Monday, April 12, 2021

Tiana 1

I have been dreaming about this princess collection for so long, it's hard to believe that I'm finally getting a chance to work on the dolls!  My plan for this group is to make four pairs of princesses (Tiana, Rapunzel, Belle, and Cinderella), and for each pair, one doll will reflect the modern Disney interpretation of the character, and the other doll will be an historical representation of the character.  The historical versions will mostly be themed on the time period of the origin of the fairy tale (or when it become popular), but for Tiana I bent the rules a bit.

My historical version of Tiana will be based on the setting for the Disney movie (1920s New Orleans).  This is because--for diversity's sake--I didn't want the time periods for any two princesses to overlap.  But I'll talk more about that as I introduce each historical princess.

Today I'm going to share not the historical version of Tiana, but the Disney-inspired princess. This girl started out as a Denver Tasha with medium (03?) skin and a time-worn appearance:

2001 My Twinn doll with the Tasha face.

Tasha is a fairly rare face mold (I don't think I've ever shown her here--only on TBP) and this doll was in good condition when I bought her, so she was pretty expensive.

Her original wig is not in great shape and she had a loose arm, but her body is clean and has only a few picks and snags on the cloth torso:

The wig is very thick and nice, so I'll probably try to resurrect it--but not for use with this doll:

There's one large snag on Tiana's right shoulder, but her fabric torso is in good shape overall:

She has some darker areas around the seams between the fabric and the vinyl of her limbs.  This is very subtle and I didn't try to fix it:

Her vinyl was also in good shape, with some light scuffs and scratches from being an older play doll:

Tiana's face had more scuffing than the rest of her body, but even that wasn't too bad:

The scuffs are hard to see with my iPhone camera, so I removed Tiana's head and wig and took her to my work table to get some better pictures.

Her factory eyes were dark brown but starting to fade to a reddish color (more in the right eye than in the left), and she had full lips, ragged eyelashes, and eyebrows that were missing paint:

I really like how full her lips are, and the color is nice, too.  Unfortunately, some paint was missing from both the top and bottom lips:

The color had rubbed away at the edges of the molded lips (which are smaller than the painted lips).

The eyebrows were missing paint, too--the right eyebrow more so than the left:

Tiana's eyes were really dirty, and I had a terrible time trying to remove the eyelashes.  This always makes me suspect that somebody has re-attached the lashes with super-glue.

Not a good sign.
Sure enough, when I tried to remove the eyes, I discovered a ton of super glue.  Not only was the glue holding the eyelashes firmly in place, but it had melded the eyes to their sockets!

I had to break the eyes to get them out:

This has never happened to me before:

Tiana came out of the ordeal relatively unscathed, with just a small blemish at the edge of her right eye.

I sanded the eye sockets to remove the remaining glue, and then stripped away all of the factory paint:

I gave Tiana's head a matte seal with Mr Super Clear and then inserted some new brown glass eyes from Lauscha, Germany:

I gave her dark, ever-so-slightly raised eyebrows:

Here's a close-up of the right brow, where you can also see the defect at the corner of the eye:

I finished her face with some rosy cheeks and bright lips:

I'd intended to try and recreate the full lips that this doll came with, but I couldn't bring myself to paint too far outside of the lines.  I guess I'm that kind of person.  The narrower lips may not be quite what I wanted, but they do bring out the smile in this face mold pretty well.

I had to disassemble the top of Tiana's body in order to secure her loose arm, and I also scrubbed all of her vinyl limbs with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Once everything was secure and clean, I re-attached the head to the body and gave this princess a new wig and new eyelashes.

As an aside, I don't know what happened with Tiana's eyelashes. I went through two pairs of top lashes and three pairs of bottom lashes before they looked ok--without too much visible glue.  Maybe my glue was going bad?  I replaced the glue with a new bottle part way through the ordeal, and I think that helped.  I feel like these makeovers take on a life of their own and, as much experience as I've accumulated at this point, there are still weird and unexpected things that crop up. I suspect that this particular doll has a voodoo curse on her eyelashes!

Eyelashes are not something that I like to waste these days, either, since Monique is going out of business and is already sold out of my favorite eyelashes.  Sigh.

In any case, with the eyelashes finally sorted out I could start taking pictures of the completed Tiana!  Here she is before she got dressed:

She's wearing an amazing wig from ZaZou Custom Dolls on Etsy.  I have the hair pinned back here so that you can see her bright-eyed face:

The wig is a rich black color with textured crimping throughout.  It is nice and long in the back:

Here's a peek at the re-sewn back seam:

I let Tiana's hair down so that you can appreciate the full glorious wig:

I love this wig!  Tiana will be sold with her hair in an up-do, but I didn't cut or change the original wig in any way, so it could be changed back to this style at any time:

I wish I wasn't still taking my pictures in a dark basement with no natural light--especially with this collection--but that's pretty much my only option right now.  I hope Tiana can shine through my mediocre photos.

I recruited the talented Julie from Fairy Tale Blessings to make Tiana's gown...and she did not disappoint:

Julie managed to capture the spirit of the Disney Tiana outfit while also covering the fabric portions of the My Twinn body:

Here's the dress from the back (it closes with velcro):

I love the petal detail on the front of the bodice!

The skirt has three layers.  The top layer is made of satiny leaf-shaped sections and ribbon strands. Under this layer is a full-length sheer skirt:

Under all of this, there's a sage green underskirt:

I paired Julie's beautiful outfit with some white tights and white patent leather shoes:

The outfit includes a tiara headband that Julie made to resemble the Disney costume:

I styled Tiana's hair into a bun with braids at either side.  The headband can be tucked in under the braids:

I have to be really careful while I'm taking the headband off and putting it on, though, because it has a tendency to snag little strands of Tiana's hair.

I think I tried this up-do about twelve times before I was content with the outcome.  I used one of the "magic" bun-maker devices that you can find online.  

This kind of thing:

I use these contraptions on my own hair every once and a while, but it was much harder to do with Tiana.

Even with my best effort, there are lots of short bits of hair sticking out from the braids and the bun.  The strands framing Tiana's face look nice, but the parts sticking out over her ears are less attractive:

Here's the tiara (and the hairstyle) from the back:

I have a black hair net wrapped around the bun to keep it neat.

The back of the tiara is not really designed to be seen--there's a lot of visible glue and backing material:

I really love the dramatic look of the front of this tiara, though!  It makes Tiana very elegant:

I'm thrilled with this outfit, and I think Tiana is, too!

I took a portrait of Tiana both with and without her tiara:

Without the tiara, I can zoom in on her face a bit better:

So that's what I used for her comparison GIF:

While the tiara is off, here are a few more views of Tiana's hairstyle:

Photography is not my favorite part of making these dolls right now, and I really need to get to work building a better set-up, but I did have fun posing Tiana in her lovely gown.  Here are a few of the better shots:

I love the dreamy look she gets in her eyes sometimes:

She just had an idea for a new dish to cook, I bet!

She can also look quite regal when she puts her mind to it:

Mostly, she's a young dreamer from New Orleans who is happy to be human again!

*Update: here are a few photos of Tiana outside!

This Tiana was a joy to work with.  She didn't need much help, and her beautiful complexion and rare face mold seem to glow under the influence of a new wig and some shiny glass eyes.  Julie's gown and tiara tie her to the Disney character beautifully, and I just wish that my photos could show her off better.

Here's a summary of the work that I did on Tiana:
-her head was detached from her body and all vinyl parts were cleaned
-the old wig and eyelashes were removed
-the old eyes were pried out of the head (they had been super-glued in place)
-the factory paint was stripped
-the head was coated with a matte sealant
-new Lauscha German eyes were placed
-the face was repainted, including blush, lips, and eyebrows
-the top of the cloth torso was opened so that a loose arm could be re-glued
-the back seam was re-stitched and the body was reassembled
-a new textured wig from ZaZou Custom Dolls was glued at the front and at the back
-the wig was put into an up-do that can be undone
-new eyelashes were placed
-Tiana is wearing a custom-made gown and tiara by Julie from Fairy Tale Blessings.  These items are paired with new white tights and new shoes.

Tiana has a small defect in the corner of her right eye that was caused by the eye removal process.  She also has a few snags on her cloth body and some small scuffs and shiny marks from being old.  The seams between her fabric and vinyl limbs have subtle darker areas.  There's more glue on her eyelashes than I would like, but this is hard to see from most angles.  Tiana has glass eyes, and so she is not an appropriate toy for very small children.

I should mention that I have stopped making lockets to go with these dolls.  This is because the step was time-consuming, but also because the chains on the necklaces were tarnishing really quickly (they're all black) and so they don't look very good anymore.  Sorry about that!  I wish the idea had worked out better.

My historical Tiana is also complete, and I just have to sort out her pictures.  I'm eager to show you the contrast between these two princesses!

Tiana 1 has sold.  Thank you!

To finish the post, I feel the urge to include this one cheesy photo-shopped picture of Tiana with her frog...


  1. aww She's lovely!
    I can't wait to see the other Princesses, particularly the historical versions of them!

    1. Thank you, Bailey! I am partial to the historical girls, too! ;)

    2. I haven't been brave enough to try repairing a Twinn yet, so my dolls of choice for customizing fun have been American Girl - I've been gravitating toward historical (and some fantasy) outfits for my girls of late, it just makes the customs (at least mine) look so much more special to have them wearing fancy outfits.

    3. I totally agree, Bailey! There's this magical moment when you slip a new (fancy!) dress onto a doll that you've been working on. I think that's my favorite part of a makeover! I hopped over to your blog to look at your customs, and they are beautiful! I especially like Sorcha (that hair!!) and Clarissa. I like how you took an already-interesting Steampunk-style outfit and embellished it. I really enjoy doing that kind of thing, too. :)

    4. I'm going to make you laugh - I had a total nerd moment that you visited my blog! Awh! I'm glad you like my girls. Sorcha was my second custom...and honestly I realized after I made her and then came back to catch up on your blog last year that I'd used a wig I'd seen you use in more than one color on Twinns. I also have a natural gravitation toward redheads and freckles when I'm planning customs in general, it's taken some training to remember to pick other hair colors and not make the freckles so intense on every doll LOL

  2. I mourn the loss of those full lips, but her new expression is so adorable and you -can-better see her smile so it more than makes up for it. My jaw dropped when I saw the first picture of her in her dress!!! Beautiful! (I also can't believe you were able to remove the eyes with almost no damage-I would have wrecked the poor thing!)

    I love the paired princesses and can't wait to see more! Thank you so much for your blog, I look forward to your posts and they never fail to brighten my day.


    1. Thank you so much, dear Micah! I mourn the lips, too! I need to be more bold with my painting!!

    2. Wherever your muse takes you you follow it, bold or subtle or anywhere in between. These girls are art hands down-and on prominent display in my home. I honestly doubt you can go wrong!


  3. She looks great! It's a real shame darker toned, and really most non-white My Twinn dolls are so hard to come by. Tianna looks great, though I almost wish she'd had a dropped waist 1920s gown, though the dress you chose is still beautiful. Just gives me more ideas for customizing lmao. Great job as usual!

    1. Thank you! I know, the non-white Twinns are very beautiful and rare. I love them. My 1920s version of Tiana is coming soon! I hope she does not disappoint. :)

  4. I feel the same as Pattycakes ^ about the darker skin tones, I've seen some doll customizers using Ritt dye to achieve darker skintones - maybe that's something that can be done for MT's! I love what you did with her, she looks kind, sweet, regal and serene. The costume is just magnificent too.

    1. I've seen the Rit technique online, too! I've even watched a few videos. I have a beautiful dark Wilma head and no body to match, so I've been contemplating the Rit technique as a possible solution. If I ever try it, I will certainly post all of the details here! Right now I'm trying to think of a container I can use to boil water that's big enough to fit a My Twinn body (!)

    2. Ha, I can definitely see where that would be a bit of a challenge! Maybe a large stock pot or something... Exciting possibilities!

  5. Beautiful work! The Tasha face is just stunning. I absolutely love the eyes you used, too.

    1. Thank you, Nikki! Yeah, I love her eyes, too. It's hard to find these Lauscha glass eyes with nice small irises, but these turned out well!

  6. This is a change of subject, but I found a My Twinn doll today that confused me, and I'm hoping you can help. She was in her original box, with all her paperwork. She was labelled as 'My Twinn Cuddly Sister Emily', but she was the size of a regular,23(24?) inch My Twinn. She had a non posable body. I thought the Cuddly Sisters were smaller. What's up with this kid? She was $30. How's that price? She looked like new and had RED HAIR!

    1. Hi Tam! The Cuddly Sisters are all little, like you said, and Emily is the name of a little one with short red hair and a sailor outfit. However, some of the Cuddlies were sold in Sister Sets with a coordinating (non-posable) 23" doll. The big sisters were called Lovable Sisters.
      Emily was paired with a Lovable Sister with the Catherine face mold and short red hair named Caitlin (also in a sailor dress). So...I suspect you found Caitlin with Emily's paperwork. :)
      $30 is a good price! The non-posable dolls are not worth as much as the posable ones, but Sister Sets are often quite valuable
      I hope all of that made sense. I'm slow to wake up today!

    2. Sorry, I think Caitlin has the Rosemary face, not Catherine. My mistake.

  7. Oh, she's stunning! I love the hair, her beautiful new eyes, and to be honest, personally I like her lips better now. Before it showed that they were coloured outside the "natural" lines, and your version looks better to me. The dress is also wonderful. What a lovely Tiana she is, and I look forward to seeing the other version as well.

    1. Thank you so much, Linda! I'm glad you like her new mouth, because I felt pretty bad about that. I agree with you, though. I remember being bothered by Monster High dolls whose lip paint went way outside of the molded contours. It can look very sloppy, and I guess I didn't want to risk that. :/

  8. Her original full lips were pretty, but like you said, her new face just glows! Tiana may be one of my favorites of all your customs.

    I like that the darker vinyl tones at least seemed a little more common in the 18" My Twins.

    1. Thank you so much, Rebecca. Yeah, you're right! The darker skin tones were much easier to find in the 18" girls, weren't they! I should embrace some 18" makeovers (I really like the variety of faces, too) but most of those dolls have to be re-strung at this point, and I haven't found the time to learn how to do that yet. :/

  9. She is lovely!
    Do you take constructive criticism? I love the detail in your eyebrows, they look amazing and I wish I could do that!
    But they always look very straight and go miles past the edge of the eye. I know it can be hard because you don't want to make the brows too arched and make them look permanently surprised but you could stand to be a little bolder than the ones you've been doing.
    And eyebrows should only extend a fingerwidth beyond the outer edge of the eye. The dolls fingerwidth not yours.
    But she is extremely, very, lovely and your work has come a long way! You are doing great!

    1. It's great to have feedback! Thank you. I get stuck in ruts with eyebrows, that's for sure. Ugh. They still give me a lot of stress and I cling to old habits.
      I freaked out and ran downstairs to measure the distance from the edge of the eye as soon as I saw your comment, and Tiana's brows only go about one finger's-width (her pointer finger) from the edge of her eye. The brows look different when they're in three dimensions, I think. I really like having that rule of thumb to keep me in check, though. That's super-helpful!
      It's good for me to be jolted out of my habits, and I really appreciate your thoughtful comments. There's such a neat diversity of eyebrows out there in the world, and I'd love to be able to capture more of them! I will try to be more adventurous--promise. :)
      In the meantime, I'm going to be staring at people's eyebrows all day today...

    2. Hi again Rachael and Emily! I read this conversation and would like to add that Tiana's eyebrows do have the perfect length. If you draw an imaginary line from the nostril to the corner of the eye, you will see that the eyebrow ends in the right spot. Sorry for sticking my nose in but I am a portrait painter and I couldn't help mentioning this. ;D

  10. What a gorgeous face (and dress). It's too bad you couldn't save her original lips; they were wonderful. Still, she turned out amazing. Comparing the pairs of princesses in this collection is going to be great!


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