Sunday, July 31, 2011

Photos Due Tomorrow!

That's right -- tomorrow is August 1st and your photos for Activity Four of the 2011 Doll Photo Contest are due before or on Monday! Please email them to today or tomorrow.

We currently have less than 20 entries -- our lowest number so far -- which we freely admit because a) you'll find that out anyways, haha and 2) it means that entrants have the highest chance of winning yet. :-D

If you sent in something and haven't received a "Received your entry. :-)" reply that means we didn't get it -- just FYI.

Sorry this post isn't more exciting. Our next doll comparison post will be up tomorrow with lots of pics - we just don't have enough free time today to finish it up. So stay tuned blog readers! :-)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ice Cream Winner!

Sorry for the delayed announcement..... where did the day go???

So without further ado....

The winner of the 3 ice cream sundaes from *DollyDelights* is......

Natalie S.!

Congratulations Natalie! We will email you now and you have 7 days to respond or we will have to pick a different winner. :-(

Thank you for entering everyone!

We appreciate your participation.

Be sure to check out the *DollyDelights* Ebay shop!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Maple Insists: Doll Comparison No. 1

So Beast's Belle and Claire asked to see Maple with other dolls. We took the pics and realized it was really too many for one post since we included a lot of new clothing as well, so we will do this in two stages. First we'll show you Me (Mia doll), Elizabeth (MyAG #41), and Maple (MyAG #55) for Beast's Belle.

This is a "Maple Insists" post because she insisted that we all wear braids for the photo shoots and she is sitting next to me as I write this post.... giving me advice.....sigh.

Today we are wearing a variety of clothing from many different sellers. Marvelous Me is wearing a top from Etsy seller L'Atelier de Sitara and pants from the MyAG line. Elizabeth is wearing a halter top and shorts from Etsy seller The Dolly Stand and sandals from Etsy seller Megori Girls. Maple is wearing a Liberty Jane tank top, and a belt and embroidered dragon jeans from All Dolled Up Doll Clothes.

Here are up-close shots of our heads and faces for comparison purposes....

Tops and tops slideshow....

Bottoms and bottoms slideshow

Dragon embroidery and slideshow... 
Terrie can embroider pretty much anything smaller than 5" 
on doll clothing for you!

Thanks for reading/looking at this long post! Hopefully it was helpful! As you can tell, Marvelous Me has a slightly "greyish" skin tone because I am an older doll. Today they are making the dolls with a richer, peachier tone to their skin. Just FYI.

Stay tuned for Doll Comparison No. 2!

Today Last Day to Enter Ice Cream Giveaway
and Contest Photos Due Monday

Yep, today July 28th, 2011 is the last day to enter to win 3 dolly ice cream sundaes that were generously donated to us by Ebay seller *DollyDelights* ---- so enter today before time runs out!

Go here and follow the instructions to enter:

And here are some tasty ice cream images for you to think about..... heehee

Our other reminder is that the 2011 Doll Photo Contest pics for Activity Four are due on August 1st -- this coming Monday. Time flies doesn't it?!?! So be sure to email those "Behind the Scenes" pics to Currently we don't have a lot of entries, so your chances are pretty good!

And here are some pics of the three brand-new, in-box dolls that the top winner can choose from, just to remind you what the contest is for...... 3 runners-up win AG gift certificates and handmade Liberty Jane doll clothing and Megori Girls doll sandals....

MyAG #26

Kanani Akina (does have one eye slightly larger than the other, in our opinion, fyi)

Ivy Ling

So again -- send in your pics for Activity Four on or before August 1st! 

This is the last chance to get into the Final Round!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Maple Insists: The Anatomy of a DW Photo

Well I am usually the one running this blog thing (Marvelous Me, Nora Demington) ... but since Maple arrived she says she wants to play on the blog too. So this is sort-of a jointly-created post.... sigh  (Maple's edit). And we will have a whole series of these.... double sigh.... which we will label "Maple Insists." ;-)

Today she wants to talk about how we take doll fashion pictures for those of you who are wondering what we do. We are by no means professional in our techniques, not even knowledgeable or smart about it. We do the everyman's point and click approach. So we are just talking about amateur doll clothing photography here - nothing arty or professional.

First off, we had one camera and then we got another one. Both cameras are direct from the store items -- we haven't added any fancy flash thingys or new lenses or filters. From our experience the more expensive camera (Rebel) takes better pictures indoors. And most of our pics are taken inside. But they are both good cameras.

You can see the difference in our photos between these two cameras. The top image was taken with our Canon Powershot G7 while the bottom was taken with our Canon Rebel EOS T1i. In front of the same door.

Second lesson is, if you can take your photos outside on a semi-cloudy, overcast day or in the light shade - do that. Outside lighting will always be better for your doll pics than indoor lighting and flash. Unless it is really harsh mid-day light that casts deep shadows. Anyway, point is - go outside, take pics at different times of the day and experiment. Use nice features of your yard or nearby park -- tree trunks, rocks, branches, flowers, aged stone or brick walls, etc.

Top 2 images below were obviously taken outside, bottom is obviously inside -- with the same (Rebel) camera and all include Karen for comparison purposes. Even if you don't have a super-expensive camera your pictures tend to look a lot better when taken outdoors.

Third point, we realize not everyone can go outside to take pics. We usually don't ourselves because it is a "production" in the words of Penny. So what we do is we find a simple door to position ourselves in front of, a wall would work too -- but sometimes the baseboards are overwhelmingly obtrusive in pics. Then we take an AG box (we didn't always do this) and stand the doll(s) on the box. We use Rebecca's sideboard box for this purpose.

Then we make sure all the lights are on in the doll room and take a lot of pictures with flash. We take them in the normal setting as well as the "Close-up" setting. Several shots of each angle and from varying distances. Out of every 3-5 photos we take, one is good.

Also we use Auto-Focus and we depress the "take the photo" button halfway, let it focus for a second, and then finish pressing it. Many cameras don't auto-focus unless you do that "push the button down halfway first" thing.

In addition, we try to have the doll looking into the camera as much as possible, even from arty angles. Not "zombie eyes" as we call it (when you are looking slightly upward into the dolls eyes and they look shocked to see you). Here are various photos of Maple (surprising to see her here, no?) showing you our current standard set-up. She is wearing a bracelet from LJ and a lovely summer gown from Etsy seller love2sew.

You can, of course, do arty shots without your doll looking into the camera as well.... again, we just avoid "zombie eyes".....

Professional photographers tend to use a lot of lamps and diffused flash. We don't have the time/energy to set up all that stuff every time we take pics. We do have a "studio" though for large scenes with furniture. You can see examples of those types of pics below.

Here we have a PVC pipe frame with layers of white fabric hung over it. Then we have about 8 lamps pointed on the scenes from various angles and heights -- trying to get rid of as much of the shadows as we possibly could. And then we have to squeeze in between all that and take photos. Haha. It is a lot of work to set it all up. BUT if you have the space to set it up once and leave it all up, we recommend it. Especially if you are taking photos of products you are selling.

We prefer white backgrounds ourselves (for doors and fabric). It is simple and clean-looking. When you have a white outfit though, you may need to find a darker or colored background to use.

Our fourth lesson is crop and fix your photos before you post/use them. Even if you don't have a super camera or an at-home photography studio or a photo-friendly-backyard to photograph in -- you can always improve your photos after you've taken them.

We use Photoshop on our computer (costs money for the program) or Photobucket online (free) to fix every single one of our pictures. We aren't ashamed. We like them better after we have fixed them. Top photo is an image that we have not auto-fixed with Photobucket. Bottom is auto-fixed. After we upload each photo we click on edit, autofix. And save it. Waalaa. A brighter, bolder photo.

Crop, crop, crop. We love cropping. Sometimes your photo is fine as is, sometimes it's not. Here is the photo of Maple we used above un-cropped and then cropped. See the difference in presentation? Isn't the second one so much more appealing? Who really needs to see our chipped paint on the door or the massive hinge? No one. There is no need for such an expansive background. We can barely even see the details of the doll in the first shot.

So the same can be said of cluttered backgrounds - crop, crop, crop. Simplify your picture. Focus on the doll and her outfit.

Okay, that's all we have to blather on about today. In summary, our advice: get a decent camera (doesn't have to be super-expensive but even just newer is better than an older model), take photos outside, if you can't go outside be methodical about the background, lighting and posing of your inside photos, focus your pictures (avoid the blurries!), and auto-fix and crop your photos. :-)

Thanks for reading this long post! ---- If you have any questions, let us know!

American Girl on Facebook

Hola! We had several other things we wanted to posted about coming up. But this takes precedence for the momento. :-)

American Girl has actually started updating their Facebook page, as of yesterday at 8:00am. 

They "reserved" it for themselves years ago, but never really did much to it. Now they have! Before it was just fans discussing (various) things on their wall. Now there are a couple updates actually from AG and they even say they'll be posting about new products there! Woot!

We shall see if they stay true to their word..... For now, if you have a FB account go and "Like" them, this way they'll know we are interested in what they have to say!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Giveaways Winners Announced!

This is the place where we announce the winners of the June/July Giveaways - Yay!

The winner of the 123 Mulberry Street outfit is.....

Megann H.!

And the winner of the Jessica's Historically Designed purple dress is.....

Bonnie V.!

We have emailed both of the winners. If we don't hear back from either of them within a week we will have to pick a new winner.

Thank you for participating everyone! And congratulations to the winners!

Stay tuned for our next 25th Anniversary contest -- our August giveaways, which we will start soon...... oooh, the excitement!

Also, a big big thank you goes out to the shopkeepers who donated these two giveaway items.
Thank You!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Meet #55, Maple!
And Last Day to Enter Giveaways!

Well our order arrived and we thought we'd show you Maple first. Yep, we are keeping the MyAG #55 we ordered - she is just what we wanted! We can always get another #55 if you guys are interested in one for a future giveaway -- let us know.

We are actually quite excited about Cecile and Marie-Grace and we were going to wait until they were released for any new dolls. But MyAG #55 was calling out to us. It was impossible to resist. ;-)

So she is Maple Twiggs, cousin of Zoe and Jocelyn. Yes, we know Maple Twiggs is a funny name -- but her parents are quirky and so is she! Upon her arrival she jumped up out of the box and stripped nekkid. Then she started rifling through the drawers, pulled out Lanie's green tree shirt, MyAG leggings and one of Penny's shirts.

We understood the doll clothes.... but what was she going to do with Penny's shirt?

Well we soon found out as she then snuck into the bathroom with a pair of scissors and locked the door. She came out, dressed, and with a new skirt... made from the sleeve of Penny's shirt! Uh oh! Then she grabbed a flower headband we got from Belle Couture, MyAG shoes and a bracelet. After she put those on she said "Okay, I'm satisfied now. Feel free to take my picture. I am ready." She does have a lot of... personality...

We'll see what Penny says about Maple's skirt when she sees these photos.... ;-)

She sure is pretty... Her hair is a bit difficult to tame though. 
It has that fly-away tendency of Adanya and Sundari's hair, silky but a little wild.

And of course the other topic of the title is the June/July Giveaways which end tomorrow. Today is the last day to enter. Go here to learn more and enter:

And be sure to check out yesterday's doll jewelry post and Friday's baby naming and catalog posts!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Doll Jewelry, Part Four:
Ship's Wheel and Milk Necklaces

"Milk necklace? What in the world is that?" you are probably asking yourself. Haha. We'll get to that in a minute.

First we have Jocelyn modeling the ship's wheel necklace that we created in the last doll jewelry post. She is wearing an all-ivory outfit compiled from the Liberty Jane Fall 2010 Line: "Malibu Libby: Zuma Betty" pants and lace over-shirt, and the tank top from "Outback Libby: Pine Gap." The navy ribbon on her pants is Jocelyn's "Fashionable Ode to Punky Brewster" -- a colorful connection to her necklace and shoes.

Then we have pictures of a half-de-constructed keychain. It is dedicated to all things feline and was found in a normal trinket shop while on vacation. You may want to think about the keychains in your life. Gifts from friends that you don't use? Things that were too heavy when you put your keys on them? Something that was replaced by a newer, flashier bauble? Perhaps there are little charms to be found on them too!

This is what it looked liked before we de-constructed it.
Of course, if you don't mind spending the $$ just to de-construct them to make doll jewelry, you can always look for appropriately-sized keychain thingys during your travels and shopping excursions out and about.

So this Little Gifts wholesale brand "I love cats" keychain can be found on online for $10-14. We don't think we spent that much on it though in the store. There are also ones out there for "I love dogs" as well - a whole line of them with specific breeds. And ones for birds, horses, and endangered species too. Just FYI.

So we took off the milk bottle and the fish skeleton to use with the colored chains we purchased at JoAnn's. Being a keychain it was a bit more difficult to open the links to get the charm off, but we managed it with the pliers. 

We decided to use the red chain with the milk bottle. Here are some shots of our supplies for this necklace. We used the silver link from the long shiny chain to link the milk bottle to the red chain.

And just like the other necklace tutorials we have shown you, we closed the piece of red chain onto either side of a magnetic clasp, and then linked the charm to the chain at its mid-point.

We figure by now we don't have to go step-by-step, since you can see the specific process in the previous 2 parts of this series. Stay tuned for the next doll jewelry post when we will show you the finished milk bottle and fish skeleton necklaces!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Baby Naming Fun!

Yeah, so this post doesn't really have much to do with dolls. Though if you are a fan of dolls you have probably spent hours upon hours dreaming up new names for your dolls or dolls that are on your wish list. So it is related in an oblique manner. Heehee.

Penny's sister is having a baby girl in the fall. And she and her husband are having a difficult time agreeing on a name. Yeah, they have ideas... but not one they both like. Probably sounds familiar to a lot of you parents out there. ;-)

So this post will be your opportunity to suggest female baby names for them to possibly use. Feel free to comment with your ideas below. They haven't decided on a middle name either, so feel free to suggest those too.

If we get enough suggestions, we might do a poll in the sidebar to see what people like.
And if the happy parents choose a name someone suggests here we'll be sure to announce it on the blog and give that person a shout-out in our sidebar. :-)

Thanks for your help!

ETA: This is our 600th post! Can you believe that?!?!

July 2011 AG Catalog

Well we put up a poll in the side menu to see how many of you got the most recent catalog. And about 1/3 of you didn't get it or haven't gotten it yet. So we thought we'd just put up a couple slideshows so you can see most of the pages. We always thought it would be nice if AG would make a catalog archive online. That way you could see them all since they were first mailed back in ol' 1986 to today.

The pics aren't the best because we didn't use flash (to avoid shiny spots on the pages). But we tried. Hopefully for those of you who haven't seen it, it is entertaining. We'll try to do this for the next new catalog too which will probably show us Cecile and Marie-Grace.

About 10 pages in each slideshow, if you hover over the images you will find the backward, pause, and forward buttons to control what you are looking at.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

123 Release! And Various Reminders

The new 123 Mulberry Street Line was released today - a special black and white limited edition series. It's a really fun collection - see pics below of the new stuff and then more of everything currently available in the 123 Mulberry Street Etsy shop....

Also on the topic of 123 Mulberry Street -- we thought we should remind y'all that Sunday July 24th is the last day to enter our June/July giveaways for a chance to win one of the prizes seen below. The first outfit is by 123 Mulberry Street and the dress is from Jessica's Historically Designed shop.

Enter before Sunday if you want to win! Go here:

We also have our Ice Cream Sundae Giveaway happening right now. Go here to learn more: You could win these three delicious treats for your dolls!

And of course, last but not least, Activity Four of the Doll Photo Contest is currently in progress and the due date for your picture or video is August 1st, 12 days from now. A lot of time, hopefully enough for everyone to get something in if you wanted to participate. :-D

Go here to learn more about this part of the contest:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Doll Jewelry, Part Three:
Key and Ship's Wheel Necklaces

Hola! Sorry for the delayed post. Yet another doll jewelry post that has been in the works for days.

We start with Stella showing off the silver key necklace that we made in the last doll jewelry post. Stella is wearing the Liberty Jane "Tokyo Libby: Blossom" outfit from the Fall 2010 Line. It is our favorite LJ outfit ever made. Such a unique style and we love the colors.

So the next necklace we made was with the ship's wheel charm. The nice thing about the key and the wheel charms is that they can really be used for historical jewelry as well. 

Warning: Lots of photos ahead, and again - we are just amateurs at this, haha. We wanted to put the charm on the wire and glass bead chain pictured below.

As you can see the necklace comes complete already so to make it doll-size we have to open the chain and divide it in half. It helps to have those delicate pliers and some tweezers on hand to unwind this type of wire and open it.

Now that we have a long strand we can measure it against the key necklace to make a proper length.

We added a silver link from our long shiny chain supply onto the magnetic clasp to connect it to the chain. Then added it to the chain by closing the link and closing the wire around it.

Then we did that to the other side and voila, the chain is complete.

Luckily when we divided the chain in half we had the proper length for two necklaces, so we can make the ship's wheel one and something else down the road.

We got the idea of this necklace from one we got from Liberty Jane, pictured below with ours in progress. And we also included a pic of the clasps on each so you can see how she makes hers.

And then we added on the ship's wheel charm to finish our work.

Stay tuned for the next doll jewelry post to see pics of Jocelyn wearing the necklace. We will also be de-constructing a keychain to use its parts for dolly necklaces. Aren't our experiments exciting? Haha.

Thanks for reading this long post! 
We hope you are enjoying these doll jewelry tutorials!

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