Sunday, October 24, 2021

My Way Nala

I should have known that resurrecting Toy Box Philosopher would slow down my doll projects, but I tend to have very unrealistic assumptions about time and the amount of work I can do in one day.  Poor Evie is still not listed in the Etsy store, but I figured at this point she might as well wait for her friend Nala to be ready, and then they can head over to the shop together.

Thank you so much for all of the words of support both here and on TBP.  One crossover idea I have planned is that I'll resume work on my stash of "quick fix" My Twinns.  These are dolls who need fairly simple repairs--stuff like new wigs, new eyes, and maybe some very light paint enhancement. No full face-ups or body work.  These dolls will not have in-depth posts on this blog, but I'll put a single comparison GIF here and then list them for sale in the Virtual Garage Sale store over at TBP.

I'll also be posting announcements for new dolls (and when they go to the Etsy shop) and new reviews on Twitter (@TBP_emily).  I'm not a fan of social media in general, but this seems like a necessary way to communicate these days.

For now, though, I'm starting work on the My Twinn Cinderellas and have finally gotten My Way Kid Nala's photos sorted out.  I really love this girl and am excited to show you her transformation!

My Way Kid doll with the Tender face and dark vinyl.

This combination of face mold and vinyl color is extremely rare.  I think I only have three other dolls with these features in my stash.  The used Kids have also become really hard to find on the secondary market (probably because I bought them all) so I don't have much hope of finding too many more Tender-faced girls with dark vinyl.

She's pretty special.
Nala was quite dirty when I first got her.  She had the same kind of dark spots on her fabric torso that Evie had, although Nala's spots were not as extensive:

Her wig was a frizzy mess and she had absolutely no hope of standing on her own.

Like so many of these dolls, Nala had a huge gap at one side of her neck where the cable tie was sticking out.  Notice also that the fabric around the gap is starting to fray:

The stitching between Nala's vinyl and fabric parts looked loose in several spots:

This is why I always open up the body and reinforce these areas with strong, waterproof vinyl glue:

When I opened Nala's body, I discovered that her armature had snapped apart right in the middle of her back:

A broken backbone!
I heated the armature and popped the two sides back together:

I removed all of Nala's stuffing and washed it in the washing machine.  I reinforced her limb seams with vinyl glue, and then I soaked her body in a solution of mild soap and bleach.  The spots on her torso washed out nicely.

Meanwhile, I stripped all of the factory paint from Nala's face and gave her some brand-new dark brown glass eyes.  I love these eyes on her!

I tried to do something a little different with her eyebrows:

And then I painted her detailed mouth and gave her some blush:

I even added some very light freckling:

The wig I originally had planned for Nala was short and very curly, but it didn't fit her correctly, so I opted for this braided creation from the Dallas Doll Company:

I adore this wig and think it's perfect for Nala, but as I manipulated the wig for photographs, several of the braids began to come unraveled.  It's unclear to me what's holding them together in the first place.  It almost looks like they're tied at the ends with little bits of hair?  In any case, I'll shore up the braids that have come loose before Nala goes to her new home, and she might need occasional braid maintenance over the years.

When I got Nala out for her unclothed full-body shots, I forgot to switch from my Toy Box Philosopher backdrop to my white backdrop!  Oops.  That's a pretty good indication of how scattered I've been these past two weeks.

Here's Nala without her clothes:

This is the most success I've had with body work on a My Way Kid.  She's not perfect, but I think her body looks nice:

Notice that the waist seams have been let out.

Here's the new stitching on her back:

And I almost got that cable tie covered!

I tried several different outfits on Nala.  She looks good in almost everything, but this was the outfit that I thought was the most fun and flattering for her:

It's a cute mix-and-match knit dress made by Julie from Fairy Tale Blessings.  I love the combination of colors and prints!

The neckline on the dress is a bit loose, so it doesn't cover Nala's neck seam perfectly, but it's good enough.

Nala's complexion looks very different under my bright studio lights, but you can see the details of her face paint pretty well, at least.

This was going to be Nala's official portrait for her GIF, but I ended up liking another photo better, so the GIF will have to wait!

I think this outfit looks really cute as a dress (especially paired with those brown boots)...

...but the full outfit actually includes leggings, too!

Although Nala's braids require gentle handling, it's still possible to carefully use a claw clip or two to give her a slightly different hairstyle:

Not only does this outfit include leggings, but it has a matching hat, too!

I love how the hat is made from two of the different fabrics in the dress.

The hat has an elastic band that's meant to hold it in place, but I just tuck the elastic up into the top of the hat. I think it looks better that way.

I love this shot of Nala, so I decided to use it as her official portrait:

And here, finally, is her GIF:

I think I took about 300 pictures of this girl, so I'll include a few more of her in the full outfit:

I also took Nala outside in the early evening for a few quick shots:

It's so depressing how the grass is starting to die and the leaves are already changing!  In my head it's still summer.

But Nala did not seem to mind.

She was filled with wonder by her new surroundings.

She found this strange seed pod that must have fallen from a nearby tree:

We have the strangest trees in this area!  I'm still trying to figure out what some of them are.  We might even have a persimmon tree in our side yard, which seems quite exotic.

Whatever the trees are called, Nala loved looking at them.

I think I mentioned in Evie's post that she and Nala are my two favorite My Way Kids so far.  I've reached a nice equilibrium with these girls, and I love working with their manageable size.  These days I find myself really looking forward to the next Kid that I get to re-invent.

Here's a summary of all the work that was done on Nala:
-her head was separated from her body
-her old wig, eyelashes, and eyes were removed
-the detachable pate of the head was removed
-all dirt and factory paint was washed off
-the head was coated with Mr. Super Clear UV cut matte sealant
-new dark brown glass eyes were inserted and glued into place with hot glue
-the pate was re-attached to the head and glued in place with hot glue
-the face was painted using artist grade acrylics
-the face was given another light coat of sealant
-the back midline seam of the body was opened and all stuffing was removed
-the piece of fabric at the neck was removed
-all stuffing was washed in the washing machine
-all vinyl-to-fabric connections were reinforced with vinyl glue
-a link of broken armature was re-attached
-the fabric torso was washed and bleached by hand
-the body was re-stuffed and the back midline seam was re-sewn by hand
-the side seams in the torso were let out
-a section of fabric was added to the neck piece and it was sewn back into place by hand
-the vinyl in the ankles was heated and then cooled into a more flat-footed position
-the head was re-attached to the body
-a premium braided wig from Dallas Doll Co. was glued at the front and back with hot glue
-new eyelashes were secured with tacky glue (only on the top)
-Nala is wearing a handmade multicolored outfit from Fairy Tale Blessings.  The outfit includes a short dress/top, leggings, and a sun hat.  I have paired the outfit with brown boots. The boots have lifts in the heels to help Nala with balance.  Nala will also come with a name bracelet.

Flaws: The braids in Nala's wig can come undone fairly easily.  I will re-tie any loose braids before shipping, but please be aware of this.  Nala has some tiny holes in her fabric torso where the waist darts used to be.  She also has visible stitching on her back and around her neck.  Her vinyl limbs have factory paint (with some imperfections). Nala does not stand on her own and needs a doll stand for display.  

There might be a dry spell on this blog over the next few weeks as I give TBP some momentum, but I'll be working away on the Cinderellas, and might even have a few quick fix dolls to share with you.  

Evie and Nala sold very quickly!  Thank you so much.


  1. She is GORGEOUS. Definitely the most successful, I think, both body-wise and face-wise - it's amazing how much more life is in her face with the new eyes and the new face-paint. Such a huge difference.

    Speaking of TBP, I read your "about" page in full (took me long enough) and couldn't help noticing you had started doing doll photography as a child. :D

    1. Thank you! :)
      Yeah, I was obsessed with photographing my model horses when I was a teenager. I think it provided me with a nice way to still "play" with the horses even after I was "too old" to do so. It's basically what I'm doing now with dolls! I'm never going to grow out of toys, that much is clear. ;D

    2. I'm personally of the opinion no one is ever too old for toys. :D Only boring people think that toys are just for kids. ^_^

  2. She is lovely, I think this is my favorite face sculpt from this line, even if it seems baby-ish, to me it is the most detailed and realistic. I do love the dress but I prefer it without the leggings and hat. It is fun to have those options, though. I still don't exactly know the size of these dolls, but I believe that some simple elastics in a brown color similar to her hair could prevent her braids unraveling, it would be a labour of love tough, as she seems to have a lot. Can't wait to see what you have in store for us in both of your blogs! Stay safe,

    1. I purchased Layla, the Denika MyTwinn unicorn girl? One of my favorite things about her are all the colorful glass beads Emily put at the end of her braids. I shudder to think how long it must have taken though!!!

    2. Thank you, Luis! I love working with this face for exactly the reasons you said. It's got so much detail in the mouth, and is a wonderful challenge! I also agree with you about the outfit. I wasn't loving it with the leggings (too many bright polka dots), but as a dress it's more subdued and suits her better. I like Nala a lot, so it felt like no outfit was good enough for her. Someday I'll be able to customize and sew the perfect outfit for each doll. :)

      I went back today and tied off all of the braids with black thread. There was literally nothing holding them in place. How can a play doll wear a wig like this?? I like your idea of elastics, but they would have to be so incredibly thin. I'll search to see if I can find something! I like the suggestion--easier than tying thread. ;)

    3. Layla's beads took a while, but that's exactly the sort of thing I wish I could do with Nala! I tried it today, but the beads are too big. :(
      It means a lot that you appreciate Layla's hair! Thank you. :D

  3. What a sweet looking, Cherub like little girl! I can see why you used the hat photo for the gif-so fun!!

    I love both of your blogs, so I'll happily read TBP while we wait on doll updates. I do hope you have fun with everything and don't stress yourself with either blog.

    Self care is very important, and I want you to enjoy your hobby and continue to share, rather than see you slaving over a "hot" keyboard feeling like you need to produce content.

    Kindest regards and another thank you,


    1. You are so kind Micah, thank you! I actually haven't been this happy for a long time. I'm having *so* much fun. But I also have a much better (and realistic) idea about how the blog needs to be run. I can't hoard the dolls I review (no matter how much I love them!) and I try to give myself breaks now and then. So I think it will be good. We'll see! I feel a special loyalty to all of you here on the Project Shop because this is what kept the dream alive.

  4. You did a wonderful job on her face--she is so lovely.

    1. Thank you so much, Hannah! The face has some wonderful detail that I love working with. :)

  5. She is beautiful! I love how you did her eyebrows. Her outfit is so cute, very holiday .

    1. Thank you! I keep trying to push myself with the brows. They're easier to do on these little dolls than they are on the Twinns, so it's a good place to start. And yeah--I guess we can shift into thinking about the holidays now, can't we? That's always fun! :D

  6. I'm finally caught up with all the Kids posts I missed. Reading them back to back, it's amazing to see all the progress you've made from just discovering the brand to developping your own restoration routines. They look so cheap when they arrive to you (mostly because of the sad wigs) and you change them so they are undistinguishable from MyTwinns in photos. Whoever suggested unstitching the darts is a genius - the factory body looks like it came from a 19th century doll. Removing the entire cable tie channel to reposition the opening at the back is another great idea. Have you considered measuring the body neckline circumference to make the channel just the right length? In spite of these minor hiccups, the dolls are turning into precious works of art. Nala has to be my favourite. I prefer her sculpt to the two others and I have a weakness for microbraids. I really love what you did with the eyebrows. I like this pattern of hairs going from opposite directions and meeting in the middle of the eyebrow width.

    Oh, and a tip! Try the free Plantnet app for identifying plants around you. You can feed it pics of the fruit, leaf, even bark to ID any superior plants, including non-native, decorative or indoor. It's very accurate and educational.

  7. Nala is such a sweetheart! It's interesting how her mouth looks much more open with the repaint.

  8. That seed pod thing is called a gumball, and it comes from the sweet gum tree. They are plentiful where I live, so we sometimes have to be careful walking barefoot outside in the summer.

    Nala's wig is so beautiful! It's really unique and would make her stand out in any doll collection! Although personally I am not a huge fan of the tender face--I think it tends to look pouty so I much prefer the adorable mischievous face--you made it work with the interesting eyebrow shape. You really are an artist!


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