Category Archives: art

Doll Photography-What Works for Me-part 1

Taking pictures of our dolls has become a favorite past time of many collectors. I am constantly seeing beautiful photographs on the doll boards, Flickr, Picturetrail, personal blogs and of course the doll magazines-Hautedoll and FDQ. There are a few collectors that stand out; the hauntingly beautiful images Michelle Blankenship(Visibly-Vintage) creates with Superdoll’s Sybarites (I think she should create a calendar or coffee table book of her pictures), Alex Forbes(Alex’s Attic) with many different fashion dolls, Paul Pham(Dollcis)-the creator of the Numina dolls, Grey and Asher, to name a few.

Photo by Michelle Blankenship

Couture Salon photo by Michelle Blankenship

Numina Asher

Numina Asher photo by Paul Pham

Numina Grey

Numina Grey photo by Alex Forbes

As an artist, I am always trying to perfect my photos to these artists level, and to showcase my designs in the best possible light(pun intended), as well as be creative in the process.

So here is a little tutorial of what works for me so far in taking pictures. I am no expert, and am always trying new things. Perhaps you can pick up a few tips that will work for you too.

Gathering Up Your Equipment
Camera-Well of course having a good camera and lens can make a huge difference in the clarity of your pictures-but if you don’t have access to one, there are some point and shoot that I have seen take great pics.
Tripod-A good sturdy tripod is a must to prevent camera shake. I use mine all the time.

SLIK Tripod 400D

Backdrop-There are several different ways of doing a backdrop. Some prefer light tents

Light tent from B & H Photo

I have one, but don’t use it too often. What I use is a large foam core board I scored to make a three fold. So those foam core presentation boards work well to drape fabric over for your backdrop. You want to make sure it is tall enough though to end at least 8-12″ above your subject. Use fabric that is not shiny(unless you are going for that look in your picture)and will absorb light to create a softer background. I find using satin reflects the light and creates a distraction from your subject. A velvet type fabric will absorb the light and create a softer background.
Lighting-Probably the most important part of photography is getting the right light. Lighting creates the mood for the picture, whether you want a crystal clear bright picture or something a little more artistic.
I am constantly trying to find the right lighting. I mostly use a 500 watt tungsten light with dome that has different diffusers on it to create different moods. A good at home set up could be the metal clamp on lights you can purchase inexpensively at a home improvement store.

Dome lights and back drop

On the above setup- you want to have your lights set a little more in front to light your subject properly. I don’t have anything to attach mine to but wanted to give you the idea.
Make sure you use a true white light-your basic soft white lights you use at home will create a yellow cast to your pictures. Two of those clamp on lights should do the trick- one on either side aimed at your subject. Ott lights are another option that work well for a true light.
Know Your Camera-Read the manual!!! You need to know the settings on your camera and what they do to take great pictures. Of course we can all just use the auto setting-but then the flash may pop up and wash out the pic-no, the best photographers rarely use the flash on the camera. If anything, they will use a speed light or external flash. I like to use the settings for the light I am using and no flash.

I am finding a P(program AE) or AV(Aperture priority AE ) setting is good to start with. The three things you may want to know about on your camera is aperture(F-stop, how open the lens is to let light in)ISO(What ISO denotes is how sensitive the image sensor is to the amount of light present) and shutter speed(the amount of time the shutter is open). Another is your white balance(whether you’ll get the right color or a (yellow or blue) color cast). You can always correct WB in a photo editing program. Finding the right settings for your light source and what you want is a lot of trial and error I find as well. Especially if you are just beginning. Like I said, I am no expert- just passing along the info I’ve discovered so far that works for me.

So gather up your equipment-get to know your camera- and come back for part 2!


Filed under art, doll photography, Fashion dolls, tutorials

CDDC-Challenge #4- On the Fashion Edge

Due: November 2, 2009

On the Fashion Edge – This week’s guest judge is an amazing doll artist. His OOAK creations are always on the cutting edge. This week you must create an avante guarde casual outfit(no you don’t have to use an Avant Guard doll) This
outfit must be edgy…think Alexander McQueen.

Guest Judge: Rob Thompson

Oct 22

It’s been four days since we received this challenge, and I am no closer to having an idea than I did the first day. I must be on fashion overload right now, because I just cannot get inspired here. I have looked at all of the edgier designers out there for the last four days. Think Alexander McQueen. OK. Love his stuff but I’ve been there. My whole Highland Punk collection was inspired by his Fall 2006 collection.
Highland Punk Collection by MRC

I’m having a really hard time here. I keep going to a red snakeskin I have and mixing it with the gold lace but then that is too much like my Asian Fusion collection that was featured in Hautedoll.
Red Snakeskin sample

Asian Fusion

Asian Fusion by MRC

I need one really good look and I am getting too many ideas, and having a hard time narrowing it down. Maybe I should just design a collection, and one look always stands out. There is one collection I have been dying to do for a while now and I might be able to incorporate an edgier look into it. I’ll have to delve a little more into that idea.

Oct 23

After doing more research and some sketching, I think I might have come up with something. I’m going with the snake. For some reason I just keep coming back to it, and it will look great on Mystique (Sybarite Swallow). She is such an obvious choice for this challenge because she is so runway-and strikingly beautiful with her smokey eyes.
But I am going to use it in a different way. I think I will still use a touch of the lace or free motion embroidered an applique. Actually the ideas are starting to evolve into a collection. The other collections I had planned, I think I will postpone. One I can do for early spring, the other that I mentioned yesterday I think I will do for winter.
I am starting to get some really good ideas, and today I found a really cool burn out velvet for a price I can’t even say because it was such a steal, that coordinates great with the snake for an OOAK gown. Now I have to get on the ball and sculpt some platforms to make a mold, since they take a while to make. Oh I hope this whole idea turns out.
Fabric selection

Oct 27

I think I have come up with a concept. The red snake fabric is really calling to me for this challenge, so I start to think about snake type words. If I am doing a whole collection now (as a side project) I need a name for the collection. A word comes to me
Yes, the giant serpent from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

I start to do research on this word and learn about its mythological origins. From Encyclopedia Mythologica:
The mythical king of the serpents. The basilisk, or cockatrice, is a creature that is born from a spherical, yolkless egg, laid during the days of Sirius (the Dog Star) by a seven-year-old rooster and hatched by a toad.
The basilisk could have originated from the horned adder or hooded cobra from India. Pliny the Elder described it simply as a snake with a golden crown. By the Middle Ages, it had become a snake with the head of a bird, and sometimes with the head a human.
According to legend, there are two species of the creature. The first kind burns everything it approaches, and the second kind can kill every living thing with a mere glance.

Now I am thinking- the snakeskin for the jacket with a collar folding to represent the hooded cobra. The lace eyecap with feather headpieces resembles the head of the Basilisk. A sarong style skirt with a long flowing train to look like the snake’s body. I can picture it in my mind’s eye……
I just hope I can bring my vision to life.

Oct 28

I sewed for the best part of the evening and was able to get the base of the jacket finished. I need to do lining and figure out how I am going to do this collar to get the effect I want.
I made my mold for the platform boots I have planned and now it’s time to cast- let’s hope these turn out.

Oct 30

The last few days I have not had a chance to work on my garment except for casting several pairs of soles in an effort to get the heel right. The resin just wasn’t flowing in there correctly or my heel didn’t form right in the mold. They just are not working out. My fingers are raw from working with the resin and acetone and I can’t work with the stuff with the gloves I have on hand. O.k time to quit this I’m spending too much time on it and still have to finish my skirt and the rest of the accessories.

Nov 1

It’s due tomorrow. I have the jacket to finish, skirt to do, boots to make-oh am I going to get it done on time?

I work on it most of the day- figured out the collar and get the jacket finished. The lace for the cap I sew around her head and start spraying with fabric stiff(a little secret great for making hats). The boots- those are going to be a problem. What can I do for heels? I start to think about a mag layout I saw and how this model was standing on heelless boots. Those are the Nina Ricci boots I saw in my research of runway.
Baazar fashion spread

Nina Ricci boots

I’ll just chop off the heels and make them heelless. It’ll be like she’s ready to spring at her prey. OK that is decided.

Nov 2 Due date

Thank goodness we had an extra day for this challenge. I don’t think I would have made it otherwise. No one home to disturb me- I work quietly and make progress. The jacket is finished. I start on the boots and while each part dries I start the skirt. Figuring out that drape was a challenge because I had wanted it to do something else but was running out of time and it wouldn’t have worked out anyway. Overall- I made it on time with about an hour and a half to spare. I am happy with how my vision turned out I just hope the judges ‘get it’. This challenge proved very difficult for me as I am more classic in my aesthetic. I just hope I didn’t go too far out there.

Basilisk- Challenge #4 Avant Garde

Side view

Nov 7

I was so busy today- up and out at 7:30am for DD’s Campfire garage sale- then driving quickly up to volleyball clinic and back into town for a volleyball game at 1pm. Thank goodness for my Blackberry. I was able to log in to CDDC and saw that the scores were up. Did the judges get my design? There were so many great out there designs I thought it would be hard to judge. And Emilia’s- I could tell hers right away was very cool. She is pushing me in each challenge – but it is interesting to see our interests are similar. After reading her blog, her inspiration for the shoes were the same as mine. It’s hard to compete against someone on the same wavelength. But cheers to her for winning. I’m probably keeping her on her toes also since I am so close behind her. hehe

Well the judges had good comments and it would be interesting to find out how they determine each score-
Fashion like any art is a matter of taste-

Shane Theme: 4.5, Originality: 4, Creativity: 5, Construction: 5

Wow! This is a gorgeously made fantastic look! I love your molded gold headpiece!

Diana & JanetTheme: 4.5
Originality: 4.5, Creativity: 4.5, Construction: 4.5

This really hits the mark! Brava! The headpiece/hat is drop-dead gorgeous and I love the boots.


Exceptional! Truly avante-garde. Love the mix of fabric types and textures. Great fit on the jacket and the feather detail is a nice touch.

Theme: 5,Originality: 4.5, Creativity: 5
Construction: 5

Love the idea and mythology behind this design. The textured snakeskin fabric is great, the colors are foreboding and the mask a stroke of genius. All makes for an elegant and sophisticated outfit. The shoes are nouvelle mode!

Rob Thompson: Theme: 5
Originality: 5, Creativity: 5, Construction: 5

I really like this fashion; it feels Avant Garde from the start. I like the fresh cut of the jacket and the cut and drape of the skirt works to carry your theme through. The shoes are fantastic, I adore them! The lace cap with in scale feathers is a great detail. Again, I am happy to see you not use a wig with this fashion. The necklace finishes the look with just the needed little extra touch. This fashion fits everything I think of when I think of Avant Garde, edgy, and fashion forward. You achieved perfection! Bravo! And I want those shoes, in several colors!

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Rose Noir finished

I finally finished Rose Noir. I love how it turned out and took pics yesterday. I think most of them turned out pretty good, I’m getting a little more used to this camera and using the settings.

Rose Noir
Rose Noir sitting pretty

It will be on eBay this evening

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A New Media……

I recently saw something that inspired me to try my hand at silk ribbon embroidery. I’ve always been interested to try this form of embroidery. I love how delicate and beautiful the roses look in the silk ribbon.
After some research on the internet, a book borrowed from the library and a small kit that I had purchased long ago just for the ribbon, I was set to try this old art form.
silk embroidery stiches

Silk ribbon embroidery

Silk ribbon embroidery

I found it pretty easy to do since I used to do embroidery when I was younger. Wonder what ever happened to those pieces I did back then. I remember a cute Holly Hobbie pattern I had done that never got mounted or framed. Left it at my mom’s when I moved out-probably long gone now.

I guess I could always do it again

I guess I could always do it again

silk ribbon embroidery

silk ribbon embroidery

This is a second embroidery I did, to make into a needle book since I don’t have anything to keep all these embroidery needle in now. When you start a new art form, it’s a lot of time and money into the supplies to begin it. Still working on finding ribbon- eBay has a good selection, but I’m not sure on quality. I have found between the ribbon I purchased for this project and another, compared to the ribbon that came with the kit that there is a difference in quality.

The real project that I finally finished will be posted later as I still need to take pics of it. I’m really happy with how it turned out.

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