Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Mystery Story

Well, it appears yet again calamity strikes, at least a minor calamity, and now we have a mystery to solve. I have been having the worst luck lately. Last week I went to get my second COVID vaccine shot. Our county had none available so I had to make two 100 mile trips to another county. I didn't mind this too much; determined to make the best of it I searched the area for thrift stores and restaurants and discovered the adorable town of Lenoir, NC. I now have many new friends there, several honey hole thrifting spots, and a new favorite bakery. That said, each vaccination required a day primarily away from home, which any mother knows isn't the easiest thing to work into the day!

As I prepared to leave I saw a $300 order of new inventory for my doll shop had been delivered by UPS. I carried the box over to the knife drawer in the kitchen, sliced open the box for a rudimentary check that everything was included, and left the box sitting on the counter. Then I got in the car and left.

I arrived back home in the early evening, laden with thrift store purchases and empanadas for supper (It turns out Lenoir is a hotspot for empanadas! I recommend Julia's Bakery & Cafe, sometimes listed on Maps as Fresh & Delicious Bakery). Several more boxes of inventory had been delivered in my absence by USPS and one of the kids brought them into the kitchen. While I reheated the empanadas I cut open each box to check the contents and carried them into the family room in preparation to list the contents in my shops.

After supper my arm was starting to hurt and I was very tired so I went to bed early. The next morning I could barely drag myself out of bed. I felt like I had been anesthetized. My axillary lymph node under my arm was very painful and swollen to the size of a plum. I shipped some orders and went back to bed for basically two days! I felt better on the weekend, but we had soccer games and my husband's birthday, so it wasn't until yesterday I started going through my new inventory. I went to get my order of doll hooks to make stringing kits and quickly discovered that box, the largest order, wasn't among the other boxes. I turned the house upside down looking for it to no avail. It just disappeared! 

The nearest I can figure, our youngest son has two daily chores: feeding the animals and taking out the recycling. The animals remind him to feed them but we have to ask him multiple times most days to take out the recycling. The recycling is on the same counter where I placed the box, but on the other side. It would appear, in a sudden burst of familial duty, he took out the box of doll supplies along with the recycling, not looking inside it or considering it was in a different place on the counter as the other recycling. So, I think he threw away $300 of doll supplies! I went ahead and re-ordered everything. Unfortunately now the 27mm eyes in green are out of stock, so the cost isn't as high, but it's certainly high enough! If that weren't disgusting enough, I got word I mixed up the shipping labels on the orders I sent the morning after my shot, so people got the wrong orders. That has required me to send out multiple free products and pay extra shipping to clean up my mess. It's just been a very challenging time, especially because earlier in the month I was doing so well. Several 60s doll trunk sets I created sold out before I could even write a blog post about them. My injured thumb has nearly recovered. My doll hospital has remained full. My oldest son is about to graduate from college, freeing up lots of money we've been paying for his education.

I am just trying to dwell on the positive aspects of all this. Just a short time ago, like within the last few years, something like this would have devastated me. I would not have been able to come up with another $300 to replace the lost inventory. I wouldn't have been placing orders like that in the first place, because I didn't sell that much! I am so grateful my business has grown to the place this is a huge inconvenience  and very upsetting event, but something I can overcome. I have the same challenges as anyone running a business nowadays, the haters who message me to tell me my prices are too high, or the dolls I am selling aren't correct in some way, but I am extremely lucky. I love my job and enjoy most aspects of it, the freedom most of all. I just have to remember we all have ups and downs and the upswing is surely on the way!

You can find all my shops on my website, ateliermandaline.com. My Mother's Day Sale starts tomorrow on eBay, Etsy, and Depop. I hope you find something you love!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Mego Melt: What It Is & How To Fix It

"Mego Melt" is the term used to describe the melting joints sometimes seen on dolls from the 1970s and 1980s. Dolls and action figures made by Mego are notorious for this problem, thus the name, but certainly not the only ones affected. You will often find the Sunshine Family dolls with Mego Melt and today I am treating my Pedigree Gen 2 Sindy doll for it. Mego Melt affects dolls made from both hard plastic and vinyl. As the plastic ages it releases a gas that melts the vinyl. It's a huge problem because it ruins the clothing as well as the doll; when a doll is affected the clothing will often be glued into the joints so firmly it tears when you try to undress the doll. The vinyl can stain or even adhere to the clothing and it's very difficult to remove. The joints will be glued in place as well, causing them to freeze up and not move.

To begin, shave off the melted areas with a sharp knife, like an Xacto knife. Be careful not to cut yourself when you're getting into the small, hard-to-reach areas. If your doll's stringing is loose, go ahead and cut it before you shave the joints. It's an easier process with an unstrung doll. Even if your doll isn't loose to begin with, she may need re-stringing afterward. You are making the arm and leg openings larger when you shave off the melt, so your doll might end up too loose after treatment.

When all the melt is removed, gather white vinegar and baby powder to treat the joints.

Wash the joints thoroughly with white vinegar.

Once the vinegar has dried, sprinkle the vinyl areas with baby powder. Using a soft tissue or paper towel rub the baby powder into the vinyl until no stickiness remains. Some people say this process will need to be repeated every so often, while others say it will fix Mego Melt after one treatment. I advise re-applying the baby powder any time you think the vinyl is starting to feel sticky. Make sure to store your doll in a climate-controlled area, as extreme heat and cold exacerbate the issue.

My Sindy had an additional problem besides Mego Melt: her hard plastic hands had broken wrists and wouldn't stay on her arms. I created new wrists from hard plastic epoxy. 

To re-attach the hands I used a silicone ear plug. I kneaded the plug to soften it and pulled off a tiny piece for each wrist. Then I rolled it into a little ball and placed it on the ball in the wrist. Then I stuck the hands back on. These can still be removed, but they will stay on much better and will still turn. I painted the wrists and hands to match, and Voila! Sindy is all ready to dress. I will dress her in a long-sleeved outfit because the wrist repair is still somewhat visible.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Patti PlayPal's Eyes

Today I finished a big batch of Patti PlayPal eye replacements and I wanted to do a quick tutorial because these dolls require a sort of hybrid method. Typically you would use the Boil Method for dolls with a narrow neck like these. That's when you will the head with boiling water to soften it, squeeze out the eyes, and pop in new eyes. Patti's vinyl is just too hard, or the eyes used, 27mm size, are just too large to come out the front of the eye opening or something. Instead I use the Cut Method.

In order to get to the eyes to use the Cut Method, however, you still have to do some boiling. Patti PlayPal's neck opening contains a metal disk. This disk attaches to the stringing hooks to join the head to the doll's body, and it's larger than the neck opening. To remove it, place the doll's head in an oven bag inside a large heat-resistant bowl. Place the doll's head in the bowl and pour boiling water in until it covers the lower neck opening, about two inches up the neck. Let the head sit for around eight minutes until the neck is squishy.

When the neck vinyl is squishy, reach inside the head with pliers and turn the disk sideways. Then pull it out of the neck. When you've removed it you will see the head is stuffed with foam. You will need to remove all the foam.

Removing the foam is tedious and usually pretty gross. The foam is usually old and sticky and often moldy. I charge a $10 fee on top of my eye replacement fee, which is currently $50, if I have to remove the foam. I am allergic to dust and mold and it's very hard on me. So if you are sending your doll to my hospital for eye replacement please remember to remove the foam before you send her. Make sure to remove all the foam. If it's not too dirty you can save it to refill the head later. 

When the foam is removed, proceed with the Cut Method: cut an X or circle in the eye pocket inside the head. Then push the old eye out into the inside of the head. Don't remove too much of the eye pocket inside the head; you need something to hold the new eyes in place.

Because Patti uses a 27mm eye, which is about the size of a buckeye or small walnut, you will not be able to push it into the front of the face. At least, I haven't ever been able to do so. The neck is so long and narrow you can't reach into it to place the eye. Therefore, I use a 10 inch curved hemostat (available from my Etsy shop) to place the eye. I cut away a circle of the eye pocket inside the head large enough to just set the eye on it. Then I use the hemostat to push the eye into the remaining pocket. When the eye is set and pushed forward into the front of the face I use a chopstick to glue the backs of the eye pockets closed, just as usual with the Cut Method. Allow the glue to dry completely.

When the glue is completely dry, re-stuff the head using the original foam. If the original foam is too dirty you can use fiber stuffing from the fabric store, like the stuffing used in pillows and rag dolls. Don't stuff the head completely to the neck opening; leave a few inches of the neck empty so the foam doesn't get wet when you warm the head to re-insert the disk. I like to stuff a tissue paper plug into the neck to keep the foam from falling down. Only use white tissue paper, not dyed paper. Place the head in the oven bag again and warm the neck the same way as before. The oven bags sometimes leak a tiny bit, so that's why I don't stuff the neck all the way to the opening. It also makes it easier to insert the disk to leave it a little empty.

Push the disk into the warmed neck. It helps to turn it sideways as shown. You will have to press very hard.

When the disk is inserted, use your pliers to turn it and pull it up into the base of the neck as shown.

Here are the finished dolls, all ready to restring! You can buy doll supplies, eye replacement kits, restringing kits, and my Doll University book to learn all general doll repairs, as well as finished dolls from my shops. Link to all from ateliermandaline.com. You may also fill out a request to send your doll to my hospital on my website.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Clone World Beyond The Known World

I'm having all kinds of trouble posting here on Blogger, so you can find my Tammy/Sindy/Calico Lassie and clones comparison on my website. See the dolls coming soon to my shops.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Flipping Fashion With Flyp

 As you're all aware, I have been working on the next books in my doll repair and doll making series. My Doll University book is available on the Shop page, along with e-packets specific to repairing certain vintage dolls.  I have gotten behind on my Art Dolls book, which is next in the series; I keep thinking I'm done and then I remember other things I want to add! The kids starting back to school is taking up a lot of my time, too. As much as I want to help you start a career in dolls, I found another business opportunity I want to share: flipping fashion!

I discovered a great app called Flyp that allows you to send your fashion inventory to Pro Sellers who sell it for you and pay you through the app. I have been liquidating my fashion inventory because it takes up too much room in the house and I am transitioning to moving most of my businesses to consignment. As often as we are now staying up at our mountain cabin, I am not around to ship orders daily. With Flyp, I don't have to be at home because the Pro Seller handles listing and shipping for me! 

While Flyp is a terrific option for consigning your stuff, it's an even better opportunity for starting a business. In fact, I would call it revolutionary! If you decide to be a Pro Seller on Flyp they will match you to consignment lots. If you are selected to sell someone's lot they ship it to you free of charge. You get inventory for no money upfront: your fee is extracted from your earnings when the item sells! The consignor pays for shipping the lot to you from their earnings, so there is no risk! You can start a business selling fashion without spending a dime on inventory to stock your store! How and where you sell the clothes are up to you; you can choose whatever websites or physical location you want to sell the items. I wish this option was available back when I started selling clothes! I'm kind of bummed to discover it when I'm getting away from selling fashion!

You can sell men's and women's clothing on Flyp. Apply to be a Pro Seller on the Flyp app or on their Instagram @joinflyp. Currently Flyp is only available on Apple devices. I hope they expand to Android soon. If you're looking for a great home-based business idea I encourage you to join Flyp. Maybe you'll partner with me! I'm "Amanda B" on Flyp.

Because Flyp is only available on Apple, I put together some reseller boxes for people who use Android. These are available from my shops on Poshmark, eBay, Depop, and Mercari. Shipping is cheapest on Poshmark. Everything is priced really low, like thrift store prices, so you can maximize your profit, and all are set up so you can make me an offer to fit your budget. Link to all my shops from the Home page. I would love to help you start your own business, whether in dolls, or fashion, or both!

Right now, you can save on my reseller lots as well as doll stuff during my 10-Day Sale. I'm celebrating Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year and discounts are my gift to you! The sale is running on my eBay, Etsy, and Depop shops, as well as my Shop page. I hope you'll stop by for the deals! Happy Chinese New Year!

Monday, January 18, 2021

How to Install a Recordable Voice Box in a Doll

I'm happy to announce a new product launch: recordable voice boxes for dolls and plush animals! These are the same boxes used at Build-A-Bear Workshop, so you can replace yours if it's broken. You can also make lifelike custom dolls and plush toys that talk! Record a 10 second message. Then install the box in your doll or animal. You can make the doll say "Mama", "I love you"' anything you can think of! Record a grandparent's voice so your child always has it... the possibilities are endless!

To record your message, turn the switch on the box to "record".

Press and hold the button while you speak into the mic circle.

Turn the switch to "play".

Press the button to play the message. You can record over your message as many times as you need to get it just right.

If you want to install the box in a stuffed animal you will need to open the seam with  seam ripper. You can also install the box in a cloth body doll, such as an American Girl doll, this way. You can also remove the doll's head to install the box. To remove the head, untie the drawstring or cut the zip tie. You will have to replace the zip tie after installing the box if you do that.

Place the voice box wherever you wish in the body. You might have to remove some stuffing to fit it in. Make sure the button is visible so you can push it to play the recording.

Sew the seam back up. If you want to easily get to the box to make changes you can add hook and loop tape to the seam instead of sewing it back up.

Press the button to play the recording.

You can purchase these voice boxes from my eBay, Etsy, Poshmark, Mercari, and Depop shops. Link to all my shops from ateliermandaline.com.