Mountain trip with Cerise Hood

Is it really almost spring? With the past two weeks having been freakishly cold (around -10°C/14ºF) I barely noticed. It was also about two weeks ago that I made a short trip to the mountains that was indeed very wintery in character. I better get to reporting without any more delay 🙂

Of course, this will involve a doll…

OK, so I am pretty passionate about dolls, but the trip wasn’t about doll photography exclusively. You see, I love winter, skiing and snow, but there is rarely an opportunity to enjoy any of the above in the city (even though we do have an artificial ski slope in the area, and even despite the cold, it’s not the same without natural snow). I was delighted when my family offered to take me along for a short skiing trip. Even though it only lasted two days, I still greatly enjoyed the rare chance to feast my eyes on snowy landscape.

The above photos were taken on the first day. This location was especially picturesque, and the weather was wonderful. Unfortunately, I did not bring Cerise on that day, and the next day we went to a different spot, and the weather was quite different. It wasn’t quite as magical, but I did my best to get the best out of it. To be fair, backdrop options are still plentiful for a doll so small in a world so big.

I made her coat just before leaving using the free coat pattern from BFashions, except I gave mine a hood and white trim. The idea for it was born thanks to the felt that it was to be made from – as soon as I saw it at the craft store, I imagined a doll sized, sheep-skin-inspired winter coat. And Cerise seemed to me like the right character to brave the cold and climb the mountains.

I attached the faux fur to the edge of the hood using fabric glue, but now I regret it. It made it stiff.  I chose to make a slit in the back to let her hair out. It’s an odd feature, but it works on this scale.

The day that the photos were taken, the doll was in my backpack all afternoon while I was skiing. I was worried about falling and breaking her (and the camera), so covered her in bubble wrap. Luckily, in the end, there weren’t any such dangerous moment at all 🙂

These two are my favourite photos of the day:

I keep saying it, and I will say it again – I am not happy with the colour balance that comes out of my current Panasonic camera. I do try to adjust it in the camera and in GIMP, but it only makes things look even weirder. It’s especially stark in this post, compared to my old Fuji camera, as seen in the landscapes (although in this case the weather played a role as well). I don’t normally use the old one any more because it has far fewer options and its buttons have been used to death and barely respond, but I do miss the colours. I had another Fuji in-between the two, the infamous XF1. After two of it – the original purchase and the replacement – died to the same defect (“lens control error”) year after year I decided to sulkily part ways with Fuji. I loved it otherwise.

If it wasn’t for the unexpected adventure, I wouldn’t have had a chance to take any photos out in the real snow, and it would be a real shame. Even so, I still have a brand new winter outfit for Animators’ dolls that I made that likely won’t see any use this year. I do love a proper, snowy winter, so I hope the next year will be more up to my standards, even in the city.

OK, now I better start thinking about something nice for Easter, spring and general sunshine.

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EAH “Epic Winter” Apple White: a review

I love winter. I also love Ever After High. So when the “Epic Winter” line was released, I was ecstatic. What is more, it so happened that this was the first EAH line released after I started collecting – my first opportunity to look forward to new dolls along with other fans and collectors.

It was Apple that impressed me the most with her bright and fresh face, but I was on the fence because of the irremovable tights. This year again, as the winter season came around, the theme grew more and more appealing and I finally gave into this Apple’s charm.

All the dolls in the line came packaged in largely see-through boxes resembling blocks of ice. Pretty cool, no pun intended:

What you see here is pretty much what you get. There is no hidden compartment with a stand. It was the first time a major, deluxe release did not include one of those.

When I look at the product shots in the back, I get a strong feeling that the omission of a stand wasn’t the only deviation from the initial design and plan:

The dolls in the photo have extra jewellery and, perhaps more strikingly, still have their pre-reboot faces. Did the changes arrive so quickly there was no time to update the tell-tale packaging? How did they not know they would be altering their faces long ahead of time?

Also for the first time ever, the actual doll is cuter than the art – although that’s my subjective opinion:

I could swear they use the same drawing with every Apple White doll – unfortunately so, because her face is strangely far away from her neck. Only the rest of the body gets re-drawn.

But the actual doll looks so sweet and it’s all that matters 🙂

Her face has many of the same colours as the signature (which I don’t own) when it comes to her features and her make-up, but the expression is very different. I do have a “Getting Fairest” Apple to compare, though:

"Getting Fairest" Apple White and "Epic Winter" Apple White

I’d say that the original looks more artistic when it comes to her face-paint, but the newer one looks more friendly. I’d also say that the re-boot sculpt captures Apple’s character as we know her from the series better – she is almost always positive and enthusiastic.

I am perhaps slightly bothered by the violet-purple line inside her eyes, under the eyelids. Actually, it turns out both versions have it, but it seems more obvious with the new release. Nonetheless, I think her face is overall adorable.

…mostly because she looks so frickin’ happy!

Even though, for me, the “Epic Winter” line marks the beginning of a decline in quality, in this case, the changes did not affect her articulation, so both her and me have reasons to feel happy.

Let’s talk about her outfit. It is a one-piece hybrid between a dress and a coat with some  fur accents. It’s more pink than red this time around (red being her signature colour).

The main theme seems to be ice-crystals and snowflakes, with a personal touch in the form of Apples:

The odd part is that when you remove the belt (shaped like golden icicles?) it reveals a plain white band. It’s a shame, since I’m not a fan of the accessory and was intending to remove it, but now it has to stay on, I guess.

On the positive side, the outfit is made of three different types of fabric: satin/polyester, faux-fur and faux-leather. I think it makes it look interesting and more complete:

I’m also wondering if I would be able to separate the dress into a skirt and a separate jacket, but right now she feels too new for such a risky undertaking.

Part of the reason why I decided in favour of Apple and not Blondie (who is also cute and doesn’t have moulded tights) is that I really like her boots…

At first I noticed that hers looked the only boots in the line that didn’t resemble ice crystals. Later I realised that she wasn’t actually exempt from the theme: she too is wearing ice-boots, judging by the heels, but she is just wearing knit leg-warmers over them. I wish there were no crystals involved at all – I am a big fan of more ‘normal’ looking shoes – but since they generally look like super-cute sweater boots anyway, I am satisfied. These are perfect for Christmas outfits.

Then there is the head band. It’s all sculpted plastic, but it still looks sweet and cozy. The details on the band look like beads and snowflakes. Out of the box, it comes attached to the doll’s head. I still haven’t removed the tabs and bands from mine.

She comes with a solid piece of slightly see-through, glittery plastic for a purse:

Can I send it back to Mattel and asks for the jewellery from the box art instead? Because I think it would have made for a much better accessory.

Finally, the most problematic part of her ensemble – the infamous moulded-on tights.

I don’t like them because they limit the possibilities when it comes to redressing. I also wish that they were at least only painted on, without the sculpted pattern – it looks chunky and awkward to me. It’s also odd how the detail fades on the front part of her thighs. The mould-lines on the sides are very obvious, too.

Her hair is rather nice. It is styled into soft curls without the use of any gel. It feels silky and non-oily.

My only complaint is that there are sections where the hair has lost its curl, especially in the areas that were squished in the box.

Be forewarned that her head is hard. In the past, this have often meant future problems with glue leaking through the hair and making it permanently sticky. Hopefully they have learned since then and have used a different kind of adhesive. Time will tell.

Supplied with the doll there was a ring for the child. To me, it’s another useless accessory (along with the handbag). Not only because it is both too small and too silly for me to wear, but also because it’s not the best design to begin with: it’s supposed to be a magical rose under a dome, but it looks like chewed up gum:

The crystals around it also look strange in red. Like some evil substance from a sci-fi film. (perhaps it’s the crystals that the Sith put in their lightsabers). I do like the dome part itself. I might pick the ring apart and reuse this part for something else.

I think this covers all the important parts. Summing up, this doll represents a slightly lower standard than its predecessors when it comes to detail, but it’s still a pretty good design. If you like the reboot faces and can get over the moulded tights, it is a solid doll that represent a fresh new theme – quite perfect for the holidays, too. Most importantly, in my opinion, she does have the magic – that something special about a doll that makes you fall in love with her and brings you happiness.

 

 

Winter, Hats & Scarves

I am impatiently waiting for the day when I have so many doll clothes, handmade and otherwise, that I can effectively create new looks by only mixing and matching, no sewing required. But even though my collection hasn’t yet reached this point, I have been able to create a new winter look for Ashlynn Ella with minimal effort. Yay!

The only thing I had to craft were the winter cap and the scarf, and let me tell you that it was a piece of cake 🙂 The cap is made following the brilliant idea from MyFroggyStuff . The scarf is of the infinity sort, and it is simply a ring of fabric cut off from the rest of that same sock. So easy and so fun!

I had made the coat for another photo shoot, starring Cerise Hood. The gloves come from a Draculaura (and are technically her hands… girls and borrowing stuff!) and the shoes are Poppy’s.

This last photo is my favourite, even though – it seems decent to mention – the snowflakes have been edited in in Gimp.

Ashlynn looks just as sweet in the snow as she does on a sunny beach

A Red Berry in the Snow

Sometimes I think it’s a little silly how often I mention the weather and the seasons in my posts, given that it’s a “doll blog”. But how could I not mention that we’ve had our first snow this winter? 🙂 Outdoor doll photography has proven to be very closely tied to the weather conditions, and finally, weather has delivered  🙂

The snow only lasted three days, so, knowing the forecast, I prepared ahead by sewing a winter coat. I had initially planned to use the one from the last year, but it seemed too big! I did make it extra wide to fit a fluffy sweater underneath…

For the new one, I used the pattern which originally came from ninnuskadesign.blogspot.fi. Unfortunately, the blog appears to have been closed. However, if you google ‘ninnuska’ and ‘animators’ you’ll still be able to find the pattern floating around the web. The one which says ‘takki’ is the coat/jacket in question. ‘Huppa’ means ‘hood’, and ‘hiha’ is the sleeve. The pattern does not have a seam allowance included.

You’ll find two versions of the sleeve – I used the straight one.

I also made the coat a little bit longer – perhaps about 1cm longer.

I found the hood to be a little tight – maybe that’s just me, but I feel like it wouldn’t hurt to add at least 0,5cm more space around the outline (and then the seam allowance on top of it).

Even though I decided to make slight adjustment, I think this is a great pattern, and I will likely come back to it in the future.

The outfit kind of makes the doll look like the Little Red Riding Hood, but that wasn’t intentional. Red is just such a cute colour for a little girl’s coat – even if she’s made out of plastic. It makes her look like red berries in the snow.

I found the gloves in a dollar store (Sort of. I don’t pay in dollars. I mean a cheap-Chinese-import-shop). They were keychains, but they fit surprisingly well. It’s definitely a good idea to check such places for doll accessory miracles.

I had already taken winter photos with Belle last year, so I was hoping to take along Rapunzel this time. Unfortunately, I found that the red really clashed with her complexion. I actually encounter this problem a lot with my Animators’ dolls. It’s best to check the fabric ahead against the doll’s skin vinyl.

I hope I will have another opportunity to put Rapunzel in the snow. Although… taking photos at their eye level means getting down on your knees, or lower, in the cold, cold snow and I’ve developed a very slight distaste for that  😉

If I do get out again, I sure will keep you posted  🙂

Disney (Doll) on Ice

Unfortunately, I don’t have any tiny ice skates lying around, so no skating was involved.

Belle Animators Winter 008.jpg

Belle Animators Winter 005.jpg

As a French girl, Belle more than deserves a beret. I’d say it suits her, too.

Belle Animators Winter 006.jpg

The sweater was made from one of my favorite gloves, after I lost the other one. The bottom of the glove became the turtleneck. It actually did not have an opening in the back, so I had to pull it up through her hips. It was so hard to squeeze the arms in that I was afraid they might pop out, so at the end of the day I decided to simply cut her out of it. Rest in peace, favorite gloves/Norwegian doll sweater.

Belle Animators Winter 007

Depending on the outfit, sometimes I forget it’s a toddler doll, but in the photo above she definitely looks small and helpless.

DSCF7072bApparently there are beavers in the area.

Belle Animators Winter 010

The wool cap is the only item of clothing I did not make. It was made some 20 years ago by my aunt Marlena for my favorite teddy bear. I think she’d be pleased to know it is still used 🙂

Belle Animators Winter 000

Belle Animators Winter 001

Belle Animators Winter 002

Belle Animators WinterUnfortunately, I did not notice that Belle’s collar is messed up in a lot of pictures, which is a shame especially that it also shows its imperfections – it’s the first collar I’ve ever sewn, plus it was improvised without a pattern.

I think that the reason I missed some details in the pictures is that I was quite distracted trying to avoid people. I greatly enjoy photographing dolls out in the real world, but it makes me feel very self-aware 🙂

 

 

A New Year’s Walk

This Christmas, I received my first, long awaited Disney Animator’s Collection doll. I love snow, so when I woke up on New Year’s morning and saw a thin layer outside I couldn’t resist taking Belle for the first photo shoot in the park.

01 Belle Animators snow

The cloak is something I put together last minute – more or less a semi-circle of felt gathered at the neck.

The shoes are made according to the pattern at iiven ihmetykset. Since I used glue instead of thread, I removed the seam allowance.

The tights were made from a sock 🙂

02 Belle Animators snow

03 Belle Animators snow

And so our adventure in the great wide somewhere begins 🙂