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03 April 2008 @ 02:26 pm
My first real set-up...  
I wanted to do something un-girly for my first real post to this community, so as best to appeal to a wide audience.

Unfortunately, I am not an un-girly person. I'm just about the girliest person I know. Correction: The girliest person I know who also collects action figures. And while I have a Batman: The Animated Series collection that would give any hardcore Dark Knight fan a run for their money, I have not yet, unfortunately, acquired the space to build my dream, holy-grail of a play space: a scale Gotham city.

I have, however, achieved a much more attainable goal: homes for my American Girls, that provide valuable storage and, at the same time, simple but effective backdrops and settings for my dolls.

American Girl dolls, if you haven't heard of them, are 18” dolls, cloth and vinyl, 1/3 scale, roughly, though they are doll-ishly disproportionate. Most importantly, they have sleep eyes, without which my ten-year-old self would never have consented to own them. Go to the website, www.americangirl.com, to see how freakishly far the American Girl empire expands.

AG dolls aren’t my first collection, but they are the longest-running collection I have. I got my first two dolls at 10, which means I’ve been collecting them for almost fifteen years. I collect both historical and modern items, but only the modern stuff made the trek down to CA with me. I don’t know why, but when it comes to toys, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” keeps ringing in my ears. I like to split up the collections I love. Just in case of a house fire or something like that.

However, I ran into a problem. I wanted my dolls with me, but I don’t have a lot of space (this is Los Angeles, after all) and I don’t like having my dolls out in plain view. First of all, I try and keep my apartment livable for the man forced to share it with me. Second of all, they creep a lot of people out. Plus, if someone brings a kid over, I don’t want the child to go crazy and think they can put their sticky mitts on my still Near-Mint PM Whatever the Heck: “Don’t mess with my dolly’s hair, biatch! I work hard to keep it nice!”

Storage was in order.

The solution was found after extensive measurements (I took note of the size of my doll beds, all the larger pieces, and, of course, the dolls themselves) and a trip to Ikea. A large PAX wardrobe would serve as doll storage, with bonus clothes storage at the bottom. It wasn’t enough to have shelves, however, I wanted rooms for my dolls*. Here’s what the first set up looked like:


Wasn’t working. Too boring. Too obviously a “shelf.”

After some decision, I decided that I wanted a sweet but not pink doll room. I found some vintage cowgirl print fabric, and that and the fact that the beds were sort of rustic led to the idea of using a western cowgirl theme.


Walls: A trip to the craft store (Michael’s) got me some nice Western-ish scrap booking paper. I used poster-board as the backdrop so that I could always remove it later and made the wall-paper for the room.

When I put it in, it looked good, but very cave-ish. Besides, who lives in a room without windows?

Windows: Another trip to Michael’s and I found two picture frames on a clearance. Perfect. Since my doll’s were in California, after all, I did an image search on real estate sites for “view” until I found a picture I liked and printed it out to add to the realism.


The finished product looked pretty good, I think. The only problem was that scrapbook paper is 12”x12”. I had to use multiple sheets and couldn’t get the joins right. Also, the mounting tape is not exactly the best option for attachment - it had a hard time holding the poster board to the wardrobe, and in holding the pictures/shelves to the wallpaper. So, I guess you could say the mounting tape really is a fail in general. That horse shelf has since fallen down and been re-taped up several times. I don't want to glue it into place, but I'm running out of options.


The lower shelf required more artistic-ability. I had a large doll cabana that I wanted to feature (it didn’t pack well, anyways) and in keeping with the California theme, I decided to go with a beach scene.

I took more poster-board, carefully measured and cut it to fit. I used packing tape on the back, shiny part of the poster board to put it together. I wanted the joins to all occur at the corners of the shelf, so it would be flexible and fit in nicely. I measured and tested quite a lot.

I then sketched an ocean scene. If you’re wondering, I did it mostly from imagination and memory, but did look at pictures of surf to make sure I was getting the details right.

I then took colored pencils and the few non-dead Prismacolor markers I could find (most had dried out) and colored the picture in.

Here you can see the picture I drew, and get an idea of the scale of picture I had to work in (it’s big)


I’m more or less happy with the results, but I do wish I could have found a suitable marker for the ocean. You can barely see the details in the waves that I worked really hard to get right. A darker blue would be better for the ocean, with the blue pencil I used for the oceans would have been better for the sky. Ehn, live and learn. I still think the final result is pretty decent:


So, there you have it! My first full-scale venture into real collection displays. What do you think?

* You can blame this partially on the AG Fandom, but mostly to my love of tiny houses and tiny things in general.
Current Location: Southern California
Current Music: Huey Lewis and the News - Hip to Be Square
Lori: AG Kittanz_fanatika on April 3rd, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
Wow, those are so cute! I wish I could do stuff like that. My mom's got all the craft skills in the family.

I have that little Spidey doll, too. And Venom. They belong to two of my BJDs.
only1genevieve on April 6th, 2008 06:17 pm (UTC)
See, I don't know if I have craft skills so much as ... "I'm want this done and I will figure it out" skills. If you look at the wall paper too closely, for example, you'll see that I can't cut a straight line to save my life. I pretty much stink at most crafty stuff, drawing's just about the only one I'm OK at. Hence why I tried to do at least one artsy backdrop.

I have Spidey, but no Venom. The toy that looks like Venom is actually a black stuffie dog. Seriously, though, I think I have more fun finding toys for my toys than I do finding stuff for myself!