Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tonner Scarlett: Blue Portrait Gown "Mrs. Butler poses"

Franklin Mint's blue portrait gown is always stunning. I am not aware of the kind of velvet they use for this gown but it has an amazing reflect that creates drama and befitting of a gown we never see but is forever ingrained in our memory as one of the most beautiful dresses that Scarlett wears.
I did this in desaturated color and in black and white to see if the gown still has that impact and I believe it maintains its glorious fill of a picture. When asked by friends why I go through all the trouble of photographing dolls, I always say: You know there are things that you really love that you want immortalized and photographing them is one way of making the doll be "more than just a doll". What good is articulation if the doll is not posed -- and posed maximizing the possibilities of expression.
What good is a doll kept in a box? It's like having a playground and not being able to play in it. Dolls were always meant to capture imagination. A child given that dreamland grows to see what his or her mind can explore. It gives you silent joy and an amazing play to spend your time. My only wish is to have better ways of photographing them: backdrops, sculptures, more gowns and a stronger eyesight to repaint -- not mention stronger patience in repainting. The weekend is coming. Next week I am awaiting a new ensemble for Scarlett -- none GWTW but one that I've always eyed for a long time. As they say, the Universe listens to the most ardent wishes of the soul. So, I hope it arrives. After that traumatic Tonner Blue Portrait gown getting lost, I can only cross my fingers that hard-earned money is not lost as well as the chance to imagine, play and photograph. Have a splendid playful weekend everyone!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tonner Scarlett Portrait: Finding Repainting Resources

This is an old Tonner Scarlett -- my first in fact. She's a "Waiting for Pa" Tonner Scarlett. 
Her hair had been shortened to shoulder level. I repainted the eyes as well as the lips which was originally pink. The lashes have been repainted as well -- now using a super macro overhead lens which really helps in repainting. Usually when you're repainting, you can't see how the very minute details so you keep on brushing too much paint not knowing that it can be too much. With the super macro lens -- which I now just wear over my head, you have the ease of seeing these details.
One thing I've realized is you don't need much paint, what you need is knowing the right amount of colors. I have found this book which helped me a lot.
Color Mixing Recipes for Portraits by William F. Powell is a great resource for color mixing. It goes through crucial details such as eyes, nose, skin tones and lips. 
Here is the link if you wish to purchase this book:

Image from
Aside from the book, the right brushes are also important.  I would suggest the Loew Cornell Series. I don't have them all. If you want the details, do get the 18/0 brushes (liner, and I guess spotter) plus some flat ones. Experience has told me that these have different functions. The spotter is good for the small dots like details on the eyes. Lining is good for the brows and the lashes. 
Make sure you clean them well too.
Do I mistakes? Definitely. Balancing the eyes. Making those pupils round, putting in the tear ducts and fixing the lower eye liner as well as putting the right amount of lashes on the lower eyes. You have no idea how much how much changes these dolls undergo. It also pays to leave them for a while and come back -- you'll certainly see a lot of things you need to do, add, take out, hopefully not redo.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor - February 27, 1932 - March 23, 2011

Image from

She is perhaps one of the most phenomenal beauties that has ever graced the silver screen.  Her jet black hair and alluring purple eyes were certainly a sight to behold.
Somehow she is intertwined with Vivien Leigh, replacing Vivien in Elephant walk after Vivien's mental illness could not sustain the shooting of the film. In fact, if you look at some clips in you will find that there are far shots of Vivien still -- unable to reshoot again, they had to do with those sequences. These two could actually have been related by their features.
And perhaps so, Mattel's Elizabeth Taylor doll and Mattel Vivien Leigh as Scarlett are actually one and the same mold.
Both also played Southern Belles: Taylor in "Raintree County" and Vivien, of course as Scarlett and Blanche Dubois.
It was sad to hear news of her passing. Great beauties fade like roses.
This March, a month after her 79th birthday,  Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor finally found a place where her beautiful spirit remains ageless!

May you rest in peace.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

An Attempt at Da Vinci, Rosetti and Botticelli

The Melanie Hamilton head sculpt is perhaps one of the most classic ones that Tonner came out with. Close to it would be the Carol Barrie doll. I had this doll long before and attempted to fix the bun. I was not successful at doing that as the doll hair is too thick to be handled well -- kudos to those who were victorious at restyling it the Melanie way (said with a bow). Perhaps accidents happen for opportunities to happen because the sculpt opened up the possibility of repainting the doll (with loosened hair) into some Da Vinci-esque muse.
Woman drawing by Leonardo da Vinci
Woman painting by Botticelli
La Ghirlandata by Dante Gabriel Rosetti

I was inspired by the paintings of La Gioconda by Da Vinci, the women paintings of Dante Gabriel Rosetti  and La Primavera here. Noticing the crimped classical hair of the subjects of these artists, I sought out to do what could be a possible repaint.
I sectioned the hair carefully and braided these into tiny braids to capture a sculpted look that would
capture the light with the little waves. Each braid was tied with a thin thread in the end. Dipping the head into freshly-boiled water for 20 seconds, then leaving it to dry.  After which loosening the braids which is easily done with a toothpick by starting from the ends of the braid.

Then came analyzing the paintings of Da Vinci and Rossetti. The subjects hardly had any make up on and there weren't any noticeable detail on eyelashes nor brows (I tried this doll with no brows on, and it didn't look well too me although it was as faithful to the classical subjects as possible). So why not add some brows-- thin ones and hardly discernible ones.

Here is a result of this project -- as what I call my little portrait attempts these days.  I hope you like it and enjoy it as much as I did venturing into it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lost Portrait

Since the lost Portrait doll has not been recovered,  I've been scanning photos of people who've managed to get one.  I've been dreaming of that head and its cascade of curls that fall on the doll's shoulders. What to do? Vent it all out by creating a portrait with a photoshopped hairstyle placed on an existing doll. This is one of my favorite gowns created by Alana Bennett. I've been planning on asking her to do another gown for Scarlett. When doing research however, I am stumped by the beautiful creations seen online. Charles Worth gowns are worth looking into. Then there are the Anna Karenina gowns worn by Vivien Leigh. One must be really careful, every dollar is a large chunk on my pesos. Well, here's a portrait that I call "Lost Portrait", an expression of longing for that lost doll. Have a nice weekend everyone!

I was imagining the hoopla that must have happened when Vivien got the most coveted role in Hollywood
and thought of creating this faux cover of a Hollywood magazine during that time.