Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Another My Twinn Interlude

I'm working on a few short reviews of play dolls that I bought a while ago, but I'm really slow these days.  My trusty old Cannon point-and-shoot camera is dying, so I'm discouraged by my pictures.  I've been using my iPhone a lot, but it's not the same--as you'll see.

Anyway, since it's taking me so long to get a review done, that slightly creepy Hairdorables picture has been at the top of the site for weeks...and I'm getting tired of it!  So, today I thought I'd quickly share another My Twinn project so that we can all look at something different until the next review comes along.

I've been enjoying the work I'm doing on My Twinn dolls, although the passion is starting to wane a bit.  I'm happiest when I'm working with a doll that's really beat up--almost a lost cause--but has some feature that captures my affection, like a gentle expression or pretty eyes:

Denver-era Denika by My Twinn.
If you look at the rest of the beautiful Denika from that picture, above, it's like a crime scene:

When she arrived, her body showed signs of being sliced and re-sewn in several places, her neck was broken, her vinyl and left eye were horribly scuffed, and she was too dirty and smelly to bring into my studio.  I like working on a doll like this because I'm not an expert at any of the refurbishing techniques, but I know I can make some improvements.  At least I can't make it worse, right?  But actually, sometimes I do feel like I've made an old doll worse by erasing all of the charming signs of age and love.  I'll show you what I mean a little later.

A fun side story with this doll is that some of her stitches are done in surgical suture patterns:

That's what's called a continuous blanket stitch across her chest and belly.  I like to imagine that Denika belonged to a budding young surgeon, who continued to use her for practice even in medical school!

Anyway, Denika is nowhere near finished.  She's going to take a lot of time, but I'll let you know how she turns out.

In contrast, the doll I'm featuring today was actually not beat up at all when she came to me. This doll simply has a rare face mold (Helen) that I've been coveting for ages.  I saw this Helen on eBay and knew instantly that I wanted to buy her.  She's redheaded, has tons of freckles, and is in beautiful condition!  However, she wasn't quite my style for several reasons:

The screenshot, above, is from Helen's auction.  This was posted with permission from the lovely seller, luvdisneyworld, who always has interesting dolls to offer.

I have a few rules with My Twinn restorations.  First of all, I try not to tamper with Denver-era dolls that are in excellent condition.  I feel like they should be left as they are.  Also, I like to make my dolls as realistic as possible.  I try to keep their original look in tact, or at least acknowledge something about their previous life.

So why did I do anything at all to this fully-dressed, Denver-era Helen in beautiful condition?  Well, she'd been re-painted by a former owner, so I felt like that negated my first rule.  Also, while the custom freckles are plentiful and nicely-shaped, I don't love the color.  They're too bold for my taste.  And, as much as I like the adorable kittens on Helen's dress, I wanted to put her in something from the My Twinn company (which I guess is another one of my habits or rules).

The first thing I did was remove the wig and take a closer look at Helen's face:

The freckles are very orange and bright.  Also, her eyes are unnaturally blue.  Those two things combine to give her more of a stylized, caricatured look than what I'm usually after.

I'd say that the eyes look better in these pictures than they do in real life.  They're very bright and almost purplish in some lighting--even though they look purely blue here.

In contrast, my pictures make the freckles look a bit worse than they did in real life.  I love the assorted shapes and abundance of the freckles (they're even on her ears!), but they're just too bright:

The freckles were all over Helen's arms, too:

Anyway, the coloring on this doll was definitely a style statement, it just wasn't one I liked very much.  My goal was to make her look more natural.

So...what did I do?

First, I coated Helen's face and arms with Remove Zit (from Twin Pines of Maine) and left her to sit for several weeks.  I think it took four applications of Remove Zit before the freckles faded.  Some of the spots on her arms are still visible.

I also removed Helen's electric blue/purple eyes and replaced them with Secrist's Golden Hazel eyes.  These have a very natural green color that I really like.

I added a bit of color to Helen's cheeks and painted new freckles on her face, and I think I might have been too cautious here.  I was so determined to make the marks subtle, they're almost invisible in photographs!  They're a bit more noticeable in real life, but they're definitely subtle.  Helen's eyebrows were already quite nice, so I just lightly accented them with a bit of reddish-brown paint.

I also boiled her wig so that it was straight and silky.  There wasn't really anything wrong with the wig when I got it, but I find the super-long and wavy wig styles hard to brush and manage.

Last, I dressed Helen in a beautiful My Twinn linen dress that I think looks lovely on her.

Here she is now!

I had never seen this particular My Twinn dress before, and then it popped up on eBay and I knew it would be perfect!  The construction and fit are amazing.  It's soft and flattering and I love how it drapes and flows around Helen's body:

Incidentally, there was a doll on eBay recently who was wearing a dress similar to this, but not exactly the same.  The print is the same, but the fit looks tighter and the sleeves are shorter.  I don't like it quite as much.  I snuck a partial screenshot so you can see what I'm talking about:

I've noticed this with the My Twinn purple butterfly dress, too.  There are at least two different versions of that dress out in the world, and one of them is a lot nicer than the other.  I have so much to learn about these dolls!

Here's a closer look at Helen's new face:

And her super-straight wig:

I've waited so long to own a redheaded My Twinn Helen, and I couldn't be happier with this one!

I took her outside for a few shots, but honestly this is where my camera really lets me down these days.

I'll shown you just a few of those photos:

I do like how her red hair looks in the direct sunlight!

As much as I love Helen, my adventures with My Twinn dolls don't always turn out well.  For example, I bought this Denver-era Cookie on eBay a while back, and she seemed to have all of the qualifications for a satisfying makeover:

Her wig was too thin to fix, her cloth body was ripped in several places, her arm was loose from the armature and she was really, really dirty.  She even had dirt wedged into the edges of her eyes (which were fading).

She's a cute little imp, though, isn't she?

I fixed and cleaned her body, changed her wig, gave her dark blue eyes, accented her eyebrows, and added some blush--all of my usual tricks--but something got lost in the process:

Oh, wow--so serious!
She has the very lightest skin tone that My Twinn made (the 01 color), so she's hard to photograph, but still.  She doesn't have the impish cuteness that I saw in her auction photos.

The red hair and purple sweater make her complexion look sickly pale!  Argh!

Sickly, serious Cookie.
The thing is, if I get a less-than-ideal result like this, I tend to persist.  Different hair (bangs, maybe?), new eyes, or even a change of clothes can magically make a dud into a delight.

For example, I'm still playing around with the non-Denver Madison that I showed you a few months ago.  She's the one I bought so that I could practice finger molding.

Madison's head looked like this when I got her:

Then she looked like this at the end of my last My Twinn update (with a reject wig and some reptilian, two-dimensional green eyes):

And now she's been upgraded to some of my second-tier eyes (brown Pabol eyes) and a resurrected red Monique wig:

I think she's a little better!  Now she's just waiting for a new body (one that doesn't have poorly-repaired fingers) and a new outfit. 

So, that's the story of the three redheaded My Twinns who are keeping me busy these days.  If anyone has suggestions for how to improve poor pale Cookie, I'm eager to hear ideas!  

I hope the new pictures offer a welcome change in scenery around here while I continue to work on my camera problem and finish up the next review.  See you soon...I hope!


  1. Wow, I love how Helen turned out! Her face is so sweet and I love the dress!

    For Cookie, some darker eyes might work better, or maybe darker eyelashes? One of those transformation GIFs would be useful here. After flipping back and forth a few times, the eyebrows also stand out. The original ones were thinner and maybe a little higher on the face, which gave her a little more energy. I don't know, though--I wish I could see her in person!


    1. Oh, you're right! The eyebrows could be way more expressive--that's a great observation. I also agree about everything else you said. I've been tending towards lighter eyelashes lately, but eyelashes are quite dark in real life--on people with a lot of different colorings, too! Sorry about the absence of a GIF this time around. I got lazy! Those are helpful for me to see the mistakes, too.

  2. I know you're not a huge fan of bangs, but I think they might help Cookie some. In also remember how you flushed out the cheeks of that gorgeous little Ariel that you have/had. Maybe that'll take away some of Cookie's pallor.

    1. I already have her in a new wig with bangs...and you're right. It's better. You're also right that I usually try to avoid bangs! :D Sometimes they are necessary, though. They add a nice little girl cuteness. Thank you!! I'll probably also add more blush. I tend to get really cautious with adding color.

  3. As a fellow redhead-and-freckles obsessed person (although I love fringes), I have to say I love Helen after her makeover. The more subtle freckles work muck better, in my opinion.
    For Cookie, I think a fringe to partially hide her eyebrows, and maybe somehow displaying her ears would bring some of that sweetness back. Maybe even raising the eyebrows slightly, to give them a more questioning look.

    1. Great minds think alike, because you agree with RagingMoon and Lissie! And you're absolutely right. I already have Cookie in a new wig with a fringe, and it looks much better. I'm also considering re-painting the eyebrows to create more expression, but that's harder work so I'm trying the easy things first! Lazy me.

      I'm so glad you like Helen! Thank you. It's hard for us freckle-lovers to be contained, but sometimes less is more. ;D

  4. I think Cookie's light complexion could be solved with some very light freckles and a very light brown wig. I think the lighter brown hair would make her contrast a tad less and bring her back to life a little. Maybe also blush the cheeks a bit more pink, and either give her brighter blue eyes, or dress her in light blue?

    1. You're spot-on with the color of the wig. I have her in a light/auburn brown wig (with bangs) and it's already better! However, I also think you're right that she could use more paint on her face--including a few freckles. I try not to give all of my dolls freckles, but there's no good reason for that! Freckles are great! :D Oh--I also have a blue outfit I can try on her. Thank you!

  5. I agree with the other comments that Cookie needs bangs. I know they’re not your favorite, but I think they'd really help her out. That and a lighter colored wig too, for her pale complexion.

    1. You're absolutely right. I don't know why it was so hard for me to see this before! I can't wait to show you how she looks with her new light brown wig with bangs. It might not be perfect, but it's definitely better!! Thanks!

  6. Wow the 23” Helen looks so much nicer than the 18”!! Your work on my twinn dolls led me to purchase my first my twinn (2005 Kate) a year ago and now purchase my second (1997 Caitie) doll. I love watching them transform from being frazzled and rough to beautiful perfect dolls. I’m waiting for my Caitie (renamed Jenny after her facemold since I call my Kate, Kaite) to arrive and I can’t wait for her to arrive!

    1. Oh, it's so addictive, isn't it?? I hope you can be more restrained than I am! I have way too many of them already, little scamps. :)
      But the transformations are so wonderful. Kate and Caitie are great choices. I'm curious to know what you think of the Denver/non-Denver difference!
      I also like my little 18" Helen, though. I mean, you're right that the larger ones are better, but I just love that face in all of its incarnations!

    2. Whoops wrong account. Well she arrived today and the difference in the vinyl is definitely noticeable. The Denver vinyl is so much smoother!

  7. I'm in love with Madison's updated head! Will you be selling her when she's finished?

    1. I need to sell or give away a few of them, but I'm not sure about Maddie. She's worming her way into my heart!! I'll post here if I do an eBay blitz sale of My Twinns. They'd be cheap. :)
      I'm so happy you like her--thank you.

  8. Yay, I love your doll restoration posts! Helen turned out so lovely! She's so unique and sweet. And Madison is looking gorgeous! I think with Cookie, part of her appeal was her "ragamuffin" look. Her restoration feels a bit too sleek and perfect, which is why her personality seems to have gotten lost. I'd go with a wig that has some texture and volume. And I'm going to echo what others have said, she looks adorable with bangs! I also really like the color of her original wig with her skin tone. A light-colored wig suits her. Making the eyebrows higher-set would probably also help bring back some of her fun-loving personality. I'm also curiously drawn to the lashes on the outer corner of her left eye in the eBay pic. The way they "wing out" at the corners giver her eyes a smiling appearance. I have no idea how to replicate that and make it look natural, but it could be very cute! I can't wait to see how this girl turns out!

    1. Your eyelash comment is especially interesting to me--I know exactly what you mean! I'm not sure how to replicate it, but I know I can buy thicker and darker lashes, which might be a good start! And of course the ragamuffin thing is so true as well. I struggle with this a lot, actually, because I find the little scraggly used dolls so appealing. It's like they've been outdoors having great adventures all day! Being all clean and dressed up cannot compare. ;)

    2. I agree with all of this. When I look at your original picture of Cookie, where you called her an important, she looks like she wants to go make mud pies and jump in the leaves. Her revised look is much more grown up and subdued. Bangs, definitely, and maybe a more playful outfit would help. Isn't one of your other My Twinn dolls from the first round of rehab meant to portray a younger girl? I could see Cookie as a friend for her.

      Helen and Madison are both gorgeous. I love the character of the Helen mold and have an 18" version, but Madison is the real winner here. With her makeover she almost looks like a Paola Reina doll.

      Your My Twinn posts are always some of my favorites. Their limbs are too strange for me to collect them for myself, but I love to enjoy their beautiful faces vicariously through your dolls.

  9. When i comes to using an iPhone, you need to use filters and a photo editing app. Camera+ by latenitesoft is one I use often, and get gorgeous photos. Here's a recent one that has a lot of sentimental value to me: That's looking into the direction of the light, and still getting vibrant colors.

    1. Oh, Aria! That picture is glorious!! How amazing to do that with an iPhone. Wow. I have a lot to learn! Thank you for the software recommendation. I'm using Lightroom, which is great, but maybe not ideal for an iPhone.

  10. Good day!!! may i ask do you know how to put back the feet of my twinn doll 23"? Pls help me....thank you so much

    1. Oh--I wish I knew! That's not a challenge I've faced yet. In fact, I've never seen the inside of a My Twinn leg. Is the foot attached to the plastic armature? Do you have a picture you can link? Sorry I don't know off the top of my head.

  11. You do some amazing things! I love Madison!
    Cookie's head is wider at the bottom and to me it looks like the long, straight wig is dragging her face down and making it look flabby and jowly. She needs a wig with more body up top to balance her out. Curly bunches? Or pigtails? A younger style.
    And maybe a touch of airbrushing on her cheeks

    1. Oh my gosh, pigtails would be so cute on her!! Good idea! Your'e so right about the shape of her face. I've always marveled at how different Cookie dolls can have such different looks, and I think it has a lot to do with how that unique face is framed! Now I have to try and find another wig with a part in back...
      But I'll also blush her cheeks more. That can't hurt!

  12. Maybe a dark wig for Cookie? I'm not sure. I sort of like the way she looks now.

  13. I absolutely adore this project, Emily :)
    And so many pretty red haired girls!

  14. It would be great to see all of your Twinns together! You've got so many pretty ones now.

    1. That'd be awesome! Maybe a whole scene with some of the accessories for 18" dolls so it could have a bit of a theme and give them something to do, so to speak. :D

  15. I'm sorry I don't have a lot to say but I enjoy seeing your restorations of these dolls! And I'm glad people had great suggestions for Cookie. I can't wait to see what else you do with her and more of your makeovers for future cuties. It's amazing what a difference the eyes, hair, and clothes can make.

    I wish I had it in me to restore dolls but I don't even have the motivation to get started on blank slates right now, sadly. I do have plans for some doll-head transplants that are a long-time coming and should be satisfying if I can manage it (especially since two of them really need new hair, which I have; I simply haven't used it yet.) I need to get a lady Barnyard Buddies for one of them, she's about their size and even the oversized heads works in her favor. I've seen a few on eBay, it's just finding one cheaper when I have the extra cash (so I won't feel as bad for swapping... and I still want one to keep as she is too so... eh.) :P

  16. Hi! Cookie really inspired me. As you weren't 100% happy with the final result, I did a little mock up in Photoshop of what she'd look like with bangs.. then blonde... then I couldn't stop! I tried her out in every hair color, and a couple of eye colors. It's not the best Photoshop job around (it's just my hobby). but if you squint you can kinda see it!

    Here's the link:

    I hope that gets you as inspired as I was when I saw her. Let me know if you'd like to see other combinations, it doesn't take me long to do! x

    1. You are magical! Wow! I wish I could set up a poll or something to see which combination is the favorite! Right now she's wearing a wig that's most like the brunette with bangs...but I have to say I love the RED with bangs!! Of course I do. ;D That's a hard wig to find, though.
      Thank you so much! It's so fun to see her with different combinations without having to rip off wigs and swap eyes! I am definitely inspired!

  17. I've never tried with MyTwinn dolls, at least not yet...but I do restore American Girl dolls...I buy them on ebay, used and abused and with chopped wigs, ink stains etc. --Most of my restorations have been bringing character dolls back to their former glory, but my current project (and first eye swap) will be a customized one. I have about sixteen AG dolls right now...12 of them were restorations, from as little as brushing unruly hair and cleaning dirt off with warm water and soap to completely replacing a wig, restringing limbs and slathering on the acne cream to clean faces.
    I love the idea of giving an old, beat up doll new life and I've loved watching the various phases of your MyTwinn restorations. They're lovely.

  18. I'm watching these MyTwinn projects with interest, because both of my 18" girls need makeovers badly. My sweet little Zoe got one, she got a new awesome textured wig from Beautifully Custom, got new eyes after hers pinked, and new eyelashes, and she looks great. Quinn will need more work because even after about four restringings she's still got as wobbly of legs and arms as I've ever seen on a doll.

    I keep being tempted to add a 23" to my gang in some capacity, but I have not yet. Maybe one day!

    Hope you are well, old friend. <3