the original wig is that the braids might come loose if the wig is manipulated a lot.  That's a very easy problem to fix, though.

With Layla's hair down, I thought it was a good time to do a portrait for the comparison GIF:

And here's the GIF itself:

She was a pretty doll to begin with, but I really love her new eyes and her new wig!

One thing I noticed is that if Layla is wearing regular My Twinn shoes (not boots), I'm able to manipulate her ankle joints more and she can balance a lot better:

I like this pose a lot:

The flexible ankles also allow me to pull all of Layla's hair forward on her shoulders without her suffering an instant face plant!

Layla was super-excited to go on an outdoor adventure.  She is definitely a nature-lover.

She loved watching the birds...

...and the chipmunk friends that have set up housekeeping under our new deck!

The foliage has filled in at the back of the house, and this made a nice backdrop for Layla:

She was an excellent model for the most part...

...but it was hard for her to look away from all of the wildlife!  I think we saw four species of bird, a squirrel, two chipmunks (...and six mosquitoes).

The fox who has been visiting our neighborhood was gone for the day, at least, which was a good thing because his presence would have been way too distracting for Miss Layla!

I usually try to crop the backyard fence out of my photos, but I want to show you this one unedited picture because it demonstrates how Layla can, in fact, balance quite well--even with her heavy hair!

Standing on a single fence post!
Here's the cropped shot:

When I first saw Layla, I felt really sad that a dog had damaged the hand of such a rare, beautiful doll.  I wanted to do something special that would give her a second chance in the world.  ZaZou's impressive pre-braided wig and Hand Glass Craft's gorgeous brown eyes gave me the sparkle I was looking for.  Now, with a patched-up finger and a glittery unicorn outfit, she's ready for a new set of adventures!

Here's a summary of all the work that was done on Layla:
-her vinyl parts were cleaned with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, soap, and water
-her damaged hand was sanded down
-a new little finger was molded onto her right hand using Plastic Paste
-the new finger was sanded, sealed, painted, and then re-sealed
-her arms were coated with sealant so that the vinyl finish matched the repaired hand
-her old eyes were removed
-her face paint was stripped away
-scratches and scuffs on her face were sanded down
-her head was coated with Mr. Super Clear sealant
-she was given new D400 Hand Glass Craft glass eyes
-her face was repainted, including lips, blush, and eyebrows
-she was given new eyelashes
-she was given a new braided wig from ZaZou Custom Dolls
-the wig was hand-beaded by me with multicolor glass beads
-she is dressed in a Fairy Tale Blessings outfit that includes a shirt, tutu, leggings, and unicorn headband.  I have added purple suede boots to the ensemble

Layla has some noteworthy flaws.  First of all, her finger repair is not perfect--this is only the third finger I've ever molded.  Also, the beading on her hair has made the ends of the braids messier than they were originally.  The braids also make Layla's head quite heavy, and she tips over more readily than other My Twinn dolls.  She still stands and poses on her own, though, and I was even able to get her to balance on one of my fence posts!  Last of all, Layla has some shiny marks and mild scratches on her vinyl limbs.  This is now an art doll and is not recommended for young children.

Layla epitomizes the Unicorn Twinn group in my mind: she comes with a motley collection of little flaws and quirks from her old life, but she's a bright, cheerful presence that I hope will make somebody happy.

Layla has sold.  Thank you!


  1. What a sweet expression for a little girl. I love the glass eyes. Can't wait to see the end of the project! -Micah

    1. Thank you, Micah! Isn't the Denika face wonderful? It's always been one of my favorites. :)

  2. Finally my wiry, randomly curling hair is represented in a doll... and then Em goes ahead and trashes the wig 😂
    In all seriousness, she turned out amazing! I think she's my favourite of all your My Twinn repairs. The drastic fix, the braids, the purple, the beads - everything speaks to my soul. Now I'm thinking I should simulate beads on a 1:6 head I braided, they look so pretty!

    1. Haha! I have similarly unruly hair, but I like to live vicariously through the dolls. ;D

      I'd love to see what you do with a 1:6 head! I bought a Mattel doll with braided hair (a Creatable World doll) and have plans to make her hair look beaded, too! No ideas on how to do it yet, though. :/

    2. Off the top of my head, thin strips of paper or beer can shaped around a toothpick, painted abundantly with nail polish until they are rounded, shiny and keep the shape, then cut away from the toothpick and put around the braid; or carefully glued and painted around the braid directly.

  3. Oh, that wig! It's so beautiful, and once you put it and her new eyelashes on (it looked like the old ones were missing towards her nose...?) she just came to life. What a lovely doll!

    Continuing my "did you keep x?" questions about TBP, did you keep your Baby Dimples army? XD Just the idea that comes to mind at that phrase is delightful and terrifying. I hope you did.

    1. Thank you, lurkins! I agree: that wig is everything.

      The old eyelashes were weird, though, weren't they? Very short, and with the strange lower lashes. Never seen anything like that before!

      It's neat that you remember Dimples. What an obsession that was for me! I kept a few of my favorites, but most of them found a new home with a delightful collector in Canada who was really passionate about them. But when you phrase it as a Baby Dimples army, I wish I'd kept more of them! I could use some protection these days, if only from small dogs. ;)

    2. YOU were actually the one who called it a Dimples Army, as much as I'd like to take credit, lol. You mentioned it but never posted a picture. As I work my way through the blog, I'm just past the EuroGirl (I'm sure you gave her away, unless you ever fixed her nightmare wig...), the J-doll, and your very first My Twinn... which is hilarious because you didn't seem to like her all that much! Who'd have ever guessed you'd become a My Twinn aficionado?

    3. Haha! It's freaky that you know what I said better than I do! ;D That's typical for me. My memory is the worst.

      I didn't like the My Twinn dolls for the longest time. You're absolutely right. I thought they had the strangest proportions and crazy-long arms! In fact, I can remember being super-critical of the My Twinn portrait doll that my sister-in-law got for my niece back in the early 2000s. Now I wish I could get my hands on that doll! My niece is beautiful and I suspect the doll is, too.

      I'm blind to many of the things I criticized before. It's weird and kinda nice. I'm mellowing with age, I suppose.

      Except for that EuroGirl. I never mellowed on her. She exited the building a long time ago! ;)

  4. Just when I think I can't be surprised any longer by the magic you work with these dolls, you go ahead and surprise me again! She is lovely and you did a great job!

  5. She is so, so beautiful! I love her glass eyes, they make such a difference :) Can't wait to see the rest of your unicorn girls!

    1. Thank you! In my perfect world I would put those eyes in every single doll I work on! They're magic. :)

  6. Oi, Emily!
    Estava ansiosa para ver a nova garota e mais uma vez vocĂȘ nos impressiona com seu trabalho tĂŁo maravilhoso.
    Layla Ă© linda!! Amei esse rosto, os olhos e essa peruca magnĂ­fica. Estou apaixonada, amo bonecas com esse tom de pele.
    VocĂȘ envia para o Brasil ?

    1. Oi Erika! Muito obrigado por suas boas palavras. Infelizmente, nĂŁo envio para fora dos Estados Unidos no momento. Os prazos de entrega sĂŁo muito ruins e o custo Ă© muito alto para esses bonecos grandes. :(
      Talvez eu deva tentar encontrar uma solução para o futuro?

    2. Oi, Emily! Compreendo perfeitamente. Vou continuar apenas namorando suas bonecas.

  7. Layla is beautiful and I love that wig, it's gorgeous. The glass eyes really do do it for her, they're so much nicer than the acrylic ones.

  8. She is beautiful! Love her hair with the beads.

  9. 100 years later I find out that you have a new blog and I absolutely love it! It‘s so interesting and anazing how you restore these dolls and your repaints are just so beautiful, Emily❤️ I love to restore old toys, too, but this is a whole new level.
    And I love how this little lady here turned out ❤️

    Best wishes from Switzerland


  10. I know you may not see this, but I remember as a kid some family friends doing my hair with beads, and they were clip on things! I don't know if they'd be proportional but it looks like you can still buy that type of bead? Would probably help in the case of keeping the ends neat!


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