The Blythe Doll was first manufactured in the 1970s by the Kenner Toy Corporation but later that same year, the dolls were removed from stores because of complaints from parents and others that the 11-inch doll's oversized heads and very large eyes frightened children. The eyes could change colours by pulling a string. Years later, the Blythe doll found a following in Japan where it continues to be enjoyed by doll collectors today. Some collectors of these and other fashion-type dolls are interested in customising their dolls into "one-of-a-kind" artist dolls. This allows the collector to personalise the doll and, in some cases, enhance the value of the doll.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Rubber band
- Plastic bag, large enough to fit over the doll's body
- Masking tape
- Cotton balls
- Cotton swabs
- Soft, clean cotton cloths or towels
- Liquid soap
- Water-based acrylic paint, variety of colours
- Paint extender (keeps the paint that has been mixed moist and usable longer)
- Artist's brushes, various sizes
- Rubber stamps
- Pins, earrings
- Soft make-up sponge
- Acrylic gloss varnish
- Fabric dye
Customise the look of your Blythe doll by changing her make-up, either by adding to it or removing it all together and beginning again.
Pull back the doll's hair and secure it with a rubber band to prevent it from coming in contact with the chemicals or paint. Slip a plastic bag over the body, leaving just the head exposed. Secure the plastic bag with masking tape at the doll's neck to prevent any damage to the body.
Remove the paint on the doll's face with acetone on a cotton ball or soft, clean cotton cloth or towel. Use cotton swabs to remove any paint in tight spaces such as around the eyes. Avoid getting acetone in the doll's eyes as it will damage the colour and mechanism that allows the eyes to change colour. Repeat the process until all paint is removed.
Wash the face with soap and water and a soft cotton towel to remove any remaining acetone. Allow the face to completely dry before attempting to paint.
Determine how your Blythe Doll should look. A "Gothic" look will require a wash created from white paint and water on the skin before any make-up should be applied. The eyes should be dark and smoky.Mix red with a little black to achieve the dark red for the lips. No blush is required on a goth doll. Rubber stamps dipped in acrylic paint can make a tattoo. Use real pins and earrings to create "piercings."
Create a high fashion look by layering colours of eye shadow to enhance the already large Blythe Doll eyes. Eyebrows should be delicately feathered in by using a small, artist's brush with a fine tip.
Mix a wash of water, red and white paint until the colour "blush" is achieved. Apply the blush with a soft make-up sponge or an airbrush. Paint the lips pink, red or whatever colour is desired. Add a touch of gloss varnish to the lips for realism.
Style the hairstyle to match the customised look. Dye the vinyl hair with dye used for fabric. Follow the manufacturer's directions for mixing but only place the hair in the dye mix. Keep the dye away from the skin of the doll. Rinse carefully. Allow to dry completely before cutting but do not use a hair dryer or other source of heat on the hair as it will melt.
Change the hair completely by replacing it with a doll wig. Cut and remove all of the hair from the doll head with scissors and pliers. Measure the circumference of the dolls head, just above the ears, to determine the size of the replacement wig. .
Apply a thin coat of craft glue on the head with a small artist's brush.Slide the wig onto the doll head, starting at the front of the head and working towards the back. Check to see that the wig is on straight. Allow the glue to dry completely before styling or trimming the wig
Choose an outfit and accessories that complement your customised vision of your Blythe Doll.
Tips and warnings
- Original Kenner Blythe Dolls from the 1970s are selling for £1,300 and more, as not many were made or sold when first presented for sale. This is something to consider before you begin customising your doll. Even if you are a very experienced doll artist, customising a very expensive, hard-to-find Blythe Doll may reduce the value of it significantly.
- If you are going to paint the face, purchase artist-grade acrylic paint that is water-based. Oil-based paints will deteriorate the vinyl.
- Work in a well-lit, well-ventilated area when working with chemicals like acetone, and wear safety glasses and protective gloves as well.
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