Thursday, June 1, 2017

Customs For All



The past week and long weekend were all about custom pieces for me. I had a welcome and much-appreciated order for several pairs of my custom-color eyes. I hand-paint Margon moving "sleep" doll eyes in colors either not produced by the company or out of stock in a particular size. I could order lots of eyes in different colors and sizes from foreign wholesalers but I prefer the Margon eyes for several reasons. Margon patented the cased individual moving eyes in the 1930s. Before that, doll eyes were plastic or glass and moving eyes were wired together and attached to a metal clip or bar which was then attached to the inside of the doll's head. The eyes moved via a lead weight wired to them. Margon's invention allowed for a much smaller area inside the head to be devoted to moving eye attachment. Since Margon patented the moving eye, they are the brand used in most vintage dolls and I like to use them because I am usually replacing old eyes with new ones virtually identical to the originals. I also like to use Margon eyes because they are distributed by a US-based wholesaler and I prefer to support local companies. It's easier to talk to their representatives as well, since there isn't a huge time difference. I have a global enough business now that I am frequently up dealing with clients very late at night or extremely early in the morning. I love my international clients, but I appreciate sleep as well, more and more as the years go by!


I customize eyelids with "eyeshadow".


Dolls like Jacqueline Portraits had eyeshadow.

So, although I've seen wholesalers selling eyes in various colors and sizes I don't have, for the present I think I am going to stick with the Margon eyes. The very fact that I send these all over the world rather frequently leads me to believe they are a higher-quality eye than some of the cheaper wholesale eyes. Something I haven't seen anywhere are "eyeshadow" eyes, which is one of my custom styles. If you are restoring a Madame Alexander Portrait doll with the Jacqueline face, for example, you will realize the original eyes had painted "eyeshadow" on the eyelids. It wouldn't be a big deal to replace those eyes with plain ones except that the entire eyelid is painted blue to match. It really just doesn't look right to put plain eyes in one of those dolls, so I started producing my "eyeshadow" eyes with painted lids.



My "Spring Green" eye color in progress

Spring Green

Violet

Kelly Green

After a lot of requests from customers, I began making my custom color eyes by painting the irises. So far purple or violet is my most popular color, and after that green is a big hit. I have done several shades of green, from teal to spring green to Kelly Green. I also have dark aqua blue eyes ready to ship. The custom eyes can take up to a week to dry, so delivery time is typically about a week and a half to two weeks from the time of the order. Certain colors dry faster than others, for whatever reason, as do different brands of paint.



My custom bag mailers

Custom boxes

A bunch of Memorial Day orders shipped in my custom packages!

Once I'd finished the custom eyes I spent a lot of the weekend designing, printing, and cutting logo stickers to apply to my mailers to make custom packages. I am so excited about the way these look! I was thrilled to find pink bag mailers for clothes, but the boxes are cute, too. Next I hope to make a logo stamp for branding the boxes, which should be cheaper than using sticker paper. It makes me feel much more like a "real" business to have logo-branded packaging. I hope it will help people remember by store, too, since I sell on so many different platforms. 

This week I have been working on figuring out how to make "squishies". This is kind of a custom project; all these people were getting to my Etsy shop searching for "squishies." It's been my first and second most-searched term for months but I had no idea what squishies were. I figured, if so many people are trying to find them I'd better figure out how to make them! I spent most of Tuesday morning watching tutorials. This is quite frustrating, since almost all of them get finished and show a cute project, but then the artist says, "Well, after filming this fell apart." Honestly, why would you go to the trouble of making a tutorial if your method doesn't actually work? It just wastes everyone's time! I combined several techniques that appeared to work to make this cute squishy narwhal. Although adorable, now that it's drying it is developing several cracks, so it will be back to the drawing board for the squishies. If I come up with a workable technique I will post a tutorial that's actually helpful, and maybe even produce some kits!

You can find all the custom eyes shown ready to ship on eBay or order your own from Etsy or my website. Link to all my shops and now even place orders and request custom products at ateliermandaline.com.


Making a squishy narwhal

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