Thursday, October 15, 2020

Amy

Well, this girl took a while to show up, didn't she?  Two things are responsible for the delay, the first is just that moving is hard work, and it's taking up more and more of my time.  The second thing is that Amy is one of my troublemakers!  Her makeover was not a smooth ride.  However, Amy March's personality has a bit of sass and troublemaker in it, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

Amy was one of the two characters in this series who I thought had an obvious My Twinn counterpart (Madison!).  The Madison face is beautiful, like Amy, but Rebecca and I also agree that the face looks a bit haughty.  I don't know if Amy March is haughty, per se, but she's certainly proud and likes luxurious things.

With all of this in mind, I chose a pale-vinyl Madison from 2001 to play the part:

My Twinn doll from 2001 with the Madison face.
Amy was not in great shape when she arrived at my house.  Her body was very dirty (both the vinyl and the fabric), and she has a lot of picks on her torso:


The front of the torso had several water marks, dark stains, and snags:



Her back was not at stained, but it has a lot of picks and snags:



She had one lone eyelash clinging for dear life (which I pulled off right away), her hair was a mess, and she had smudges of dirt all over her face:


Here's a close-up picture of the face (back when the eyelash was still hanging on):


I removed Amy's wig, separated her head from her body, and took her into my workroom:


Her eyes were an interesting color.  I think they were originally blue, but they'd faded and changed into an aqua color with a pale outer ring:


The eyes were pretty, but I wanted to change them.  In retrospect, I probably should have left these eyes in place!  They weren't as true-blue as I wanted for Amy, but they were fine.

I washed Amy's face and removed her factory paint:


And then I popped out the original eyes:


I replaced the eyes with this pair of azure blue glass eyes from Lauscha, Germany:


These eyes are darker than what I had in mind for Amy, but they matched parts of her outfit perfectly.  My other blue eyes looked off-color next to the clothing.


Amy March has blonde hair, but I wanted this doll to have stronger and more expressive eyebrows than what I would normally choose for a fair doll.

Casting directors have a similar feeling about Amy and her eyebrows, it seems:




I modeled these brows after an Ariel doll who I think has determined, interesting eyebrows:


The brows are mostly a golden-brown color, but they're streaked with a bit of pale:


Eager to get rid of the alien-pale face, I added some blush and lip color:


And--of course--I gave Amy a few freckles on her ("unrefined") nose:


With Amy's head under control, I got to work fixing her body.

I completely disassembled the body and washed both the vinyl parts and the fabric torso.  A little bit of bleach took care of all the stains without discoloring the fabric.

Amy's body had a few surprises in store, too.  First of all, her armature is blue!  I've never seen armature this color before, but it totally suits the character:


A less-fun surprise was that both of Amy's arms had rips in the vinyl:


I had to re-glue the arms really carefully.  I also used a bit of WD-40 on the armature joints just above the arms, hoping to reduce the tension on the damaged vinyl.

Once the body was reassembled, and the arms felt secure, I turned my attention to Amy's wig.  I had two blonde wig options: one with bangs and curls and the other straight with no bangs.

My ideal scenario for Amy was a wig with ringlet curls and no bangs (even though Amy often has bangs in the Little Women movies).  So, I tried to curl the wig with no bangs, but it did not turn out well:

Um...no.
So, I went with my backup plan, which was a wig with bangs and a lot of nice, long curls.  I put this wig on Amy and gave her some eyelashes to match:


Then I took about 400 pictures of her...


...and then I decided that the eyes were too dark.  I can't even see the pupils in most of my pictures.  I asked Rebecca for her advice and she agreed with me.  

Amy looks a little bit like a demon with these eyes, and she's not that much of a troublemaker!

There was also something not right about the wig.  In retrospect, I think it was set too high on Amy's head. Facepalm.  Time to start over.  

I only had one pair of blue eyes left in the house that I hadn't tested with the outfit, so I went with those!


These are $80 Hand Glass Craft eyes.  The pupils look huge, but that's in part because there's a ring of brown around the pupil that's hard to distinguish in photos:


Overall, I like the color of these eyes a lot better than the first ones...and they still match the outfit!

Speaking of the outfit, I know everyone is dying to see what Rebecca made for Amy!

Rebecca's first notes to me about Amy's outfit included that it should be blue (her signature color) with a plaid print (Amy wears plaid in many of the movies, and so we both tend to think of the character in plaid).  Rebecca also mentioned that the dress would be the shortest in the group since Amy is the youngest.

We very quickly agreed that this blue plaid was perfect!


Rebecca also remembered from the book that Amy inherited much of her clothing from her cousin Florence.  Florence would have had a slightly more fashionable wardrobe than the Marches.

Rebecca outlined two main ideas for me, the first was a full skirt, a white Garibaldi shirt, and a blue Zouave jacket.  The second was a plaid dress with a v-shaped overlay and a straw hat.  She even showed me sketches so that I could visualize each option!


I felt like I was on Project Runway at this point, and was giddy with excitement!  I preferred the skirt and jacket option--just because it's so different from the other girls' dresses.

Next, I got to see all of the fabrics that Rebecca had lined up for this ensemble.  Look at the little pom-pom fringe!


This step reminded me of when I was a kid.  Every year my mom, my sister, and I would go to Jo-Ann Fabrics to pick out patterns and materials for my start-of-school wardrobe.  It was so fun to try and visualize how all of the different combinations would look in real life!

Once the big decisions had been made, Rebecca began work on the blouse.  I got this preview, which absolutely blew my mind.  Look at all of the tucks and pleats and details!!


And then I got to pick buttons...

I like the fancy mother-of-pearl option!
Rebecca made the lovely skirt next:

Now THAT looks like something Amy would wear!
And then Rebecca got to work designing the jacket.

She let me help decide how angled the cut of the jacket should be in front, and gave me another sketch showing the two options--one on each side of the jacket:

More Project Runway!
I liked the more extreme cut on the right side of the jacket (or the left side of the drawing).

Next, it was time to choose trim for the jacket.  This was really fun.  Rebecca proposed either the white trim on the left or the blue (barely-visible, but elegant) trim on the right:


I adore the swirly trim on the left, so I went with that option.

You know all of those design-your-own doll opportunities that have come out over the years?  Things I used to chat about on Toy Box Philosopher like My BFF, Create Your Own American Girl, custom Bratz dolls, Lorifina, etc.  Well, this design-your-own historical outfit experience with Rebecca blows all of those other experiences completely out of the water.  It was so much fun.

But--we're not done yet!  Rebecca decided to also make a hand-braided hat for this outfit!  Here's the pattern she used:


And I got to see many of the steps in progress, which was fascinating:


Here it's starting to look very much like a hat!


I hope you're all excited to see this outfit in its entirety, because I know I was jumping with anticipation to see it!

Let's help Amy get dressed as quickly as possible.

Here she is with her cleaned body (still a lot of picks, but there's nothing I can do about those):




First, she put on her tights, cream boots, and pantaloons (with growth tucks!):



Next, she pulled on her beautiful petticoat with blue stitching:



And here she is with the blouse and skirt:


It's hard to see in photos, but the skirt also has three delicate tucks:


I took several picture of Amy in her skirt and blouse before I added the jacket:


The blouse tucks into the hem of the skirt a little bit:


The blouse pops out quite easily, but of course it looks gorgeous when it's untucked, too:


I just love the carefully-gathered sleeves (they close with tiny metal snaps):


And look at the detail on the shoulders!


Everything is so meticulously made, and I think Amy feels quite elegant and fashionable when she's wearing this blouse!







The jacket is lined with blue satin, so it slides over the blouse like a dream:


Here's the intricate trim:


And the little pom-poms on the sleeves!


The jacket brings out the blue in Amy's eyes nicely, too.




This outfit is absolutely amazing...


...but don't forget that there's a handmade hat, too!


The hat perches nicely on Amy's head, although it can cast some strange shadows and make photography a bit tricky.




The whole ensemble looks incredible in real life, and I wish I could warp all of you to my house so that you could see it for yourselves (and then maybe you could help me pack?!).



To avoid unwanted shadows, I had to remove the hat for Amy's official portrait:


And here's her comparison GIF:


When I go through an extended makeover process with a doll, it's often hard for me to take a step back and see whether or not she came out ok in the end.  I had to go to New Jersey last weekend to look at houses, and when I came back to Maine, I was really happy to see Amy waiting for me in the workshop.  I'll take that as a good sign!

Here are a few more shots of her with the complete outfit:







The leaves and colors are incredibly beautiful here in Maine right now (and also in New Jersey...), but my backyard doesn't necessary show the season off to its best advantage.  Still, I wanted to photograph Amy in natural light.

The first time I took her outside, the sun was shining very brightly:


This kind of day casts a lot of shadows, but it also creates a warm, yellow-tinged glow.




I took Amy outside again later in the day, when the lighting allowed her features to shine through a bit more:




The leaves in our yard are every shade of yellow, orange, brown, red, and many combinations of the four! Amy picked this delicate red leaf as her favorite:


After a bunch of normal, staid photos, Amy wanted to explore the yard in a more daring way!

Please don't fall, please don't fall...
She made it safely to a secure fence post:


It was especially hard to photograph Amy outside with her hat (it protects her face from the sunlight--as it should!) but I wanted to end with a few pictures of her in her complete outfit:




Many people are conflicted about the Amy March character, but I see her as an impulsive (slightly spoiled?) child who grows into a poised young woman who simply follows her passions and knows what she wants.  I can relate to that.  I love her for her strong, clearly-defined, honest personality.  Rebecca breathed life into this interpretation of Amy with her stunning, six-piece outfit that lovingly encapsulates so many details about Amy's story.  The youngest March sister may not have Meg's elegance, but she has her own beautiful spunk and determination.

Here's a summary of the work that was done on Amy:
-the head was separated from the body and the old wig and eyelashes were removed
-the body was disassembled and the vinyl parts were cleaned with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  The fabric torso was washed with a mild bleach and detergent solution
-small stains on one hand were removed with Remove-Zit and cleaned with Formula 9-1-1
-old glue and debris in the arms was cleaned out and the arms were re-glued to the armature.  Rips in the vinyl of the arms were sealed with glue
-armature joints near the arms were lubricated with WD-40 in order to reduce tension on the vinyl
-the body was reassembled and the back seam was re-sewn
-the head was washed and all factory paint was stripped
-the old eyes were removed
-the head was coated with Mr. Super Clear sealant
-new glass eyes were placed (twice--rinse and repeat with previous step).  The final eyes are hazel blue D400 glass eyes from Hand Glass Craft
-new face paint was applied, including lips, blush, eyebrows, and freckles
-a new blonde Monique Aria wig was glued in front and in back, and new Monique eyelashes were placed
-Amy is wearing a six pice custom outfit made by Rebecca from Stitch in Times Designs.  This outfit is supplemented with white tights and cream-colored boots

Amy has a 2001 body with significant picks in the cloth torso. She also has various rubs and small marks on her vinyl from being old.  Her glass eyes make her an inappropriate toy for children.

I'm sorry that I never responded to comments on Meg's post--thank you so much for your kind words!  I listened to your suggestions and will not sell the Little Women dolls as a set.  They will all be for sale separately when the whole group is complete.

I have to take a small break so that I can clean and list my house on the market.  I will be back with Beth and Jo (and maybe the freebie?) as soon as I possibly can!  Thank you for being patient with me in the meantime!

12 comments:

  1. Well worth the work you and Miss Rebecca put into her. The combination of her curly wig and big eyebrows makes her look a little like an old Jumeau doll.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're really outdoing yourself with this series! I especially love the outdoor shots where she's looking upward.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good luck with your move! <3 I hope you end up in a house with a nice big yard so you have plenty of space for photos! That outdoor light just transforms the dolls - Amy included!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, she looks exactly the way I pictured her throughout the book! I don't know what kind of sorcery you did to the lips, but it looks like the mouth will open any second to say something and annoy people. Every pose is so Amy. I would have loved to see the V dress option based on the sketches, but I really like how different and fancy the jacket outfit turned out. And the hat was such a surprise! For smaller heads we just braid the "straw", sew it with thread and iron it. It was fascinating to see the actual hat skeleton being covered. The long wait for this pust surely did not disappoint. I hope the rest of the March girls are giving you less trouble!

    ReplyDelete
  5. You are killing it with these girls. They have both come out a dream so far! I love that you're showing your progress shots with Rebecca, also... it's an interesting and fun behind-the-scenes look that really brings the dolls even more to life.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Emily, you have outdone yourself, again! This is wonderful work. Amy's face is simply perfect, her lips are amazingly painted, and her eyes are looking so lively! Wonderful work!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I really like how she turned out, both her and her outfit are wonderful - well done ladies! :)
    Some of the long, thread-like picks in the front made me think of something: could you try to tuck these back into the body with the help of a needle? When I have stray short threads on a garment, I always weave them into the garment with the help of a needle, so that they don't stick out. I take an unthreaded needle, push it into the fabric, but before I pull it out on the other side, I thread the short thread-end into the eye - this way when I pull it out, it grabs and brings the short thread-end onto the other side (I hope I managed to explain this clearly :D Let me know if not, and I can try to draw something :) ). I think this could work with some of the picks (with very gentle pulling once they are in, so that they don't worsen), it could stop them from worsening and the torso could become a bit more attractive.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love her! She is adorable.
    I'm pretty sure in the books Any complains that the hand me downs she gets from Florence are ugly. The example she gives is a purple dress with a print of orange skyrockets. Every time there's a new film or doll, I hope that's what Amy will be wearing. But she never is.
    Good luck with the move!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Beautiful transformation! I love seeing Rebecca's sketches, and am living vicariously through past you regarding them! Thank you for sharing and take your time-moving house is not a small undertaking. : ). -Micah

    ReplyDelete
  10. She is so, so gorgeous! I think this might be my favorite transformation of yours so far :) The eyebrows, the blonde lashes and intricate eyes, that gorgeous outfit - you did an amazing job and Rebecca is so talented! I love this series and I'm so excited to see the rest of the girls :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow! First of all, I think the wig and eye combination turned out awesome in the end. The bangs and loose ringlets suit Amy. And that outfit is incredible! It's also really cool to see some of the hat-making process.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Both of you knocked it out of the park again! She looks exactly how I would picture Amy.

    Good luck with the packing and move.

    ReplyDelete