Interview with Sylvia Colasacco from S.Cola Custom Dolls

Sylvia Colasacco or S.Cola as she’s known in the dolly world started more than a decade ago and developed a style that is sweet and somehow melancholic. In this interview, she explains how she got into Blythe doll customization and what are her favorite parts of this process.

Have fun with it, start slowly. Start with the idea that you’re making your ultimate doll. Do it for yourself.

Sylvia Colasacco / S.Cola Custom Dolls

DollyCustom posed 12 questions to Sylvia Colasacco about her history as a customizer, her process, and techniques. Here are those questions:

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I wear a few hats, mainly wife, mother, artist and wannabe musician. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest in the US (United States of America) with my husband and three children. I’ve always been artistically inclined and graduated with a degree in Art.

When and how did you discover Blythe dolls?

Not too long after my oldest got her first Barbie doll in 2006, I found I had an interest in dolls, particularly the Asian Fashion Dolls. I started collecting Momokos and quite a few of the collectors also collected Blythe. At first, I thought she was freakish, but it didn’t take long after seeing her cute photos on Flickr to find myself no longer immune to her irresistible charm. I found myself looking through eBay and was really attracted to Rainy Day Parade. I still have her stock, but she has since been customized and lives with a dear collector friend of mine, Maggie (aka Blythestolemyheart). She became a troubled Gothic girl named Wendy Dreary.

How long did it take for your style to emerge?

Good question! I think I started off more into the darker sadder but still cute look. They have to have a childlike innocence about them. I was also attracted to the more retro Mod look but have since evolved into doing the more childlike look and occasionally the more dark sad girl.

Do you do this as a hobby or professionally?

Somewhere in between. It started off as a way to get more dolls and their sundries and all the other things related to the hobby like traveling to conventions. At the same time, I strive to get better and better at the craft and am always glad when a collector feels a connection with my dolls. I’ve made quite a few friends along the way.

What is your creative process like? Do you plan your custom dolls from start to finish or just go with the flow?

Usually, I like making a cute little companion. Depending on the hair I’m using that can help with the color scheme. Sometimes it relates to the season if it’s spring, fall, etc. Sometimes I get a concept that comes from my inner mood. Like when I did the Broken series, it came from a place, an idea that this character had suffered something and it manifested in a more physical way.

What is your favorite part of this process and your least favorite?

My favorite part is seeing her personality and expression emerge. Also when she’s about to go back together but that can also be my least favorite part because she doesn’t always behave. Especially stubborn eye-chips that don’t want to go in.

How long does it take you to customize one doll? Do you do one at a time or multiple?

If I really put my mind to it, it can take less than a week, but I usually do a bit here and there so it can take at least two weeks. I can only do one at a time. I’ve thought of trying to do more at once, but it just doesn’t work for me. I prefer to dedicate fully to one doll at a time.

Where do you work on your dolls? Do you have a dedicated workplace?

A lot of times I work at the kitchen table, but I do have my own studio in the basement which I end up eventually to do airbrushing and all the other finishing work.

How would you characterize your style?

Cute, childlike, sometimes dark and sad. I feel like my lips are influenced by my son, so I see a little of him and my girls in the dolls.

What are your favorite tools? What is your favorite Blythe mold to customize?

I love my flat Niji chisel. It’s very versatile, but I have to remember to sharpen it. I have lots of carving tools, but that’s the one I use the most. Also, the Dremel diamond bits are useful. As far a molds, FBL is my favorite. They’re so cute. I wish there were more of them. Then followed by RBL/RBL+

How did you develop the pricing model for your dolls?

I eventually got to charging $600 for a commission. I’ve stopped taking new commissions, so I add the cost of the doll and materials to my commission price.

For the beginner customizer, what advice would you give them?

Have fun with it, start slowly. Start with the idea that you’re making your ultimate doll. Do it for yourself. What doll would you want for yourself? Then go and make her! Less is more at first. You can always add, but it’s harder to fix if you carve away too much.

A decade of customizing dolls is a long time. Sylvia started back in 2007 when this art was still in the beginning. Her style evolved to be a mix of sweet and melancholic looking doll, inspired by her children and sometimes the season. I hope you enjoyed learning more about S.Cola’s process, techniques, and history. Don’t forget to follow her on social media by checking her profile page.

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