The Winning Idea
Step one of any new doll is coming up with an idea. We wanted our contest winner to be something totally unique, and Cupcake fit the bill. The idea was sent in by Kamibashi fan Jordan along with a drawing (left) and her suggestion for the doll's power.
"I was thinking a cupcake type of doll, with a silver dress and pink frosting hair with sprinkles. Her name would be "Sweet Thing", and her doll power would be "Takes care of those sweet moments in life." I also included two sketches that I made of what she could look like."
Next we sent Jordan's picture to Thailand along with a drawing of our own rendition of a cupcake string doll and various cupcake pictures we had found online. In addition to sending pictures and sometimes drawings for each new doll, we also send detailed instructions about each of the separate parts of the doll.
Some new string dolls are fairly straightforward and we receive a picture of the first sample from our wonderful doll makers in Thailand within a week or so. Cupcake proved to be more difficult though, partly because her body, which would need to be clothed in a cupcake wrapper, was not going to be a typical string doll body. It needed to be round and to fill up the wrapper. About 3 weeks later we received the first sample, which really does look like the drawing we made!
Despite looking like the picture we had sent, this first sample was a little worrying... not sure if it was the color of string that they chose or if it just looked strange because her body and head were one and the same. Another concern at this stage was the use of the cupcake wrapper... would a paper wrapper be durable, or would it be a total disaster? We loved this cute flowery wrapper, but we had to be practical too.
We knew we needed to try again, pretty much starting from the beginning, and so we asked them to make the doll look more like Jordan's pictures, with the cupcake wrapper acting as a sort of dress. We received new samples about a week later.
How to get Cupcake to look more like... well, a cupcake!
These were definitely an improvement but she still needed a lot of work — we didn't think that anyone would be able to tell quite what she was, and so we asked our string doll artists to figure out how to stuff her cupcake wrapper so that she was big and round. We also decided that we didn't really like her in red (too dark), and so we asked them to do the next samples using the pink one with that cute paper wrapper from the very first sample, and a yellow one with a gold foil wrapper.
In addition, we requested some changes to her face. We weren't digging the lips these new samples were wearing and we wanted them to try something else. We also thought that the tip of their frosting made it look a little too much like they were wearing winter hats, and we so we asked them to make us two more samples which you can see to the right, both with eyelashes and a cherry on top and the below specifications:
A yellow doll with a gold foil cup, small beads for eyes, and no smileA pink doll with the cute paper cup, big beads for eyes, and a sewn red smile
Almost There: The Final Look
Now we were getting somewhere! The cupcake bodies looked so much better this time, and it was easy to choose who had the cuter face of the two. We also liked the extra bit of color that the cherry on top added. The eyelashes were adorable and a must — we wanted our Cupcake to be girly.
It was time to see them both in person so we asked our folks in Thailand to ship the two latest Cupcakes to us along with our monthly String Doll Gang order. When they arrived it was again clear that the pink one was for sure the cutest, but we worried again about the paper cup and its durability. Some string dolls are definitely more fragile than others and can't take the beating of everyday use that other dolls can, and it was clear that Cupcake would be on the fragile side, especially in her paper wrapper.
We asked for one more sample of the yellow Cupcake with the gold foil wrapper and her new face, and what we got back was even better than any of us could have imagined: the string making up the cake was beautifully wrapped as if an expert baker had made it herself. BRAVO — we were finally there, our delicious Cupcake! We only hope they can do it this perfectly every time, but as long as her face is cute and her cup is filled, we will take her any which way.
And finally, a String Doll Gang character is not complete without the fabric tag that has the doll's name on the front and their special power on the back. We at Kamibashi had met as a group somewhere in the middle of the above process and had decided on the below power, a mix of Jordan's original idea and our brainstorming. Note the typo in our website address, which is why even tags can go through more than one round of sampling!