Studio artist modifies childhood toys


Roland Tomsic, Head Graphic Artist

Toys hold a special place in many of our hearts. For each of us, the specific toy is different. For many it was the “popular” toy of our childhoods. The brand names, “Beyblade” “Hot Wheels” and “Monster High Dolls” might bring back memories to some.

AP Studio artist Riley Quast has chosen to modify the “Monster High Dolls” of her childhood and turn them into pieces of unique art that highlight feelings, cultures, and landscapes. Her approach is to make fashion sketches and bring them to life in a three-dimensional form.

Quast gives these dolls makeovers by completely disassembling them then putting them back together with her own spin.

“I am changing dolls and making them into something else. I am re-doing their hair re-doing their face making clothes to make them fit a fashion sketch I’m doing for each of them so, I’m taking these old things and making them new,” Quast said.

She uses these dolls because each one has a different face sculpt and skin tone, allowing her to make each one distinctive.

Over the school year, AP Studio students must make 15 pieces of art that reflect their focus so Quast is making seven or eight dolls and the other half of her project will be a collage of her creative process.

As she has made her first few custom dolls Quast has learned a great deal. Going into this year, she had only a loose idea for designing a sewing pattern, following one, or even sewing. Scaling a human-sized piece of clothing to fit a doll has taken some trial and error.

“I have issues with the clothes; it’s really complicated,” Quast said. “I’m still trying to figure out how to make skirts and stuff.”

In addition to learning through the process, Quast’s idea developed from making each doll based on a flower into her current fashion based one.

“The first one I was going to do cherry blossoms. I came up with a very Japanese inspired outfit design, I finished it then I decided I was going to scrap the flower thing,” Quast said.

To make the dolls, Quast has developed a method of dismantling them, removing the painted-on face and the hair plugs, then sewing the clothes.

“To get rid of the face you have to put acetone on it, which is basically nail polish remover, and you just keep scrubbing until the whole face is gone. There is special sealant you have to get, and you put it on the face, and it will make things stick to it so you can actually draw on it—it gives it tooth. I use watercolor colored pencils because for some reason it has to be water based or it won’t work with the sealant,” Quast explained. “For the hair, the hair takes forever so I pull the head off and I pull the hair plugs out from the inside with pliers. Then I order the color I want online, and you stick it into a little needle tool and stick it in each individual hole in the head. It can take upwards of five hours.”

Quast spends roughly ten hours per doll outside of school and works hard during class.

Next year she plans to attend CSU and pursue her passion by majoring in fashion design.