Monday, May 31, 2021

Rapunzel 1

My goal was to get this Rapunzel done before the end of May, which seemed like no problem, but suddenly I'm at the point where if I don't get this entry posted today, it'll be June!  I can't believe how fast time is flying these days--perhaps in part because we're all starting to venture out into the world again in ways that have been hard for the past year. It feels truly amazing and liberating.

What better way to celebrate venturing out into the world than by making a Rapunzel doll? Not that anyone needs a good excuse to make a Rapunzel doll.  She's such a fun character.  Tangled is also my favorite Disney movie, so I felt a lot of extra pressure while I was making this girl.  I adore how Disney portrays Rapunzel.  She's such a delight in that film, and I had a great time watching the movie (several times) as I planned this doll.

Choosing the right My Twinn face for Rapunzel was the first step.  Last summer I ran a poll to see which face molds everyone thought would suit each princess character, and Rapunzel was one of the tricky ones.  The Denika face ended up winning by a small margin--37% as I recall.  Still, I think this was a good choice since the Denika mold has a smile to convey Rapunzel's bright personality.

Rapunzel started out as this beautiful pale-skinned, purple-eyed Denika from 2000:

2000 My Twinn doll with the Denika face.

The doll came to me in excellent condition, with a clean body and very few flaws:

You can see that it's difficult to spot any picks in the fabric torso:

The stitching in her back seam is a little puckered, but I left this alone because I didn't have confidence that I could make it any better.

The eyes had faded to purple, but this color actually reminds me a lot of Rapunzel!  With a different interpretation of the character, I might have kept these eyes as they are.  They're quite pretty!

The Disney Rapunzel has green eyes, though, so the purple eyes had to go.

This doll even had a smattering of freckles on her nose, which is also a Rapunzel trait:

Destined to be a Rapunzel.
She had some worn paint in her eyebrows, though, and a few random scuffs and scratches on her face.

I removed the head and took it to my worktable for a closer look:

That photo, above, really shows off her 01 skin tone nicely.  I figured that this super-pale coloring would pair well with golden Rapunzel hair.

Here she is without her wig:

She had some brown spots on her forehead and neck, and a few white scuffs, but nothing too serious.

I wasn't wild about the shape of her upper lip, though.  Some of the factory Denika lips are really severe:

Way too pointy.
I pulled Rapunzel's old eyelashes off next.  This was harder than it normally is, so you'll see a few stray lashes lingering around.  

Without any eyelashes, her purple eyes look even more intense!  She also looks wonky-eyed, but this is a feature of most Denika dolls:

I would not want to encounter that stare late at night.
I washed the head, removed all of the factory paint, and buffed away the obvious scuffs.

The first pair of new eyes that I tried were bright green glass eyes that I found recently on eBay. These eyes do not have any iris detail, but I thought perhaps the vivid green color would be reminiscent of the animated Rapunzel's eyes.

Let's just say that this idea didn't pan out:

Invasion of the bug people.
It's hard to see the bright green color in that picture, but it's easy to see that the eyes do not fit in the sockets.  They are 20mm eyes, like normal, but for some reason they have more bulk than other glass eyes I've used, and so they make the whole socket bulge.

Here's a close-up that shows the color better:

I'm bummed that these eyes didn't work, not just because I like the color, but also because they only cost $7.00 or something like that.  I was hoping I'd found a new source for inexpensive glass eyes!  That would have been the dream.

Instead, I ordered a pair of light green Hand Glass Craft eyes for Rapunzel.  These cost $90 and took several weeks to arrive, but I think they were worth the wait.  They're definitely an improvement over the first ones.

I think Hand Glass Craft eyes always look beautiful.  I just wish they weren't so expensive. There's no way for me to get my investment back on these (I'd have to charge $400 for a doll like this), but I love working with them so much, I do it as a treat.

I had this notion that I was going to do something really original with Rapunzel's eyebrows, so I studied her character's expressions in the Tangled movie, and even printed out several still pictures of her face to see if I could copy the brows in some way.

Let me first say that Disney animators do an incredible job at animating eyebrows.  Rapunzel's face is stunningly expressive, and her eyebrows even have individual hairs that are visible.

That said, I am not so great at painting this style of expressive eyebrows.

My first attempt was ok, but the middle edges of the brows are raised way too much.  She looks pitiful:

Next, I tried to copy the swirly hair pattern at the edge of the brows, and this didn't work, either.  She still looks sad or confused...but now with fuzzy caterpillars on her face:

So, I went back to a more normal-looking brow.  I know.  But I'm trying to branch out!  I really am. 

I made the shape of these brows more arched and delicate than what I've been doing lately, at least:

You can tell that this is my final brow attempt because I've also added blushing, freckles, and lips at this point.  Those features took me much less time than the eyebrows.

I might have slightly over-blushed this girl's face, but I it gives her a nice rosy glow.

Apparently I stopped taking pictures at my work table at this point, because now we're going to skip ahead and see Rapunzel with her head back on her body, and with her new wig and eyelashes in place!

I gave her an extra-long, yellow blonde wig that is one-of-a-kind.  This wig was custom-made for me by Doll of a Kind almost a year ago now.  It is an amazing wig, and even includes Rapunzel's signature side part:

Here's the wig from the back:

Despite the extreme length, the wig is very silky and smooth and easy to brush:

It's also fun to photograph!

I love Doll of a Kind wigs.  They are consistently the easiest wigs to manage of any that I've tried.

Rapunzel's beautiful dress was custom-made by the talented Julie from Sweet Doll of Mine on Etsy.  Julie typically sews for 18-inch dolls, but I gave her a My Twinn doll model so that she could tailor a dress especially for this Rapunzel.

I think she did a wonderful job!

The dress has a beautiful ribbon-laced bodice with real metal grommets:

I also love all of the little details in the sleeves and along the hem and waistline:

The dress closes in back with velcro:

Rapunzel is barefoot, with no shoes or tights.

I wanted to braid this doll's hair (for practical purposes, and also because of the beautiful braid that the Tangled Rapunzel wears at the lantern festival), but I took several more pictures of her with her hair down first.

I think I actually prefer this doll with her hair down.  It's very dramatic!

Here she is from various angles so you can see the wig:

This is probably my favorite picture of Rapunzel:

I like how her hair looks, and the interested look on her face--like she's just noticed something.

I used this picture as her "official" portrait:

And here's the comparison GIF:

Rapunzel will come with this simple metal tiara, too:

The tiara is not a good representation of the crown from the movie, but I couldn't find anything like that in this scale, and I didn't quite know how to make one.

As you know by now, hairstyles are not really my strong point, so figuring out Rapunzel's braid was probably the hardest part of this project.  I braided the wig about seven times in total, and finally landed on a style that I was reasonably happy with.

I wanted a long braid with some smaller braids mixed in, and I also wanted a bit of volume at the sides of Rapunzel's face--the hair "swoosh" that is so common with Disney Princesses.  This swoosh was not so easy to do, especially since I was unwilling to add any hair styling products to the wig.

Here are some photos of the hair right after I braided it:

I had just started to add flowers to the braid when it occurred to me that I should take a few photos of the style without any ornamentation, which is why you see two flowers on the left side of her head.

The hair on the left side of Rapunzel's face is a bit too swoopy, maybe, but it looks slightly less exaggerated in real life.

I added volume to the front of the hair by securing a small section with a rubber band and then sewing the rubber band into the wig cap.  The thread (or the rubber band) could easily be cut in order let the hair down again:

There's a similar, but smaller, section of hair tied back on the right side of the head:

The rest of the hairstyle is just a simple chunky braid with six micro braids mixed in:

One disappointing thing about this wig is that there are a lot of shorter strands of hair mixed throughout.  These are not obvious when the hair is down, but they stick out everywhere when the hair is styled.  You can see a lot of those flyaways in this close-up:

I could have used a hair smoothing product to control the flyaways better, but I was really reluctant to add any products to this wig.  I have no idea how those products fare over time, and my worry is that they would attract dust and lint and make the wig sticky or dirty-looking.

Once the braid was complete, I glued some fake flowers to small hair clips and attached them throughout the braid.

Here's the completed Rapunzel!

The tiara still fits when the hair is styled, but I think it works best when the hair is down:

There's a large cluster of flowers on a clip on the left side of Rapunzel's head, tucked in around the rubber band that's holding her hair back:

And there's a smaller cluster of flowers on the right side of her head to conceal that rubber band:

Here's another picture that shows some of the shorter strands of hair that plague this wig:

I scattered some more flower clips all of the way down the braid, too:

Again, this isn't a sleek, polished hairstyle, but I think the loose, natural feel of it works for Rapunzel's character.

And, of course, the hair style and flower clips are designed so that they can be taken down and re-arranged at any time.

The braid is heavy and a bit delicate, but I like flopping it over one of Rapunzel's shoulders, like this:

Here are a few shots where the braid isn't as visible:

I love the scene in the movie where Rapunzel has made it into the kingdom for the lantern festival and is dancing in the streets with Flynn.  This Rapunzel wanted to try her best to dance around, too!

The flowering trees here in New Jersey have started to lose their petals in favor of the lush green of summer.  I wanted to take Rapunzel outside for a few portraits in this landscape:

Like the movie Rapunzel, this girl was mesmerized to come out of the dark indoors and see bright sun and green grass all around her for the first time!

Best. Day. Ever!

Who needs flowering trees when this lovely girl is around?

Any project that involves Rapunzel is going to be a huge treat for me.  I just love spending time thinking about the movie and singing all of those wonderful songs in my head.  I also had a great time seeking out the supplies to make this special character.  I think the wig and dress, in particular, made the project come together.

Here's a summary of all the work that was done on Rapunzel:
-her head was separated from her body and her old wig and eyelashes were removed
-her old eyes were removed
-her head was cleaned and small scuffs and scratches were sanded down
-all factory paint was stripped
-the head was coated with Mr. Super Clear UV resistant matte sealant
-new premium glass eyes from Hand Glass Craft were placed
-the face was repainted using artist grade acrylic paint
-new eyelashes were glued into place with tacky glue
-a new, one-of-a-kind custom wig from Doll of a Kind was glued in place with hot glue
-the wig was braided and adorned with fabric flowers.  The flowers are attached to plastic clips.
-Rapunzel is wearing a custom-made dress by Sweet Doll of Mine.  She is not wearing any tights or shoes, but will come with a small tiara

Rapunzel's body is in very good condition for a doll her age.  There are only a few picks on her fabric torso.  She has the occasional small mark or snag from being old.  The hairstyle is not perfect.  The wig has some flyaway shorter strands of hair that are accentuated by the braid.  The hairstyle is completely removable, though, if the buyer wishes to return the wig to its original state.  No styling products were used.  The glass eyes make Rapunzel inappropriate as a play doll for very small children.

I've been having a fun time with my historical Rapunzel doll, too, and she is now complete.  I just have to get her final photographs taken and sorted and then I can share her with you.  She offers a striking contrast to this girl, which is one of the things I've really been enjoying about this series so far.

Once both Rapunzels have made their appearance here, I'll put them over in the Etsy shop to be sold separately.  I hope you like them!  Happy Memorial Day and I hope you enjoy the last day of May!


  1. What a transformation!!! I think you did a great job with the new style of eyebrow, and the more I study the pictures, the more and more beautiful she becomes. (Love the eye color!)

    I also really love the Tangled movie. She is such a sweet princess.

    1. Oops, this is Micah! Have a great week Emily, and thank you as always for sharing. Gosh I love the hair and flowers too.

    2. Thank you so much, Micah! I'm glad you like the eyebrows! That was quite a journey. :)

  2. Boy, you really caught the character well!

    1. Oh, I'm so glad you think so! Thank you.

  3. Oohh, Raps is gorgeous! She's my favorite of your Princess set so far, I think. And the slightly over-blushed face I think helps give her the complete innocence she had in Tangled.

    1. Haha! Raps as a nickname makes me giggle. That gives her a very modern vibe, I think. ;) Thank you so much!!

  4. Wow, so expressive and charming - it may be a little early, but I think she might be my favorite of this series so far. Can't wait to see what historical Rapunzel looks like!

    1. Thank you! She's my favorite so far, too...although I'm very biased because of the movie. :)

  5. Do you happen to id face molds for the my twinns?

    1. I do, indeed! I think we connected over on Etsy. Your girls are beautiful!

  6. Oh my gosh! Rapunzel is my favorite Disney Princess, and did such a wonderful job capturing her character! She's perfect! I'm loving this series, and I can't wait to see what the historical Rapunzel looks like.

    1. Thank you so much, Stevie Lou! I'm having a great time with this series, too. I just wish I was faster! ;)

  7. The other commenters are right, it really is a very good likeness of Rapunzel from the movie. I hope you were able to save her original eyes! (And her original wig looked in pretty good shape, too.) Too bad you couldn't use them because they are, in fact, very pretty - not creepy or vampire-like at all, like some faded eyes. XD

    1. I definitely saved her wig. It was nearly perfect. I also saved her eyes. I think they are pretty! It's usually easy for me to yank out and throw away faded eyes, but you're totally right--these were keepers!

  8. She’s amazing! I wasn’t sure you’d be able to do Rapunzel with that sculpt but you did a terrific job!
    As for the overblushing, people with fair skin and freckles, tend to “blush” easily anyway(not just from embarrassment) so it’s realistic.

    1. Oh, I love that explanation, Rachael! I know exactly what you mean about blushing on fair-skinned people, and I think that trait suits the character. That makes me feel better! :)

  9. Have you ever considered trying polyurethane resin eyes? there's some nice ones on Etsy for a range of prices. You can custom order them too, and because they're made for ball-jointed dolls they come in all sizes, so I'm sure there's some out there that'd fit the myTwinn girls pretty well. here's a link to some very expensive eyes and a few links to some cheaper eyes I like (1 type are acrylic, one type are glass, and one are custom resin eyes)!

    1. Also, I really love how her face turned out! The purple eyes were lovely, but the green, especially when paired with that face paint, make her look so much like Disney's Rapunzel. She has such a nice glow with how her face is done, too. I don't think it's too much blush at all! and her lips are a much nicer shape.

    2. Wow, Maureen! Thank you so much for gathering all of those links for me! I'm constantly on the lookout for new types of realistic eyes, and I have *never* heard of resin eyes! I immediately ordered a pair from one of your links and I will see if they fit the My Twinn heads! That would be so exciting!! :D


      sorry, just found this shop! their eyes also look nice and they're well-priced, so I wanted to pass it along :)

  10. Ohhhh! I love her so much, she is perfect! You're awesome, Emily, great job! =D

  11. She’s beautiful! I was so excited to see another post and can’t wait to see your next Repunzel doll too 😍

  12. Both you and Julie have done a wonderful work on her - she is beautiful (I love that long wig!), and her dress is lovely and very well-sewn. I too love Rapunzel as a character, so it wasn't difficult for me to fall in love with this doll :)

  13. This doll is so pretty! <3
    Also, I found a cuddly sister locally for like, three bucks! She definitely needs new eyes, may be able to save the wig? But I don't see size's anywhere, any idea? She's a Rachel with very purple eyes, if I'm right.

    1. The Cuddlies take 16mm eyes, I believe. Good luck! That's a really amazing bargain. :)

  14. I think you pulled her hair back from her face a little too tightly...but I know these thick, heavy wigs are hard to work with! Beautiful work as always. My favorite part of these posts is first seeing them with their amazing new glass eyes.