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Previous entries in the Occupy the Dollhouse series can be found right here.

The dolls and their allies continue their fight for equal justice for all by staging a die-in at American Girl Place.

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A few American Girl dolls currently on sale decide to raise their hands in solidarity with the protesters.

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This protest was one of many that have been taking place all over the United States as a protest against police killing unarmed African Americans. The largest one to date took place at the Mall of America (a.k.a. the biggest shopping mall in the United States) on the last Saturday before Christmas.


As the Sagittarius Dolly blog inches closer to its fifth anniversary on January 6, 2015, I thought I’d provide a look back at some of my creations that I’ve previously featured in this blog.

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Originally profiled on January 3, 2011.

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Even though today is Thanksgiving Day, there has been a trend among the big box retailers to open their doors on the actual holiday itself. This is definitely a change from the old days when most businesses were closed and even the few that were opened on the holiday (such as supermarkets) would close their doors by 4 p.m. so their employees can spend the holiday with their families.

Now the big box retailers are not only forcing their employees to either spend less time at home or skip Thanksgiving entirely but they are also trying to entice their customers to give up more and more of their holiday time by having hot doorbuster deals on certain consumer items.

You can spend less time with your loved ones or eat Thanksgiving dinner unusually early so you can put on your coats and step out in the usual cold November weather while fighting other like-minded shoppers to grab some consumer items.

Or you can do the alternative. You can stay in your warm home surfing the Internet and go holiday shopping in my online Etsy shop. You don’t have to worry getting into the car and the online shopping experience is so quick and convenient that you can just order something quickly then go back to preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. Here’s a sample item that I’m currently selling online now that you can buy while you’re wearing your pajamas or casual clothes.

Souseiseki/Suiseiseki Tote Bag
Souseiseki/Suiseiseki Tote BagThis is a customized one-of-a-kind tote bag that I painted by hand. To learn more about how I created this bag, you can read the post I originally wrote on February 14, 2013. If you’re looking for unique holiday gifts, you can order right here.

 

Ramadan
Today is the last day that I’ll be posting any of Google’s World Cup Doodles in this blog like this one that was put up before the U.S. vs. Belgium match.

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The U.S. team made it to the Second Stage Round of 16 only to get defeated by Belgium. It was literally a repeat of the American team’s defeat four years ago where it was finally defeated during overtime when Belgium scored two goals. The U.S. team scored one goal during overtime but Belgium won 2-1. Damn, it does sound nearly identical to what I wrote four years ago. The big difference is that I was watching that match from my own home and not during an Ocean City vacation.

I remember writing about how I had lost interest in the World Cup and the only silver lining is that I would no longer have to hear those horrible vuvuzelas that people brought inside the stadiums in South Africa. I remember when my then-husband read that entry online after I had posted it and he laughed and suddenly blurted out “That’s what YOU think!” When I wrote that other entry, I forgot that my husband was so soccer-mad that he would watch games when the U.S. teams weren’t playing (while frequently chiding me by saying “You have no appreciation for the beautiful game!”). Sure enough, I heard more of those vuvuzelas as my husband watched the 2010 World Cup to the bitter end. I had thought about writing another entry where I said that I was wrong when I said that I would be spared those vuvuzelas but I never got around to it because I was too lazy. (Yeah, I can be lame at times. LOL!) In any case, until the day I die, I will always associate the first World Cup ever played on the African continent with this.

This year there are no vuvuzelas (it’s merciful that Brazilian culture don’t have anything as obnoxious sounding as those South African vuvuzelas) and I also no longer have a soccer-mad husband. So this year, when I’m writing that I’ve lost interest in the World Cup and I won’t be watching it anymore, I really mean it. I wish the best to whoever wins the World Cup but I don’t care who wins now that the U.S. is no longer in the tournament.

Ironically I was doing something novel during the U.S. team’s World Cup swan song. There’s a person on Flickr known as Wolfheinrich who was taking a series of photos of Volks Dollfie Dream dolls next to a TV screen showing World Cup matches, such as this one.

Dollfie Dream Erika Sendo

I decided to do something similar. Since the American team was playing, I decided to use American Girl dolls (get it?).

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It was fitting that Julie Albright and Ivy Ling were chosen for that photo since, having read the Julie books, these two characters are sports-oriented. (Julie plays basketball while Ivy is into gymnastics.) At least I had the chance to take a photo like this while the U.S. team was still in the tournament.

I may be finished with watching the World Cup for this year but I’ll always have these Google Doodles to remember the U.S. team’s time in the tournament by.

U.S. vs. Ghana (June 16, 2014)

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U.S. vs. Portugal (June 22, 2014)
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U.S. vs. Germany (June 26, 2014)

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U.S. vs. Belgium (July 1, 2014)

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Since today is Memorial Day, I’d thought I’d devote an entry to something that was made right here in the United States of America.

For many decades (starting in the late 1970’s but it intensified with the election of Ronald Reagan and has been going non-stop ever since) more and more jobs have been shipped overseas. The vast majority of them have been manufacturing jobs and they have been shipped mostly to China (although some jobs have also gone to Mexico, Bangladesh, and Vietnam). Ever wonder what it’s like to have something that’s made in the United States of America? Well I’m going to provide just one example.

As most people know, most dolls and doll clothes are made in China these days. I happened to have a doll outfit that was not only made in the U.S. but it was also handmade as well. Here’s some background.

Back in May, 2005, when I was still married, my husband was going to a conference near Valley Forge in Pennsylvania. I normally didn’t tag along with him on his business trips but he decided to be really nice to me by letting me go with him on that trip. In addition some members of his family were visiting his sister (who, at the time, was living in an apartment in a small town located an hour’s drive north of Philadelphia) so he figured that it would be more convenient for me to tag along on his business trip in Valley Forge for a couple of days then drive further north to his sister’s town. I was basically on my own during the day while he was in meetings but we ate together every night during our stay there. After spending a couple of days near Valley Forge, we went further north to visit his sister and her son (who was making final preparations for his high school prom at that time) while also visiting with my husband’s mother and step-father (who had flown from Phoenix and were staying with my sister-in-law). We had originally planned on going to Valley Forge together for a few hours before driving to his sister’s place but it rained that day so we had to skip it and just drive to her home straight from the hotel.

During the Valley Forge leg of the trip, when my husband was in one of his conference meetings, I decided to drive to Lancaster County. I ate at this wonderful restaurant in Smoketown called Good and Plenty, which featured Amish and Mennonite cuisine. After finishing my meal, I visited the restaurant’s gift shop where I found this handmade doll outfit that was made by a local Amish woman and it was made to fit an 18-inch Cabbage Patch doll. At the time I was looking for clothes for my Volks Dollfie Dream, which can be so hard to find that I had to resort to sewing my own clothes. Even though my Dollfie Dream is 22-inches tall, the outfit looked baggy enough that I thought it might work so I bought it.

When I got home from Pennsylvania, I tried it on my Volks Dollfie Dream and took a few photos.

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Even though, at 22 inches, she’s taller than a Cabbage Patch doll, her body is much slimmer so the outfit hangs a bit loose on her. She still looks cute in it. I took a couple of outdoor shots and those photos reminded me of those Holly Hobbie dolls that were very popular back in the 1970’s.

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I took one side shot but it made my Dollfie Dream look like she’s six months pregnant from that angle.

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After I took those photos in 2005, I basically packed that outfit away. In late 2011 I got myself my first and, so far, my only American Girl doll. Recently, while I was doing some spring cleaning, I came across that Amish outfit that I originally purchased for my Volks Dollfie dream. The outfit was made for an 18-inch Cabbage Patch doll while my American Girl doll stood at the same height yet she has a thick torso that’s much thicker than my Dollfie Dream and most of my other larger dolls. I decided to try the outfit on that doll so see how well it fits.

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I found that the fit is much better on the American Girl doll than on my Dollfie Dream. She also looks incredibly cute in it.

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The only downside is that her head looks like it’s swimming in her bonnet. I think it’s because the Cabbage Patch dolls tend to have over-sized heads. I think it could be easily rectified with stuffing some cotton or rags in the bonnet to make it fit better on her head. Otherwise, this outfit is a perfect fit.

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Yes, I know that the outfit may look dull and plain compared to the historical outfits available from American Girl (such as this one) but you have to realize that this outfit reflects Amish culture in that Amish isn’t just a religion, it’s a total lifestyle. The Amish consider themselves to be a plain people so they eschew bright colors or fancy patterns in their clothing. Despite these limitations, I still find that the doll looks incredibly cute in it. All I know is that this outfit will be exclusively worn by this doll since she’s the only doll who can fit properly into the body. I would recommend this outfit for any American Girl doll owner who wants something a little bit different from what is sold through American Girl. (After doing a quick Internet search, I found a doll store in Lancaster County that sells Amish clothes for 18-inch dolls.)

Passover

I recently created this new piece just in time for the recent Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire and I printed out on special jigsaw puzzle cardstock which I then sold. It was one of the few sales I made that day. (I made a total of $25, which was a bit of a letdown financially even if I enjoyed working at the event.) This piece is based on a local legend known as the Goatman. I first heard of this legend years ago after I moved to my current hometown and I tend to hear more about it around Halloween.

I sold that puzzle early in the day and I regretted not making more Goatman puzzles I’m also thinking about branching my Goatman out into other forms of art that I can sell at future street festivals.

Goatman at Night

Here is how I created my Goatman. I used one of my ball-jointed dolls as a posing model while I had reference photos of goats on hand. I made a rough sketch in ink and watercolor pencil. I photocopied it, transferred it to black paper using white graphite paper, and colored it in using ink, wax crayon, and watercolor pencil.

When I was preparing for last Saturday’s Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire, I wanted to have something at my vendor table where I would draw attention to myself. I had an idea to try something and I finally decided to do it.

The below picture is a special dance pad controller that one would hook up to a console system (such as Wii, PlayStation, XBox, etc.). Using this special controller enables the user to play video games using his/her lower body instead of hands and fingers (like with the handheld controller). Some games like Dance Dance Revolution (also known as DDR) are generally better with using the dance pad controller instead of the handheld controller. Using this controller also helps the user get exercise and burn calories better than just using hands/fingers.

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The only problem with the soft pad controllers is that they tend to wear out so they become unusable. Usually the user is directed to throw the dance pad in the trash. The only problem with that approach is that it ends up on a landfill with all the environmental problems that comes with it.

There is an alternative to using the soft dance pad controller. One could purchase a dance metal pad. Unlike the soft controller, the metal controller tends to hold up better and can literally last years. The downsides are that 1) unlike the soft pads, the metal pads can’t be easily folded up so it could cause a problem with people who have limited space in their homes and 2) prices for a metal pad start at $200 while soft pads start at $15 and they don’t go above $100.

So I’ve been using the soft dance pad controller for years while having fun with playing video games and getting some exercise in the process. There were times when I would throw away the latest broken dance pad and I would think that there had to be a way that these could be recycled for other uses. A couple of years ago I attended Otakon 2012 where I took a photo of this cosplayer who managed to fashion this really cool costume from an old DDR pad.

Cosplayer at Otakon 2012

I began to think about the above photograph when my current DDR pad started to act up and stopped responding to my footsteps. In addition I had just signed up to be a vendor for the Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire and I needed to make some new crafts to sell at my table. I had a eureka moment one night when I was at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts and I found this McCall’s Pattern MP322.

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So I decided on an experiment where I took some scissors and cut my broken DDR dance pad apart. I found that, with a decent pair of scissors, it was easy to cut apart.

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The McCall’s had patterns for a comfy chair for one doll and a loveseat for two dolls. I got ambitious and decided to work on the larger loveseat. During the construction phase I discovered that the DDR pad didn’t provide enough fabric for the loveseat. I decided to compensate by going back to Jo-Ann’s and buy quilt square fabric as well as fabric scraps from the remnant table.

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Due to the use of some leftover vinyl fabric from the remnant table, the loveseat seemed plain in spots. I compensated by using fancy duct tape to provide some design and color.

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For assembling the loveseat, I felt that sewing either by hand or machine would be impractical because I wasn’t sure if the DDR control pad’s slick vinyl would be too thick for a sewing needle. Instead I went to my old standby: E-6000 glue.

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I used the E-6000 glue to glue the edges of the wrong sides of the fabric together then used some duct tape to clamp the edges together. Since I worked on the wrong side of the fabric, I didn’t have to worry about removing the duct tape once the glue dried.

Here is the result of my hard work.

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The original pattern was designed for the popular 18 inch dolls of today such as American Girl, Springfield, Our Generation, etc. The photo below shows two 18 inch dolls—an American Girl doll and a vintage 1970’s Beautiful Crissy doll.

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I found that the loveseat could fit a variety of other dolls that are slightly smaller than 18 inches. In other words, I think this loveseat is best suited for dolls from 14 inches-18 inches. Two Wilde Imagination dolls (Ellowyne Wilde and Lizette Dionne) try out the couch for themselves in the photo below.

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This couch also fits Mini Super Dollfie-sized ball jointed dolls, which these two Bobobie elves prove below.

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Yesterday I was visiting a friend at his home in Takoma Park, Maryland. (We are currently working on a project together that could potentially earn us some extra money on the side.) It was a very warm and sunny day. After the visit I decided to drive closer to the downtown area. I realized that it’s been a few years since I last visited the area, which didn’t make sense to me because I live relatively close to Takoma Park. Oh well, at least I got there yesterday while basking in the warm sunshine and I didn’t regret it.

What’s really wild is that just five days earlier on St. Patrick’s Day, the entire Baltimore-Washington, DC area was buried under six inches of snow.

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By yesterday much of the St. Patrick’s snow had melted, as you can see in the photos I took of the downtown area.

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Despite the very warm and sunny day, there are now new snowstorm forecasts for the area for next week. Nooooooooo!!!! I’m so tired of snow that it’s not even funny! :-(

 

During the 2008 presidential campaign an artist named Shepherd Fairey created a poster that showed a digitized red, white, and blue image of then-Senator Barack Obama (who was running for president as a Democrat) with the word “HOPE” underneath. That poster immediately became iconic and some people even credit that poster for inspiring people the to vote for the first African-American ever elected as President of the United States. It was such a simple yet inspiring image that could’ve elevated Shepherd Fairey to the rank of that rare artist who achieved a level of fame and success for creating such a memorable image.

But there was one problem. It later came out that Shepherd Fairey used a photo that was taken by a freelance Associated Press photographer named Mannie Garcia when he created his Hope poster and he did it without getting permission from either Garcia or the AP. That revelation led AP to sue Fairey for copyright infringement, which cast a pall over Fairey’s artistic reputation.

I’ve had art teachers and professional artists advise me that if I am going to use a photo to create my own drawing, painting, digital art, etc., I should base it on my own photograph that I shoot myself with my own camera. That AP-Fairey lawsuit over the Hope poster was definitely a real-life version of that lesson.

Despite that incident, there are still would-be artists who try to cut corners by creating works of art based on other people’s photos without permission of the original copyright holder.

Before I started this blog I spent the bulk of 2009 recuperating from two surgeries in late 2008 (one was a hip replacement and the other happened six weeks later when the same surgeon had to remove a blood blister that developed when my body had a reaction to a blood thinner called Arixstra that my surgeon prescribed to me after the hip replacement). During my long recuperation I learned about a scandal that erupted in both the art world and among the Asian ball-jointed doll fandom about an artist named Mijn Schatje.

Mijn Schatje was a French-Dutch artist living in Paris whose digital art received massive acclaim in the art world. Her work was sold in art galleries throughout Europe for thousands of dollars. She was interviewed in major art magazines like Juxtapoz. She did the art for an ad campaign by Sony’s European subsidiary. Basically things were riding high for her. She was getting more and more noticed by the art world for her work. She was making a living with her art. She had gained admiring fans for her work. It was no surprise that her art had gained her public attention because if you saw her art, you’d notice that there was a doll-like quality among the females depicted in her work.

There’s a reason for the doll-like art. Some people in the Asian ball-jointed doll fandom recognized some of Mijn Schatje’s art from somewhere else and began their own investigation. It turned out that there was a very close match between much of Schatje’s vector digital art and photographs of dolls that were taken by either individual doll owners or doll companies. The doll fandom accused Mijn Schatje of downloading those photos off the Internet, importing them into Adobe Illustrator, tracing over the photographs, then passing them off to art galleries as her own original art. A website was erected that documented the similarities and many doll fans began to contact galleries, websites, art publications, doll companies, and the original photographers about that discovery.

The main website that originally documented the plagiarism of Mijn Schatje isn’t online anymore but there are other sites that still have the evidence posted at the following links:

Mijn Schatje – Art Thief

Bootleg Hell: The curious case of Mijn Schatje

mijn schatje & blastmilk comparisons

Mijn Schatje’s Plagiarized Works (Part 1)

Since that scandal broke not much has been publicly mentioned about Mijn Schatje or her art. Her official site hasn’t been updated since 2009 or 2010. Her Facebook page is more up-to-date even though it looks like she only posts there once every several weeks or so. One of her Facebook posts had this message that was dated April 26, 2013.

I’m moving out to Bali, indonesia, in less than two weeks, I’ll be working in a different field for some time (french pastry/bakery!), but stay here if you dare.

It looks like her art career hasn’t quite recovered from the plagiarism accusations. Maybe she’ll have better luck in her new career working in a French pastry/bakery in Bali. At least she won’t have to worry about people hurling plagiarism charges at her for baking croissants or eclairs.

Despite the bad outcome of Mijn Schatje’s art career, there are still people who can’t resist using someone else’s photographs without permission to create their own work of art to sell to the general public. Yesterday I accidentally found a more recent example when I decided to post my same photos that I used in yesterday’s Irish Lass in the Snow entry on the Den of Angels forum (which is one of the biggest Asian ball-jointed doll fan forums on the Internet). I hadn’t been on that forum in at least two years mainly because I was dealing with both recovering from my hip revision surgery in late 2011 and my husband’s sudden walkout on me just three months later without ever telling me that he was unhappy in our marriage. (In other words, I had more important things to worry about than dolls.)

I decided to peruse the other sections of the forum until I found a thread on yet another artist who decided to plagiarized someone else’s doll photos in an attempt to make a profit. The thread started on March 5 and, as of this writing, it has gone up to 37 pages.

Apparently an artist named Matthew Christopher Nelson had started a funding campaign on Kickstarter.com in an attempt to finance the publishing of an art book full of his work. Like Mijn Schatje, someone in the Asian ball-jointed doll fandom stumbled across Nelson’s Kickstarter page and recognized some of the art from photos that other doll fans had been posting on the Den of Angels. Like Mijn Schatje, other doll fans began their own investigation and found too many of Nelson’s pictures that bear a close resemblance to those doll fan photos. The doll fans began to organize online and, as of this writing, they have been instrumental in shutting down the Kickstarter campaign, Nolan’s deviantART account (which had featured the controversial art), and Nolan’s public Facebook page (which also featured the disputed art).

And there’s one more reason why Matthew Christopher Nelson is in the same boat that Mijn Schatje was back in 2009. Some doll fans have been posting online evidence that Nelson essentially took other people’s photos without permission from the original photographers, imported them into Adobe Photoshop, put them through a few Photoshop filters, then passed off the altered images as his own original art. Here are some links about the comparisons that feature lots of damning evidence.

Art Thief EXPOSED

Art Theft

“Artist” & “Fantasy Author” Matthew Christopher Nelson

It’s too early to see whether Nelson’s art career will tank just as badly as Mijn Schatje’s did. But this latest incident only drives home this lesson: If you are going to use photographs as a source material for your art, use only the photos that you took yourself from your camera. That way if someone accuses you of plagiarism or art theft, you’ll at least own the evidence that refutes that accusation.

In other words, don’t even THINK about using someone else’s photo for your art. It only takes one discovery to ruin your reputation. Of course some people will ignore the previous sentence and plagiarize anyway. That’s why sites like You Thought We Wouldn’t Notice exist and are constantly updated with new content. :-(

St. Patrick's Day

Since I’m pretty much snowed-in today, I decided to take a couple of quick photos outside. A Volks Dollfie Dream models a St. Patrick’s Day-themed outfit that I created myself called “Irish Lass.”

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For details on how I made it, read the post that I wrote about making the Irish Lass outfit four years ago. It has been a couple of years since I last photographed this doll. I really fell into a bad funk when my marriage fell apart and I was dealing with a husband who refused to communicate with me other than to demand that I adhere to a separation schedule that existed only in my head or else he would file a lawsuit against me.

It was kind of fun photographing a doll dressed in green in the snow on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s not like I can go anywhere since I heard that much of the Baltimore-Washington, DC area had pretty much shut down due to the snow. At least I have enough ingredients to fix myself a nice Irish-themed dinner tonight.

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