Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oscars Tribute to Vivien Leigh: Lady Olivier

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The most anticipated event in entertainment happens tomorrow here at exactly 9:30 a.m. I cannot of course deny that one of my favorite actresses happens to be the main subject of this blog. 
I repainted the "Travelling with Mother to Savannah". This is actually a repaint on a repaint -- now having better brushes  -- and better eyeglasses. 
It is also to forget the fact that I lost the Tonner Portrait doll I was ordering. Mislabeled package, courier not alerted to the arrival of the package are just  a few of the reasons my US courier gave me. That paid with lots of savings on my account, I have nothing to gain and all lost. 
But...I'll think about that tomorrow.
Meantime, I channelled all frustration on productivity. Saturday, having fixed all errands and having some chest pains from God knows what (definitely not the "large heart" the doctor says I have after an MRI), I decided to repaint using an older Vivien Leigh look as a peg. 
It somehow helped. I did a little photoshoot of what Vivien Leigh may have looked entering the Oscars -- perhaps for "Streetcar Named Desire" -- wonder if she did go up the stage to receive that Oscar. 
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Vivien had only 2 Oscars in her film career. But those two were the most memorable performances in Hollywood history. One, the coveted role of Scarlett, and the other the fierce and fearless Blanche DuBois in "Streetcar Named Desire". 
Many of her colleague actors say that "Streetcar" was probably one of the most dangerous roles she ever accepted -- as it was so close to home. As Blanche she played the fallen Southern Belle who loses all hold on reality ("I want magic...yes, yes, magic! I don't tell the truth. I tell what ought to be the truth" - Blanche). Opposite the fiery Arian, Marlon Brando only a the fire and talent of a fiery Scorpio could survive: Vivien Leigh. Till today, I have seen several versions of Streetcar Named Desire and no Blanche has come close to the tension and fragile disposition that Vivien displayed on screen. She was on the verge of breakdown (in reel and real life). And of course, we all know that there could never ever be another Scarlett. 

So here finally are the what I purposely tried to do: magical portraits of dearest Vivien -- who need not be so talented because she was so beautiful, and need not be too beautiful because she was so talented (a favorite line from Vivien Leigh: Scarlett and Beyond). The gown is by Alana Bennett (an adaptation of a gown worn in Scarlett the Sequel to GWTW TV Series). Pearls are  from a Franklin Mint Gibson girl dress.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A possible sculpt: Tonner Anne Harper as Scarlett

The Anne Harper head sculpt seems to show some promise as a Scarlett sculpt contender. When you look on that nose and the lips (that don't end up in half-smile), you wonder why didn't they use this mold instead. I'm no sculpt expert and since we yet have to see the new Vivien Leigh sculpt that Tonner released with the Mrs. Charles Hamilton doll, I have to conclude that the current Scarlett sculpt makes it hard to imagine Vivien Leigh in it -- unless repainted. 

This however, seems to show a little promise -- if not Vivien, at least a Scarlett that could make Rhett really come back.
So what if we merge both: Anne Harper sculpt with a Scarlett look. 
Well here she is. 
Arched brows, green eyes, heart-shaped hairline, and defiant pout.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

She moves! An Experiment in Articulation

Arlene Tellez is a doll collector I met thru the Yahoo Group for the Franklin Mint Scarlett Vinyl doll. It is thru her that one of the unimagined possibilities for the Franklin Mint Scarlett comes true -- for me, at least.
That dream is "articulation".  While most Franklin Mint Scarlett doll collectors have contented themselves with the current locked limbs, elbows, knees of their current Scarlett,  I will have to admit that I for one wished for it to be articulated.

Posing for portraits was one of the main reasons. That delight of seeing the doll in life-like poses, exuding mood and expression of body language that Scarlett herself would have done.  I have longed to see the possibility become real, perhaps even hoping one day that Franklin Mint would reconsider.  When Tonner released their version of Scarlett, it was inevitable for me to be drawn to their  13 points of articulation. 16" in height she could hardly share the existing GWTW of FM (Franklin Mint).

Arlene then sent me an old Gene body which had yellowed in the arms and body save for the hands. This yellowing, she says, happens to most Gene doll bodies and to exposure to the sun. Unlike the FM dolls whose bodies are as sturdy as Scarlett's undying spirit.

"Frankendolly" is the method called of removing the doll's head from its existing body to transfer it to another doll body.

What are the Gene body and Scarlett body differences:
1. They are almost of the same built. Thus, it is easier to redress and maximize the possibilities of imagination with an FM Scarlett on a Gene doll articulated body.
2. The Gene doll body has more slender hands, pointed of fingers. They are thus more expressive and elegant.
3. The weight of the Gene doll body is lighter; much, much lighter vs. The Franklin Mint body which has the weight and feel of porcelain (proof of FM quality in dolls)
4. More importantly, it is the neck holes that differ and the knobs by which the dolls are connected to their respective bodies (please refer to photo below).

The Gene neck knob is attached to its body with the round knob entering the neck hole and the upper flat thick circle entering the head.
The Franklin Mint Scarlett's neck knob has the round knob entering the body too with the pointed end supporting the head of the doll. This alone will show you that putting the FM Scarlett on a Gene body would only be possible by using the existing FM knob as the Gene knob can hardly fit the FM Scarlett head. And since the pointed end of the FM Scarlett neck knob is smaller vs. its counterpart round knob of the Gene neck-connective knob, that would mean that if done, the FM Scarlett on a Gene body would have a loose head -- like a broken neck.
Seeing all this, I thought it would still be possible by putting some filling in the Gene neck hole before putting the FM Scarlett with its own neck knob in.

I was told by Arlene that using a heating pad would help in taking out the head. What I did instead (having no heating pad at hand and fearing contact of the vinyl with the pad would melt the plastic) was to set a blowdryer at its lowest heat and put the doll neck facing it at a distance of 8" or 10" inches away.
Much has been said that  leaving the doll inside the car under a humid climate would do the same thing too. But instead, I opted for the blowdryer method.
There are links on how to take out the head so, I've place them here too:
This is the most informative site about it with even quotes from Tonner's Doctor Noreen and pictures that demonstrate the process.

THE MOST CRUCIAL POINT OF THE PROCESS IS TAKING OUT THE FRANKLIN MINT HEAD FROM THE SCARLETT HEAD AND ATTACHING IT TO THE GENE DOLL BODY BEFORE PUTTING IN THE FRANKLIN MINT HEAD AGAIN.  THIS IS THE HARDEST PART BECAUSE THAT KNOB IS LIKE ATTACHED TO ITS OWNER LIKE IT WERE THE DOLL'S HEART. THERE MAY BE EVEN A CHANCE IT MAY BREAK. THAT'S WHY IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE FM DOLL NECK IS HEATED WELL. (CAUTION: HEATING MAY ALSO LOOSEN THE WIG). The pointed end of the Franklin mint head easily fits into the Gene doll body --- but a setback: it is loose, so loose the FM head on the doll would move from side to side -- like I said, like Scarlett had just broken her neck. I filled the neck with cotton to make it soft and some paper. I was afraid to put in just cotton because in time that would flatten with the constant movement of the doll.

The result of the Frankendolly  are seen below.

Will I recommend it? To the Franklin Mint Scarlett devotee perhaps not. Because the doll is beautiful as she is. And if you are happy with what you have, by all means stay with it. But for the one who wishes to indulge in play and portraiture, and the possibilities of imagination that come with it -- the answer is: YES. It is a tedious process though, one that could mean damage to a very expensive doll. It comes with patience and it comes with great courage. It also means buying a Gene articulated body -- a cost on top of the FM Scarlett doll one already has. My only wish is not  for Franklin Mint to accept, but perhaps to reconsider because the doll is really even more beautiful when she simulates a pose.

Thank you so much to Arlene Tellez for this experience!  For your generosity of time, and the generosity of sharing the doll body with me. I hope this fulfills our little project  What makes you happy is always worth pursuing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

March Issue Faux Cover: Southern Belle: Mrs. Butler Breaks Her Silence

The most controversial issue of SOUTHERNBELLE is out!
A preview of the spread and the exclusive interview at the O'Hara Plantation

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Christmas in February: Franklin Mint Christmas with Ashley

Splendid is probably the right word to describe this doll. When Franklin Mint announced a sale of their Scarlett, once again, one could not resist temptation that this doll was now made a little more affordable than its price at first release. Dave of made a very comprehensive review of this doll. So I would suggest that you refer to his blog on those details as they are very well written and documented. Therein, he took photographs of the intricate hairstyle of this doll. Again, it is hard to imagine how such hairstyle could be done on a thickly-stranded hair and a wig even. My only gripe: the Christmas detail on the hair is stuck to the head thus removing possibilities of its redressing. Then again, should it be redressed when it is perfect as it is. Much has been said about the print detail paint, described as "sticky". After a while though it doesn't stick much -- or perhaps it is the temperature here in my country.

Close-up of the cameo and the lace collar
I took photos of its details and I hope you will appreciate again the painstaking and amazing attention to detail that went into this doll. This is the equity of Franklin Mint -- "down to the last detail".
Earring close-up

Close up of the print detail on the dress
Close-up of face. Many have critiqued the eye paint which makes the doll have a "glaring" look.
I am not actually much bothered by it as it is consistent with the paint style. However, since it is a concern, I tried doing a little photoshop to see how far it can go. This next photo is a photoshopped version of the doll's eyes, albeit with effects it somehow gives you how it could have looked with an extra dark green painted on them. 
Fixed eyes
"She is the girl in the shadows, the woman who forfeits opportunities of new love with her obsession for a man whose heart that doesn't truly belong to her. And while she bids her beloved and his wife goodnight, she clings to the curtains, half in the light, half in the shadows. She watches him move up the staircase with his wife. It need not be said. As their door closes on her, a night of  ardent passion follows. For to whom does a soldier  give that but to the woman he longs for and leaves behind to face war. And for whom does his commitment lie but to her who he may not see again -- his wife.  And she? She waits for the next morning to have that chance to see him again. This is her addiction. This is the delusion that feeds her fire. And it feeds her too with the harshest truth that the next morning may be her last glimpse of the man she believes she loves.  Any trickle of affection from him would be enough to keep her going for even a lifetime of waiting. When the sun rises, before he leaves for war again, she would wait for him to rise from his wife's bedside, just like a dog waiting at the meal table for any morsel of food. Even a morsel would suffice." 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tonner Scarlett wearing Franklin Mint's "Final Farewell"

There are times when a collector just has to get another doll outfit no matter what the cost. You can call it yielding to ones' inner craziness. I am one of them. When Franklin Mint released their new Final Farewell dress, another version, another interpretation worn by Scarlett in  the final sequence of Gone with the Wind, I was hesitant. Thought about it once, twice. There are times when fate leads you to have what you want. So when one member of the FranklinMintScarlettOHaraVinylDoll Group offered it to me (as she only wanted the doll), I couldn't resist. 
For one I knew the Franklin Mint Scarlett creations were consistently of top quality.  I also knew that the dress would have a different interpretation. I was not wrong. While this would perfectly fit the FM Scarlett done for this version (which has a splendid updo), it is picture perfect on the Tonner Scarlett. Snug and tight bodice, and just the right amount of length for the doll too -- enough to let those Tonner boots peep -- and as such, I felt, close to the length we see on film. 
First the jewelry is done with great attention to detail. The cameo/brooch that comes with the dress is so much in scale. When one zooms in, you would think that it is an actual brooch. The mold, the relief, depth and design is amazing!! The feel is almost metallic and it seems to have some substantial weight of that too. You just have to look at this photo (below) to see and believe. 
That amazing jewelry! Franklin Mint is never outdone with its accessories.
The skirt is loose unlike the Tonner's interpretation which is tight and almost with a "serpentina cut". By the time Scarlett reaches home walking in that skirt, Rhett may have already left.  The train of the the Tonner "In the Mist" is of black and deep purple. It also has that "trapunto" detail on the cuffs and collar cape -- very faithful to Plunkett's design. The Tonner's version cuffs can be tightened with ribbons.
Tonner's elegant interpretation of the final dress worn by Scarlett O' Hara in Gone with the Wind.
The dress recreated (from
Franklin Mint's interpretation of the skirt. The bustle is accented with a large black velvet ribbon which drapes well.
It comes with a "bustle pad" to lift the bustle. 
This is the recreated dress' back portion.

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Franklin Mint's version has none of the trapunto detail. The sleeves simulate that look with a ruffled attachment to the sleeves. The bustle of this version however simulates the actual dress. 

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The Franklin Mint Dress as worn by a repainted Tonner Scarlett.
Notice how it falls and scroll up to look at the actual recreated dress. 
Here she is. Mrs. Butler posing with her new elegant bustle dress.
And so, perhaps you'll understand how one can't just say farewell to Franklin Mint's Final Farewell. As another interpretation of the last dress worn in GWTW (at least the one we visually see), it does have its merits. The draping of the velvet is beautiful and in scale. I have to stress this as one of the best ways to judge a doll outfit.  And here for her final portraits, Franklin Mint's Final Farewell as worn by a repainted  Tonner Scarlett (hairstyle and face paint has been recreated to capture the "final farewell" look).   Both Franklin Mint and Tonner win in this creation.