Nicole and I have a lot in common. We both welcomed our first Blythe in May 2009 and we both love Kenners and customs. Just like her, I understood that I couldn’t really bond with shiny faced stock Takaras, even though I really love to see them on other people’s pictures. And that is what I love with Blythe. She can have so many various styles that there is one for all tastes. Each collector is different and each collection has its own soul. I was very happy to invite Nicole to be featured on Mademoiselle Blythe’s blog because she always do an amazing job at restoring Kenners in need of help, and her collection of dolls is really gorgeous, mixing beautifully Kenners in all their glory with adorable customs.
Photo: Angel~Lily. Nicole at the Junie Moon store in Daikanyama, Tokyo. The paradise of Blythe fans!
Hi Nicole! Can you introduce yourself?
Photo: Angel~Lily. Nicole and Maddox – Vintage brunette Kenner Blythe Doll with chunky bangs and a cute bob cut.
Hi, I’m Nicole… otherwise known as Angel~Lily on Flickr, BK and WPWD… or Noodle to my friends. I was born and raised in beautiful New Zealand so I’m a kiwi at heart, but when I turned 21 we moved to Australia in search of sun, beaches and new adventure! Currently I’m living on the gorgeous Sunshine Coast in Queensland, with my partner Greg and our two fur babies (cats). The lifestyle here is very laid-back and everyday I try to appreciate how lucky I am to live just 200 meters from the golden sand and clear waters of Mooloolaba beach…
Photo: Angel~Lily. Mooloolaba beach, Australia.
This year I turned 30… however somewhere along the way I seem to have forgotten to grow up. Although I’m a qualified makeup artist and personal fitness trainer, I’ve never really found that perfect career path. For a long time that bothered me… but now I’ve realized that life is too short to worry… just have fun while your here 🙂
Photo: Angel~Lily. Maddox – On the road again!
I’m passionate about healthy living and I love being active, being outdoors, or just training in the gym. I love everything about food, cooking it or eating it… and one day I’d love to own a natural food store and organic cafe. I love Christmas, mango cocktails, op shops, old skool hip hop, going hiking, dark chocolate, animals, the sun, vintage stuffs, picnic, holidays… and the familiar smell of honeysuckle flowers. I also love to read and lately I’ve been embarrassingly addicted to werewolf and vampire novels!
How and when did you discover Blythe?
Another of my favorite things to do is travel and last March we visited Japan for the first time… simply because we came across some cheap airfares. It wasn’t somewhere we’d ever talked about going and I never imagined that we would enjoy the trip so much and come home with such amazing memories. One of the highlights of the trip for me was definitely going to the huge Kitano Tenmangu flea market in Kyoto and spending the day searching for vintage treasures. I had so much fun collecting wooden Kokeshi dolls, old homewares and retro toys… not to mention sampling all the yummy market food!
Photo: Angel~Lily. Vintage search in Tokyo.
When we got home to Australia I spent ages looking at vintage Japanese dolls and toys online, and somewhere along the way I stumbled across an image of the big headed beauty we all know and love… Blythe! It is so ridiculously ironic that I would discover Blythe AFTER I went to Japan, not BEFORE. Lol. But anyway… I was immediately intrigued by these unique dolls… and that began the start of a new obsession for me. I spent days over the next few weeks looking at photos on Flickr and I became particularly fascinated by custom Blythes and vintage Kenners.
Photo: Angel~Lily. Faith – Blonde sidepart Kenner – Paris.
When and why did you start your collection? What is the story behind your first Kenner?
In May 2009 I bought my first Blythe doll (I can’t believe it was only a year and a half ago!)… Sunshine Holiday. She still remains in my collection today as Addison, and she may look familiar to many as my Flickr face and avatar. When she arrived I assured my partner I only wanted one… just to try customizing… but we all know how that story goes!
Photo: Angel~Lily. Addison – Sunshine Holiday custom – Nicole’s first Blythe doll.
After drooling over so many lush photos I soon decided I simply had to have a Kenner of my own. Since I have furnished and decorated our home almost entirely with vintage and retro finds, kitsch objects and 70‘s art… I thought she’d fit right in. So I purchased my first Kenner (Lily) as a birthday present for myself last July… and she still still holds the title of my most expensive online purchase ever.
Photo: Angel~Lily. Lily – Redhead sidepart Kenner – Nicole’s first Kenner.
I spent ages looking for just the right redhead on eBay and I really wanted her to be perfect. When she finally arrived I was actually a bit disappointed that she had a couple of tiny marks on her face and a bit of frizz that the seller didn’t mention. This is pretty funny to me now since she is so minty and I tend to look for girls in need of a lot more TLC these days!
How many Blythe dolls do you have in your own collection? Where and how do you store them?
At the moment I have 15 Blythes in my collection… six Kenners, four customs by me and five stock girls waiting for makeovers:
Lily~ Redhead sidepart Kenner
Maddox~ Short haired chunky banged brunette Kenner
Faith~ Blonde sidepart Kenner
Kendal~ Restored whispy raven Kenner
Charlie~ Custom Kenner with a white alpaca re-root
Shane~ Custom Kenner with a chocolate brown alpaca re-root
Addison~ Custom Sunshine Holiday (Rbl)
Piper~ Custom Miss Sally Rice with a silver/white mohair re-root (Rbl) Riley~ Custom Adorable Audrey (Rbl)
Paige~ Custom Punkaholic People with a black alpaca re-root (Rbl)
Photo: Angel~Lily. Nicole’s beautiful dolly family.
All the above girls live on an old retro shelf in our office so I can see them everyday… and at the moment Charlie is the centerpiece of our dining room table 🙂
Photo: Angel~Lily. The retro shelf.
Photo: Angel~Lily. Charlie – Kenner with alpaca reroot.
I also have a nameless Nostalgic Pop, Simply Mango, Heather Sky, Urban Cowgirl and Disco Boogie hiding in a suitcase till I get around to customizing them. For me I can never really bond with a shiny faced stock Blythe… however I still love looking at other peoples gorgeous pictures of them!
Photo: Angel~Lily. Piper – Miss Sally Rice custom with mohair reroot.
Why are Kenners so special in your opinion?
It took me a while to appreciate just how special Kenners really are… and now there is no going back. There’s just something so amazing about a toy that could last almost forty years and still look more beautiful today than she did in 1972. Trying not to sound like a weirdo I’d have to say that Kenners just somehow seem so alive… they have such personality in the flesh (plastic!) and in photos. No two Kenners are alike and each has experienced a different path through life… they are little old souls. I always like to ask the seller for some background about the doll I’m buying so I can know some of her history and unique personal story.
Photo: Angel~Lily. Faith and Lily.
Why did you start to restore Kenners? How did you learn to do it?
My third Kenner (Kendal) came to me in need of a bit of help… the most obvious problem being a wire sticking out of the back of her head! Sometime over the years her pullstring had obviously broken from too much love and an industrious father had jimmied up this crazy mechanism attached to her eye mech as a replacement. Now this was just the excuse I’d been looking for to pull apart an expensive dolly. Haha 🙂
Photo: Angel~Lily. Kendal needing some TLC.
The first thing I did was contact my wonderful Flickr friends Jo and Abbie for some advice and encouragement. Both of them have always been so helpful and generous with sharing their knowledge… it definitely made restoring my first Kenner a far less scary experience for me. Thanks guys!
Photo: Angel~Lily. Kendal needing legs and hair.
What is the worst condition in which you received a Kenner? What did you do to help her?
When I purchased Shane her seller told me that she found her buried under a pile of old boxes behind their house. She didn’t remember owning a Blythe as a child so had no memory of how Shane might have come to be there. Her hair was one big matted dreadlock, both legs were broken, she was missing some eyelashes and had a small gouge out of one socket, her chips were scratched and foggy, the plastic down the side of her face was yellow, she had a couple of little melt marks, chipped lip paint, no remaining blush… and years worth of dirt!
Photo: Angel~Lily. Shane before and after – “Work done included Eyeball de-yellowing, Kenner green chips restored, new brown/teal/peach eyechips, face yellowing/scratches and melt marks removed, eyelash transplant to fill gap, slight sanding of eye holes, new lips painted, new peachy blush, lower body transplant and chocolate alpaca re-root”.
So she was a bit of a challenge… but also a lot of fun to work on. First off I gave her a much needed bath, and washing away all that built up grime was a big improvement all on its own. She now has three new sets of eye chips, transplanted eyelashes, a perfect glowy complexion with pastel peach blush, new lip paint, a modified Takara lower body, and a lush brown alpaca re-root.
Photo: Angel~Lily. Shane.
Is there anything Kenner owners should be particularly cautious with?
Not really… probably the only thing that might put me off would be excessive all over yellowing as I know this can be quite hard to remove. But that’s just a personal preference and some girls can look really cute with a light tan!
Photo: Angel~lily. Bath time!
My two favorite Kenners were the ones in the worst condition when I first received them… but being able to restore them to their former glory myself has made me that much more attached to them. I honestly think pretty much anything can be fixed… so never be afraid to try. Kenners were built to last and if they could survive little children dragging them around by the hair for years… then being shoved in the dusty attic for a decade… they can survive you trying to restore them. And if something does go wrong don’t worry… you can always send them off to a Kenner expert for some help!
Photo: Angel~Lily. Charlie – Before and after.
Why did you start to customize Blythe dolls? How did you learn how to do it? Where do you sell them?
I started customizing Blythe dolls the same week my first girl arrived… it was the idea of being able to create something unique and original that really drew me to the hobby. I searched the Internet for any tutorials I could find, used resources like Plastic Paradise, and really just taught myself as I went along. There’s a lot of trial and error involved… but after a while you just sort of develop your own personal style and techniques.
I always use RBLs as a base mold as they’re easy to take apart and I just think they are the cutest Takaras. Weirdly I really enjoy doing re-roots and find it quite relaxing… and I always find new mohair or alpaca hairs really complete the look of a custom doll. My first re-root was so daunting, I thought it was going to take me months to complete. Now if I try really hard I can almost get one done in a day!
Photo: Angel~Lily. Angel-Lily custom dolls.
I love to create OOAK girls and although I don’t take commissions at the moment… I try to have at least one Angel~Lily custom available through eBay or Flickr each month.
How do you like to work? What is your work rhythm and balance between Kenner restoration and Blythe customizations?
I am the messiest artist ever… I spread my custom supplies (screw drivers, pastels, paints, sanding sponges etc) out all over my desk… and eyechips and pull charms all over the floor. But I like to think of it as kinda organized chaos and once I start working on a girl she’s normally complete in about 3-4 days… then I tidy. One day if we live in a bigger apartment I might be lucky enough to have a studio all to myself… but for now I share the office space with my very tolerant partner 🙂
When I do re-roots I sit in front of my computer and watch episodes of trash TV like The Hills, True Blood, 90210 and Jersey Shore… cause thats more entertaining than just me and a blank scalp. At the moment I’m really enjoying restoring Kenner’s, and I think if money was no issue I would do a lot more of that. However I also love putting together a completed Takara custom and seeing my new creation finished for the first time. Both are extremely rewarding… so I really do love both customizing and restoring.
What are you working on these days? What are your next projects?
At the moment I have a special green haired mohair custom planned who hopefully should be complete and ready for adoption soon. Lately I have been a bit slack though since our spring weather is so nice and the beach is so tempting… I also have some re-roots to complete for my own girls, and I’m always searching for my next Kenner restoration project. Its my plan to eventually have six different colored alpaca KBs… just don’t tell my man that! Next year I am thinking about taking commissions for Angel~Lily customs, Kenner restoration work and re-roots… I need to fund my addiction somehow. Lol 🙂
What do you like the most about collecting Blythe?
If you had told me a few years ago that I’d be a doll collector… I would have called you crazy! But really… whats not to love about Blythe? As someone who has always been creative, customizing and restoring has given me a new and unique way to be artistic. I love fashion and styling… and Blythe can wear outfits that I could just never pull off (Doc boots, vintage tutu and a ET helmet anyone?). She has renewed my interest in photography… now I have a new subject to shoot and travel with that makes an old passion so much more enjoyable.
But most of all there is such an amazing community of gorgeous talented Blythe people out there who I never would have met if it wasn’t for this hobby. The kind and funny comments contacts leave on my photostream each day is proof that Blythe really brings out the best in people!
Photo: Camillaeatfiftyeggs. Augie is now in Camilla’s collection.
Blythe is the ultimate creative outlet, companion and muse… and she always makes me smile 🙂
Many thanks, Nicole, for sharing with us all the adventures you’ve been having with Blythe for one year and a half. You did so much in such a short time, and you are already an expert in Kenners as well as in customs! All your girls are stunning and you definitely know how to do spectacular restorations and make Kenners not only regain their former glory but even look more beautiful and contemporary with lovely new reroots. Your gorgeous pictures always brighten my day. Keep up the good work because you are just at the beginning of your career in the wonderful world of Blythe!