Posted by: dollpaparazzi | May 22, 2011

Customizer Spotlite: Darling Elizabeth

Your name: Darling Elizabeth (on DOA, Zone of Zen and Resin Realm)
Your Legal Name: Elizabeth Miesner
Your Website: www.american-doll-outfitters.com

How did you get involved in Super Dollfies and customizing them? I guess you could say that my husband is the one who got me involved. I was into vintage and antique dolls, while he was into Tonner and Gene. A local friend (Ange Tittle) introduced Frank to the wonders of BJD’s by letting him borrow and play with her girl, Zen. Then he pulled me into it when he bought me my first BJD (Happy Doll Teenie). BJD’s are a rather expensive hobby, so the more one learns to do (sewing, face-ups, etc…) the more a collector can save (financially). Learning to do things for ourselves has also increased our enjoyment of our dolls.

What do you do best?
I like to think that sewing is my strongest suit, but face-ups are getting right up there, too. I started doing face-ups about 4 years ago. Mainly on our own dolls, but for some friends also. With much practice and learning the ropes of what works and what doesn’t, I recently started offering face-ups on Den of Angels.

What Inspires You?
What inspires me most is nature and color. Nature is the perfect color palette! But I am also equally inspired when I come across a painting or photograph that portrays a perfect scene and makes me want to recreate that in BJD size with our dolls.

What do you want people to think when they look at your Customizations?
I think what I would like most is for people to notice how natural the face-ups are. Simple colors, simple lines.

What sorts of things do you enjoy the most about your designs/customizations?
I love seeing the ‘face’ blossom into a personality! I may have an idea of what I am shooting for when I start, but sometimes the sculpt’s contours and structure asserts itself. For instance…if I have a particular shape of eyebrow in mind, but the brow line doesn’t cooperate because it is not compatible with the shape I want, I let the brow line “speak” (letting the brush follow the natural contour).

Other than yourself, who are your favorite doll customizers?
Christy Allum Johnson (I call her the Queen of facial hair!) and ‘Naturally Nude’ face-ups by Helene are just two right off the top of my head. There are so many artists out there, each with their own unique take on BJD aesthetics that the list could go on endlessly!

What’s the Best thing about customizing your own dolls?
I think the best thing about it is saving money. When it comes to customizing, costuming and wigging, the dollars really start to add up. Doing as much ‘in-house’ as possible is easier on the budget! Plus you’re not under time constraints to get something done when you’re working on your own dolls.

What type of dolls do you enjoy customizing (male/female/brands)?
I really think that I’m beginning to lean toward male face-ups. I enjoy doing both male and female, but since the majority of my personal collection are male (if I don’t count my “child” BJD’s) I seem to naturally lean in that direction. I’m fond of Soom sculpts and Iplehouse has some lovely ones as well. I prefer the more realistic face sculpts over the anime.

What is your favorite style to create?
My favorite style is ‘natural’. I don’t feel well versed in “glam” or “goth” so I don’t do them. Natural is what works best for me and is what I am comfortable with.

How long does it take from start to finish on a typical doll to create and complete?
I teach during the day, so I have to factor that in when estimating the time needed. If I don’t have anything else on the books, I can face-up a doll in 5-7 days (longer if I’m doing a body blush, mani and pedi and Frank is requested to glue-suede, tighten or restring the doll or if a customer has other requests). Frank and I work as a team. I also like to add at least 2 days to that total so that I know the sealant (MSC) is perfectly cured and stable before packing the doll up.

How do you like to work best with a custom order for a client?
With total freedom to create your vision, or do you like some feedback/interchange with a client who might have an idea or theme they would like to see realized? I would have to say that I probably do my best work when given the reins to create. BUT….that isn’t to say that I don’t want input at all though. I like to know things like: what color of wig the client has in mind (helps to determine eyebrow color), presumed personality of the doll, expression, and even pictures of what they have in mind.

What have been your favorite projects you’ve done thus far?
My favorite was to finally get my hands on an Iplehouse Mars head and make it into a female (Mars is a male sculpt). Iplehouse sells some heads separately, but not Mars. It took a long time to get one. “She” is now Frank’s Roxanne.

What was the most challenging thing you have ever done thus far?
I think the most challenging and nerve wracking thing I have ever done was to recreate a face on one of Frank’s girls. His very first BJD was a Luts Lishe and she had a face-up by Jennifer Wadkins. Actually, I think Jennifer had done it twice (and another face-up artist, Ange, had touched it up, too, at one time). Long story short, his Lishe (named Asia) was getting to the point that she really needed completely redone. But Jennifer had stopped doing face-ups. We couldn’t change her look because she was already a well established character in our stories, so I had to do the best I could to get her to look the same even though the original artistry was not my own. Frank kept encouraging me that I could do it, but I kept putting it off because I felt I couldn’t. So one day I finally took the plunge. Her face was wiped and Frank made sure I had plenty of photos of her to guide me. I was literally shaking when I started her. But I got through it and she is still “Asia”. I recently had to do the same thing with his Elfdoll Ruru. She came to us with a default face-up (with a few enhancements by Jay Searle) and after a couple years of play, she was needing a complete redo. Now she is all fresh and ready for play again.

More on Darling Elizabeth later….


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