Monday, August 8, 2016


To most non-collectors the idea of customizing an American Girl doll- ripping off her wig, swapping out eyes, painting on makeup or freckles- seems kinda, well... a bit out there. And I get that.  When people curiously and invariably ask the whys- I respond that customization should be viewed as an art form- and the dolls as a canvas or a medium for expression. Deconstruction, Rehab and Rebirth! If that seems too philosophical or dramatic for a doll hobby then oh well.  It's just fun.  No different than any other hobby that happily eats away at your free time and drains your wallet. :)

I cannot recall the first custom AG doll I saw.  Probably a long time ago.  But I do remember the first time I saw a customized Marie Grace doll. That was when I had the "why didn't I think of doing that" moment. And that's really what starting the ball rolling for me. 

Currently I have seven customized dolls. That list does not include dolls that I only gave freckles or beauty marks to or simply changed their wig to a side part, so I did not include them here in my blog post. The list also does not include an eighth doll- a Jess mold with hazel eyes still awaiting a wig swap that I cannot seem to decide on. 


Charlotte was my first customized Marie Grace mold doll. She has brown eyes and #56's wig which I loosened the curl on with a hot water rinse.  I also lightened her eyebrows a little by removing some of the original and repainting with a lighter color. I rosied up her cheeks with some pastel chalk too. I will admit that I had a specific person in mind that I modeled this doll after.  She still remains my favorite customized doll.


For a long time I will admit that I wasn't a big fan of the Jess mold. But I started really warming up to the various customs I would see on the web. When I had Marie Grace's eyes swapped to brown it was the perfect opportunity to create my own Jess mold custom- with blue eyes.  She's a #30 with Marie Grace's eyes and a super light smattering of freckles. 


When #62 (Sonali mold/medium vinyl/amber eyes) was released last year I knew right away who she was going to be and what I wanted to do with her. She has #55's wig with a center part. I should have done a side by side comparison with her and my Alisande (my renamed Sonali) to illustrate the differences in hair, eye and skin tone between the two dolls.  A post for another day. 


Skylar started out in the world as an Elizabeth.  She has Ruthie's grey eyes and #22's wig.  I painted over the original line brows and made them a darker shade and added little bit of a feathered look using a Prismacolor art marker. 


Another Marie Grace mold doll. She has her original blue eyes, Saige's wig and a face full of painted on freckles.  I just adore freckles.  I guess mostly because I personally don't have any. 

I also transformed the vest she's wearing.  It's the current American Girl Love to Layer vest.  I carefully removed all the "interesting circles" from the front and I love the result. 


Teagan is a #22 with painted on freckles and a light blond short "feathered"wig.  The wig is actually two different wigs that I sort of morphed together.  I purchased two short blonde "boy" wigs, completely deconstructed one of them and sewed it's pieces strategically onto the other. Doing so added length to the sides and to the back to get that wispy, feathered look. 


Sadly the #4 mold was retired years ago. I hope one day AG sees fit to bring her back.  My custom #4 has #41's wig which has been straightened. I also added a few freckles- a trait which I know is not terribly common for asian people- but not unheard of. I chose not to repaint her line brows, as I think they suit her delicate features.


Valentina is my last Marie Grace mold doll.  I probably won't add another unless AG uses her mold again for another historical or modern doll in a hair and eye combination I find appealing.  She has hazel eyes and Jess's wig. I added a little color to her brows and also drew on a few eyelashes to her upper eye lid. 

My goal is to add a couple more customs to the line up.  As American Girl keeps evolving and releases characters with new and different wigs and face molds I'm sure I will continue to find inspiration.