kaleidoscope kustoms

May 29, 2012

As it has been rather a while since my last 'friends for tea', I am truly thrilled to be able to welcome my next wonderful guest and new friend to the blog today. As the creator of 'Aurora' the Travelling Blythe, the doll I shall be hosting in just a few days time, I am super excited to have Sarah of 'Kaleidoscope Kustoms' over today to talk about herself, her creations and how she got involved with this year's round of the Travelling Blythe project.

Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! Please tell us a little about yourself and your life outside of Blythe...
Hi, my name is Sarah Glahe. I am 35 years old and was born and raised in Northern Idaho. I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest my entire life and don’t ever see myself leaving this beautiful area that I’m so fortunate to live in. Currently we reside in Hope, Idaho which is just outside of our hometown of Sandpoint. I have loved being creative and artistic since I was little and actually had my design win the contest for our school mascot when I was in third grade. I went to college for Graphic Design and Photography and have done freelance work in both of those areas since I finished school. I have been married to my amazing husband for 10 years and have two beautiful children. I am a stay at home Mom and Blythe customizer and still do freelance work for friends and family.

How did you first discover Blythe?
My Mom actually introduced me to Blythe in 2006. She had come across a custom doll and had told me to check her out on eBay. I immediately fell in love with these big eyed girls and bought my first Blythe, a Prima Dolly Violet that I named Libby. At the time we couldn’t find much information on them and didn’t know of any forums or any other collectors so Libby sort of went on the back burner for awhile. When my husband finished up college my family went through several moves and Libby was packed away for a few years. When we finally got settled into our home she was unpacked and my love of Blythe was rekindled. I started researching Blythe and found the Plastic Paradise forum and Flickr which led me to Frankie Darling and the world of customization.

kaleidoscope kustoms
{ libby by kaleidoscope kustoms, now gone on to pastures new }

Before you got into customising, what was it that appealed to you most about this wide-eyed, oversized-headed doll?
I loved their quirkiness. I loved that they were so different from anything you could find in the stores in the United States. And I loved the fact that they could be customized into a one of a kind doll. I think a lot of the appeal to me besides the collecting aspect was the photography. I’ve always enjoyed photography and the idea of taking these dolls around to different locations and photographing them was right up my alley.

Your collection currently consists of purely customs (with one exception); what draws you to these particular incarnations of Blythe over others, and was it always so?
It’s true: a girl can’t stay stock in my house for long! Haha! When I sent my first girl off to Frankie Darling to get customized I was so nervous that I wouldn’t love her as much afterwards. But when I unwrapped her after she arrived home I fell completely in love! There was no going back for me and I was soon sending all of my girls off to be customized. The thing that I love about customizing is that each girl takes on their own personality. And the fact that most customizers won’t ever replicate a girl means that that girl is a one of a kind. My only stock Blythe is my Kozy, MacKenzie. She was my grail girl and is very special to me. I could never bring myself to change anything about her because I fell in love with her just the way she is.

kaleidoscope kustoms
{ kaleidoscope kustoms blythe family, easter 2012 }

So how and when did you yourself decided to get into customising Blythe?
I researched customizing for about 4 months. I read everything that I could get my hands on about it on the forums and the internet. I finally got brave enough to try it in December 2010 and bought a Nicky Lad as my first “victim”. I was scared to death to even try and open her at first but went slowly, consulting websites every 5 minutes. I even sent emails to Frankie, whom had become a friend, asking questions about how to do this and that. I ended up loving the entire process once I got into it and I knew I was hooked immediately. I customized several more girls that I bought myself and started getting emails from fellow collectors about purchasing my girls or doing commissions. I have to admit I was surprised that others loved my girls enough to want one of their own, but I was still pretty shy about doing commissions on other people’s dolls. Eventually I became confident enough to start taking commissions and here I am today!

With their bright colours and style, your custom girls are very distinctive; where do you draw your inspiration for them from?
I have always loved color! In college you could always tell my work from everyone else’s because mine would be the brightest one up there. Haha! I think my love of color definitely comes through on my customs and that is where I came up with my customizing name, Kaleidoscope Kustoms. I get my inspiration from everything around me…nature, music, art, color combinations, books. I am constantly looking at things and thinking “Oh, that would make an awesome custom!”

What is you favourite part of customising these big-eyed dolls? What keeps you coming back for more?
Honestly I would have to say that I really love the beginning, middle and end! I like to do the planning part of a girl. Picking out all of her eyechips and the color combinations she will have with her theme and searching for that special charm that will go with her theme. My absolute favorite part of customizing is doing the eyelid art. I love creating tiny works of art on these girls that make them so unique. There are so many possibilities out there for lid art that I don’t think I could ever run out of ideas! I also really enjoy seeing them 'come to life' in their owners’ photos. It makes me feel so good to make someone happy with a custom that I’ve created for them.

kaleidoscope kustoms
{ beautifully detailed eyelid art for island paradise custom no.69, by kaleidoscope kustoms }

What advice would you offer to anyone interested in trying out customising for themselves?
I would say research, research, research. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t give up either! Everyone starts somewhere and practice is the only thing that will help you improve.

And for those of us who are not brave enough to give customising a go ourselves, what should we look out for in selecting a customiser to work with?
I think that you have to find a customizer that you like their style and the previous customs that they’ve made. Every customizer has a unique style and you can’t really ask them to change who they are or what they create.

What does your studio space look like? How/when do you like to work?
Oh how I wish I actually had a studio space! Haha! I do all of my custom work at my kitchen table. I have a little cabinet with all of my supplies stashed away in it and when I’m working I pretty much take over the entire dining area. Sometimes it will be like that for days until the rest of my family gets annoyed at me enough that I put it all away. I usually work during the days when my kids are both in school and it’s just me and my music with no interruptions. I will only work on one girl at a time because I feel like each girl deserves my individual attention. So I will start a girl and usually have her finished within a couple days. I’m a Mom first, so sometimes it will take a bit longer when real life gets happens but I really try hard not to have a girl here for spa time for very long.

How did you get involved with this year’s Travelling Blythe project?
That’s a funny story. I had actually emailed Linda about being a host to one of the traveling girls this year because I had been on the waiting list from last year. We started sending emails back and forth and she ended up asking me if I would like to create one of the travelers because she had wanted to surprise everyone with a third customizer. Of course I was totally blown away and honored that she would want to include me in the project. Without hesitation I said yes!

What was your brief and inspiration behind your traveller? Please tell us about her creation...
Well I wanted to use a girl that I hadn’t seen a ton of and of course she had to have fantasy colored hair because that is just me. So I picked Simply Thumpty Thump because I had seen her in person when I had done some lid art for one of my clients and had totally fallen in love with her hair color! I wanted to do a theme that I knew a lot of the hosts would like and since owls are so popular right now I went with that idea. So from the owl idea came the moon idea and after that she just started taking on her own personality from there.

kaleidoscope kustoms
{ aurora the travelling blythe, by kaleidoscope kustoms }

Thank you so much for interviewing me Beka! I really enjoyed answering all of your questions and love being able to share a little glimpse into my life with the Blythe community.

Well thank you too, Sarah, for taking the time to answer all my questions so beautifully. It really has been wonderful to get to know you and your creative process this way. And once more let me also say how excited and grateful I am to be able to see one of your girls up close, thanks to the 'Travelling Blythe' project! I promise to take and share lots of photographs of her while she is here with me in Canada! XO, Beka ©

Kaleidoscope Kustoms Elsewhere
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