The For the Love of Blythe project is so lucky to have Maria, aka Chu Things in the Red team. She is the expert in charge of customization for that team but she is a very creative and talented fashion designer too. Her magic fingers design adorable and precious sets for our beloved Blythe and each new one is a delight for the eyes and a dream to have.
Hi Maria! Thank you for welcoming Mademoiselle Blythe in your dolly world! Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi there! My name is Maria Yeoshen, but everyone calls me “Chu” after my middle name “Jesus” (yes, Jesus!). I was born in Venezuela but I have been living in the South Australia since 2008. I love to draw, since I can remember I draw in every single place I could, so I believe that’s my main hobby, but I like to do so many things that I can’t tell what I like the most. Just to name a few: sewing, crochet, graphic design and listening to music.
Photo: Chu Things. Adelaide city.
How and when did you discover Blythe?
Is funny to recall that I didn’t like dolls at all when I was a child. I found Blythes through Internet while browsing to find amigurumis (crocheted soft toys) and I totally fell in love with them! This happened in 2007.
When and why did you start your collection?
As soon as I arrived in Australia in2008, I started browsing to find these amazing dolls with big eyes and how I could be able to grab one for me. It has been hard to decide which one will be the first! Of course, when you are starting the hobby, they look so expensive! Hahahaha!
So hubby gave me my very first Blythe, Veronica Lace, as a Christmas present that year. Since then, I haven’t been able to stop collecting them. They are part of my life and I cannot imagine living without dolls now.
Photo: Chu Things. First and last Blythes. Veronica Lace and PrimaDolly Heather Sky.
How many Blythe dolls do you have in your own collection?
I own 7 blythes at the moment and I got for custom work other ones, which I don’t count as mine (until I decide to keep them). I have 1 FBL and the other 6 are RBL (My favourite mold after Kenner).
Where and how do you store them?
I store them in a Ikea cabinet, as many people in the hobby, in my sewing room, where I spend the most part of my time working. I hope to be able to put them in the future in a better place, where I can see them , because I cannot see through the cabinet doors. I keep them there to avoid dust and sun light.
What do you like the most in collecting Blythe?
It is hard to tell one thing only… I believe the thing I like the most about Blythe is the community around her. People in this hobby are so nice, warm and lovely. Thanks to the community, I have been able to adjust myself better to Australia and I do not miss that much my family and my home country. I believe Blythe arrived in my life just at the perfect moment.
Photo: Chu Things. Chu’s diorama – National Blythe Meet 2011 Sydney.
Why did you start to customize Blythe?
Customizing was definitely one of the things that got me in to this hobby for sure. I saw the amazing things other people did with Blythe dolls and I wanted to do the same for my dolls. Even if I now sew more for Blythes than do custom work, customization was what I felt more interested in at first.
Photo: Chu Things. “In progress” custom and reroot.
Photos: Chu Things. Middie and Blythe customs.
Photos: Chu Things. Custom doll and fashion designs by Chu Things.
How did you learn to do it? What gives you inspiration for custom work?
I think that almost everything in life is trial and error. You cannot know how something is until you try it by yourself. Of course I did read almost everything I could about custom work, such as how to open the head, the carving tools, makeup materials, etc. The forums and blogs about Blythe dolls were definitely very useful. People in the community are also so kind to share their experiences and knowledge with everyone else who wants to learn like me, so finding information was not a problem at all.
Photo: Chu Things. Inspiration from the 20s.
When I started customizing, my inspiration was YahooJ!. I loved how Japanese artists styled their dolls. But now I customize Blythe dolls according to how I feel or how the client wants the doll. I don’t have a signature lips, or anything in particular, because I like to try different styles.
Photo: Chu Things. Antique Romance inspiration.
Do you work on custom commissions or on your own projects only? Where do you sell your custom dolls?
Yes, I do accept commissions when I am able to make them. This means I do not like to have too many dolls from other people in my hands for too long. I need to organize my time between my job and dolls. I believe you just need to ask me if I am able to make a commission for you
Photo: Chu Things. Reroot, carving and makeup by Chu Things.
Photo: Chu Things. Reroot, carving and makeup by Chu Things.
I mostly post my dolls on forums, and I did sell only twice on Ebay.
What is your work rhythm and balance between fashion design for Blythe and customizations? How did you learn to sew? How does your studio look like?
Photo: Philosophia. Circus inspired dress.
Due to the fact that I sew more than I customize, I spend like 3 quarters of my dolly time sewing and the rest is dedicated custom work. Sometimes my formal job is kind of quiet so I can spend more time in both activities (sew and custom work).
Photo: Chu Things. The lace drawer.
I learned to sew almost by my own. Internet of course was a good teacher as well. My mom visits me in 2010 and gave me a lot of tips and tricks to how finish the dresses, and do a proper lining too, she is so good at sewing so I wish she were here with me to learn more. Dolly books were also a good source of knowledge and information too. I think my studio looks quite normal. I tried to keep everything as tidy as possible, but is complicated when do you do handcrafting. It has a big window, I love to work with sun light, is the best way to see the true colors and details in your custom work and sewing.
Would you have some advice for those who want to start their own customs?
You just need to give it a try! I wouldn’t recommend to take too many risks with the first work (such as trying to make an incredibly complicated carving for the first try, unless you have experience in sculpting of course). Then, patience is key and if you are stuck, just take a deep breath, leave it, and try again the next day. Having fun is most important!
Photo: Chu Things. “In progress” For the Love of Blythe custom doll.
Photo: Chu Things. “In progress” For the Love of Blythe custom doll – Red Team. Angel-Lily did her gorgeous alpaca hair and two pair of eyechips. Chu Things did the other 2 pairs of eyechips and carving/face-up.
What are you working on these days and what are your next projects with Blythe?
I am working on a special collection of dresses for BlytheCon in Berlin this year, and I am a little bit quiet in the Blythe world while I sew and design, just showing some of the working progress and teasers, but not updating my store. I also would like to make a few custom dollies to bring to the convention. So I am a busy bee, exactly how I like to be.
Thank you, Chu, for your wonderful fashions and dolls, and your beautiful smile! You definitely master any technique in sewing as well as in customizing. This is so impressive! It’s a real pleasure to look at your dolly universe, and an honor to have you in the book project!
Follow Chu’s work and you will not miss any new lovely doll or dress!
Photo and design: Chu Things. Blythe wallpaper.