Things have been going alternately well and ill, depending on which model I'm working on. My AE (Syrie) has been the easiest to work with. I've only done light changes to her, most working on her hair and sand-matting her face. Her hair is... a challenge. It looks great in photos, but is still frizzy if touched too much and feels, well, gross. The sand-matting went really well, as it had for my RRe. I find it to be one of the easiest and most dramatic customizations you can do. It completely changes the look of your doll. I use 800 grit sandpaper to take off the shiny finish, using light pressure while moving in a small circular motion over the entire head. I prefer paper to the sanding pads recommended by Puchi Collective, but the tutorial on their site is excellent. After sanding I always buff lightly with a clean cotton rag to get a semi-matte finish.
Here's some before and after shots of Syrie to show the difference.
On the other hand, Nouvelle, my RRe, has proven to be much more of a challenge. I wanted to change her eyelashes... which I decided I needed to open up her head to do. The RRe is an SBL model, which means this is a lot of work. The "traditional" method for opening an SBL head requires scalping the doll and then sawing the plastic dome inside to separate the face plate from the rest of the head. I had heard talk online that it's possible to open SBL heads without sawing, and decided to try the "new" method. Scalping was pretty easy. There was no glue to speak of and the flanges all came out completely in tact. However, pulling the flange out did snap one plastic bit of the gutter in the front - yikes. The next step is to release the eye spring (no problem) and remove the body (accomplished with a bit of work) then soak the head in hot water to soften the glue holding it together. Then you are to pry the pieces apart and go on your merry way. This was not how things worked out. After much soaking and even more prying, wiggling, and swearing, I still have a fused head. I am sorry to say that I did become rather impatient and put several gouges into the plastic along the seams prying with a screwdriver (I'm guessing that's frowned upon in dolly circles, ha,ha). I'm hoping I can sand these out later. I did get all of Nouvelle's eyelashes removed, hooray, and I am still determined to perform the lobotomy. I just need to rest my tired hand muscles and rebuild my patience a little so I don't smash her open with a hammer.
I will call this "a learning experience", rather than "a clusterfuck" and move on. By which I mean buy more dolls.