Wednesday, August 29, 2012

From Mundane to Creepy

I absolutely adore the Monster High dolls. I've been quietly collecting them for a bit now-- a really good price at the local Fred Meyer's helped my initial start of the original four. They were priced to move-- buy one get one free, so obviously there was a lot of faith in the dolls' salability at one little enclave in Washington State. That was sarcasm, incidentally. 

Originally I wanted to collect all of the dolls as they were released, but they quickly proved so popular that I knew there was no way that was going to happen. I hate collecting merely for the sake of having it all-- I used to have that completist mind set but then I realized I was buying shit I didn't want simply because it had a logo slapped on it. I thankfully realized how stupid that mindset really was. Going through my dad's stuff after he died really drove that home-- he was a Trekkie of the worst degree, and there are closets at my mom's house that are literally jammed full of Star Trek stuff. I'm talking floor to ceiling, can't-get-the-door-to-shut-without-force kinda hoarding here. My goal since then has been to downsize. A lot. So now I cherry pick-- I get the dolls I like (when I have money, that is) and I ignore the ones I'm not that into. I'm also avoiding the re-releases of characters I already have in new outfits, though I must confess that I would love a roller girl Operetta (daughter of the Phantom of the Opera!) to ride around in the Boo-Mobile with me. 

That being said, I still have a LOT of dolls, and had no space to display them, as my shelves are currently entertaining my Strawberry Shortcake dolls, My Little Ponies, Little Apple Dolls, a Living Dead doll, etc. You get the gist. What can I say? I like dolls.

I wanted to display the MH dolls, but I wanted to do more than the usual sterile "doll on a stand on the wall" that you usually see. Originally I wanted to be able to create various tableaux-- the dolls interacting, Cleo being a bitch, stuff like that. So I kept my eyes open when I went thrifting and I finally hit paydirt-- I found a really ugly shelf that had a lot of potential! It was a tiny stair case nailed to a crescent moon with a real chain hand hold. For tiny, tiny hands. And it had all been painted white. Even the tiny chain for tiny hands. It had also been sloppily done. I so do not understand the person who owned this before I did.

I decided the first thing it needed was a paint job. Except that's a lie. The first thing I did was take sandpaper to the chain. Who the fuck paints chain?! And it's not like it was to prevent rust or something-- this chain used to be a necklace!

Step one: start the repaint. I forgot to take a pic while it was still all white. I'm sure you can use your imagination. Also use it to imagine that my house is clean. What can I say other than up yours it's my house and I'm an indifferent housekeeper?

Initially my plan was vague; all I knew what that I hated the white. I had thoughts about getting my Dremel out and making a distressed look, but the problem with that idea was that I really, really hated that white paint. A lot. Intensely. Profoundly. Really really. So I went for Halloween colors, vaguely thinking I could distress that after it dried. A happy accident occurred then, as the white paint really showed the brush strokes in the orange paint, so I decided to make it look like old warped planking. In Halloween colors. 

Close up of the moment of epiphany. That is some orange paint right there, yessir.

So away I went, doing multiple layers, getting paint all over myself, and watching the documentary Zombie Girl, about an eleven year old girl who decides to make a feature length zombie movie. Really impressive kid, kinda strange mother. Finally, when I decided the paint was thick enough, I added wood grain detail with a black pigment marker. I used a silver pigment marker to dot in nail heads because I'm anal retentive and detail obsessed. 

Detail shot of the top steps and platform. Notice that it's lovingly drawn and oh so slightly out of focus.  

Bottom steps and platform slightly more in focus. I need to sand that cocking chain more.

The next problem was the moon itself. After I had painted the steps their festive colors, I painted the staircase's framework in black, because black is the opposite of that horrible white. The problem was that I didn't mask my edges before I started painting, which was really, really stupid of me. There were little accidents here and there, and while nail polish got the majority of the pigment off there tended to be a ghost of the color behind, and it both annoyed me and looked like crap. So I decided some form of tendril/miasma looking accent would cover that up as well as add some interesting detail to the moon, which was, again, just blah white. I had kicked around the idea of painting the moon with yellow tint, but yellow's a color that can get away from me, fast, and if it was the wrong hue it would totally ruin the whole piece. So the tendrils won out.

Originally they were going to be metallic gold, but my pigment pen obliged me by sucking like a hoover. I have no metallics other than glass paint and that wasn't going to work here for obvious reasons. I could have (and probably should have) stopped for the night and gone out to see if I could find something at the local arts and crafts store (they mailed me a free 10$ coupon for my birthday) but I was, as usual, impatient, and wanted to press on. I lucked out here with a solution that worked well, but I've ruined art projects in the past by keeping on when I should have stopped. This is a really bad habit of mine, and one I need to curb.

I lucked out this time, however, and changed the tendrils from solid gold (Madam wasn't there, sadly, and if you get this joke then congratulations! You're old.) to black filled with a gold border. Thankfully my black pigment pen isn't the pain in the butt that her metallic siblings are. Why her? Why not?

After that was done I then decided to not just gild the lily but to roll it in rhinestones and glitter. I added detailing using Halloween tinsel die cuts that I've had for ages. I love Halloween; I never pass up a chance to add to the bank of crafting goods! On alternating steps I put either a jack o lantern or a ghost. Then on the moon itself I added bats, and finally, spiders descending from webbing from under the stairs. I even drew little silver webs on the underside of the actual framing. Someone stop me before I detail again!

A top view. The ghosts look weird and blobby because I took this pic almost immediately after I glued them on. It looks cleaner now that the glue has dried. That chain is still bugging me.

Bottom view. You can also see book flags on the floor next to my foot. Pointless info? Only a whole lot!

After that I mounted it on the wall. It came with the same little folding bracket that old picture frames come with-- you know, the ones that flop over and play dead while you're trying to thread them on the nail you drove into the wall. The ones designed to make you cuss and blaspheme at 11 pm.

Finally mounted! I promptly had to redo one of the nails since it was tipped too far over on the viewer's right. An indifferent Draculaura looks on.

And finally, a good chunk of my dolls made it onto the wall! I love taking pictures of my house; the unflattering light of the flash makes sure to present my home in the worst possible light. Thank you, phone flash. This shelf is just above my entertainment stand and next to the shelf that houses the Universal Monster busts that had been my father's. A friend on Face Book thought the ponies were out of place, but not really when you see my collective decor. I am an enticing mix of grue and glitter, and I think mixing horror with the candy colored toys of my childhood makes for a great mix. 

Seven dolls on that shelf! I think that counted as a success! Draculaura still cares not a smidge. From the bottom is Frankie Stein, then Clawdeen, then sitting is my witch, Calpernia Hexe, then Jackson Jekyl, sitting at his feet is Cosette Skellet (she's French!), then Lagoona Blue, and finally Robecca Steam. I freaking LOVE these dolls! I have others in little clusters around my house. I'd like to get some form of shadow box that I could seat them in. That would look neato, I think.

And here's a bonus shot of Cosette Skellet (she's still French!) getting surgery.

She's a kit bash. As a result, hot glue was needed. And she's still French.

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