Sunday, January 29, 2006

LeeLee's Semi-Official Portrait

She's still LeeLee, but these pictures really make her look like her proper name Amelie Soo!

I changed her lashes-- it was very hard, sticky work. And the tacky glue dried faster than I could move, so I couldn't pull them out a fraction in order to match the other side. So they're shorter than the other side, and they go down instead of curling up. But it'll do for now because it's better than the mangled mess she came with!

LOOK how fabulous the color of her new eyes are! Agate is really a VERY gorgeous color! A BIG improvement over her default light blue eyes.

I rearranged the doll's apartment so it doesn't go all over the floor in the living room. I feel better about it even though it's now scattered throughout the living room in several places: the main floor, the top of my dresser, the top of my side table, and LeeLee's bed is underneath that table. If the "ceiling" was higher, I'd put her netting up, but it's not so it'll have to wait. But now I feel like I can move around again....and Hana won't have to have those near-death experiences where I almost fall on top of her because I stepped on somthing sharp and then tripped over her little orange sofa.

Happily Yours,

Friday, January 27, 2006

New Eyes for LeeLee!

Oh, she looks SO much better! These are Masterpiece Agate eyes (polymer). They are lovely! I can't wait to take some natural daylight photos...


Dueling Teens...

Ok, both Hana and LeeLee have tried on (very mild) punky personas. Hana really took to hers, but LeeLee got resentful and somewhat sullen. She did NOT like the way I dressed her last night. Her left leg kept kicking straight out (due to tight stringing, but it was ironic, nevertheless!) and her right arm would spring to the front. I just couldn't get her to hold very still. I had to take very fast photos for fear that she'd suddenly kick that leg back out and lose her grip on the back of the red velvet chair and and topple flat onto her face. This is the first time I've experienced that "kickiness" that some BJD owners have complained about. To tell the truth, it was kinda funny! Poor LeeLee just didn't look very happy all evening, but I did manage to capture a couple of striking images of her. I wonder what she was thinking?
Now on the other hand, Hana Soah absolutely LOVED her wild red fur wig and it obviously loved her! Hana just looks so artistic and free! She really looked like a young high school student busy thinking big thoughts... And this look really suits her musical background. Did you know that Hana plays the violin, the guitar, brass instruments, and the accordion? There are musical instruments scattered all over her apartment, much to the dismay of the orderly Amelie Soo (LeeLee). I really am going to have to figure out how to get that second floor built onto Hana's 5 feet by 6 feet apartment so LeeLee can have her own little quiet attic space for writing and dreaming... It's just so much fun seeing the unique personalities of each doll come to life --or violently rebel-- with every single change of wig and outfit. It really fascinates me how versatile Hana Soah is because of her ability to adopt many different looks, but how poor LeeLee seems stuck in one place. I need to start sewing and trying more things on her because she actually can't fit most of Hana's things, both size-wise AND style-wise. The poor thing is quietly begging me to get her some more of her very own stuff.
Well, the evening ended with LeeLee back into her comfort zone. It was amazing to see the tension just melt right out of her face as she drifted off to dreams of green grass beneath her bare toes and lush fields of flowers to pick and toss into the air.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Thinking about Hana Soah...

I've been thinking about Hana Soah lately, about what makes her different from her sis LeeLee. Sometimes I look at LeeLee and I think I'm looking at Hana only with different colored eyes and "makeup" on. She was basically made from the same mold after all (with a few alterations). Other times I clearly see them as two very individual spirits. When I ordered Hana, I had absolultely no inkling what I got myself into. I saw an incredibly beautiful doll and just knew I had to have her. And I was so shocked when she arrived. She was absolutely exquisite! She also scared me to death.

Did you know that BJDs are made of resin and are therefore quite heavy? That was one unexpected feature. So there I'd be, carefully holding her and peering into her face when suddenly, she'd flop forward at the speed of light and narrowly miss splitting my forehead wide open. I'd gasp, my knees would momentarily turn to jelly and suddenly she just seem to weigh 25 lbs and I'm terrified of dropping her. Her fingers just seem so delicately formed and I was afraid of breaking them. I was afraid of marring her face, afraid of accidentially ripping out those long eyelashes, afraid that I'd end up too afraid to touch her, nevermind play with her. And then one day her hand just fell off.

I saw something spin to the ground and leaned over to take a look. IT WAS A HAND! I looked at Hana--HER HAND WAS MISSING! I immediately burst into hysterical tears and started flapping my hands around and my head rapidly filled with blood. I posted four hysterical pleas for help--one on the Den of Angels, one on Zone of Zen, one on the now defunct BJD forum, and one on the Rainman Yahoo Group. Then I rapidly flipped through all four sites over and over again waiting for someone to reply. It seems like a lot of time passed, but in reality, according to the log data, only 11 minutes passed before the first person told me what to do. But by then, I had already fixed Hana's hand. I ran around my apartment looking for something to reach up into Hana's arm to snag and bring the elastic out. I grabbed tweezers, crochet hooks, and a hemostat. I pulled the elastic out--and if you know anything about ball jointed doll stringing, you'd know that ya gotta pull really, really hard!--held it with my teeth, and quickly rehooked her hand, all while whimpering like the kid on Sixth Sense. My heart was racing, my breathing labored, and I...NEVER...WANTED...TO...TOUCH...HANA...AGAIN. So, I quickly undressed her and put her back into her packing box and shoved her up on a high shelf. And just cried. I just keep leaking for hours afterwards. I leaked while thanking people for responding to my SOS. I leaked while emailing a couple of friends about my disasterous evening with my new doll. I leaked while settling in bed to go to sleep. If you asked me, I couldn't have told you what upset me more-- her hand falling off (of a brand new $690 doll!) or my sudden revulsion for her.

After being talked off the balcony a few days later, I took Hana back out of her box and carefully examined her. I was overwhelmed with the sudden knowledge that I knew absolutely NOTHING about BJDs. I didn't know how they were constructed, I didn't know how they were strung, I didn't know how to change the eyes, I didn't know diddly. I thought about how irresponsible it was for me to buy something I knew nothing about. I didn't know how to take care of a BJD. I knew that maintenance was inevitable, but I didn't do my homework before buying Hana. And I knew that if I were to keep Hana, I'd have to get past the BJD learning curve. And so I started collecting information and started putting together a first aid kit: chopsticks, shoelaces, superglue, epoxy, Mr. Clean Eraser, extra sets of hands... Even though I still loved Hana, I was having some serious buyer's regrets. The joy of ownership has been smothered, and I no longer knew what to think of her.

During a photoshoot in City Park a couple of weeks later, Hana's hand fell off again. This time, I tsk-tsked, brought her over to the blanket, opened up my first aid kit and got to work. I wasn't frightened as I was before, but I was annoyed. I brought her back to the tree to continue with the photographs, and the hand fell off again. This time I discovered that the s-hook screw was stripped from her hand. There was nothing to be done and I was completely repulsed by her and yelled at my friend that I was going to sell her because I didn't WANT her anymore. She tried to reason with me, tried to get me to just chill, but I was so determined to adverstise her for sale on the boards as soon as I got to my computer. By the time we packed it up and Margaret dropped me off at home, I was too exhausted to go through the dial-up motions. So I sat Hana on a bench and took a picture of her without her hand. Her wig had slipped forward a bit, which had the unsettling effect of making her look very sad and upset. It was almost as if she was real and I had hurt her feelings...

Anyway, Hana is still with me today, five months and 22 days later, and she the most beloved of all my dolls. I am glad I kept her for she has brought me much joy.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Introduction to Miss Amelie "LeeLee" Soo...

The Arrival...

Ok... Now it hasn't been but 5 months since I got my very first very expensive Asian Ball-jointed doll (Elfdoll Soah by Rainman), and now, unbelievably, there is another one in the house! Over on the left, please meet the beautiful Amelie Soo, fondly nicknamed "LeeLee!"

LeeLee is one very versatile girl, changing her look and mood and essence with a mere change of a wig or the tilt of her head... When she first came, she had a "wonky" eye-- her left eye seemed to be upside down, giving her a slight (and kind of endearing) cross-eyed look. She was incredibly shy and quiet, and obviously a little worse for the wear due to the long journey from Korea, with a one-month detour in Iowa City of all places. Her head was twisted to the right in her foam packaging resulting in completely crushed eyelashes on the right side that sadly resembled the fried home-perm look of the 80s. I managed to straighten most of the lashes with gentle tugging and good old fashioned spit, but clearly, they need to be replaced. (It's kind of a long story, but I now have 14 identical sets of eyelashes to choose from!) Otherwise, she was in pristine shape and I was delighted to learn that Rainman has greatly improved on the mobility of his BJDs heads, allowing her to gracefully tilt her head from side to side, something I sorely wish Hana Soah could do...

Amelie and I took several days to get comfortable with each other, mostly because the particular hue of her eyes were a little unsettling after getting so used to and falling in love with the melted chocolate eyes of Hana Soah. I was admittedly a little weirded out by LeeLee but she quickly grew on me after a big photoshoot on her 4th day. It was that peculiar left eye that did it, believe it or not! I actually debated whether or not I should fix it (all it needed was to be completely rotated (I believe it was upside down) and gently nudged to the left) because I feared that she would be TOO pretty if everything was perfect. A slightly exasperated friend in San Francisco set me straight, so on Monday evening, January 23, LeeLee had her eyes fixed...

LeeLee's Personality So Far...
Let's see, she's a very romantic daydreamer with a touch of bohemian spirit. She leans towards simplicity and frivolity at the same time (!!!) and is very expressive with those she loves (like her big sister) and very reserved with those she doesn't know. She has been sadly maligned and misunderstood as being "cold" or standoffish by a few, but really, she's just very shy. LeeLee's hobbies include writing, cooking, eating, reading, and photography. She reads voraciously and likes nothing more than a quiet evening curled up barefoot in the big red chair sipping hot tea and munching on Asian cookies. This evening, Hana presented her sister with a vintage typewriter to replace the one that had gotten lost during the long journey home. Hopefully, we'll be seeing some of LeeLee's essays, journaling, and poetry on this blog very soon! Well, I have to find a chair to go with her desk first...

Thanks for reading my blog! Stay tuned for more to come!