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Interview with cocochoo and Giveaway!

Written on April 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm by Michelle
Filed under: Featured, Giveaway with tags: ,

I was contacted by Coco (a.k.a. cocochoo) back in March to do this interview and I was so excited! I always love getting to ‘meet’ people online that I hadn’t gotten a chance to interact with and Coco was very fun to interview! Some of her answers have been slightly edited for clarity at her request (English is not her first language), but I’ve done my best to maintain the integrity of her answers.

Hi Coco! What can you tell us about yourself and how you discovered Blythe?
I am a portrait photographer in Hong Kong; vintage collage and bisque doll enthusiast, a self-taught doll sculptor… and a Blythe addict!

I studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London during 2005-2007. I thought I would be a graphic designer but now I am running a sole studio and do photography (wedding / pet portraits mainly) for a living. Besides that, I am a “zoophilist”, I do free projects for animals, for stray and abandoned animals only.

I love all kinds of dolls since I was a little girl, but I “found” and fell in love with ball jointed doll since 2005 and although I knew about “Blythe” all that time, I was not too much into these big eyes dolly, and I almost can say that I began to pay attention on them while I was seeking outfits for my bjd and I always found amazing clothes in Blythe size only, I was encouraged by my friends to get my first Blythe, and yes I really did, I totally felt in love with “custom Blythe” after I have hours searching on Flickr.

I decided to have a try on making a special one for myself. By then it was November 2010 and I got into this amazing world.  I’d love to collect other Blythe customizers’ work and I also felt in love with stock Blythes too, I also got my first Kenner last month. I have to admit that even though I was not in love with Blythe at first sight, I totally love them more and more day by day now. they have power.

How did you get started with customizing Blythe dolls?
I am a doll sculptor before I falling in love with Blythes. At first, some custom Blythe are very pricey for me especially the one I love, that’s why I have decided I have to make one for myself that I really love. I practice and practice and tried to find a way of customizing a “coco style” one. my works are still not prefect nowadays but I think I at least did them better and better.

What has been your most memorable customized doll so far? What made it memorable for you?
My #22 one, named “Kir”, she is the first one that I thought I finally found a unique way to have “my style” – with two tiny visible teeth girl. Although I will still create new type customs, but this one means so much to me because she is loved by many people.

What have you learned about yourself since you started customizing Blythe?
I think I am very lucky. I wouldn’t stop doing this as long as there is one person in this world loves my work. I am not a successful photographer and I am not successful in anything else, but I love myself better when I have finished a new girl and she receives some compliments. I have never imagine that one day I would had such a special “part time job”; becoming a Blythe customizer is the most enjoyable part of my life.

Has having a background in doll sculpting helped you (or even hindered you) in Blythe customizing?
Basically they don’t have directly interactions, but I do think they are in a similar or same area, just like I learned graphic design but I also do photography, most of the time there is interpretation.

What kind of routine do you have when you start customizing a doll?
I have to put some dolls in front of me (or the dolls’ portraits), they are either a sculpture or a bjd. Most of time it is another custom of mine, but I always not able to carve and paint a certain look. The “models” are just part of the inspiration, they usually come out to be different faces.

How does it make you feel when you see other people photographing your work?
Well I feel very happy about it, I enjoy seeing my custom girls go to everywhere of the world and have totally different lives. I am very thankful to whom offered a new home for them.

There’s a lot of customizers out there, if you had to tell someone why they should buy your work, what would you say?
Bring them home if they make you happy and if you love to see them everyday. I know that dolls might not have real lives but we give them life. This is why I’d love to collect other customizers’ works.

What has been the most challenging thing for you so far when it comes to customizing Blythe?
The most challenging and “dangerous” thing is that there is no take two. 😛 When I sculpt a doll, I can redo any part but this cannot happened when customizing a Blythe.

I know that there are some people who collect both your custom Blythe work and your ball-jointed dolls. What can you tell us about your bjd work?
Yes I am very happy that they love all kinds of my work. I decided to create a bjd after I found and joined a local forum, which was about self-made ball jointed dolls. I met many great artists there and many of them are college students. I was encouraged by then.

What can we expect from you in the future with your customizing work? Will you be branching out to other dolls, like Middie?
I’d like to create some new more style customs, yes I love trying all kinds of new stuffs, like Middie (tried only one before), Dal and Pullip.

Thank you so much for doing this interview with me, Coco! What kind of advice do you have for someone who’s new to Blythe?
Thank you! I am very happy and thankful to be interviewed. it’s indeed a wonderful world, but never too late to be find Blythe. :)

You can find out more about cocochoo at her website (cocochoo.net) and on Flickr! Also check out her Flickr group for photos of her bjd and custom dolls.

Faceplates Giveaway!

Coco has graciously decided to give away a set of RBL faceplates that she has customized! It is the front and back faceplates only (does not include the eye mechanism or hair).

You can get up to eight (8) entries for this giveaway draw and you can enter until Saturday April 28th at 11:59pm PDT. The draw will be held on Sunday April 29th 2012 and the winner will be announced on BlytheLife.com. Remember to use a valid email address for all comments. If you win, your email will be forwarded to Coco so she can get in contact with you about the faceplates!

Please only use one email address per person, those using multiple email addresses for more entries will be disqualified.

Mandatory Entry: Comment below about this interview and include any additional questions you have for Coco!

Bonus Entry #1: Tweet about the contest! Please retweet the following once per day from your public Twitter account! (If you look below, there is a box for you to include your Twitter username, if you do, I can easily verify your bonus entry!) Each tweet is 1 entry into the giveaway for a maximum of 2 entries into the giveaway. Please comment below to tell me that you’ve been tweeting (1 comment per tweet!)

Check out the @blythelifecom interview with cocochoo & also the giveaway! http://bit.ly/IUnN87

Bonus Entry #2: Blog about the contest! Be sure to include some details about the contest and include links to BlytheLife.com, this interview/giveaway page and to Coco’s Flickr photostream or website! For 1 blog entry, this is worth 5 entries into the giveaway! You must comment below with the URL to your blog post.

Interview with China-Lilly!

Written on March 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm by Michelle
Filed under: Featured with tags: ,

The 2012 March Talent Showcase’s first feature is Samantha! She’s also known as China-Lilly in the Blythe community and she customizes Blythe. She’s been customizing for just over a year now and I love her work. It’s always so much fun to see how the a doll can be transformed into a work of art. Her talents as a make-up artist cross over into the beauty of her magic on dolls.


Samantha and her daughter, Indy.

Hi Sam! What can you tell us about yourself?
I’m Samantha. I live in Sydney, Australia. I am currently a stay-at-home mum to Indiana, 2.5 and Harrison, 1; but before that I was a graphic designer and makeup artist.

How did you discover Blythe and what attracted you to her?
I discovered Blythe through Gina Garan’s photography, which was printed on various t-shirts and bags. I just loved Blythe’s quirky look. I am a huge fan of model/actress Devon Aoki and I see a similarity between her and Blythe.

I collected quite a few of these t-shirts and bags but strangely enough never purchased a Blythe doll until the end of 2010. I do remember picking one up in a store and thinking I was too old for dolls!


Custom #9, the lovely Nightingale.

Why did you decide to start customizing Blythe dolls?
I discovered custom Blythe’s very soon after I purchased my first girl and immediately knew I wanted one. I didn’t have the courage to do it myself at that stage, so I sent my Nicky Lad to Maria of Chuthings. About 3 months later, I finally worked up the nerve to do one myself. My first custom was Kitten in February. Then I made Pastel in March. But my third custom wasn’t until July. Somehow or other that number jumped to 30 by the end of 2011!


Custom #13, Narcissa Rose (reroot by Blythe Laboratory).

30 customs is a lot in such a short period of time! Which one has been your most memorable custom so far?
It’s hard for me to pick just one … one might be my favourite artistically, and others for different reasons. Pastel is one because she introduced me to Belinda/dolls4emily, who was the one to encourage me to take commissions; Narcissa Rose because her look is so striking, Vincent because she was my attempt to give back to the Blythe community, who has helped me through a tough time in life.

What kind of lessons did your first custom, Kitten, teach you?
The main thing would be just do it! Taking that first step is the hardest and the rest is easy. If you had told me 18 months ago that I would be a doll customiser, I probably would have laughed at you!


Custom #32, Magnolia. Gotta love the handpainted chips!

What have you learned about yourself throughout the course of the last year with customizing Blythe?
2011 was a tough year for me. I was diagnosed with post-natal depression and found many days hard to get though. Blythe really encouraged me to be creative again and that helped me so much. I guess I needed that artistic outlet, having always been a creative person, but I no longer had that through work.

I am quite a shy person and it’s hard for me to make new friends. I know so much of the community is online, but through Blythe I met Nancy/tinycutethings, who has children at around the same age and lives close by.

And because I felt that the Blythe community gave me so much, I decided at Christmas time that I would sell Vincent for $5 so that she might help someone else through a hard time. Virginie/Tibiloo ended winning the opportunity to buy her and she gifted Vincent to Gaia. I could not have asked for a better outcome!


Samantha’s make-up artistry.

Has being a graphic designer and make-up artist helped or hindered you in any way from being artistic with Blythe?
I would not say it has hindered me, but it has been a big influence on the type of girls I make. The faceups that I do are very similar to ones I would do on models. I love colour, so I don’t generally make girls with subtle colouring.

I also use some of my makeup brushes to do my faceups – I was a bit of a brush junkie, so I have lots and lots and lots of brushes! I didn’t like airbrushing foundation on models (it just seemed to me too much to carry and I had problems enough fitting everything in my kit), but I think I would like to try it for Blythe’s someday as customising is not really work I need to do on location!


Samantha’s make-up artistry.

Which would you say is your favourite mold type to customize and why?
RBL. I find them to be the most versatile. Even for my own collection, I am drawn to RBLs first but then, maybe that’s because I’ve done more RBLs than any other mold. I am learning to love FBL customs. I’ve only done one EBL so far, so looking forward to doing more of those.

Your custom work is beautiful. At 30-plus dolls now, where do you draw inspiration for the dolls?
It can be anywhere! A colour, a book, a movie, a fabric … I do watch a lot of Sci-fi, which is why I have dollies named Helo (Battlestar Galactica) and Ronon (Stargate Atlantis) LOL!

A lot of the more recent dolls have been commissions and their Mummies often have a general idea of what they want for them. And that’s actually a good thing for me, because sometimes it pushes me in directions that I would not normally gravitate – like #31 Domino.


A small selection of handpainted eyechips by China-Lilly.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started to customize Blythes?
I think a lot of it is trial and error. Without having gone through that learning curve, you can’t develop your own style. I do wish I knew how to carve better then – I did find a lack of step by step on how exactly it’s done, but over time, I’ve found my own techniques and preferences.

I do really wish I could sew though!


Domino, custom #31.

You said that you’re a stay-at-home mum. How do you balance your customizing/work time with family time?
It is a fine balance to strike. Indy started “customising” a Basaak with me for a time and it was fun to share that with her. She has 2 clones of her own and has named them “Dish” and “Ugly”.

But as Harry gets older and more active, I find I have to wait until they are asleep or in daycare. They now attend daycare 2 days a week, which is when I get most of my customising done. However, it’s likely that I will start part-time work on those 2 days sometime this year, so that will definitely impact on dolly time.


Indy with her dolls, Ugly and Dish.

Thank you so much for doing this interview with me, Samantha! What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out in the Blythe world?
I’ve found the Blythe community to be generally welcoming and helpful, so if there are any questions, just ask someone! Most people are really eager to share their knowledge.

You can find Sam (a.k.a. China-Lilly) on Flickr and at her blog (Indy & the Ninja). You can also find her handpainted eyechips for Blythe at her Etsy shop.

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