Updated: Feb 18
Behind the Scenes of Round Three: Nature Theme (Second Place)
It was a dark and stormy night ...
And the theme of round three is Nature. But with all of the dark, overcast weather, all I have is mud outside. No beautiful snow, no sunshine ... so we are going to have to make our own nature INSIDE. And we'll have to do it rather quickly - my schedule is really full, and it's getting down to the wire.
Nature at the dollar store
"I love this bird! Can I keep it?"
I took a trip to the dollar store to look around for some nature - and I found some! A recycled wooden dish drainer with some stain will become the tea house, but getting time to work on it when the temperature is at or above 50 degrees is challenging. Stain and varnish needs plenty of ventilation and temperatures well above freezing in order to cure ... and it's January. Oh well - watch that forecast every day and maybe we'll have a couple of warmer, dry days because when it isn't cold it's raining.
Now to build a set, make a kimono, and get Lisa to kneel. After doing ballet in Round One, that shouldn't be TOO hard ... let's get started!
Leg swap for Lisa
"Where did my legs go?"
American Girl legs don't bend, so I had to improvise. After a leg swap to stuffed legs, we had a natural, rounded look for Lisa's lower parts.
Sitting pretty for the photo
"So how long do I have to kneel? It's getting uncomfortable!"
Just long enough for the photo ... but since I am still a fairly inexperienced doll photographer, you should probably practice - it might be a while!
Making the kimono
"Finally - a costume with some color!"
Traditional Japanese kimonos are a favorite of mine, and it was really fun to make this one. It took a while to plan the fabric combinations, but after a few tries, I had something that I was happy with draped on the dress form.
I used a lightweight polyester brocade instead of the traditional silk. This is the second kimono I have made from this pattern, and I definitely had more homework to do with regards to the obi and various "ingredients" needed to create an authentic look.
Tying the obi
"What am I ... gift wrapped?"
No, Lisa, this is how decorative obi tying goes - around here twice, up and over, a couple of swirls and ... never mind, just let me show you. It's easier. However, your new stuffed feet show ... we'll have to fix that in a little bit. I don't have time to make tabi socks or shoes, but I did see a photo of a young woman in a kimono with bare feet ... and that's giving me ideas!
Now let's start researching traditional Japanese hairdos ... with videos that are entirely in Japanese. No, Lisa, the auto generated subtitles are in Japanese too! Oh well.
Lisa's Golden A "bun" dance
"My hair looks PERFECT! Wait ... no ... why do you have clips? Wha -"
Just hold still, Lisa ... this will only take a sec ...
Divide and conquer
"Oh just GREAT. For once, my hair was perfect, and now look what you've done!"
Don't worry, Lisa, I think I figured out this hairstyle, even if it was in Japanese. Just let me get started in the front.
It's not a half-up, it's a fourth-up
"Oh NOOOOO! I have a beard!"
Only for a couple of minutes. Here, Lisa, have some sake while you're waiting.
"Well, I wouldn't exactly wear it to the grocery store ..."
I am glad to hear that you like it! But wait ... there's more!
Fleur de Lisa
"Hey ... am I going to have plants in my hair?"
Kanzashi, or traditional Japanese hair ornaments, are worn with kimonos and traditional hairstyles. We are making the doll version of these meticulous, colorful floral accessories - and we're making them fast because the deadline is today!
Nature photoshoot, "hair" we come!
"I kind of like this! Did they really wear their hair like this for a week?"
Maiko (Geisha trainees) would get their hair styled and sleep on a special pillow to keep it looking nice for a whole week. But Lisa will probably be stuck like this till it's time to get a new hairstyle for the next shoot - and with my busy schedule, that might be a while!
Back to nature
"Now that I look so pretty, you're not going to make me kneel in the dirt, are you?"
Don't worry, Lisa, we don't have real dirt, just a piece of fabric that looks a little bit like dirt.
With a very few hours left, it is time to get the glue gun out and make us some nature. With a few ceramic tiles, a pile of moss and a couple of minor burns from the hot glue gun, it's starting to look like the outdoors.
There's just the matter of Lisa's feet, which show under her kimono (and don't look very realistic).
This little piggy went to Japan
"But ... those are BOY FEET! EWWW!"
Lisa, don't throw a fit - you are only borrowing them. Just think of them as wearing shoes.
American Girl makes dolls with beautiful faces, but I have to say that their doll feet are not very inspired! Thankfully, the Heidi Ott dolls have lovely feet and realistic toes, and I happen to have a couple of Ott dolls on hand. Now Lisa can get ready for the photoshoot!
Midnight in the Garden of (Japanese) American Girl
"It's a good thing that we have artificial nature and artificial light or our midnight nature shot would look like a black bear in a closet ..."
Yes, it is another late night shoot. The Dollie Dreams creative team was assembled and we were scrounging all of our Japanese props and nature items in an attempt to get a dish drainer and dollar store greenery to look like a Japanese garden.
We did actually have some real plants - I borrowed some little houseplants from Nan and they took it over the top. Lisa was shaded from the artificial light with her parasol, and everyone had a great time - and the setup and photography was so much fun! Now that I have been through 4 doll photoshoots, I am getting faster and more relaxed.
The results are in!
"What! We didn't win?"
@glitterpieag won this round of the contest - she worked really hard on her submission, and I am really excited for her! The best part of this contest has been getting to know the other contestants and growing and learning (and living through the experience of going outside my comfort zone). This photo earned a lot of new followers and likes, and that is a really big win for Dollie Dreams!
Stay tuned for the final round of American Girl On The Runway - the fourth theme is Re-creations.
See you in the next post!