Meet Talia!

Talia Leighton | Custom American Girl Doll (Rebecca Rubin doll with added face paint and Beautifully Custom wig)

Introducing my newest custom doll, Miss Talia Leighton!

Talia LeightonNow with 70% more hair!

What an adventure this new girl’s hair has been! As I mentioned in my last post, I lost her new wig somewhere (it STILL hasn’t shown up!), so I had to order a second one from Beautifully Custom.

I never actually got a chance to take the first one out of the bag, so I didn’t know just how amazing these Beautifully Custom wigs are until the second one arrived last week! I am so impressed!! It’s thick, super soft, and luxurious – it’s nicer than human-sized wigs I’ve owned! It’s easily the highest quality doll wig I’ve worked with.

That said, it was also probably the most difficult I’ve tried to glue on. The wig cap fits perfectly, but because it’s such a perfect fit, it’s also really snug. Even with my husband’s help, it was hard to position the wig for a side part and pull it into place (maybe we’re just not skilled enough lol). I didn’t get her hair part over as much as I wanted, but at this point, I’m just happy to have the wig glued at all.

Talia close upA hint of freckles!

After putting the wig on, I realized how much she reminded me of Rapunzel with her greenish eyes and long, blonde hair – which works for me, because Rapunzel is one of my absolute favorite Disney princesses! So, I decided to make her even more Rapunzel-y by adding a few tiny freckles across her nose. This time I used more fabric medium than paint, making the freckles turn out a little more varied and realistic, but unfortunately also making them a bit shiny. In a certain light, they almost look like sparkles haha… Oh well, she can just have magic freckles instead of magic hair!

Then she needed a name. I decided I didn’t want to make her a character doll like I did Marinette, so “Rapunzel” was out. I almost went with a flower name, like “Calla” or “Lily,” but wasn’t totally sold. Then I thought it might be nice to have a nod to another of my favorite fairy tales, Sleeping Beauty. One of my favorite “modern” retellings, A Kiss in Time, by Alex Flinn, has a green-eyed Sleeping Beauty, which I thought would be very fitting.

In Flinn’s version, Sleeping Beauty is named “Talia,” which is a nod to the earliest versions of the Sleeping Beauty tale. Like many fairy tales, the earliest version of Sleeping Beauty is pretty freaking terrible. Without going into too much detail, the charming prince we’re used to is actually a womanizing king who takes advantage of the young, sleeping maiden, and later kills his wife so he can be free to marry her. GOOD STUFF.

I debated using “Talia” because of its origins, but the modern story is one of my favorites, and I do really like the name, so I decided to go ahead and use it. And, as my husband pointed out, every name is going to have some kind of negative connotation to it. In this case, the crappy version is so antiquated, no one really knows about it (yay!).

Talia Full ViewLovely in lavender, pink, and aqua

For her last name, I thought about tying in another fairy tale reference, like using the last names of some of my favorite fairy tale authors, but nothing fit quite right. Then I thought about using a painter’s name (a nod back to Rapunzel) and I immediately thought of Edmund Blair Leighton, one of my absolute favorite artists. I first learned about him when I was in college. I used to hang out at the library before class (mostly reading their copy of 101 Stories of the Great Ballets), and one morning I came in and they had posters of his and a few other artists’ works on display. I saw The Accolade and fell head over heels. There’s still a giant poster of it hanging in my old room at my parents house.

I’m not sure what Talia’s backstory will be yet (as you can see, it took forever just to come up with her NAME!), but I might have her do something with painting or storytelling. Maybe I’ll rewatch Rapunzel or skim through A Kiss in Time to get a few ideas… 😉

Have a great weekend!JenniferSig

Off With Her Hair!

Formerly Rebecca Rubin | American Girl

Yup… I did the thing!

Formerly Rebecca

Blonde!

As much as I like Rebecca’s wig, I have a lot of brunettes in my collection and I really wanted to have a doll with a true blonde wig. Right now Lea is the closest I have to blonde (her official description calls her hair “light brown,” but it’s always looked more like a dark blonde to me). Luckily, Beautifully Custom recently restocked their wigs and that gave me the final push to re-wig Rebecca.

The shaded blonde wig I chose came about a week ago, but in the span of a week, I somehow managed to misplace it. We’re talking it-disappeared-into-thin-air lost. I turned my tiny condo upside down trying to find it yesterday, but it’s nowhere to be seen. SO I placed another order and when the new wig comes, Ms. Formerly Rebecca will get her real hair. For now, she’ll have to make due with Arista’s old wig.

I have a love-hate relationship with this wig. When I bought #53 to turn her into my mini me (now Arista), I almost didn’t go through with it because she looked so cute with her original wig. However… that wig refused to fluff and stay fluffed, and instead fell flat against her face. So, it quickly got the axe and I moved ahead with my customizing plans.

Two years later, not much has changed…

Flat Wig

I want fluffy, not flat!

Here’s the natural state of this wig – flat and unflattering. It photographs a lot better than in looks in person. Still, it does show me that this girl will look pretty cute when all is said and done! Which is good, because there’s always that moment when you’re removing the doll’s wig and you think “Am I making a mistake? What if she doesn’t look as cute? What am I doing?!” 😉

Formerly Rebecca

Rebecca on the day she arrived

And if I ever want to see her in her original state, there’s always my mom’s Rebecca. 🙂

Have a great Sunday! My husband and I are finally going to see Beauty and the Beast tonight! I’m so excited!!JenniferSig

A Last from the Past

Rebecca Rubin (for now), 1914 | American Girl

A couple of weeks ago, I made what will likely be my final doll purchase directly from American Girl. Like so many others, I’m not happy with many of the choices American Girl has been making to their dolls, and I wanted to make sure I got one of what has become the “old style” dolls before their newer shipments arrive. Needless to say, this wasn’t quite as happy of a purchase as my others have been.

Rebecca Rubin

Hello!

Rebecca arrived last Friday and she everything an American Girl doll ought to be. She has neck strings that are tied tight, but allow her head to move side to side without effort; the vinyl of her head and limbs are hard; and her body is nice and plump. I did get her with the intention of turning her into another custom, but her wig is so nice, I’m losing a bit of my resolve haha. Either way, she’ll probably become a new character – I have a cousin named Rebecca and it’s a little weird having a doll with the same name as a family member (for me, anyway). And like the rest of my dolls, she’ll be modern with the ability to time travel.

I really don’t want Rebecca to be the last doll I buy directly from American Girl, but I want all of the dolls in my collection to have the same bodies. It’ll be interesting to see what the custom TrulyMe’s are like. If they do end up being like the regular TrulyMe’s – permapanties and all – but with slightly more customization options and a higher price tag, I definitely won’t bother. I hope we learn more about that option soon.
JenniferSig

Photo Story: Cécile Goes to Disneyland

PHOTO STORY

Cécile Goes to Disneyland

Cécile: I can’t believe I’m actually here! At DISNEYLAND! It truly is more wonderful than I could’ve imagined! …Mmm, such wonderful smells wafting from the shops on Main Street! I wonder if they sell pralines…

Cécile at Disneyland

Arista: Hey, Cécile! We’re here! Sorry we’re late – the line to park was INSANE!

Lea: Yeah, it might get pretty crowded today…

Noelle: Oh, but don’t worry! We’ll make sure you get to see everything! Arista and I are FastPass PROS!

Sienna: Uh… Cécile? What are you staring at?

Cécile: *awestruck* Everything. This place is heavenly…

Cécile and Friends

Sienna: *laughs* Well, just wait – it gets even more amazing! You haven’t seen the rides yet!

Lea: Speaking of which, what would you like to go on first, Cécile?

Cécile: Hmm… something worthy of being a first ride! Something that no one else has ever gone on as their very first ride! What’s the fastest, scariest thing here?

Noelle and Friends

Noelle: Whoa – are you sure? Umm, well… there’s Space Mountain! It’s a roller coaster that’s completely in the dark! It makes you feel like you’re zooming across the galaxy, and it drops and whips around to this really cool music!

Lea: Matterhorn’s pretty fast, too! And there’s a super-realistic abominable snowman that swipes at your bobsled!

Cécile: *gulp!* Oh, t-those both sound very first ride-worthy! With outer space and the abominable bobsleds… and the dark and stuff… Uh… I-I can’t decide…

Arista: How about both? We can walk past Matterhorn on the way to Space Mountain and see which line is shorter, then while we’re at Space, we can grab some FastPasses in case we want to ride again later, but not have to wait in a crazy-long line!

Arista and Friends

Cécile: Super*quietly* Umm… N-Not that I’m nervous or anything, but just how scary are these rides?

Arista: *laughs* Don’t worry, six-year-olds go on them all the time. I don’t think anything at Disneyland could really qualify as scary.

Lea: What about Monstro the whale on the Pinocchio ride? The way it jumps out at you from behind that rock? That thing TERRIFIED me as a kid!

Arista: Oh, me too!

Cécile and Friends

Cécile: I-I was thinking – we shouId probably eat breakfast first, non? I mean, better to not have our stomachs growling louder than the snowman!

Noelle: Sounds like a plan! Ooh! I could go for some beignets! Café Orleans has those Mickey-shaped ones! What do you guys think?

Cécile: Oui! A few tasty beignets are sure to calm my nerves! I-I mean – to the café!

Cécile and Friends

It’s been awhile since I made a photo story! Five dolls is definitely a record… and it made for some interesting issues. When one doll falls, she takes everyone else with her! I also realized I don’t have as many amusement-park-worthy outfits as I thought. I’ll have to change that! 😉JenniferSig

Choppy Waters Ahead

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like what’s been happening with American Girl lately. The ship has a new captain and I feel like she’s more concerned with charging full steam ahead than taking notice of the conditions around her.

After my last post, I saw the perma-pantied #55 that’s been making the rounds on social media – lumpy butt, squishable vinyl, and all (just check out American Girl’s visitor posts on Facebook if you haven’t seen it yet). Had the new permanent underwear been the same build as the current doll butts (with the horizontal seam), I probably would’ve come around in time, but the new doll butt looks like it can easily lose shape – and in the case of the unfortunate #55, can instead look like she’s packin’ a poop.

It was the squishable vinyl that  really got me worried. It’s one thing to avoid the dolls that will be getting perma-pantied – Maryellen, Melody, Julie, the TrulyMe’s and future contemporary dolls – but it’s another to avoid something universal like vinyl type.

Sienna

Sienna stares off into the horizon, wondering which direction AG’s senses went.

Tonight I ordered what may end up being my final doll purchase directly from American Girl. I recently got a gift card that I was hoping to hold onto for awhile and put towards either furniture or clothing for my dolls, but instead I decided to get one more Josefina mold doll – just in case the vinyl change is permanent or worse changes surface in the future. I got Rebecca, with plans to turn her into another custom (that is, as long as I end up with a version that has the good vinyl – otherwise, she’s getting sent back).

It’s sad, though. I never thought I’d be ordering a doll just to make sure I didn’t end up with a bad one later. For me, the sense of urgency comes from watching my first favorite 18″ doll line, Magic Attic Club, go downhill in a hurry after Marie Osmond bought it. The Allison doll I bought after she’d altered the line was definitely not the same quality of the original Magic Attic Club line. I don’t want to end up in a similar situation with American Girl.

I’m hoping at some point American Girl will come to their senses and prioritize maintaining the quality their customers have come to expect, but judging from their responses on social media – including blaming a customer for a doll that AG’s quality control team missed – I feel like it’s going to be awhile.JenniferSig

Cécile Rey – 1853

Cécile Rey, 1853 | American Girl

EEEEEE! I am SO EXCITED to make this post! 😄

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, after selling Isabelle, I’d finally saved up enough money to buy Cécile! She arrived a few days ago and is absolutely GORGEOUS!!

Cécile Rey

Bonjour, Cécile!

Her arrival has been a little more exciting than I expected!

She was scheduled to arrive right in the middle of a huge rainstorm! The day of, I kept checking the tracking non-stop. At one point, it changed from “out for delivery” to “pending,” with no other explanation – which definitely had me a little worried. She finally came at night, right before the rain was set to pick up again.

Cécile Rey

New in box, but something’s a little off…

The first thing I noticed about Cécile was just how absolutely beautiful she was in person! I was thankful mine had such a pretty face – straight eyes, good paint color, perfect hair line… but then I saw it – her eyebrows weren’t aligned. It was a bit more pronounced in person, but you can kind of see it in the photo above. It’s easier to tell if you imagine a straight line connecting the inner edges of her eyebrows to the inner edges of her eyes. The right eyebrow lines up with the right eye, but her left eyebrow is slightly above and to the left.

Most people probably wouldn’t mind – and I really tried not to mind, too – but 80% of what I do for a living involves graphic design, and a lot of that involves making sure things are aligned correctly, so her uneven eyebrows really stood out for me.

I had two choices – I could either send her in for a new head and take care of her eyebrows and her dry wig (and maybe get her limbs tightened) at the same time, or I could try to fix her eyebrows myself with paint. The rest of her face was so pretty, I didn’t want to chance it, so I decided to try repainting her eyebrows myself.

Cécile Rey

“Best patient ever, right?”

OMG. I always, ALWAYS forget how nerve-wracking painting a doll is for me. I removed the left end of her left eyebrow (internally screaming the whole time), repainted it lower, then added some additional hairs to the right side of her left brow. Then I added some hairs to the right brow to balance the two out. The result isn’t perfect, but I’m happy with it.

Cécile Rey

Cécile’s New ‘Do

I redid Cécile’s hair, too. I like her original hairstyle, but I really like how she looks with both sides pulled back. I also wanted something a little more modern since I plan to make Cécile modern like the rest of my dolls.

And since it’s almost Valentine’s Day, I decided she needed something for the occasion. The Merry Magenta Dress looks amazing on Cécile – and it’s currently on sale for $14!

Cécile Rey

Ready for Valentine’s Day!

Cécile really is such a beautiful doll – I don’t know what American Girl was thinking retiring her! Definitely not one of their best decisions IMHO.

Then again, American Girl hasn’t really been making very good decisions in general lately. I haven’t liked how they’ve handled a lot of things – from Gabby’s thrown-together release to “Pantygate.” American Girl isn’t starting off 2017 very well. I hope they’ll remember that good customer service is an important part of business, too. Their callous responses and even banning of some of their most ardent fans is really disheartening. It’s made a lot of people – myself included – decide to be a little more thoughtful with spending money at American Girl.JenniferSig

Blogger Recognition Award!

Blogger Recognition Award

Meg of Canadian Doll Notebook (https://canadiandollnotebook.com/) nominated MINI MAD for a Blogger Recognition Award! Thank you, Meg!! 🙂

Award recipients have to follow these six rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  2. Write a post to show your award
  3. Give a brief story of how your blog started
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers
  5. Select 15 other bloggers for this award
  6. Comment on each blog to let them know you nominated them and link to the post you created.

Here are my answers!

How MINI MAD Started

Saige - Girl of the Year 2013

photo: American Girl (archived)

Backstory time! I’ve always loved collecting small, cute things – from Barbies and their accessories, to Japanese toys like Nendoroids and Re-Ment sets, to 18″ dolls. When I was younger, I had a couple outfits from American Girl, but it wasn’t until late 2013 when I really started to get into the American Girl collecting fandom. My mom had mentioned wanting a Saige doll for Christmas, and while my husband and I were in the process of getting one for her, I started reading American Girl collector forums and collectors’ blogs. Before I knew it, I was hooked and debating which doll to get as my very first American Girl doll! Not long after that, I started MINI MAD as a place to house photos and stories of my collections and any projects relating to them. I originally planned to have a variety of things, but over time I realized I was having more fun showcasing American Girl-related items than anything else, so it became an American Girl-centric blog.

Advice to New Bloggers

1. Think “fun first” – don’t worry about how often you post or whether or not you think the content will get you a lot of views/likes/etc. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking “I need to post something or I’ll lose followers!” or “Everyone else is commenting about this – I should, too!” Post when you have something you want to blog about. Don’t let it start to feel like work – blogs should be about sharing how you like to have fun with your collection!

2. Try to use natural light as much as possible when taking photos for your blog. This isn’t always easy – for myself, I work during peak-photo-taking-light hours, so I usually have to wait until the weekend to take photos for my blog. It’s worth it, though! Natural light often produces nicer photos than using flash.

Your Turn!

I’m going to bend the rules slightly here and invite anyone who would like to participate!

Thanks again for nominating me, Meg! 🙂JenniferSig