Friday, October 13, 2017

Amigurumi tips part 3 - dolls hair and eyes

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There's a wide variety of solutions that you can adopt for you crochet dolls. From accessories to their appearance and clothes, they can be personalized beyond imagination, however you must know that choosing the right hair and eyes type is just a matter of personal choice and it's also part of the game. Yes, I look at doll making art with child eyes. How I wish now I knew about this art when I was a child! But I have now the chance to return to those feelings by making crochet dolls. I just fell in love with them and can't help myself but trying as many patterns and solutions as I can! And slowly, coming out with my own doll models...

Today I'm going to talk about different types of hair and eyes that I've been experimenting with in my dolls, and also about future perspectives.

1. HAIR

What I tried so far is:
  • viscose hair (artificial silk), attached strand by strand to a crocheted cap - it was very time and energy consuming, so not planning to retry this version, however I have documented the process in the photos bellow.
  • crocheted wig - I used it in Alexa doll, tutorial by Petus Ochoa and notes by me. But there are a bunch of variants that could be tried, and I find some of them very nice looking too. I would opt for this version of wig particularly if I was to make a doll meant for a baby - it will maintain its shape / style in time better than any other version.
  • wool hair - I bought some wool yarn, not very homogenous, though (it contains some very thin parts across the lenght, which I tried to place away from the surface of the head) - I used it in Alesia and Laura dolls (Greta CAL model). I only attached the strands around the head, then secured them in a bun. I also took some pictures of the procedure - firstly, I marked the line where I wanted to plant the hair around the hair using some pins, then I started to attach the yarn.

What I plan to try:
  • I have bought some artificial doll wig hair, which is sold by meter, in different lengths of hair, straight or curly - they are attached to the doll head in spiral around the head by sewing or gluing, directly to the head or using a detachable cap (which can be, in turn, a textile mesh or a soft plastic / glue hardened piece of elastic cloth or mesh). You can find a tutorial about this attaching procedure here.
  • I also have found artificial hair accessories in regular stores, such as hair extensions and elastic bands which contain strands of artificial hair attached to textile cords, similar to the wig hairs specified above.
  • I plan on making some yarn wigs, which are often used for Barbie-sized plastic dolls. For this procedure, it is generally used acrylic yarn, but as far as I understand, it would not allow you to obtain longer than about 10 cm wefts. For longer wefts, I think I will return to viscose, even if it's heavier. Bellow this paragraph you have some youtube references for obtaining yarn wefts for doll hair.
  • alpaca hair - well, this might be a little too expensive for my budget...
  • felting wool hair - I already bought some strands of such wool, but I find it quite fragile, so if you too plan to use this kind of hair, you should know that it can easily break if pulling just a little. But the styling you can obtain is amazing, and, for instance, Alyona Dudakova makes an amazing job on her elves. 
  • simply yarn hair.
  • of course, there are also already made hair wigs on the internet, but they come in specific sizes at enormous costs :)
  • ribbon hair: I found some tutorials herehere and here.
There are various artists proposing tutorials for yarn wefts and, subsequently, doll wigs. Here are just a few:

2. EYES

I've tried by far four types of eyes: 
  • safety eyes: these are standard hemispheres, with a safety joint at the back. These are the type of eyes used in regular plush toys, very safe for small children. There are clear versions of safety eyes, which you can customize using ceramic or nail paint. The only inconvenience is that you have to plant the eyes during crocheting, in order to attach the safety pin on the inside of your work. These eyes appearance can be improved by adding a layer of felt underneath, like I did with my first doll, using Tini Miny Design toturial.
  • embroidered eyes: from my experience, this works best on unmercerized and unsilky cotton. For instance, my favourite yarns for doll body are Catania Originals and Alize Bahar yarns, but these are not appropriate for embroidered eyes. The technique works fine, perhaps, with acrylic yarn too, but since I don't use acrylic, I couldn't say. Also, I find using a curled needle compulsory for embroidering the eyes.
  • painted eyes: this requires painting the eyes on a piece of cotton fabric, then securing the painting with one or two layers of varnish (or you can use nail polish). However, if you are using fabric paint, I don't think the varnishing step is compulsory. The other option I tried is acrylic paint, and it worked marvelously.
  • custom made eyes: I found some thin plastic boards in the hobby store, from which I detached, using a puncher, small circles. I subsequently painted these pieces with ceramic black paint, but nail paint would work just as well. In the end, I just glued them to the toy.
Planes pattern by Marika

There are, however, other ways to obtain custom eyes, so I also plan to try sculpting them with Fimo or another type of clay, for instance.

In the end, I have three questions for you:

1. What is your favourite type of doll hair?
2. What is your favourite type of doll eyes?
3. Which of the techniques presented have you already tried?

If you have information about other types of doll hair and eyes that could be used, please share your knowledge with us. Your welcome!

Check the other parts of Amigurumi tips series:

Part 1 - Reading and understanding crochet instructions proposed by Papillon en Papier

Part 2 - Check the yarn, choose the hook, tension and stuffing

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