In 1972 a big eyed, large headed doll named Blythe was invented. She was only sold for one year and was put away and forgotten in the attics of many…until 1999 when photographer Gina Garan made a photo book of this strange doll with the pull string changing eyes. Next thing she knew, the overseas toy company Takara was producing them once again. Blythe dolls are now a collectible among a subgroup of individuals who meet in online forums and groups to chat, sell, customize and ultimately collect this retro doll.
How my fascination began
I learned of Blythe through my dad and stepmom. They were browsing images online looking for a “scooter girl” to put up as a background and up came an image that looked familiar to them. It was a red headed girl (like my own red hair) with big green eyes (much like mine as well) sitting atop an orange and brown moped (that looked almost like a replica of my own). The catch…it was a big headed doll! That’s right! They came across my dolly doppleganger! They sent me the picture and it was love at first sight. I had to learn more about this crazy doll, but more importantly I had to get one!
Fast Forward Several Months
After saving up, and obsessing over all the different Neo (aka modern day) Blythe dolls to choose from I finally decided upon a teal haired beauty named Princess a la Mode.
My collection grew quickly after that. I got more involved in the online community of collectors and learned that many people customize these dolls to make them look however they would like. Customizing can include hair rerooting, repainting the makeup, changing the eye colors and even carving the features into smirks, frowns and smiles. Along with customizing the doll, many sew and knit outfits for them, turning them into complete one of a kind (ooak) pieces of art! This sounded right up my alley! I dragged out some art supplies, took apart a doll and got down to customizing.
My Art Dolls
It’s been about a year and a half since I started customizing. I have done some commissions for other Blythe owners wanting something specific, some dolls for myself and also some customs to sell to other collectors. A portfolio of my custom work can be viewed on my flickr account. I currently have one doll up for sale on ebay at this point in time. She is a circus themed Blythe named, “The Amazing Bailey and her Death Pony Wonder Dante”. I did “the works” on Bailey including:
- eye color change
- hair dye
- airbrush makeup
- lip carving
- sewn outfit
- painted pony friend adorned with accessories
- decorated stand to look like a ringmasters stand
I really enjoy making up these lovely characters and it’s always good to see them go to a new home where their owner will admire and photograph them, sharing their pictures with the Blythe collecting community. It’s also not a bad way to make some extra income doing something I really enjoy! I am a makeup artist by trade…I use to work mostly on models, but now being a stay at home mom my muse has switched to a strange and quirky doll named Blythe ;)