Customizing Blythe Dolls is an immensely rewarding pursuit. Not many hobbies bring as much fulfillment and happiness. It’s not a task to be undertaken lightly, however. So learn as much as you can about the process before you start customizing Blythe dolls.
Here are the four key areas for customizing:
Face and complexion: Makeup can be applied to Neo Blythe Dolls and although the regular Blythe faces have a glossy finish, this can be altered by sanding and repainting afresh, or by applying a matte finish spray. A more ambitious approach is to completely change the look and shape of the face, especially by altering the nose and lips. This is achieved through sculpting and carving with some basic tools including Dremel grinders, and polymer clay.
Eyes: Blythe’s most distinctive features are her colorful and reflective eyes. Eye chips in a wide range of colors and textures can be either bought or made. With a bit of technique, these eye chips can be inserted in Blythe’s head so that her mood and gaze can change according to her setting.
Clothes and accessories: As well as dresses and tops, there is an extensive market for Blythe shoes, sneakers, bags, hats, scarves and jewelry. There are vintage, fantasy and futuristic clothes. And if you can’t find the designs you had in mind, why not make them? You can sew or knit your own outfits from a variety of patterns online.
Hair: High level customizers may remove the top of the doll’s head and reroot hair through the scalp. You can also buy quality fiber wigs in different colors and styles: from chunky bangs and long straight locks, to short bobs and curly cuts.
If you want to customize a doll and you feel you can do it without any major problems after learning all about Blythes, then make a plan in steps and stages before you get started. If you get stuck at any point, YouTube has dozens of helpful tutorials to guide you. The secret is to have your vision for the doll completely clear both in your mind and on paper. Particularly if you are attempting the tricky job of resculpting the faceplate, take the time to really crystallize the look with drawings so there’s much less margin for error.
Building Blythe Dolls is not for the faint hearted. Attention to detail is everything. It’s a fiddly and nimble process and at times painstaking, but it is immensely enjoyable and satisfying.
Blythe Dolls represent a whole world of learning and creativity, and that’s the fun of it. Each doll is an exciting new challenge for customizers to hone their skills, realize their ideas and develop their art.
One of the best things about Blythe Dolls is that you also belong to an international community of like-minded creators, where you can obtain all kinds of ideas and inspiration. Blythe Dolls are a social experience as much as they represent the dedicated work of focused artisans.
The great thing about crafting the dolls and building a beautiful and meaningful collection is that it’s hugely therapeutic. Endless hours spent in your studio seems like no time at all when you’re absorbed and, in your zone, working with attention and focus.
What truly makes people truly happy in life is the feeling you get from making continual progress in meaningful work with regular rewards. Blythe Dolls are perfect for this. There’s a real sense of pride and achievement involved, and that feeling is a lasting one.
The next thing to think about are the various scenes in which you want to photograph your Blythe Doll. Your friends as well as the wider world, are going to see your creations through your fashion shoots, so you’re going to want some really terrific shots. Ask yourself, what different outfits do you want your Blythe Doll to be wearing? Where do you want her to go? And maybe the key question is: what story do you want her to tell? Give her some character.
These days, the quality of phone cameras is quite high, and you can achieve a lot with a standard phone. But it’s also worth experimenting and getting familiar with a more advanced camera as well as learning about the aspects and principles of good photography. Of course, that’s a whole other art form in itself, but the payoffs are there in terms of the professional looks you can achieve.
American artist, Margaret Keane’s, ’Big Eyes’ paintings from the 1960s were the inspiration for the original 1970s Blythe Dolls, which were envisioned by the toy designer Allison Katzman. Keane’s haunting pictures of forlorn children with oversized eyes became quite popular for a time and the distinct waif-like look of Blythe Dolls comes naturally from that aesthetic.
Production of the prototypical Blythe Dolls started in 1972, but the Kenner toy company swiftly discontinued the line as the dolls’ quirky looks had the opposite effect on children as intended: they scared them. The cuteness that radiates from Blythe Dolls and the deep gaze of their all-encompassing eyes, is for many small children just a bit too eerie.
The field of robotics has a similar phenomenon called the Uncanny Valley. This is an emotional response that’s caused when a human-like creation, particularly the face of that creation, is a bit too lifelike and gives the observer a feeling of uneasiness and an urge to withdraw. It seems for some children of a certain age, the likeability of a Blythe Doll definitely occupies the trough section of this uncanny valley, while adults are invariably drawn to them.
The reality of Blythe Dolls is that they can be creepy, goth, punk as much as they can be hipster or elegant or indeed any style you want them to be. They are a blank canvas for you to work your magic.
But overwhelmingly, the attributes of Blythe Dolls are both charm and cuteness, with just the right infant proportions of high forehead to small chin, exceptionally big doe eyes, tiny mouth and nose, all in contrast to their relatively shortened limbs. Nature has put a premium on cuteness, which brings out feelings of affection and caregiving in us. And that is what Blythe Doll fanatics all have in common: they care about their dolls and put in so much effort and attention to detail that few hobbyists can match their level of dedication.
A photographer and producer from New York called Gina Garan sparked the revival of Blythe Dolls that we see today. Her book, This is Blythe, published in 2000, was the first of its kind to showcase Blythe Dolls and led to a wave of interest, the spread of which was worldwide. This resurgence represents a remarkable story for the dolls after 30 years in the cultural wilderness with little more than a niche following including celebrities.
A year after the release of the book, Japanese toy maker, Takara, began producing the new generations of Blythe Dolls, which are sold today increasingly large numbers. Meanwhile the much sought after American-made 1970s dolls now fetch enormous prices on the market.
Following the acclaim of Gina Garan’s innovative book, the next work, Blythe Style, in 2005, featured her dolls in over a hundred different outfits designed by the world’s top fashion houses, including Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Issey Miyaki and Prada.
Of course, today there are dozens of Blythe Doll books and websites and through multiple social media channels, everyone can showcase their dolls to the world, further accelerating their familiarity and mainstream adoption.
Blythe Dolls are not just a purely artistic hobby. They are also a practical one financially. The number of Blythe Doll enthusiasts is growing all the time, while the supply of the dolls is limited as customization takes time and effort. This means we’re only going to see values continue to rise.
Not every enthusiast is a natural customizer, of course, and if you don’t want to go down the customizing route because you don’t have time or because it’s a daunting task, then it’s worth considering buying a Custom Blythe Doll OOAK or “one-of-a-kind” Blythe Doll. OOAKs are high quality, professionally and independently customized dolls that come in an almost infinite range of looks. OOAKs represent excellent value for the future as they are all unique and exceptionally well-styled.
There are certain values inherent in creating and collecting Blythe Dolls. If you plan to customize, Blythe Dolls give you that freedom, and if you plan to collect, they give you the satisfaction that comes with that. Blythe Dolls are about a love for style, for fashion and, naturally, their cute appeal. But also, they are a form of escapism. They represent freedom in many ways, and they are about idealizing life. That’s why so many are crazy about Blythe Dolls. That’s why we are crazy about them, and that’s why you will gain the same enjoyment from them too! Shop our Blythe products now!
Table of Contents CraftPhotographyArt & SciencePopularityInvestment Why are Blythe Dolls so popular? From the legacy of Barbie and Cabbage Patch Kids comes a new era of dolls, Blythe dolls. Like Barbie, the most popular Neo Blythe dolls are fashion dolls that stand 12 inches or 30 cm tall with an oversized head and eyes that...
Table of Contents CraftPhotographyArt & SciencePopularityInvestment One of our most prestigious styles of Blythe Doll is the Neo Blythes. These are not standard factory dolls, but a line of products released to mark the extraordinary revival of the Blythe Doll genre in 2001. History The very first Blythe Dolls were designed in the United States...