Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Wishing you all the best for 2009...

(um, yeah, really Hallmark-y...sry.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Project KenDoll - beginning stages

Gattina Dumpling is my best friend. As a Christmas/birthday present, I decided to make a RL-doll of her SL-avatar of her RL-self. I invite you to keep reading...

1. I had to conceptualize a toy legbrace and put it on some doll...It was also during this time that Gattina was hosting the "Poor, Stupid, and Out of Control" (anti) fashion show at her Hotel Dare. One of the advertisement posters featured a Barbie doll in a cheerleader outfit on a mattress. Sexy and guilt-infused at the same time. I decided to put the Barbie franchise through the wringer...

A dryer-vent hoop-clamp was the right thickness and width for the legbrace sides. Nickel-plated curtain rings would fit as round legbrace components. The legbrace pins would be from computer motherboard supports - I had a ton of them, they were the right size and threaded.

2. Acquisition - From the vast library of Barbie dolls, there are surprisingly few with black hair. My choices were "Hair Teresa" and "Top Model Teresa". I opted for "Top Model" because she had better accessories.

Looking at the accessories further, I started thinking about reverse-engineering them. The included fashion magazine could be replaced by a Juxtapoz issue (required reading for hipster artists)...I could slap a Hotel Dare logo on the hairbrush. Takashi's foot-fetish made him a shoe-in for the box top. The coat hanger would need to be replaced.

I mean, what kind of accessory is a coat hanger?!? on.

Project KenDoll - middle stages

3. I remember Gattina owning a work of art in her initial Hotel Dare - it was a photo of a chainsaw. This particular chainsaw had the Chanel logo on the blade. It resonated with me at some level, so I decided to reproduce this for the doll. I mean, a chainsaw-wielding could I not?

To realize this vision, I had to, once again, rummage through the kids' toy chest. I found a broken, discarded die-cast metal
motorcycle. The wheels were missing and, more-importantly, the engine was the correct scale for Barbie-saw.

The engine was a glossy, plastic black. For Gattina, it *HAD* to be Maybelline Pink Topaz...because that's the only shade of fingernail polish in my house. Three coats later and the saw had a fantastic metallic candy finish.

The chainsaw still needed a handle. This proved to be the toughest part of the project. No plastic fiddly bits would work - I started going through my library of metal parts. I finally found the ideal handle in the form of a binder-clip handle. Bend to shape with locking-pliers and dremelled to size. It was thick enough for Barbie's lithe grip and held itself onto the saw.

The blade was fashioned out of a wood tongue-depressor, primed and sprayed with two coats of glossy black krylon. Photobucket for the Chanel logo - printed on glossy photo paper and cut to size.

Time for more printouts. The Gattina logo, Juxtapoz magazine covers, Hotel Dare hairbrush logo, and the Takashi shoebox top.

4. Debadging. The silkscreen was removed by scouring with a Magic Eraser. I probably could've left the hairbrush logo on, but there was something morbidly satisfying about erasing Barbie... The coat-hanger logo would prove to be more difficult to remove (because of its small size), so I just opted to paint over it. More black Krylon and the accessories are ready for logoing and mounting.

6. Hair, hair, everywhere - Another one of Gattina's trademark qualities. She's modelled her hairstyle after Amy Winehouse (beautifully tragic in her own right). If this was going to work, Barbie was going to need SERIOUS extensions. The toy-chest had no brunette hairs, and buying another doll just for hair seemed excessive. Did you know the arts and crafts store has hair for dolls in a variety of colors? Hey, neither did I...

The pre-packaged hair was just one long "thread" of strands curled and spiraled into a bag. It needed conditioning. Various posts recommend hot water and fabric softener. I had one, but not the other, so I resorted to my own personal stash of spiking glue and a hair loop apparatus (scrap board with three drywall screws).
Tie one end of hair to a screw, loop hair around the screws, then apply spiking glue and allow to dry. Bind together with needle and thread, unscrew to remove and affix to existing hair. Fluff and style.

7. The Certificate of Authenticity - I included one because it's like Collector's bait. Those late-night infomercial products all haz ''d be criminal not to put one in. More research on boilerplate COA text for works of art and some Microsoft Word templates - my certificate was done.

8. The backdrop - *THIS* separates the men from the boys (or the weirdos from the truly insane, you judge). The stock Barbie backdrop was a runway scene...and we're going Anti-Barbie. So, what I did was cruise up to the Hotel Dare lounge (top floor) and get a very hip screenshot of Charlotte Bartlett's work-of-genius. The vertical lines in this shot meshed great with the doll and accessories layout. I blew this up and printed it on oversized paper (9" x 12.75"). Trim on the paper-trimmer and...

..OK. You can't just glue the backdrop on, there's all that...doll-stuff in the way. SO, you have to remove ALL of the mounting equipment (the plastic bits and wireties), glue it on, then drill and cut all the holes for the mounting equipment, and re-install everything (doll and all) back to stock. Just like a brake-job, re-installation is the reverse of removal.

...almost done...

Project KenDoll - final stages

9. I needed something for the back of the box. I had imagined a photo of Gattina in a subdued tone with a short description. Her Flickr page had the perfect image. Jaja Lubitsch is not only an extremely talented artiste, but also a very awesome individual. I requested permission to reproduce her work and she replied immediately. A little more font-and-brush work in Photoshop and it was ready to print and stick. Thank you, again, Jaja.

10. The clear-box logos seemed to be epoxied onto the plastic - they weren't coming off through chemical (acetone) or physical (magic eraser) means...My only option was to
tastefully cover them with more labels. The upper-right "Teresa" was replaced with "A Takashi Designs Original" (lol) and the name was covered with "Gattina" in a hand-cut Old-English font - "Dearest" font, for the curious.

11. Gattina also enjoys My Little Pony. At first, I wanted to make a MLP "window" on the box-front, but it started getting too crowded with all the existing eye-candy. So, I opted to make a card. For the curious, the window was going to be a color image laserprinted onto a transparency.

Me, being me, I had to Photoshop the pony also. Photobucket is just about the best source for images of My Little Pony and cocaine. Throw them together with some freehand (gasp!) and "Blowpony" was born. (Card content is between me and Gattina)

12. The remaining work on the legbrace required a drillpress. Because of the curved hoops, a drillpress was ideal for a steady, consistent result. Hoops must also be supported during the drilling process. I used various pieces of scrap wood and pipe. Clamp down your work, use a high rotational speed, and wear eye protection.

The metals used were soft enough to mold around the doll's leg, and stiff enough to retain their
shape and withstand a beating. Fine-tuning the fit with the adjustable standoff screws finished the look.

Srsly, it's the best bling out there.

Well, that's it. I had reached the end of my timeline. It was time to package it all up and send it to Gatt. In retrospect, it does seem like a lot, but it was *SO* much fun to do - it didn't seem like work at all. And I wanted to do so much more!

Those ideas will have to
wait for another project for another day.

Thank you.

She is a doll.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I think I'm pretty fortunate to be able to live vicariously through my kids during Christmas. Just seeing their reactions as they tear into gift after gift...THAT to me is worth more than...well...anything that I could think to put on my Xmas list...

..even bewbies.

Merry Christmas, everybody.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A musical suggestion

...because does not have this track yet...

"2 Drink Minimum" by Chris Cornell. Find it on his "Scream" CD.

Best played loud, in the dark, alone.


Thursday, December 18, 2008


Suffice it to say, Chris Cornell is a very talented individual. You can enjoy the title-track from his solo CD in my playlist. it. I did.

I've also added two Katy Perry songs, just because her voice-range is a guilty pleasure of mine.

I'll be traveling this weekend, like many others. I am arming myself with an all-wheel drive minivan, plenty of movies and music for the kids, my sketchbook, and the laptop with a tethered connection. The weather in the northeast is supposed to turn ungodly - it looks like I may be escaping just in time.

Scream indeed.

Be careful, because I love you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A reality-check on excess

Hi again.

I was scanning the local headlines and one particular one grabbed my attention (rather fiercely). It is the situation Bernard Maidoff finds himself in.

As background, Bernie Maidoff is the center of an immense financial pyramid scheme. For a few decades (!), he's defrauded several corporations and individuals out of a total of close to (or exceeding) fifty-billion dollars.

I won't focus on the psychology behind why Mr. Maidoff felt he needed to constantly swindle people. Rather, I'll divert to a more-creative exercise...

We're at the height of the holiday shopping season, and our thoughts focus on purchasing and receiving. Fifty-billion dollars is a lot of money. It's an order of magnitude that I cannot comprehend. So I'm asking for your help:

Could you make forty-nine-point-seven-billion dollars disappear like Mr. Maidoff did?

(at this time, it is said he still retains three-hundred million)

1. You have to spend it on things you are willing to undertake - no purchasing islands, corporations, governments, individuals' souls, or other unless you are ready to run them.
2. Limit one of each item
3. No Gambling - this is a cop-out answer :P Besides, I doubt you'll find a bookie willing to cover an eleven-figure wager.
4. Let's limit all the purchases to yourself

Responses will be met with extreme gratitude free-of-charge

Friday, December 12, 2008

In memoriam: Ida Lee

At 6:20 AM, my grandmother passed away.

To give you an idea of how strong she was, it was only after six rounds of chemotherapy and an exploratory neurosurgery before the cancer-monster decided to let her go.

She always made the whole family laugh, she was a brilliant cook (oh my God, her dumplings and soup!), and she knew how to raise a family (I am living proof).

Humor...and food...and love.

Xie-xie, amah. See you later.