29 May 2012

kaleidoscope kustoms

As it has been rather a while since my last 'friends for tea', I am truly thrilled to be able to welcome my next wonderful guest and new friend to the blog today. As the creator of 'Aurora' the Travelling Blythe, the doll I shall be hosting in just a few days time, I am super excited to have Sarah of 'Kaleidoscope Kustoms' over today to talk about herself, her creations and how she got involved with this year's round of the Travelling Blythe project.

Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! Please tell us a little about yourself and your life outside of Blythe...
Hi, my name is Sarah Glahe. I am 35 years old and was born and raised in Northern Idaho. I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest my entire life and don’t ever see myself leaving this beautiful area that I’m so fortunate to live in. Currently we reside in Hope, Idaho which is just outside of our hometown of Sandpoint. I have loved being creative and artistic since I was little and actually had my design win the contest for our school mascot when I was in third grade. I went to college for Graphic Design and Photography and have done freelance work in both of those areas since I finished school. I have been married to my amazing husband for 10 years and have two beautiful children. I am a stay at home Mom and Blythe customizer and still do freelance work for friends and family.

How did you first discover Blythe?
My Mom actually introduced me to Blythe in 2006. She had come across a custom doll and had told me to check her out on eBay. I immediately fell in love with these big eyed girls and bought my first Blythe, a Prima Dolly Violet that I named Libby. At the time we couldn’t find much information on them and didn’t know of any forums or any other collectors so Libby sort of went on the back burner for awhile. When my husband finished up college my family went through several moves and Libby was packed away for a few years. When we finally got settled into our home she was unpacked and my love of Blythe was rekindled. I started researching Blythe and found the Plastic Paradise forum and Flickr which led me to Frankie Darling and the world of customization.

kaleidoscope kustoms
{ libby by kaleidoscope kustoms, now gone on to pastures new }

Before you got into customising, what was it that appealed to you most about this wide-eyed, oversized-headed doll?
I loved their quirkiness. I loved that they were so different from anything you could find in the stores in the United States. And I loved the fact that they could be customized into a one of a kind doll. I think a lot of the appeal to me besides the collecting aspect was the photography. I’ve always enjoyed photography and the idea of taking these dolls around to different locations and photographing them was right up my alley.

Your collection currently consists of purely customs (with one exception); what draws you to these particular incarnations of Blythe over others, and was it always so?
It’s true: a girl can’t stay stock in my house for long! Haha! When I sent my first girl off to Frankie Darling to get customized I was so nervous that I wouldn’t love her as much afterwards. But when I unwrapped her after she arrived home I fell completely in love! There was no going back for me and I was soon sending all of my girls off to be customized. The thing that I love about customizing is that each girl takes on their own personality. And the fact that most customizers won’t ever replicate a girl means that that girl is a one of a kind. My only stock Blythe is my Kozy, MacKenzie. She was my grail girl and is very special to me. I could never bring myself to change anything about her because I fell in love with her just the way she is.

kaleidoscope kustoms
{ kaleidoscope kustoms blythe family, easter 2012 }

So how and when did you yourself decided to get into customising Blythe?
I researched customizing for about 4 months. I read everything that I could get my hands on about it on the forums and the internet. I finally got brave enough to try it in December 2010 and bought a Nicky Lad as my first “victim”. I was scared to death to even try and open her at first but went slowly, consulting websites every 5 minutes. I even sent emails to Frankie, whom had become a friend, asking questions about how to do this and that. I ended up loving the entire process once I got into it and I knew I was hooked immediately. I customized several more girls that I bought myself and started getting emails from fellow collectors about purchasing my girls or doing commissions. I have to admit I was surprised that others loved my girls enough to want one of their own, but I was still pretty shy about doing commissions on other people’s dolls. Eventually I became confident enough to start taking commissions and here I am today!

With their bright colours and style, your custom girls are very distinctive; where do you draw your inspiration for them from?
I have always loved color! In college you could always tell my work from everyone else’s because mine would be the brightest one up there. Haha! I think my love of color definitely comes through on my customs and that is where I came up with my customizing name, Kaleidoscope Kustoms. I get my inspiration from everything around me…nature, music, art, color combinations, books. I am constantly looking at things and thinking “Oh, that would make an awesome custom!”

What is you favourite part of customising these big-eyed dolls? What keeps you coming back for more?
Honestly I would have to say that I really love the beginning, middle and end! I like to do the planning part of a girl. Picking out all of her eyechips and the color combinations she will have with her theme and searching for that special charm that will go with her theme. My absolute favorite part of customizing is doing the eyelid art. I love creating tiny works of art on these girls that make them so unique. There are so many possibilities out there for lid art that I don’t think I could ever run out of ideas! I also really enjoy seeing them 'come to life' in their owners’ photos. It makes me feel so good to make someone happy with a custom that I’ve created for them.

kaleidoscope kustoms
{ beautifully detailed eyelid art for island paradise custom no.69, by kaleidoscope kustoms }

What advice would you offer to anyone interested in trying out customising for themselves?
I would say research, research, research. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t give up either! Everyone starts somewhere and practice is the only thing that will help you improve.

And for those of us who are not brave enough to give customising a go ourselves, what should we look out for in selecting a customiser to work with?
I think that you have to find a customizer that you like their style and the previous customs that they’ve made. Every customizer has a unique style and you can’t really ask them to change who they are or what they create.

What does your studio space look like? How/when do you like to work?
Oh how I wish I actually had a studio space! Haha! I do all of my custom work at my kitchen table. I have a little cabinet with all of my supplies stashed away in it and when I’m working I pretty much take over the entire dining area. Sometimes it will be like that for days until the rest of my family gets annoyed at me enough that I put it all away. I usually work during the days when my kids are both in school and it’s just me and my music with no interruptions. I will only work on one girl at a time because I feel like each girl deserves my individual attention. So I will start a girl and usually have her finished within a couple days. I’m a Mom first, so sometimes it will take a bit longer when real life gets happens but I really try hard not to have a girl here for spa time for very long.

How did you get involved with this year’s Travelling Blythe project?
That’s a funny story. I had actually emailed Linda about being a host to one of the traveling girls this year because I had been on the waiting list from last year. We started sending emails back and forth and she ended up asking me if I would like to create one of the travelers because she had wanted to surprise everyone with a third customizer. Of course I was totally blown away and honored that she would want to include me in the project. Without hesitation I said yes!

What was your brief and inspiration behind your traveller? Please tell us about her creation...
Well I wanted to use a girl that I hadn’t seen a ton of and of course she had to have fantasy colored hair because that is just me. So I picked Simply Thumpty Thump because I had seen her in person when I had done some lid art for one of my clients and had totally fallen in love with her hair color! I wanted to do a theme that I knew a lot of the hosts would like and since owls are so popular right now I went with that idea. So from the owl idea came the moon idea and after that she just started taking on her own personality from there.

kaleidoscope kustoms
{ aurora the travelling blythe, by kaleidoscope kustoms }

Thank you so much for interviewing me Beka! I really enjoyed answering all of your questions and love being able to share a little glimpse into my life with the Blythe community.

Well thank you too, Sarah, for taking the time to answer all my questions so beautifully. It really has been wonderful to get to know you and your creative process this way. And once more let me also say how excited and grateful I am to be able to see one of your girls up close, thanks to the 'Travelling Blythe' project! I promise to take and share lots of photographs of her while she is here with me in Canada! XO, Beka ©

Kaleidoscope Kustoms Elsewhere
Blog | Flickr

26 May 2012

the owl and the pussycat

ginger urchin travelling blythe
Do you know of the Travelling Blythe project?

Brainchild of Sandra, aka Minkidynamite, this year-long project first began in 2009 with the 'simple' idea of sending two special Blythe dolls created by Vainilladolly (Luka) and Sammydoe (Perrin) on a journey across four continents to travel and explore the globe, visiting some 50 dolly friends along the way. The inaugural journey concluded with an exciting live raffle of the travellers to decide their final destinations and new homes. You can read more about Luka and Perrin's fun and adventures here.

Last year you may recall I was commissioned to create an outfit for Amelia, the special custom doll created by G*Baby for last year's round. Well it pleases me no end to say that I am lucky enough to actually be playing hostess to one of this year's traveller-adventurers!

kaleidoscope kustoms travelling blythe
{ Aurora the purple traveller, by Kaleidoscope Kustoms }

Customised for the project by Sarah of Kaleidoscope Kustoms, in the next few days I shall be taking my part in hosting Aurora, and giving her a peek at my tiny corner of Canada. In addition to showing her some of the local sights, I shall be gifting her this special wool felt garment and companion I have made to take along on her journey. Hosts are permitted to include small tokens for their traveller to collect along the way and I thought long and hard about what my contribution to Aurora's luggage would be, for how could I not include a little piece of Ginger*Urchin?

Already with at least one gorgeous handmade dress in her luggage and many more I am sure on their way to her, I wanted to make her something a little more unusual and that was in keeping with her owl 'theme' as illustrated on those amazing hand-painted eyelids of hers. Then when Sarah shared more of Aurora's story about how she enjoyed travelling through the forests at night, slowly the idea of an owl cloak for her to wear on those silent nightly walks came into being. The last element of this gift came about in a sudden flash of inspiration when another photo of her sparked my recollection of Edward Lear's rhyme, 'The Owl and the Pussycat'. With that, the concept of the be-feathered owl cloak and companion puss-cat came into being.

ginger urchin travelling blythe
For the cloak I wanted to evoke the notion of a shamanic shape-shifter whose cloak of feathers transforms her from human to bird and considered a couple of options before settling on the idea of using all wool felt for both cloak and feathers. The basic cloak shape was hand-sewn from a Japanese pattern I have, while the feathers were all cut and stitched individually by hand - all 103 of them! It closes simply at the neck with a hook and eye.

The companion felt cat is of my own creation, and went through a couple of incarnations in the design stage before settling on this one. His final colouration was decided with the recollection of a certain episode of The Magic Roundabout when Dougal encounters a strange blue cat. Aurora's new friend has acquired a few feathers of his own and there is definitely something mischievous about his character, but nothing too wicked I am certain *wink!* I am sure he will be a true and perfect companion for her in the months to come.

ginger urchin travelling blythe
With all the work and time and planning I have poured into these over the past weeks, I am more that a little excited to see these being enjoyed by Aurora herself as she continues her journey around the globe, and will be eagerly stalking watching the official Flickr group for the latest news and updates of her onward journey!

17 May 2012

on being fearful

It seems there has been much discussion and talk on the ether of late of our self-worth, our secret fears, our inner shadows that seem to manifest as we live this (online) self-expressive existence. I may add my own voice to the list of these, but today it came up in a chain of thought that brought me to pondering a passage from the beginning of the Artist's Way: that of our deep fears. Or rather, our core (unconscious) negative beliefs that stop us in our tracks of our pursuit of living as full creative beings. In the passage in question Julia lists twenty of these such beliefs, many of which I can relate to, but the one that most stuck out for me today was just three words: I will die. For me this deep fear is not so much that if I persist in continuing this creative life I am making the outcome will be my death, but rather the opposite: that if I don't live this creative life, the not doing so will kill me. That if I don't follow my dreams I will be forever lamenting the "I wish I had done that when I had the chance" kind of death.

The Mister and I felt similarly when we decided to stop just talking about moving abroad, but actually make the necessary first (scary) steps and begin our application process. The thought of getting into our middle years, let alone our dotage and thinking back to when we 'played it safe' rather than following this dream, made us (well at least me anyway) quite sick to the stomach. We agreed that it was better to have pursued the idea and failed in the attempt, than to not have tried at all. After all, we said, we could be there and back again in less than five years. We have been living that dream now for three years this month.

Anyways, aside from my own inner fears, this whole mind set of stubbornly persisting and listening to the whispers of my muse, reminded me today of the brilliant poem by Dawna Markova. I first discovered her words of truth way back in my college days on a greetings card and which I have kept ever since. Over the years it has at various times featured on my inspiration board and has held many layers of meaning and significance at different times in my life. Some two decades later it is still the poem that speaks to me most profoundly.

dawna markova quote download caitidid designs
{ Dawna Markova quotation, illustrated and available for download by Caitidid Designs }

And that is it: to live a full life of playing with fire. Of daring to do what others would not. Of daring to do what our fears would not have us do, but doing that thing all the same.

My final stop on this train of thought is from a scene in Children of Dune when Leto Atreides faces an oncoming sandstorm in the desert: "I must not fear, for fear is the mind-killer. I will face my fear and let it pass through me... Only I will remain." As Leto discovers, only by embracing our fears can we move forward and become the thing we are meant to be. It is the path that can bring rewards we cannot yet imagine.

What fears are holding you back? What would you do if you could set your fear aside and still step forward? You are very welcome to whisper your thoughts here if you wish, or simply ponder them quietly in your own time... Hugs, XO