I last did maintenance on my dolls when I first returned from hiatus Nov/Dec last year. My crew lead pretty active lives, and by now they've worn down their sueding and have my pawprints and the dust of the world all over them. 6-7 months is a good timeframe for some care.
Doll care looks like this: (a) unstring and wash/wipe all parts, (b) check sueding and replace as needed, (c) check elastic tension and retie knots or replace if needed, (d) restring. Syr and Justinian are single-jointed so I also wire them while restringing; Halcyon is double-jointed and doesn't need it.
I dislike hot glue-only sueding because it isn't durable and it degrades into a dirty, flaky mess. Now I cut out pieces of pleather (just some "vinyl leather" that I found at the fabric shop) to fit smoothly into the joints, and glue them in with hot glue. The pleather has thickness, so the ball jointing doesn't fit as snugly, but I think the benefits outweigh any downsides. It'll wear down and tear eventually, but it's much tidier to remove. I haven't tried silicone kips yet - something to do in future.
I string their elastic as tightly as I can manage -- the tighter, the better. I'd bought some 3.5mm elastic from Coolcat to refresh everyone. Unfortunately the elastic I received was completely unsuitable for stringing 1/3 dolls: it had barely any tension and couldn't support body weight at all. Disappointed. I should've been patient and waited for Coolcat to restock 4.5mm elastic...
For wiring, I've just given Justinian and Syr a single strand of 2mm/12-gauge wire, and so far I prefer this over their previous setup (two strands of 1.6mm/14-gauge wire twisted together). It makes them somewhat stiffer to pose, but increases their range of movement and enables them to maintain poses more reliably.
Not everyone finds maintenance as interesting as I do, so here are some photos...
Syr and Justinian both have old Dollstown bodies - single-jointed with three-part torsos. Stringing them is simple: one elastic loop for arms, one for torso and legs. Elastic thickness preferably at 4 - 4.5mm (the diameter that Dollstown uses), but really strong 3.5mm is fine too. They've always been straightforward to care for, and with sueding/wiring are now versatile and obliging posers.
And so reliable at standing: I dump these two onto the ground and they stand without fuss. It's those fat ankles: Dollstown bodies are notorious for having thick ankles, but they're easy to hide under shoes and clothes. I think it's a small sacrifice for their ability to hold all kinds of standing poses, in bare feet, on all kinds of surfaces.
Halcyon's Ariadoll body is double-jointed with a single-piece torso. She needs four loops of elastic: one for arms, one for torso and thighs, and one for each calf. Ariadoll originally sold optional heeled legs for this body, and to allow for easy leg swapping, the calves and normal flat feet are on a separate loop of string and connected to the thighs via long hooks. It's a smart system and doesn't destabilize the body, but a bit useless to me since I bought Halcyon's body secondhand without those additional legs.
This body is a pain to restring: the solid torso is tricky to navigate, and torso and limbs have very narrow channels -- so narrow, that I have a lot of trouble finding places to put the elastic knots, so that they're tucked away and don't interfere with elastic tension or movement of the body parts. It takes me about three times longer to string Halcyon than the other dolls, usually because I botch the knot placement and have to restart everything. She needs 3 - 3.5mm elastic: anything thicker won't fit into her limb channels.
She also has the unfortunate combination of a heavy torso, weak ankles, and tiny feet, so has trouble standing in bare feet. I experimented with ankle support through sueding and kips, but that just made her unable to stand at all. This frustrated me for several months, until today, when in a fit of ragequit I removed her ankle kips. Turns out that Halcyon doesn't want any assistance and would rather stand on her own naked ankles and feet. Nowhere as well as the other dolls, but at least she can do it now. On a hard floor. With some fiddling. I'd be more frustrated about this, if her body wasn't so beautiful and a graceful and natural poser otherwise. Though it's out of character, I might eventually buy/make her some geta to wear with kimono.
A weekend of doll care and everyone's looking happy...
Photos taken on 13-14 May, 2023.
I'm also trying out a photo watermark... probably time I made one, although I'm not sure if I like it! it'll take some getting used to.