Friday, January 23, 2009

Trip to Saratoga Scarlett O' Hara doll by Robert Tonner

Walter Plunkett illustration of the "Saratoga" outfit. 
Image from Tonner doll website

Robert Tonner's Trip to Saratoga dress is an interpretation of one of Walter Plunkett's designs for Gone with the Wind. The dress was never made for the film. It is supposedly for a scene wherein Scarlett comes from or goes to  Saratoga. There was no such point in the Gone with Wind plot and only a mention: "When I was in Saratoga, I never saw any Yankee girls taking naps", says Scarlett refuting Mammy's admonition of her to take an afternoon nap at Twelve Oaks. Of course, she had other plans that afternoon than to take a nap, rather make a reality of her dream to declare her love for Ashley. 
Tonner's Saratoga dress is a wonderful Civil War piece with rich ruffles on the bodice and sleeves. The coat is made of pale silk pink (if I am correct). Its twill skirt is rather heavy and lined with black and pink lines to make the square/block designs. The outfit comes with a hat topped with lace ruffles similar to the sleeves and bodice (parasol has been added via photoshop). The shoes of this doll are little delightful pieces -- in period with a buckle (I lost one buckle though in the process of its shipment). The doll also holds a little handkerchief bordered with lace.  I am, however told that this dress was originally a design for Emmy Slattery (a character in Gone With the Wind).

Here is my portrait of  Robert Tonner's Mrs. Kennedy doll and the "Waiting for Pa" doll wearing the "Trip to Saratoga" outfit. I've rendered one  to look like a charcoal illustration against a Victorian background. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Scarlett O' Hara: Blue Velvet Portrait Gown

The mysterious blue portrait gown in Rhett Butler's room. 
It makes a cameo in Gone with the Wind, where Rhett throws a glass at the portrait.  

One of the gowns done by Franklin Mint, which is briefly seen in the movie - and not even worn by the actress, only in a painting in Rhett Butler's room. The blue velvet done is rich and soft. I love the way this dress drapes when photographed; also the way it reflects light. It is not made to fit the Tonner Scarlett doll but since the doll is articulated it gives life to this beautiful dress. The sleeves are filled with soft sponge-y material to give it that puffed up look. It comes with blue shoes and a pearl tiara which the doll is not wearing here. Franklin Mint also gave this ensemble a shawl which is faithful to the way the shawl looks on the painting. It is however, very, very fragile. One tug and you can destroy this little accessory. The Franklin Mint Blue Velvet gown is very rare. I was lucky to have found it securely tagged in Ebay -- and bidded for it till the wee hours of the morning. I hope you enjoy the portraits as much as I did making them. Here it is worn by my most cooperative subject, my repainted Tonner Scarlett O' Hara doll. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Vanity Fair : Robert Tonner Gone with the Wind Scarlett O' Hara dolls Restyled and Repainted

The nice thing about an articulated doll is any imagined scene can come to life. I've always loved Vanity Fair covers specially their Hollywood issues, so I thought of posing some of my Scarlett dolls ala Vanity Fair. Missing here: Kissing Ashley Goodbye doll and Trip to Saratoga.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Noel Cruz Scarlett no one saw

Noel Cruz is, in my opinion, an ace-artist when it comes to portraits. I came across his repaints when google-ing up doll repaints and found his beautiful, beautiful portraits on Ashton Drake's Gene. Of course, it was his interpretation of Scarlett that captured my attention. 

It was fortunate that he was Filipino like me because it easily gave us a connection. Emailing him, I was also fortunate to receive his kind and generous reply. A busy person as he is, I could never imagine my idol in doll repainting replying to my emails. It was also timely as he had done something which captured my interest even more and increased my adulation for
his talent - Tonner's Scarlett in the Twelve Oaks day dress. I was amazed at how he was able to patiently lay on detail after detail on the doll, how his repaint captured light and shadow creating the most realistic and life-like feature possible. Unparalleled and unsurpassed, his repaints remain to be my standard when it comes to doll repainting. See more of his repaints in 

After doing his second Tonner Scarlett (Kissing Ashley Goodbye), he was very kind to have sent me an email with a picture of this doll dressed in Franklin Mint's  "curtain dress"; a photograph he never posted in ebay nor in his site. I share this now with you all, my little Noel Cruz token of his talent and friendship. 

Doll fashions by Alana Bennett: "Scarlett" (1994) ballroom gown

Three portraits of Alana Bennett's interpretation of the ballroom gown worn in "Scarlett" (1994) miniseries. 
The ballroom gown worn by actress Joanne Walley-Kilmer in "Scarlett" the miniseries (1994) from the site (Fashion in Film).

Last year, I emailed Alana Bennett with the idea of having a gown made for my Tonner Scarlett. There are a lot of possibilities in costuming this doll from Victorian to post-Victorian to even modern day dresses. I thought of having a gown done close to the theme of GWTW but one that has never been seen in the film.  "Scarlett", the miniseries was replete with wonderful gowns and dresses which were in period, and in my opinion were truthful to the way dresses were made in that era. 
Unlike the movie Gone with the Wind, I think these were more accurate. Sadly, "Scarlett" in the miniseries, had so many costume changes it was so hard to keep track of their detail. I found a photo of this gown in site which featured an exhibit of fashion in film. Alana was most interested in doing this gown upon presentation to her. I was actually amazed at how beautiful it came to be. It is not a direct doll version of the gown but it definitely gives the doll an elegance befitting of the character it represents. 

Alana gave me additional gloves, pantalents, a nice beaded night bag/purse and hooped skirt with it. A great value for a dress that didn't cost so much. 

The costume designer for Scarlett TV was the great Marit Allen ("Brokeback Mountain", "The Secret Garden", "Love in the Time of Cholera", etc). For Scarlett, Ms. Allen earned the Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Miniseries or Special. A refined woman whose attention to detail is evidenced in the research she did for the miniseries and her other works. Ms. Allen died of brain aneurysm  in November 26, 2007 at the age of 66.  

Alana Bennett continues to do wonderful fashions for dolls. Visit her website at 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Robert Tonner Gone with the Wind Scarlett O' Hara Doll : Moods by photoshop

(Latest addition to the photos. Light and shadows created thru Photoshop.)

With photoshop, one can create lots of moods and little tricks. Here are a few of my favorites. For instance in these four photos: The one where we see the doll lying down had the intention of capturing Scarlett's desolation (perhaps in having plans foiled). So, I adjusted her eyebrows a little bit to give her that mood of sadness. I also lessened the smile on her lips. The first photo (upper left) was a very blurred photo (sorry eyesight in check here). I had to use the "Sharpen More" under the Filter tool in Photoshop to create contrast. Photo has also been retouched to add more light and shadow around her. In the other black and white photo (which was rather blurry) was adjusted using the filter tools: Diffuse Glow, Paint Daubs and another tool under Image (Adjustments), called Desaturate. I also took out the line that connects the elbows to make her look...well, more human. 
With that, the doll can be anything you imagine her to be. Of course, too much photoshop can make the doll look not like she was originally. In the same way if you photoshop a person too much in his/her photo, she's not the subject anymore.  So you'll have to control yourself with that. Anyways, enjoy the photos. I will try to feature other dolls which I have (not many) soon. Have a nice week!!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Doll Photography: Tonner Scarlett Gone with the Wind (repainted)

Here is an example of what photoshop can do. The picture on the top was shot against a mocha-colored sofa. With photoshop, the background can be changed to put the subject in let's say a "toile" background.  There are immense possibilities here in terms of backgrounds. Of course it is better to have actual things behind, but for lack of a toile background (for instance), as it is a difficult material to find, one can create the material for it. 

The mood of the lighting can also be fixed in photoshop. There is no need for a actual directional lighting. Everything can be controlled. And the opportunities for play and imagination can be maximized to your heart's delight. 

Saturday, January 10, 2009

DOLL PHOTOGRAPHY: Doll portraitures

My Audrey Hepburn, shot with a mirror behind her, the line that divides mirror and wall was erased via photoshop. Additional shadows where also placed via photoshop. I thought photographing the dress and showing its back would be more appropriate, after all it is a Givenchy-inspired dress. 

This is another gown done by Alana Bennett inspired by the TV Series "Scarlett" (Alana gave me additional gloves, hooped skirt, pantalets and a night purse with ribbon, that's how generous she is). The dress is actually blue. I changed the color in photoshop via the "Replace color" function. The background is a draping of multiple layers of tulle.  The doll stands on a grey table. 

This photo was taken today, beside the window. Here is where available light is used to shoot the subject. I added more light in photoshop thru the "brightness/contrast" tool, as well as enhanced the saturation of the color. Doll's hair has been photoshop-ed to take out flyaways (those little strands).

This is where it all began. I had one yellow light lamp source and nothing more. The Franklin Mint Scarlett has not been retouched. I wanted her seated with an overflow of layers in her gown on the floor. She reflects light very well. 

This is my Timeless Treasures Scarlett by Mattel. She also photographs well. Light and shadow fall well on her sculpt. I added some "divine light" there thru photoshop. Notice that the draping of the dress as well as the accessories have been arranged to capture light and shadow. 

Doll portraiture seems to be my favorite pastime. Not that I have too many dolls (they are very expensive and can take up so much space) mostly GWTW dolls seem to occupy most of my space and time. I knew for a fact that dolls may not last. Time will tarnish the pristine quality by which we came to first know them. So, by accident, while sick and bored I just snapped a shot of my Franklin Mint Scarlett. I had but one lamp, nightime in my room and the doll. I was surprised how this doll was able to reflect the light well. So I did a little more shots and came up with some interesting photos (in my opinion). From then on, it was a love affair with Scarlett as my favorite model (more so now because I have one which is articulated -- but not so much as to pose her a la Sybarite). Many people ask me about tips about how I shoot dolls, so let me share what I un-professionally know. I hope it will help. 

1. PREP THE MODEL: Make sure hair and dress are in place. ?Have a little toothpick to push excess strands out. Fix the fitting of the dress too. Make sure accessories: earrings, necklace and whatever are all in place and complete.  It may help to tape the necklace at the back so when you pose the doll, it doesn't move around. 
2. HAVE A PEG: I always check glamour shots of Hollywood in the 30's and 50's. Also I research on Vanity Fair Hollywood. Just google it up and you'll find some interesting shots by Annie Liebovitz or Richard Avedon, Steven Meisel of Vogue.  BE REALISTIC. When you look for what you want, be sure you're doll can adopt the pose. Make sure you have the background for it too. Do you need drapings for the back? Velvet would be good but make sure it contrasts with the hair and the dress. I use solid colors and drape that with tulle sometimes for drama. But a good solid background is okay. 
3.LIGHTING : I have 2 lamps which I can angle well to create the kind of mood for the doll. I also have a board of aluminum foil (foil: smoothened, then stuck to cardboard) to create some reflections. I never use flash when I shoot as it creates harsh shadows which are for me, are not so nice for a glamour shot. 
4. CAMERA: Can you believe I originally just used a 3.5 megapixel phone camera. Now I either use an IXUS digital camera or my new phone a Samsung 5 megapixel camera. The IXUS digital camera has a connection to the computer which allows you to view and download/transfer selected shots to your desktop or files. From there you can upload to your favorite site. SHOOTING THE DOLL means knowing her best angles. The Franklin Mint doll photographs very well. Tonner's Scarlett has to be angled to avoid the strong jaw. Shoot the doll like you're shooting a real person. FOLLOW THE RULE OF THIRDS. The Rule of Thirds is a rule that you never shoot the focal point of the photograph in the center. In my photos, I always try to put the face off center.  
5. PHOTOSHOP: I learned photoshop when I was in the Publishing industry. I was Creative Director there but during my spare time would practice retouching photos of celebrities and socialites, beauty spreads, fashion spreads and even covers. I would encourage you to get a photoshop program for your computer because you can do a lot of retouching: You can take out backgrounds, put in backgrounds, fix the hair, clean up any little detail so the photo can be as beautiful as you want it to be. I use photoshop tools very minimally specifically, the "clone" tool, the airbrush tool, the liquify tool (ahhh many a skirts where fixed with that, waists made smaller too), and the filter tools: paint daubs, film grain, sketch, etc. You'll learn as you discover it one by one thru trial and error. 

Well that's all for now. Happy doll photoshoots to you all! 

Friday, January 9, 2009

Recreated.Repainted: Tonner Gone with the Wind Rhett Butler from Basil St. John doll

When Tonner Doll Company released their Scarlett, it was to much of the dismay of Scarlett doll collectors that the doll-heroine did not look much like the actress despite the press releases claiming: "in the likeness of Vivien Leigh" (there is a disclaimer though in the end that says: intended likeness). 

But that didn't stop collectors from buying Tonner's Scarlett. Personally, it is the additional costumes, the articulation that made the doll appealing to the market. But when Tonner released their Rhett Butler version, not only were collectors dismayed, they were aghast at the lack of likeness with the actor whether intended or not. Tonner's Rhett Butler lacked the suave coolness and masculinity that the character was immortalized for. Brought to life by Clark Gable, Rhett Butler has been done by World Doll, Franklin Mint and Mattel (Mattel's sculpt, in my honest opinion the closest to the actor). 

I felt my Scarlett needed a man. The story was not complete without a Rhett. I thought of repainting the existing Tonner Rhett but the mold, the frame of the doll was not beefy and lacked the leading man attributes if placed vis-a-vis Tonner's Scarlett. So, scouting ebay I found Effanbee's Basil St. John. Thought of it. Saw that the hair could be styled. Had the widow's peak that could work for a Rhett. And so I purchased it. 

It is not Clark Gable, but in my opinion it looks good in Tonner's wonderful Rhett Butler suit. The suit's colors are accented by a pale pink vest. It is a 3-piece suit with a nice cravat accented with a pearl very much like Clark Gable's Rhett Butler suit. What's nice about the Basil St. John doll I got was its socks had gartered holders that held the socks up. Very becoming of a rich man like Rhett. The shoes are uniquely made for each foot. 

So, here you are Effanbee's Basil repainted as Rhett. I hope Scarlett will like him. Only the chemistry in the coming photo sessions will tell. He ain't Clark Gable, I surely hope he can live up to a Rhett. 

Friday, January 2, 2009

Doll fashions by Alana Bennett: Jezebel Gown Recreated

I have always been enchanted by the virginal white gown worn by Bette Davis in her Southern movie, Jezebel. Its voluminous layered skirt edged with lace detail creates a cloud on which the bodice stands, fluttery shoulders of lace move down the front. I thought this a nice gown for Tonner Scarlett which I had just recently attempted to repaint. My best bet was one who loved GWTW dolls, enjoyed sewing and had the patience for detail. And so I found myself approaching Alana Bennett ( What you see are her re-creations of the Jezebel white gown. The layers are not as much but what is important is it captures the look of the dress. This is also my first repaint -- my first attempt. I repainted on the existing factory paint of the Tonner Scarlett doll. I had no 20/0 brush and no magnifying lamp. An very tedious task indeed. Doll in between legs, magnifying glass in one hand, paintbrush (the smallest available) was how the repaint was done. After this doll, I think I found the gumption to proceed with a complete erasure of factory paint on my next Scarlett doll. It was daunting considering the dolls are pricey. It was also very enriching, as you discover the process of repainting -- thru hit and miss. Well, here she is, The Jezebel White Gown by Alana Bennett! Enjoy the pictures.