Interview with Tiina Vanhatupa

Tiina is most definitely one of the most famous Blythe doll customizers out there. Her realistic style makes you stop and take longer to look at her dolls. She’s a prolific customizer and very active on social media sites, like Instagram. She shares a lot of her work in process, so make sure to check her profile page after reading this interview.

Practice a lot. Ask questions. Find tutorials. Try different tools. Do your own thing. And practice again.

Tiina Vanhatupa

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

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I am Tiina. I come from Finland but live in Scotland. I am 39 years old. I have a small business and I customize dolls for a living.

Tiina and one of her custom dolls
Tiina and one of her custom dolls

When and how did you discover Blythe dolls?

I discovered Blythe back in 2010 and was instantly hooked.

How long did it take for your style to emerge?

I feel like my style is constantly changing.

Do you do this as a hobby or professionally?

It started out as a hobby but it is now my dream job 🙂 I am very happy.

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

I never sketch anything. Sometimes I have a plan in my head. A theme. But most of the time I just go with the flow. I find this is when I create my best dolls. One reason I don’t do commissions.

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

Favourite part is carving and doing the makeup. I also love to see the girl put together. 
Least favorite part is doing lid art and assembling the doll.

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

I usually have 1-3 dolls on the table at once. I start by taking them apart and removing chips and lashes etc. Then I work on one at a time.

Usually, it takes me a few days to do a girl from start to finish. So around 12 working hours. The most time-consuming part is sanding.

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

I work from my small home studio. Basically, a small bedroom turned into an office. 
Ideally, I would like to have a studio outside the home with more creative people around me. It’s a lonely job.

Tiina’s dedicated workplace

How would you characterize your style?

My style is ever changing. At the moment I would describe my style as “realistic”. Because I love playing with realistic lips and skin texture.

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

My favorite tools are my surgical scalpels. I started with those 7 years ago and still count on them like an old friend.

I think plastic wise RBL is the best mold because of the thickest plastic. But I do love an SBL. Challenging but lovely once finished.

How did you develop the pricing model for your dolls?

There is no specific way I calculate the price. It depends on the price of the base doll, whether the doll has a re-root, clothes…

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

Take your time. Do not rush. Don’t give up if you make mistakes (I just ruined a face plate yesterday beyond repair). Practice a lot. Ask questions. Find tutorials. Try different tools. Do your own thing. And practice again.

Tiina’s style is one of the most realistic in the realm of Blythe doll customization. Everyone would like to achieve that kind of mastery. Only time and a lot of experimentation will get you to that level, but it is worth it. Her dolls are impressive, they look like real tiny people that breathe just like us. Tiina also goes beyond the technique, she does all styling, clothes, accessories, everything creates a tiny being that it’s impossible not to desire.

Make sure you check Tiina’s profile page to follow her on the social media. She’s very active on Instagram where you can follow her work in progress and life with dolls.


  • Dolls: 100+
  • Started: 2010
  • How to Purchase: Direct purchase via Tiina Customs Store
  • Favorite Customizers:Oh there are so many! The list would be too long.