Monday, March 21, 2016

Collection Storage, Display and Organization, Part 2: Dolly Must-haves

Hi guys!

Welcome to the second part of this month’s Collection Storage, Display and Organization, featuring ... Dolly Must-haves! Last week, we learned several working storage systems for our DOLLS that were lovingly shared by our contributors. Today, we will learn how our fashion doll collector friends tame the other beast – the wardrobe, accessories and the miniature/diorama items that their dolls cannot “live” without! This section of doll collecting is just as huge as maintaining a doll collection itself, especially for the fashion doll collector who likes to style, photograph and make photo/video stories about their doll characters. Sometimes, we think that we need more space for our collection storage, but really, a simple but well-thought out organizational system is all that we need. So come join us as we hop from one doll closet to another, and discover new ways that might just help us come up with our own system of keeping our own dolls’ closets organized and hassle-free.

At a glance, at least for most of our dolly friends, dolly must-haves are sorted into the following major categories: doll clothing, shoes / footwear, jewelry, bags, hats and other head-worn accessories, diorama items and other essentials. But do continue to read on to know how and why they segregate their doll must-haves this way, and what storage solutions work best for each of these.

In organizing doll must-haves, our doll friends like to primarily separate the dolls’ clothes from everything else as the clothes themselves quite need their own organization, too. Organizing doll clothing into different categories such as clothing type, use or function, style, or as an ensemble/set, and sometimes, per designer, gender and size helps them a lot to find what they need come photo shoot or doll play time. The most popular storage solutions for doll clothing include plastic drawer-type containers, plastic bins and air-tight plastic bags for separating each clothing category.

Arianne's doll clothing, sorted and stored in a multiple-drawer container
For Arianne, dresses, tops, skirts, pants, summer and sleep wears, costumes and Ken's clothes have to be kept separately so she can find the perfect match for a photo shoot immediately. She puts them in a drawer-type container with multiple compartments, ideal for sorting.

Edel likes to separate doll clothes by type, such as pants, t-shirts, jackets, among others, in separate zipper plastic bags. He has some Helmer drawers from IKEA to keep all the doll clothing safe and clean. 

Vana is also a fan of plastic drawer containers, where her doll clothes are placed and sorted by their manufacturers or designers. She has fashions made by herself, by big brands like Mattel and Integrity Toys, and by her favorite doll clothing designers from Germany, Europe and all over the world. She also has separate containers for her knitwear and men’s clothing.

Eli's DIY clothing shape support of sorts

Kenya used to store her doll clothings by type (skirts, dresses, pants, etc.), but now she keeps each complete outfit in a Ziploc bag, sorted by manufacturer in different plastic bins. The OOAKs are sorted by designer. 

Eli recommends using different sizes of Ziploc bags to keep doll clothes separated and clean. To keep the shape of doll clothes in such an air-tight container, Eli uses the same cardboards used as packaging material from the dolls and accessory packs we purchase. She cuts them up in the shape of the clothing, and puts them inside the clothing before storing it inside the Ziploc bag. 

Ford‘s doll clothes are sorted into tops, pants, skirts, cocktail dresses, gowns, etc. placed in non-descript plastic containers. And these containers are segregated into categories and spots. One shelf is for Barbie clothes, another is for Ken’s clothes and another one is exclusively for the gowns.

Terri's doll walk-in closet doubling as clothing storage system

Debbie separates her sixth-scale play line clothes in doll trunks/cases from the larger, human child-sized ones, which she puts in a full-size trunk and a linen closet. 

Jelyn tends to categorize clothes into casual, smart-casual, formal, semi formal, red carpet dresses, and princess/ball gowns. She also tends to put together in one place seasonal clothes such as swimsuits, and clothes with fur (for 'winter'). She has leather jackets and clothes, which may start cracking someday and make a mess, so she makes sure to keep all these together,  hanging in her little Barbie closet from Mattel.

Terri also likes to put her doll clothes in her dolls’ walk-in closet. 

Diadema's "The Thrifty Boutique" houses her fave doll clothes

Diadema also has a boutique diorama that displays some of her most loved doll clothing and accessories. The rest of the doll clothes are put away in a big box under her diorama setup.  

Bubbles divides her doll clothing between light and dark colored ones to avoid staining each other.  If possible, she recommends maintaining a separate container per color. She uses resealable plastics like Ziploc for each division.

Tin boxes work best for Rebeca. She stores her doll clothing in these precious tin boxes that come in different sizes of which she says, incidentally, are running out of space, too! Haha! I know every doll collector relates to what Rebeca is talking about =)

And just when we thought our dolls are happy with the clothes and shoe splurge we did for them recently, they come to us and ask for more. I won’t blame them though as they’re supposed to be chic dolls – they should be accessorized! After clothing, our doll’s much needed things are accessories, as these little thingies give them personality, allow them to showcase their style, and plugs in the oomph in the outfits they’re wearing.

The dolly accessory that most collectors think is in dire need for an organization system is the tiniest of them all – Jewelry. These small accessories are commonly grouped into necklaces, earrings and bracelets/bangles, but some collectors also like to group them in their original sets, or the kind of material they’re made from. Compartmentalized, clear-plastic storage containers are considered the top-ranking jewelry storage solutions by our dolly friends.

Arianne's countless but organized doll jewelry and accessories
Despite their small sizes, Arianne says that jewelry, as with other accessories, is not hard to organize as well. She groups them into earrings, chokers, rings, and crowns in larger pillboxes that she says are perfect for the job.

For doll accessories, Eli recommends using plastic containers with detachable separators, to make different compartment sizes. The more compartments the better. She suggests to stock up on these kinds.

Kenya tries to keep sets together (excluding rings) in bead boxes. Loose pieces are grouped by color or material.

Marcela says she’s addicted to accessories! Growing up, she would watch her mom make them, so she learned to make her own, too, and for her dolls. Look at her bracelets and bangles galore!

Marcela's rainbow-colored and sorted dolly jewelry

Anika has separate containers for her dolly necklaces and bracelets all tucked safely in drawers. The rest of the jewelry is in one common container.

Ford’s dolly bracelets have their own box, and so do the earrings, necklaces, etc. This system helps him locate the needed pieces quicker when he’s styling his Modolls.

Vana’s doll jewelry is sorted by material, mainly in silver and gold, stored in several cardboard boxes.

Jelyn’s jewelry organization system includes a Ziploc bag for the rings, another for earrings, while her chain necklaces each have their own little plastic bags. She bought a cute little treasure chest in Divisoria to store these accessories. As a personal preference, Jelyn separates her dolls’ jewelry into play line, Model Muse and Integrity Toys containers. 

Vanessa has various storage boxes for her accessories. She keeps a lot of those plastic containers with dividers to hold different accessories. One of the better containers for Vanessa are her hanging jewelry holders with small plastic divided compartments - easy to see the contents and select accessories when you need them, easy to put items back when finished. 

Then we discovered shoes. We can’t get enough of them, eh? Although I think shoes are the next thing to have after clothing, they are much less fussy to organize than jewelry. Could this be because they are a tad bigger than those shiny jewelry things?

Shoes are mainly sorted into type, style, material, size, colors, among others. Favorite storage solutions for doll shoes are those craft boxes that have compartment sizes perfect for a pair or two of those lovely shoes. Some craft boxes even have removable dividers for more compartment size options. Other collectors have tiny boxes for a pair or two, while others put shoe groups in separate plastic or cardboard containers.

Marcela has all her leather doll shoes in a craft box with compartments of different sizes, perfect for the variety of shoe sizes she has. Knee-high boots fit in one large compartment, booties and strappy heels in mid-sized ones, and smaller shoes into smaller compartments. Some pairs take up one small compartment.

Marcela's leather shoe collection, mainly sorted per size
Javi also loves to store his doll shoes, segregated per color, in plastic boxes with compartments.

Jelyn stores shoes by color or by type. She uses different containers for play line, Model Muse, and IT shoes, which are housed in the smallest containers, if not individual as it is much safer for this much expensive handmade footwear. She uses a craft box with adjustable/removable dividers perfect for separating doll shoes.

Michaela does not deliberately separate her shoes per category due to the small size of her container compartments, which accommodates at most two pairs. However, since they are made of clear-plastic, it’s easier to find the shoes she needs.

Such a wide array and color variation in Michaela's doll shoe collection. stored in compartmentalized, super-clear containers
Anika uses Plano boxes for her doll shoes at the moment. They also have dividers that allow her to sort by style and color. 

Arianne’s shoes are separated by type: leather, boots, stilettos, flats, sneakers, a mix for Barbie play line shoes, for IT ladies and for the big-footed Monster High and Color Infusion girls. She uses larger pillboxes that have compartments in them for easier division. 

Some of Arianne's play line doll shoes, sorted by type and size
Ford sorts his doll shoes into casual, cocktails, strappy, high-fashion, among other types/functions and placed in plastic containers. 

Vanessa’s doll shoes are also kept in stackable plastic containers and separated by color.

Vana has several cardboard boxes for shoes, which she sorts by size. These sizes accommodate Barbie or smaller Fashion Royalty (FR) feet, tall FRs, and FR2 shoes.

Kenya keeps her play line shoes in bead boxes sorted by color. Her IT shoes are in small clear boxes (by pair) placed in a larger clear container, sorted by size  (Poppy Parker, FR2, Dynamite Girls, etc).

Terri recommends The Container Store, which offers tiny, plastic see-through containers that she uses as doll shoe boxes in her dollhouse

One of Terri's working shoe storage systems accommodates at most two pairs of doll shoes

So there, we spoiled ‘em little b****s with clothes, shoes, and jewelry from our hard-earned money. But it just doesn’t feel right, looking at them without anything on their hands, right? They look sad. They look bored. So we immediately decided that they need fancy bags and purses. And the cycle never ends =D

Handmade bags made of faux leather or delicate fabrics from Arianne's collection need some extra-special care 
Arianne takes care of her delicate handmade dolls and purses in stackable food containers.  "This way, these accessories maintain their shape, especially the hats that are prone to deforming," ensures Arianne. The much more resilient plastic molded bags are in placed in large-compartment pillboxes.

Play line, plastic-molded hand bags are tough enough to survive in craft boxes
Marcela says that she has lost some of the doll bags that were very dear to her before she started adding them to her doll storage system. And since bags and purses are mostly made of faux leather material, she puts them in a much bigger container with a relatively bigger, microwavable silica gel pack in the form of a plush penguin toy. It changes color when saturated, signaling her to microwave it again for recharging. “It’s practical and lovely!,” says Marcela.

Bubbles, on the other hand,  puts her dolly bags and purses in drawer-type containers for easy access.

For most of our doll collector friends who also like to collect diorama items, they figured organizing these is just as important as organizing other (doll) body-worn accessories. Most loves the idea of sorting and storing them separately. Favorite storage solutions include large plastic bins or containers, which are perfect for storing bigger items like furniture and vehicles, while smaller items are typically placed in small bags and plastic containers.

All of Javi’s diorama items are stored together in one box, but he groups the contents in plastic bags, depending on their size. 
Terri's adorable miniature food items

For Georgia Girl, large storage containers work well for her diorama items and accessories, too. She keeps these containers in a closet.

Kenya stores her diorama items according to type, such as furniture, food items, toiletries,among others, in separate containers. She used to keep her play sets (accessories included) together, but it became too difficult to remember which accessories came with each play set. When she accidentally bought duplicates, she decided she needed to use a different system.
Katie’s diorama items are in a cabinet, in separate boxes also sorted by type.

Terri advises that The Container Store has the best storage cases for her dolls' food and drinks. To keep her handmade miniature items in top shape, she places cotton swabs or strips of paper towel at the bottom to prevent damage on those mostly delicate pieces.  

Diorama items separated in bags then altogether placed in plastic bins is what works for Kenya.

For larger-sized diorama items like furniture or vehicles, Eli suggests getting big containers. 

Ford puts his bigger diorama props such as a mini cooper and chairs at the bottom part of his shelf. Bubbles does this too with her bedroom setup at the bottom of her display shelf.

Anika’s furnitures are kept in some of those bins she mentioned earlier. They’re not sorted as of the moment so she has to organize them soon, too. 

Edel has tons of miniature furniture and props for diorama setups all placed in a few big storage boxes in the closet. Since the boxes have wide openings, he doesn’t segregate the contents and just easily grabs what he needs for his photo shoot.

Imagine chic dolls, complete with stylish clothing and accessories, "living" in a trendy doll house full of hip things. What could be missing in their "lives"? When she goes to "work", to a photo shoot, just how does she keep herself looking stylish at most times?

Arianne keeps other essentials like a styling kit, which includes rubber bands, doll stands, double adhesives, in separate small boxes so they’re easier to find during every shoot. She also keeps an extra box for styling needs like combs, hair curlers, small rubber bands, hairs clamps, water spray bottle and makeup brushes for brushing dusts off from dolls’ faces.

Ariane's another must-have: a styling kit
So there you go - a list of dolly-must haves and some of the best working systems our dolly friends depend on to survive in such a challenging hobby as doll collecting. I hope you enjoyed reading this list as much as I did.

As always, this wealth of dolly information is never possible without the ever loving support from our friends who have contributed to this topic. A special thanks to you, guys!

Anika, FordModolls, VanessaArianneConnieVanaDebbieTerriBriniRobertBubblesRebecaDiademaMelanEdelLeslieEliMarcelaGeorgia GirlKatieJaviKenyaJelynMichaela and of course, jSarie, you guys rock!

For the final part of this three-part Collection Storage, Display and Organization series, we reveal all the tips and tricks that our friends swear by, to make this hobby more enjoyable, and as low-maintenance as possible. So, I invite you to come back next week for the finale, for the ultimate storage and organizational tips. I assure you, we're gonna learn at lot, and have so much fun at the same time.

Til then, loves!


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Collection Storage, Display and Organization, Part 1: The Dolls

Hi, dollies!

Welcome to our new monthly series, Doll Collecting Tips, made possible by our very own dolly community from all over the world. I’ve invited our dolly friends last month to help contribute to this little project, which aims to provide as much doll collecting tips as possible. Our dolls and the activities that we do around them are supposed to melt away some stress in our lives, right? Doll collecting should be fun, so we try to keep the often tedious, maintenance part of it as manageable as we can.

This month’s topic on Collection Display, Storage and Organization Tips, really is too broad and sometimes overwhelming to even think about when it comes to doll collecting, or any type of collecting at all. Adding storage space to accommodate our ever growing doll collection, not to mention their massive wardrobe, accessories and diorama items, is not always an option. Organizing our collection to prevent potential doll-related headaches and heartbreaks should be one on top of our doll collecting arsenal then, right?

Everyone is not born organized. But at some point, each one of us has to come up with systems that work with our way of thinking. We have come to develop setups that allow us to enjoy doll collecting more, and not waste our time on being stressed out on small items being lost, breaking a precious item, or obliviously destroying our dolls due to not organizing at all. I am guilty of all mentioned doll collecting crimes, among others, so here I am, reaching out to my friends so I and the rest of us learn from each other.

In this first of this three-part post on Collection Display, Storage and Organization Tips, we will tackle first the Dolls. On the second part of the topic, we will take a look into how these doll collector friends of ours organize their Doll Accessories and Diorama Items. And for the third and last but definitely not the least part of this month’s topic, we try to talk about the unique tips and tricks that each of our contributors have mastered to be able to survive the world of doll collecting, dream doll display and storage systems, and things I might have missed to include in the first two posts.

But before we start, I’d like to thank the following doll friends, in no particular order, for lending their doll collecting smarts so that we come up with this month’s Doll Collecting Tips topic.

Anika, Ford Modolls, Vanessa, Arianne, Connie, Vana, Debbie, Terri, Brini, Robert, Bubbles, Rebeca, Diadema, Melan, Edel, Leslie, Eli, Marcela, Georgia Girl, Katie, Javi, Kenya, Jelyn, Michaela and of course, jSarie.

I cannot thank you, guys enough for being such kind, sweet and generous humans to your dolls, and great dolly friends to me. I’m so excited to continue having you in this series that I hope to continue facilitating for as long as I can. Warm hugs and kisses to you all…

So to start, you may ask - what systems work for most collectors? What solutions are commonly used? Which are unique to certain doll types?

Actually, in organizing our dolls, most of the collectors I know have dolls on display, as well as those that are stored away for later play or use.

For our dolly friends, the most popular Doll Display Solutions are the following:
-  wall-mounted or stand-alone shelves  -
-  glass or acrylic-paneled display cabinets  -
-  diorama set ups done by the collectors themselves  -

Isn’t it just so nice to glance by your collection every now and then, maybe while you’re preparing dinner, or when you’re about to tuck in for the night?

Ford tells me that he loves the fact that his 6ft closet has adjustable shelves, made from laminated palo china wood, and has a couple of holes at the back panel that serve as vent to allow air circulation and keep moisture from locking in.

The Ford Modolls displayed on a 6ft closet, photo taken from Ford's Facebook page

Bookshelves are on top of Brini’s mind when it comes to displaying and housing her dolls. Brini recommends this bookshelf from iKea, or this from Kmart, but always tries to find some that are space saving, easy to assemble and will not blow the budget like the ones from Achieve Display. Achieve Display offers acrylic boxes that are perfect for Silktones or any other fashion doll that is definitely for showing off.  Collecting Warehouse also offers just about anything you are looking for from displaying your collections.

Katie's dolls on wall-mounted, and stand-alone shelves
Katie has a few of her wall-mounted shelves to display her dolls posing like editorial models, while many are placed in stand-alone shelves. Vana also likes to put some of her dolls on wall-mount displays, where they stand next to each other like, as she puts it, “people in a Tokyo subway”. Debbie of Blackdoll Collecting also has all her dolls on display in built-in or free-standing shelves, in a corner of her work desk.

Leslie, Georgia Girl, Javi, jSarie, and Bubbles are major fans of glass or acrylic-paneled display cabinets when it comes to doll display. Bubbles, and Debbie have all their dolls on display. Bubbles recently purchased a glass cabinet to house most of her growing deboxed collection.

Bubble's Poppy Parkers and Fashion Royalty dolls (below) in a glass display

I share the penchant for displaying my dolls in little “homes” we set up as diorama with Leslie, Katie, Javi, Connie and Bubbles. As Leslie tells it, “A few of my most treasured dolls have their own little homes to “live in”. Javi, in the mean time, decorates his “mini greenhouses” to make a diorama for his dolls. Bubbles also has some girls “lounging” at her mini diorama.

My diorama is a simple living room where the girls can “hang out” after we finish a photo shoot. I usually don’t take their outfits off right away as I try to enjoy their looks for a while. My diorama is placed next to my work table. It keeps me inspired that way, while it serves as a display for people who want to check out my dolls.

Almost all the time, I also have at least one doll on my desk, just like Debbie, Rebeca and Katie.

Debbie's dolls on the right corner of her work desk. Such a nice visual, right?
One of Katie's craft room areas already being taken over by the dolls =)

I think, we like to consider our dolls as companions. I like to look at those pretty faces every now and then, while I work. Creep alert, eh? LOL!

And now, on to the not-as pretty but always must be a reliable system, the storage.

For storing dolls away when not in use or play, what seems to be the de facto in
Doll Storage Solutions are the following:

-  plastic storage containers
-  stock boxes
-  closets and cabinets
-  drawer-type containers
- shoe boxes/organizers

Eli suggests we use stackable, see-through containers to maximize floor space and make it easier to find the doll you need. She adds that it helps to buy the same or similar-looking containers so your storage area looks more organized, too.

Anika uses storage bins that are on sale. She gets them from Rubbermaid and Sterilite, and tries to keep the cost of bins from $4 - $10.

For our friends in Manila, our version of getting good deals on almost any goods, including these plastic storage containers, is going to Divisoria. Eli says that if we have time and energy to go to Divisoria, we do it. The same containers we get from the department stores are available there but cheaper.

Eli's stackable storage containers
Debbie has some dolls stored but those are the ones she is planning to sell. She uses Rubbermaid storage containers and they are all stacked in a walk-in closet.

For more delicate dolls like the ones with intricate hair dos and hand-applied eyelashes, keeping them in their own or similarly-sized stock boxes is the best system so far. Diadema puts labels on all of her boxes, which are colored black. She piles them on top of her diorama box as it’s much more convenient this way to pick the ones she needed for her photo ops. jSarie also likes to keep those original stock boxes since they provide good protection during moving in and out of places.

Several of our dolly friends also like to maximize the space and safety that closets and cabinets provide. Melan uses different cabinets to house two major doll groups. Edel and Ford put dolls that are not in use or display in closets, while jSarie and Vana put some of their dolls in closets over at the guestroom That’s a great way to expand space, right? Imagine visiting houses of these two, and sleeping with their collection. Tee hee …

Leslie, Vanessa and I share our love for using drawer-type containers for dolls that are not in use. I agree with Vanessa in making it easier to just take out the drawers that have the dolls she needs for a particular story. In my case, it’s much easier to just grab the doll which can perfectly model the dress I recently completed.

This is my work area. The drawer-type container on the left houses the dolls on its third from top layer =)

Adult-sized shoe containers are also a hit to some of our dolly friends. Michaela of Michaela Unbehau Photography stores her dolls in these clear shoe containers, while Terri puts in her extra dolls in those shoe containers, then into a faux leather storage bench that she's had for a while.

Michaela's dolls in clear plastic human-shoe containers
Terri's extra dolls for storage
Door-hanging shoe organizers as well as open boxes in shelves work for Connie.

Connie's door-hanging shoe organizer housing her lovely dolls

And some more, in open boxes in the shelves in Connie's craft room
I also have some of my for-revamping dolls in an open box in one of my closet shelves.
This “open” system works for us as we both have them in our own craft rooms.

When displaying or storing their collections, most of our friends group their dolls
into different categories:

-  by manufacturer/ doll type/series  - 
-  by type of clothes or themed outfits  -
-  by doll features (hair color, character/sculpt, articulation, skin tone, nationality)  -
-  by special selection (usually displayed in rotation)  -
-  by project/ diorama setup/ photo story characters  -
-  year released  -

Dolls that are fragile enough to require individual space had to be separated from the play line series that can take rough and tumble. Each doll group is housed in separate plastic bins, closets, or shelves. Most (Integrity Toys) IT dolls are tucked back in to their own original boxes to preserve hairdo or lashes.

Leslie keeps two groups - Mattel/Barbie and IT dolls. Her IT dolls are treated with a bit more care - they are stored in their boxes when not being photographed or used often. However, she recently purchased a glass cabinet to display those that are often photographed, when untying all those little strings in the boxes have become too annoying. As for Barbie and her friends, Leslie has a chest of drawers that is dedicated for them.

Robert’s IT dolls are kept in individual boxes, while his Model Muse and Fashionista Barbies are all in one box. Jelyn segregates her dolls per manufacturer as well, but keeps them all in one big storage box. To protect them, she covers each one with plastic bags. She warns though that this is not a good idea with the IT dolls so she puts these dolls in their stock boxes first, before putting them all in the big box.

Melan puts all his Barbie dolls in one cabinet, and IT dolls in another cabinet. Katie also groups her dolls loosely by type - the Barbies are together, IT dolls in a separate area and Phicen dolls on their own shelf. Anika has separate bins for her IT ladies, Barbie, Candi, Kelly and male dolls which is a mix from different manufacturers.

Debbie’s dolls are grouped but most are not. Never removed from box (NRFB) dolls are grouped together. Playscale dolls are placed together on doll stands. There are about five different groups of these. 16-inch fashion dolls are grouped together. Those that are for sale are not grouped in any way.

Diadema keeps close together dolls of the same year they were released.

Some collectors like to segregate their dolls by other categories. Javi has grouped them according to their type of clothes. In one shelf, the ladies in beautiful evening dresses reside. The more casual-dressing dolls dwell on the other. jSarie groups the dolls in similar themed outfits, rather than by size or line. There’s a shelf of three play dolls in Medieval outfits in the living room, a shelf of four BJDs in historical military attire, and game or comic dolls on book or game shelves, while tourist dolls (and International Barbies) get to live with other souvenirs.

Michaela groups her dolls per character. Bubbles has all her Poppy Parker dolls in one shelf, all other Fashion Royalty (FR) dolls in another level. In another shelf are Disney Princesses for her little daughters, and the last level is functioning as a bedroom she has set up for Momokos and Ruruko.

Georgia Girl groups her doll collection by hair color, sculpt and articulation. She also groups her dolls according to projects, or photo story. Vanessa’s dolls are grouped via nationality.

I separate my dolls according to two general skin tone family of sorts – dark-skinned and light-skinned. This way, I just reach out for that skin tone group that I think is perfect for an outfit I made or assembled. Since I still have a manageable number of gals, it’s easier to decide from among the skin tone group who best fits the outfit.

Some collectors display and store in rotation, either by favorites like Edel does, and by special selection like Ford, Kenya and  jSarie do. Ford groups his dolls into three: the Top Modolls (those in regular circulation), and regular dolls (seldom used/played with), and the big hair dolls. This rotation system keeps most of their collection dust-free most of the time. Kenya’s dolls that are in rotation are kept on wall-mounted shelves (nude and on a doll stand). She usually keeps around ten on hand at a time. The others are stored in containers in a separate room. jSarie tries to rotate the dolls in thematic groups.

One collector’s doll storage system I find interesting is Arianne’s. She does not segregate her dolls at all. But her system still makes sure the dolls are in top shape.

How do these solutions work?

Now that we learned what storage and display solutions our friends chose for their own systems, we might as well talk about how all these worked for them. How do they use these solutions for the ultimate benefit of both themselves and the collection.

All these solutions can give us the ultimate benefit if the dolls
are displayed or stored away in the following conditions:

-  in nude, or at least in light-colored clothing, or non-staining footwear  -
-  in upright, or vertical position  -
-  hair secured in hair nets, or saran wraps  -
-  with desiccants or silica gel packs in each sealed container  -
-  stored or displayed away from direct sunlight, or sunlit windows  -
-  clean, free from dust acidic moisture  -

Storing them nude or in light-colored outfits is to avoid staining their bodies with dark-colored clothing and footwear. Leslie advises,“If you ever want to see what your doll looks like outside of her factory ensemble, store her nude with the ensemble in a plastic bag for safekeeping. I have seen beautiful dolls for sale with stained hands, necks or toes because the NRFB condition actually did more harm than safely separating the doll from the clothing.”

Marcela has since been storing her dolls nude after discovering that one of her most beloved dolls had his feet stained by FR Homme doll Lukas' boots.

Having the dolls in upright position also helps keep their hair and lashes free from unpleasant deformation. Loose joints, especially on the knees, can also be avoided when we store our dolls vertically.

Having hairnets or sarap wraps to keep their hair perfect also is such a time-saving technique. Edel, Connie and Jelyn swear by this. You won’t be scrambling for the comb, hair clamps, rubber bands or styling gel come photo shoot time. She’s pretty much hair-ready. You just remove the wrap, do a little bit of retouch and voila!

Bubbles and Javi also advised to put your dolls away from windows where direct sunlight get through. Excess moisture or sunlight may cause or speed up discoloration.

Robert has said that a collector once advised him to clean the dolls after play or use, or before storing them back. His collector friend said that the acidic sweat in our hands can cause doll discoloration. If we use them often, we might as well wipe them off with a clean cloth every after use. Ford wipes the doll’s faces (especially those used in outdoor shoots) with wet face sponge before storage. Shampoo and hair serum are used for cleaning, too, before storage. Diadema admits she doesn’t have any particular doll cleaning routine but she washes them up once in a while.

A lot of collectors have sworn by desiccants or silica gel packs as angels in disguise to their doll collecting. I use desiccants for my doll wardrobe, but not for dolls. But now I realized that moisture can be bad for my dolls, too, not just the wardrobe so please excuse me for a second as I throw in some to my doll drawer =)

Arianne’s doll storage is one unique system, but a very practical and effective one. She uses a crate high enough to make the girls stand on the sides. A stack of fabric is placed around the center of the crate, to support these standing lovelies at the edges in place. And that same stack of fabric is used for the sitting girls at the center. These particularly sitting girls have delicate lashes and must be protected at all times, says Arianne. By being upright, the doll’s hair is always in shape. And each doll has a permanent spot to “sleep” into so that it’s easier to find them come photo shoot time.

Arianne's unique but super effective doll storage system
After staining some of my ladies in the past, I have been storing them nude for years now. But I am a little guilty on the hair net, the cleaning and upright position departments. I currently store them laying down, stacked on each other, playline or not, without hair nets. I do give my dolls fresh bath before photo shoots, but never after. Disaster is coming! LOL!

But after having heard of these tips and working systems, I think I am now set to keeping my dolls such that they could last, maybe even for as long as I want to. The smarts that our dolly friends have contributed for this part of the topic on Collection Display, Storage and Organization Tips, particularly for the dolls, is an invaluable treasure that I believe any doll collector will be more than happy to swear by.

I know this is rather a looooong post, and it was a bit challenging for me to edit entries from more than 20 doll friends who have participated in this little project --- but... I am learning so much and it's all so worth it!

I hope that you find this post helpful, too.

Again, I want to thank our dear contributors who generously lent their time, smarts and love. I cannot thank you enough, and while I type this away, I am happily smiling (while my housemate passes by my back thinking I've gone crazy or something). Kidding aside, I am hoping that you guys will continue to be on this journey to share tips with the community, and learn more about each other and the adorable collections we have.

Thank you so so much also to you, dear reader for having to endure down to this part. See you on the second part --- Collection Storage, Display and Organization, Part 2: The Doll Accessories and Diorama Items ---- which I will hope to publish in a few days' time. 'Til then!

much love,

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Okay, guys. That's a wrap... dress!

Just thought I'd share these new wrap dresses I released in my shop hours ago.

Enjoy the pics, loves!

New atelier gal Hannari wears the Diane Wrap Dress

and shorter skirt versions modeled by Portia (in a new made to move body) below...

I hope you enjoyed the pics, guys! I made a small number of this dress so I can move on to my next dress project soonest =) Check out my Etsy shop soon so you get one of these limited edition wrap dresses =)

hugs and kisses,

Monday, March 7, 2016

Creative Doll Collector of the Month: Michaela Unbehau

Hi guys!

It's Creative Doll Collector feature time and for this post I have interviewed the super talented doll photographer, and should I say, stylist, Michaela Unbehau of Michaela Unbehau Photography.

A quick background as to why I chose her to be my first feature: Michaela and I pretty much started getting ourselves lulled into the world of adult-phase doll collecting during the same year. We bought our dolls in 2010, and started setting a goal in 2011. As a matter of fact, Michaela was my fourth Etsy client back in January of 2012! And the rest is history, of course.

So, without further ado, here's our little interview =) Enjoy.

Please tell us a bit about the person behind Michaela Unbehau Photography.

What can I tell... I'm a 32 year-old woman from Germany. I live together with my man, a cat, a dog and approximately 160 dolls here in Gotha.

I bought my first fashion doll (Integrity Toys Fashion Royalty Veronique Perrin) in 2010. 

In 2011, I started to photograph them. And from this moment, photography became my number one hobby and passion.

For me, both the photo and fashion are more important than the doll, but it is also very important that the doll should fit the concept.

If you have a dream home, where would you want to build it?

I don't have a dream place for my home. I would like to visit some countries, of course, but I want to live where my man is.

I'm together with him for now almost 14 years now, so where he is is where I want to be.

What’s on your work-in-progress table?

I don't really have a to do list or a work-in-progress table.

But once new Fashion Doll Quarterly themes are choosen, I start to think about what I can do for each issue.

Aside from doll photography, what are your other interests?

I love to read. Each week, I read about 2-3 books (watching TV bores me). I love exploring nature and photographing my pets.

How long have you been shooting dolls, and what got you started with it?

I took my first doll picture in 2011 and opened my Flickr Account to share them with all the other doll lovers.

How would you describe your style?

My photography style? Well, I don't think I have a special style, or what do you think?

I like to shoot them outside, or in the studio. Clean with no props, or in a diorama with tons of decorative items.

I guess, I just do it the way I like it at the moment...

How and when do you get inspired to create such beautiful pictures?

The inspiration comes from the fashion and the doll. I'm a sucker of handmade doll fashions and accessories. Really, I can't get enough of this, if you could see my doll wardrobe you couldn't believe how many pieces I have.

I can hardly separate myself from these things, especially when they are handmade. These pieces are treasures for me and I hold them in honor.

But of course I like to see the editorials from Voque, Elle and other Fashion Magazines. I adore the works of Kristian Schuller, he is my favorite photographer. I wish I would be as good as he is.

Do you have a favorite doll model/s to shoot? Who is it/are they, and why?

From Integrity Toys, I like Elise, Giselle, Eugenia, Vanessa, Agnes and the new Erin.

And I love all my Kingdom Dolls so much, they are just perfect in every incarnation.

From Mattel, I adore the Louboutin mold the most.

Can you pick some of the most favorite photos you took and why you like them a lot?

Oh well... I took so many, I'm sorry it's so hard to decide. But here are some I really adore:

I like how Poppy looks in the mirror here: 

I wanted to do something that shows jumping dolls, so this one I really like:

Below, I just love how her body looks: 

I just adore Poppy's dance step here: 

And last but not the least, I like the depth of this photo:

Yay! Poppy in an atelierniSHASHA creation! Woot!

What is your dream doll photoshoot?

I would love to have a DeMuse and Pidgin doll.

Indoor or outdoor photography? Why?

I like both, but if I could, I would do outdoor shoots more. I like to see them in natural light.

What basic equipment do you use in your indoor or diorama shots?

I have a Sony Alpha 58 camera, and I use at least 2 large studio lights with reflector shields.

What is your state of mind when you take those stunning outdoor photos of dolls against nature?

I think basically not much while photographing, it relaxes me and makes me forget the everyday. 

The only thing that matters is taking a pretty picture.

Any favorite doll photographer, or two? Why do you like him/her/them?

Ok, there are a few. 

I like Ryan Liang and Rocco Liang for their minimalist style.

Amber (APPark) for their absolutely awesome dioramas and styling.

And I love the work of Stacy Leigh, just look at her photos and you'll know why.

Is doll photography currently just a hobby for you? Are you likely to pursue a photography-related career in the future?

It is and will always be my hobby. Sure, it would be great to do this professionally, but I'm not a professional photographer, just a self-taught one.

You’ve been published numerous times, can you tell us which are your most favorite features and why?

I like the Kingdom Doll Chaucer Portfolio in the Fashion Doll Quarterly Autumn 2015 Issue or the Designer Portrait Series in the current issues.
And I'm proud of my two Tonner Doll prestige spreads in Haute Doll magazine.

How do you see doll photography 5 years from now?

I have no Idea... I let myself be surprised.

Any tips you can give novice DIY doll photographers like us on how to improve this craft?

I never use the camera flash for my photos so that the hair and face don't shine unnaturally.

Anything else you would like to say that may not be doll-related?

Firstly, I wanna say thank you to you, Shanon, for this lovely interview and for your support all these years.

And of course to all the people who like my photography and the warm words and comments they leave me. Without you guys I'm nothing, so thank you!

At least, I wanna say thank you to Patricia Henry for the opportunity to show my pictures in the glossy pages of Fashion Doll Quarterly Magazine.

... And that was the end of our interview with Michaela. Big thanks to you as well, Michaela for giving us your time, a bit of yourself and your talent, for us to enjoy and get inspiration from. We will surely be looking forward to seeing more of your beautiful doll photographs in the future.

My dear dollies, please catch Michaela in these media channels for more of the beautiful works of this talented young lady:

Flickr                           Facebook                         Instagram

Fashion Doll Quarterly                            Haute Doll


If I may, I'd also like to share Michaela's recent photos of my latest SHIFT dress collection. I'm just so honored to be given such an opportunity to collaborate with this talented lady.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Aki and some new blog series...

Hi guys! It's weekend and as usual, I'm wishing you a great one!

Today I'd like to share a few things. One of them is about a couple of blog series that I will be posting every month - Creative Doll Collector Interview and Doll Collecting Topics and Tips. These two blog series aim to reach out to as many doll friends I have to come together and talk about doll collecting, for us know our like-minded souls more, and to hopefully get tips from these friends of ours from all around the globe.

On Monday, I will be sharing the first ever post on the Creative Doll Collector Interview series. We will be getting to know more a published doll photographer who is self-taught and has a knack for styling (a prerequisite in DIY doll photography, I must say!)

I am very excited to give you these two series, because I believe we all need to connect with one another - especially those who "get" us, don't you think?

And for the other thing I'd like to share in this post, it's photo shoot time with atelierniSHASHA gals!

This is Aki. You've seen her in the previous post sporting her default hairstyle. Here she is now in a cool bob cut, and in Winter-to-Spring transitional outfit. We don't have winter here in my tropical country, so if I may be a bit off with my styling, please let me know, ayt? Tee hee..

Enjoy the photos, dollies and your weekend, too! Hugs and kisses ~~~ shasha