It's been a few years since I've written about my first baby doll, the Ideal Baby Dreams Velvet Skin doll from 1975. I was only one year old when I got my doll but I remember her well, now at least. For many years she was lost to my conscious thoughts, but I would have a recurring dream about her. In the dream I would leave my baby, who was always dressed in a little pink bunting gown with a pointed hood, on the floor in front of the door (I know, I wasn't a great mother) and when I went back to get her she was gone. The house in my dream was our house in California. I can barely remember that house when I'm awake but when I had that dream it would materialize, as clear as day. It took me a while to realize the "baby" was a doll, and a real doll at that. I said something about the dream and my mother explained it was a baby doll whose face started peeling off so she threw it away.
This trauma buried itself in my brain I guess, emerging in sleep some thirty years later. I'm not a psychologist, but I realized this dream was about more than just the doll. Shortly after that loss I suffered a much greater loss, my entire world, when my father died and we moved to Ohio to live with my grandparents. By the time I was thirty-six I was dreaming about the doll almost nightly and waking with a terrible sense of grief. I decided to try to find her. The trouble is, my mother didn't remember her name and I could barely even remember what she looked like. I remembered she had a fuzzy face and wore a pink bunting with a pointed hood. In my memory she was a cloth doll, but my mother told me she was plastic with flocked skin. I searched and searched eBay, blogs, doll forums... this was either before Pinterest or before I was aware of Pinterest. Finally one day I struck gold. A wise eBay seller who had the original doll mentioned her flocked skin and pink bunting in the listing title and led me to her: Baby Dreams Velvet Skin by Ideal. Keep that in mind if you sell online, especially vintage stuff: the person seeking your item may not remember anything about the brand or name, but just the physical appearance, so you want it in your title!
As it turns out, most Baby Dreams dolls ended up looking like the one shown here or even worse, and most mothers threw them out, so they are super rare today. The doll I found on eBay cost almost $400 and I couldn't afford her. I saved the search on eBay and one day I was able to find one I could afford for myself. And then I didn't have that dream anymore! I let my daughter get the doll out and hold her occasionally but mostly she just sits upstairs, keeping the dreams at bay. Since then I've found and restored exactly three more Baby Dreams, including this one. They typically sell almost immediately, and in one case before I even got her listed (someone read about the doll on my blog and made an offer on it, including shipping to Australia!), so if this is a doll you're interested in you should watch my shops or message me. In case you have one of these dolls to restore I am going to show you step by step how I did it.
I started the restoration by removing the doll's head by cutting the zip tie in the neck. I removed the stuffing from the body and washed the body repeatedly. Then I sprayed the body with lemon essential oil, hydrogen peroxide, and water and set in in the sun to bleach it for a couple days. The body had some thin spots so I darned them with matching thread. While the body was sunning I brushed the hair out with a wire doll brush. Then I soaked it in hot water mixed with fabric softener and set it in pin curls. After I removed the pins I could see the ends of the hair were still really fried. Someone melted the tips of the synthetic hair fibers with a blow dryer or curling iron. I thought I would end up having to re-wig her, but I decided to try one last thing: my fabric shaver. The fabric shaver worked perfectly! It reminds me of the infomerical product from the 80s or 90s, the Split Ender. I loved that thing! As I shaved the fabric I realized I could solve a problem that stumped me: where to get flocking powder. You can find flocking powder with stamping and scrapbooking supplies but it always seems to come in bright colors, not flesh toned. If you have a Ken with flocked hair that powder is fairly easy to find online, but no one I found makes skin toned powder. This baby has pink-ish blond hair, just the same color as her original flocking, so I kept the shaved bits from the fabric shaver. I didn't have enough so I shaved one of my sweaters that needed to be de-pilled and saved that powder too.
Once you have your flocking powder you need to decide when to apply it. You will need to clean your doll. You can clean her with gentle soap, such as baby shampoo, dish soap, gentle laundry soap, etc, and warm water. Use a soft cloth to avoid removing the original flocking. Most of these dolls need more intense cleaning than that. If your doll has peeling flocking or flocking with brown edges you need to remove as much of that as possible and get the skin underneath clean. You can scrub those areas with a Mr. Clean Eraser or dish scrubber. If you are able to remove all discoloration you can flock the missing areas and move on. If you need to paint the doll you can do that either before or after you paint. As you can see, my flocking powder is larger than the original so I decided to paint after flocking.
Water down some white water-soluble glue and apply it to one small area at a time with a makeup sponge. Sprinkle flocking powder over the glue as if you are applying glitter. Shake off any excess. My sweater flocks stuck together too much to sprinkle them so I dabbed them over the wet glue. Allow the glue to dry before turning over the limbs and flocking the other side.
When you are done flocking the skin you will either be finished with your doll or ready to paint her. I still had painting to do since the forehead and cheeks had brown stains I couldn't remove. I thinned out water soluble oil paint to make a wash and I dabbed it on the skin in small dots, to look like the flocking. This process is called stippling. You can use a stencil brush if you have it but a hard bristle flat brush works fine too. When the first coat was dry I went over the face again with a makeup sponge to dab on the paint wash. Then I repeated this process twice more until I covered the stains and got the paint even.
Once the paint was dry I went ahead and replaced the missing eyelashes. The hair was still not great looking so I wet it and pin-curled into its original 70s bowl cut again. The face still wasn't as even as I wanted so I crushed up some artist's pastels and applied those with a dry stencil brush. I dipped the brush in the powder and stippled it over the face and then smoothed it by moving the brush in a circular pattern over it. Although you can still see a slight difference in texture and color on the cheeks, forehead, and around the nose and lips, it's certainly much better than it was. You have to look pretty close to notice it; for a display the doll looks really good. I want her to be able to withstand gentle play, however, and not just be for looks, so I broke down and ordered a bottle of Mr. Super Clear Flat UV Cut spray varnish. This Japanese varnish is famous in the doll world but really expensive. It was totally worth it, however, as not one bit of pastel or flock is rubbing off after coating the face and limbs.
Next I am going to sew a replica bunting for Baby and then she will be ready to sell. I hope you will look for her in my shops: link from the Home page.
Today I'm going to show you two different ways to add eyelashes to fixed-eye dolls. This is a useful trick to make your doll look more "real" or to camouflage an eye that's not a tight fit. Technically, you could use this method for dolls with sleep eyes as well (it would solve the problem of my Margon eyes that don't quite fit the American Girl dolls) although I think it's kind of weird. I know it's really popular in the custom AG world to paint dramatic lashes all around the doll's eye, but then when the eye closes the doll has these lashes above the eyelid. So she has hairy eyelids? Yuck! I decided to go for the dramatic look with my custom Elsa AG but I converted her eyes to fixed eyes after I added the lashes. I'll go over that in a separate tutorial. Anyway, though, if you aren't bothered by the hairy eyelid look go ahead and use this tutorial to add extra lashes to your sleepy-eyed dolls as well! To find out how to replace missing lashes in sleep eyes go to that tutorial: https://mandalineartfulliving.blogspot.com/2013/04/how-to-replace-doll-eyelashes-tutorial.html
You can add eyelashes either before or after you insert the eyes. I tried both ways and I much preferred adding the lashes after the eyes were in place. You can use drugstore false eyelashes for humans or you can buy doll lashes by the yard or individually. I have a large selection of doll lashes in different sizes and colors in my eBay and Etsy shops. You can link to the shops from the Home page.
If I'm replacing lost lashes in sleep eyes, such as on a Cissy or AG doll, then I prefer the human lashes or individual doll lashes because they have a sticky edge that helps position them before I glue them. Adding lashes to a head, however, seems like it would be easier with the doll lashes by the yard because the glue is on the wrong side if you use human lashes and you will probably need to cut the human lashes down. I did use human lashes for both dolls shown here, but next time I would consider the doll lashes instead. To begin, cut your lashes to the size you want if you are using the human or bulk lashes. Then add a bead of glue along the eye socket. Although it is water-soluble, I prefer Aleene's Tacky Glue because it is thick enough to stay in place.
Next, insert the lashes and push them into place. I used bamboo skewers for both these steps. You will have to hold the lashes in place for a while until they are set. If you want to add lower lashes, repeat the steps above, except turn the lashes over so they curve down away from the eye and not up into the eye. Allow the lashes to dry thoroughly before you try to insert the eyes, like overnight. Don't assume they are dry enough after a half hour and try to put the eyes in because you will end up with a gluey mess and have to redo them. That may or may not be a true story...
Once the eyes are inserted you can trim the lashes to the length you prefer and fix any face paint that may have gotten smudged during the aforementioned gluey mess.
I found it much easier to insert eyelashes once the doll's eyes were already in place. The eye helps position the eyelash. Just as before, decide on the type of lashes you want and cut them to the length you need.
Carefully apply the glue to the eye socket. The glue should be just inside the eye socket, not out on the face. You may want to use a straight pin instead of a bamboo skewer so you have a smaller tip and can avoid getting glue on the eyeball.
Insert the lashes and push them up into the eye socket with a straight pin. You want to sandwich them in between the eye and the socket. Hold them in place until the glue is set. If you did get any glue on the eyeball you can clean it off once the lashes are dry. Another reason I prefer to use thick white glue is it is easier to clean off the doll if you make a mistake. If you get super glue on the doll's face or eye you're going to have to scrape it off or use harsh paint thinner or something to remove it and you could easily damage the doll or the eyes.
I decided the full lower lashes I added to the first doll were a bit much. I ended up having to trim and thin them quite a bit. So for my second attempt I decided to use human mini lashes on the lower lid. These are false lashes for humans but I love them for replacing doll lashes when only a little chunk is missing and they are great for smaller doll eyes as well. I inserted these just as I did the upper lashes.
As you can see, the red-haired doll is just about done. She's going to be Anna from Frozen. I thought it was appropriate to use a Wellie Wishers doll for the little sister, since she's just two inches smaller then big sis, Elsa. I just need to make her clothes and add the white streak to her hair. Both these dolls will be for sale in my shops soon, so I hope you will be on the lookout. You can also buy doll supplies like the eyes and lashes I used for both dolls. You can link to all my shops from the Home page.
I know it's been ages since my last post and I apologize! I have no fewer than five saved drafts I just never got around to finishing. Rest assured, I have been working hard. On the way to the blog is one tutorial showing how to add "real" eyelashes such as the ones shown to dolls with fixed eyes and another showing how to re-flock dolls whose flocking has worn away.
Spring arrived in fits and starts, and if you're a long time reader you know that means I'm working in the garden for long periods. Loki, our naughty puppy, has decimated the grass, including the sod we laid last year. He has also been digging up the vegetable and flower beds and even the stone patio. Our yard is extremely wooded and we don't have enough sunlight for plants of any kind in most of the yard. The stone patio is right in the best area for a garden, but the patio is one of my favorite things about the property and a reason we chose our house, so I don't want to rip it up. My husband came up with a terrific idea to combine a fence to protect the grass with planters in the sunny part of the yard and I contributed the idea to use a wide cap to add extra seating to the patio. We've been working on that. After five years of similar projects we are starting to see results, enjoying our fire pit and our homegrown fruits.
My husband was able to get my computer working fairly well again, which is a good thing, because besides working in the yard I've been re-working my business model. Long and hard reflection convinced me that while my doll and doll supplies business is steady, it's not very lucrative. It's just too much of a niche market to be really profitable, at least to the extent I am able to fund it. My problems finding a reliable supplier contributed to my decision. I spent a month or so in a funk and feeling really depressed and then I decided to do something about it. I joined a resellers group which is helping me set and achieve goals ad build my business. I am absolutely still restoring and selling dolls and doll supplies and writing tutorials but I am expanding the reselling part of the business. I branched into women's fashion with my Poshmark boutique earlier this year and now I have started selling on Amazon and Mercari. I am Atelier Mandaline on both platforms. I am stocking new and used toys, electronics, fashion, art supplies, and even some food and toiletries. I even started adding men's fashion to my boutique! My inventory is the largest it's ever been. It's still hard for me to purchase large lots. I had a little mini heart attack this month when my credit card bill arrived during a slow sales period, but things picked up so I'm trying to trust the process. The next step for me is to try Fulfilled By Amazon. You pack your inventory and mail it to Amazon and they handle it from there, so it's as if you have a big warehouse with employees. Freedom from daily shipping and collecting money will allow me more time to restore more dolls and find more great deals, as well as allow me to occasionally take a vacation without losing sales. Right now the way eBay is set up forces me to close my store any time I can't be at home. I hope you'll check out my newest "stores". I don't have a store on my newest platforms but you can follow me on Mercari like a social network and I hope you will. I don't have any followers so far!
I am happy to announce my newest flat back stationary doll eyes have arrived! This represents one more step toward the fulfillment of my wish to offer my own line of custom doll supplies! These eyes are sized to fit American Girl Wellie Wishers and other vinyl dolls with oval 16mm eye pockets. You can also use eye setting putty to use them for bjd, reborn, and other dolls with an open socket. The new colors are pink, lavender, and gray, bringing my offering to eight colors total! I am currently listing these on eBay and Etsy. If I can keep them in stock well enough I will add them to this website soon. You can link to all my shops from the Home page.
Yesterday we attended our son's first soccer game of the season. It was freezing cold and spitting rain, par for the course this unusually blustery March. After the game the coach passed doughnuts out to the kids. My husband and I have been following the ketogenic diet since September and that made even cold grocery store doughnuts look good! I decided to experiment with some ketogenic mug cake recipes to see if I could re-create the flavor of my favorite Boston Creme doughnut. We rewarded ourselves for sitting in the cold sitting by the fire sampling my test cakes.
To begin, I made filling. This was cream cheese, softened and whipped, then mixed with whipping cream until it had the texture shown in the first photo. Then I whipped it until the texture of the second photo, like a thick whipped cream. I added vanilla monkfruit sweetener to taste. If you don't have vanilla monkfruit, use regular sweetener and vanilla extract instead. The resulting filling tastes like cream cheese frosting rather than Boston Creme. It's good, but next time I think I will use butter in place of the cream cheese to see if the flavor is more what I am after. I'm not great at measuring, I know, but I would say for two cakes, use 4 ounces of cream cheese, about 2 tablespoons of whipping cream, and 8 drops of vanilla monkfruit. My husband likes sweeter desserts than I, and he thought the filling wasn't sweet enough, so if you also have a sweet tooth you will probably always have to adjust my recipes to make them sweeter.
I made the chocolate glaze next. This was wonderful, in my opinion, but it definitely tastes more like dark chocolate than the typical doughnut glaze. For more of a milk chocolate flavor you could add some cream to the recipe. For two cakes, melt 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate with 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and whisk together until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in 10-20 drops of chocolate monkfruit sweetener. If you are using granular sweetener, add it at the beginning and melt it with the butter to make it smooth.
The cakes are made with two different mug cake recipes. The cake in the first photo was made as follows:
Grease the mug with butter. Add one egg, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and mix well. Add one scoop vanilla protein powder ( I used whey protein), 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon coconut flour, 1 tablespoon granulated sweetener ( I used monkfruit). Microwave 60-90 seconds or bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until the center is just done. Turn on to a plate, slice in half, and fill with the filling. Pour the glaze over the top.
I didn't love the flavor of this cake because the protein powder I used had an aftertaste I didn't like and was too sweet for me. This cake texture was very dry and sturdy. So if you want a traditional layer cake texture, this recipe will work. I think without the filling and glaze it would have been too dry, but with them it makes a pretty much perfect traditional layer cake. Even with the protein powder not being my favorite, I can see if I wanted a birthday cake type of treat this would have hit the spot!
For the cake in the second photo melt 1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter in your mug and swirl it around to coat the sides and prevent sticking. Add 1 egg, 1.5 tablespoons sour cream, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Mix in 3 tablespoons almond flour, 2 tablespoons sweetener (I used granular monkfuit), 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder. Microwave 90 seconds to 2 minutes or until the center is done and you see no liquid on the sides of the cake. Turn out onto a plate. For a stiffer texture cool, then cut, fill, and glaze. For a gooey texture, immediately cut in half, fill, and glaze. I didn't want to wait so we did the gooey version. As you can see it doesn't hold its shape like a layer cake, It was more like a souffle or cream cake. I preferred this version. It was more like the doughnut I was craving and it didn't have the artificial flavor of the first cake.
I have to say, I really enjoyed spending the afternoon sitting by the fire, eating cake. I'll have to try it more often! This has been a depressing month. We got a continuous monitor for our diabetic son, to alert him if his sugar drops in the night, so he won't fall into a coma. Now it turns out the sensors are five times the cost they originally quoted, and we can't afford them. So he is back to testing with finger sticks to monitor. We looked at other monitors but we can't afford any of them. It makes me feel like a total failure as a parent. Then we took our youngest son to cleft clinic and found out he has hearing loss in one ear. I suspected he couldn't hear and I was correct. He needs a new ear tube, which the ENT wants to install immediately. He is supposed to have a bone graft surgery in the summer and the surgeons want to wait and do the ear tube then. I would certainly prefer to pay for only one surgery rather than two, but I also don't want him to lose his hearing! It's a difficult dilemma to decide these things when the doctors all disagree with one another. Then to top it all off, our new computer, which is only two years old, stopped working. I am typing this on the old computer, which is limping along and takes about 5 times as long to do anything than the new one. I hope the repair bill for the computer isn't too steep! I will go nuts if I have to keep working on this one. Thank goodness I kept it though!
Thankfully, some things are going well. I've finally been added to the Guaranteed Delivery program on eBay. I applied last year! Now eBay will guarantee delivery time for my merchandise, so you can feel confident ordering things for a certain event. My daughter, even though she's only 13, is making origami for me to sell so she can save up for college. I have been turning her miniature water lilies into earrings using 22kt gold-plated fittings, Swarovski crystals, and glass beads. You can custom-order these from my Etsy shop or purchase them ready-made from my Poshmark boutique. You can link to all my stores from the Home page. I hope you will consider purchasing her beautiful work! She's the fastest girl in the 7th grade and competes on the track team and she's so good at math the teacher has her tutoring other kids and grading papers, so it looks like she might be our best hope for a college scholarship. In that case she could use her college savings toward a house or, dare we hope, setting up a medical practice! We could sure use the financial savings!
Today Only! Snag fantastic deals (some items below $5) during Closet Clear Out on Poshmark. New to Poshmark? Sign up with code STUDIOMANDALINE for a $5 credit! Link to my boutique from the Home page.
Happy St. Patrick's Day! Today's your lucky day because I am having a huge 1-Day sale in my Poshmark boutique. Buy any two pieces and get one FREE! To get this deal, go to Poshmark, create a bundle of three items, and I will send you an offer with the cheapest item free! I've never done this before, and the luck won't last: it runs out at 9PM EST TONIGHT! I am running a 1-day sale on eBay and Etsy as well, so make sure to check those shops today. You can link to all my shops from the Home page and save a ton of green (or gold)!
Stock Photos From IKEA and Infinity Raine
This week I've been paying lots of attention to my fellow resellers on Instagram and in my Facebook group as well as starting the second week of eBay's Seller Boot Camp, trying to bring my business to the next level. It's a little outside my comfort zone; in the past I've always just sold my kids' outgrown stuff or the same sort of things for family and friends, as well as any dolls I happened to finish. To be a "real" business though, you have to source inventory. It's scary to me to spend money but you have to spend money to make money and so far I'm doing pretty well, if I do say so. Last week my son was home on Spring Break and we went sourcing and picked up some shoes and some stuff from IKEA. Over the weekend all the IKEA stuff sold out as did 1/3 of the shoes! So this week I went back to IKEA and restocked popular items as well as added new things. I realized I have a whole bedroom in stock, so I got to do some interior design and put together a style board to show the room you could decorate from my eBay store. I have a bunch of nightlights for kids' rooms too. I added molds, including the discontinued and highly desirable diamond ring ice cube tray, to Etsy and eBay.
I placed a big wholesale fashion order and some already arrived and is listed on Poshmark. I have a great selection of dresses for women and girls, just in time for Easter! I also have a few pairs of leggings left and some tops, as well as the vintage fashion and kids' stuff I normally stock. Please view the slideshow to see all the new styles for your home and closet, available in my shops. You can link to all my shops from the Home page.
I found a buyer's agent in China to help me negotiate with manufacturers for doll eyes and that's going well. I hope to order a new set of samples soon, since the last ones were unfortunately not a good fit. If I can find a good manufacturer I have a whole bunch of designs in mind, so keep your eyes on me!
They're here! Atelier Mandaline shops on eBay and Etsy are now offering flat-back (half-round) fixed or stationary, doll eyes for dolls such as reborn, BJD, and even American Girl Wellie Wishers! These high-quality, unbreakable eyes are available in three true-to-life colors. More colors and custom painted eyes are on the way. At present I am only offering these on eBay and Etsy because I want to make sure I can keep up with demand before listing them on this website or in my Facebook shop. Thus far I have not been able to keep enough supply on hand for more than two of my shops! As with all American Girl dolls, the Wellie Wishers have specially-made eyes that aren't available outside the AG hospitals and factories so they fit a little differently than the replacements. You can see the comparison below: the hazel eyes are the originals and the blue ones are the replacements. I will try to find everyone who has contacted me wanting these eyes and reply to your messages; in the meantime, please head to the shops from my Home page to purchase these eyes!
I'm thrilled to announce Studio Mandaline is now a Posh Ambassador on Poshmark! It takes a great deal of work to achieve this rank and I am proud of myself. I do have more visibility for my boutique now and things are selling out fast. I've stocked lots of new styles for spring and summer and I hope you'll pick them up before they're gone! As always, sign up for Poshmark with code STUDIOMANDALINE for a $5 credit. If you're already a member save 15% when you bundle two or more items.
Atelier Mandaline on eBay has March promos set up. The more you buy the more you'll save, through 3/31. These discounts are automatic and require no coupon code!
On Etsy, use code BLOGGER for any 10% off any order from Atelier Mandaline.
You can link to all my shops from the Home page to get these deals!
My name is Amanda, but my childhood nickname was "Mandaline". I am a mother of three turning my passion for creating into a full-time business.