Leave Well Enough Alone

Sigh.  As if I could.  I kept touching up this and that and finally forced myself to stop.  I really like Rosey with Blue eyes and I think the eyelids are wonderful and I accept that I cannot do anything to make it better or whatever keeps me picking up the paint brush…lol.

Final Blue Eyes 2 050 They are a deeper blue, the eye whites even whiter and this time I used enamel.

Final Blue Eyes 2 039 I grabbed the camera when some rare sunshine streamed through the window this evening.  I saw an amazing depth to Rosey, a gentle and sweet childishness that has really come through.  Now I know I can stop and let the imperfections be a part of her.

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One of the changes I made was to get rid of the white paint highlight dot.  I noticed when I gloss the eyes, the light creates the dot anyways.  As you can see in the photo. it looks like a white dot, but it is just a reflection.

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I had made indentations with a small clay tool I had a while back.  I decided that since I had the enamel open, I would go ahead and paint some nails

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We both laughed, it was so tickly!

So that’s that.  Rosey is done.  Really!


Touch Up

After looking once again at the Schoenhut photo’s, I figured out what was “off” on Rosey’s blue eyes.  In fact it was confirmed this morning when we had unexpected sunshine streaming through the windows.  There was too much blue mixed into her eye whites which created this overly blue cast to her eyes overall.  So I dabbed some plain white into the corners and that corrected the cast.  It also brightened her eyes and I felt confident she was now perfectly suited to have blue eyes.  I also darkened her eyebrows just enough to keep them from fading away.  I really like this look, it has definitely grown on me and so hopefully I can soon finish it with beeswax to give it a polished look.

More Eye Shots 022 before

Rosey's Final Blue Eyes 019 after

The only thing I added after these photo’s were taken was a tiny dark pink dot for the tear duct.  I have never added this before, but considering I am moving her into a more traditional look, it seems that those dots were very much a part of these old dolls makeup.

Rosey's Final Blue Eyes 020 From a distance, I can see her eyes more clearly.

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They stay clear and bright in sunlight or shadow shots.

Rosey's Final Blue Eyes 001 And I don’t think Rosey has lost her own look a all, in fact I feel like she is resilient to my attempts to change her.  (Much to my relief).  So while I thought of her as dark eyed and haired, I really like the brightness these blue eyes lend her, giving her a less clunky look.

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Blue Eyes?

Each time I look at Rosey, I feel a surprise, the smaller eyes catch me off guard but then I smile and think how different!  Funny that while studying the painted eyes in my other doll books I did not look at the Schoenhut book, but last night I decided to and found that some of the earlier models had the same sort of sleepy eyes, and also very small.

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I noticed that many of them have light blue eyes, which open up the brightness of the eye, I could do this before the paint dries (the wonderful thing about working with oil paints on wooden dolls!).  I wonder if the brown on Rosey was too dark?  Well, it took all of 2 minutes to test it.  Without disturbing the paint already present, I brushed in dark blue, swooped over that with light blue and added a bit more black to the pupil:

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It does brighten the eyes, and takes away some of the sleepy look, but again, it will take getting use to it, as I see Rosey with brown eyes.  Not that it would be much to change back….I am getting better at the technique the more I try to do it.

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I just noticed that while she is sitting in the half dark, I can see her eyes better with the lightness of the blue, I am beginning to like this, she is getting closer to an antique look which never was my intention, but perhaps should have been.  Opinions welcome!

At it Again

I read my doll history books at bedtime.  I study the photo’s and dream about dolls.  Lately, this idea began to grow in my head about Rosey’s eyes.  When looking at painted Schoenhuts and other similar dolls, there is an upper eyelid.  When painting Rosey’s eyes, I attempted more of the look of a glass eye inside an eye well.  She had a staring eye gaze.  I didn’t think to try to leave a bit of wood unpainted and let that be an eyelid.  The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to try it. 

So I did it today.

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I removed the paint, carefully scraping the top of the eye area clean.  I painted a bluish-brownish line across, then painted white.  Using oil paints.

I pulled the line paint down into the whites for shading, then added more white, leaving the edges shaded.

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Here I started the iris.  Light at first to place them and then darker brown around the edges.

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It took a couple of tries, as I have mentioned, Rosey has different eye shapes and it is not easy to get them to match. 

Because her eyes are now smaller, I took away some of her eyebrows, as they were too overwhelming for the more delicate eyes.  But after looking at the photo’s I decided to take them off completely and paint a thin line.  She is after all, not a glamorous bisque, but a humble wooden.

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Thin eyebrows:

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It’s a very different look, one that reminds me a bit more of Schoenhut than the darker more lively eye’s I have given her before.  It’s interesting that I never thought of letting there be an eye lid in the curved wooden eye, I guess I was so focussed on the eyeball shape as being like a glass eye.  So this is a new experience for me with a wooden doll faceup.  I think it will take some getting use to, but I also think it may be something I like.  It’s growing on me already, mostly because it brings out new thoughts about her in my mind and I think I sort of needed a jolt. 

Oh, and for the bare wooden eyelid, I gently put some beeswax on a tiny brush and “painted”the area to let it get absorbed and protect the wood.  It’ll take a week for the eyes to dry, then I will gloss the eye itself, but leave the lid alone.  Once the oil paint is completely dry I will then beeswax the whole area and buff to a shine.  The shine will eventually grow more matt, but I like the effect, it seems less like raw wood.

Touch Ups

My eyesight is definitely not what it use to be (actually nothing is, lol) and I knew that there would be touch ups as I watched Rosey, but more always comes in the looking at photo’s.

The changes are subtle.  I decided the pupil was too large, so I added a bit of blue into the brown to touch up the iris, colours used were raw sienna, burnt sienna, yannine blue (cobalt) and a dab of white to high light after applying a smaller pupil.



You can see a bit of the blue.  The work light is too strong for the photo, bleaching her skin and muting the colours, but I need to see the close-ups at all angles and lights to see how this will work for future photo’s.  Photo’s and real life, always look different from each other and my concern is that Rosey has been looking much better to my sorrowful eyes than she has in photo’s.  Now the photo side has improved quite a bit.  I will feel more confidence in close ups and in all kinds of lighting.

I added a bit more depth to her eye lashes, thinning the less-than-fine strokes by scraping off paint with the tip of an ultra fine carving blade.   Too thin and they get lost against her wood mottle, too much and she looks like a painted horse.  Rosey can’t do too subtle, it gets lost.  More colour (vermillion) to the cheeks.  Rosey can’t be Rosey without excessively rosy cheeks, lol.

026  I love this photo.  It’s moments like this that make me wonder why I disliked painted eyes.  I have been keeping her wig back so it won’t bother the drying paint, but I am really liking the high bangs on her, bringing an emphasis t her eyes and a more childish look.  When I glue it down, I think I will do this.

For the first time since I have had her, colour photographs do look much better.  I have been hiding her in the sepia tints, which now don’t improve her as they did before.


In fact, the sepia on the right lost her subtle rosy cheeks and her paler lips are lost. So I also darkened the lips.

After taking a bazillion photo’s, staring at her, I think I achieved a look that is far better than I expected and have deepened the antique look, resembling some of the dark eyed antique beauties that I have seen and admired.  She will never have the porcelain perfection in colouring but for a wooden doll with real wood mottling and dark spots, she has come a long way from her badly painted and paint damaged origins:

Jollyann Before Re-do  Flickr - Photo Sharing! - Maxthon Browser


As an aside, I use to think that so many of the badly painted Schoenhuts were from home remedies when they got a bit banged up in play over the decades.  But I now have seen so many similar faceups, that I now believe they were indeed as sold.  In painting Rosey, although I can’t say I spent more than a handful of hours on it, I can see why when having to produce a huge lot of them in a factory, perhaps the unskilled faceups were more due to speed painting than trying to achieve a certain look.  Plus, the gesso underneath the paint and the paint dunking did take away a lot of the facial definitions.

Anyways, I am happy.  I think she is positively beaming.  Now just comes the wait, this paint will take awhile to dry and there is glossy yet to do.


I stared at Rosey as she was drying, and ideas came to me.

I thought about how to make her hands more than just stubs. I had a tool that if I pressed it into the wood should leave a indent to suggest a nail bed.


 It worked!

With a few dabs of paint to enhance it, Rosey finally has hands just a bit more like hands.



Here are the cleaned up leg joints and then I ventured to darken the blush and the eyebrows.

The blush I knew would be easy, but I was nervous about the eye brows.  Too easy to over do them.  I wanted them like the antique heavy brows, but not like a thick black blob of paint.

086  They came out better than I expected and I became really excited!  Wow! 


I am falling in love with her all over again!

Rosey’s Spa Day


Just had to show this, she looked so cute.  Thank you to Lorraine for the lovely school dress!

My brushes finally arrived so….today I redid her face.  I finally invested in a few decent brushes and finally had some very nice oil paints and this time, it not so much of a “make do” with what one has kind of project.

My main concern was that the crumbly look around her eyes did not lend itself to close ups.  I don’t mind a wonky paint job as much as the flaky thing that was going on.  

005  Not too bad at this distance,

006  But this is why I didn’t take close ups.  there were simply too many layers of paint and varnish which settled in the crevices.


010 So here we go….

015  I removed her wig, loosened the paint with remover.  After working with resin faceups, I have to say how much easier it is to keep a portion of something already done which was fabulous.  I wanted to keep the teeth, but somehow see if I could soften the harsh lower lip.  Other things I wanted to do were to try feathered brows, and repair a few wood issues, lighten us the blackness of the nostrils and tone down a few too light areas.

016 Using a Qtip and remover, I softened the paint on the lower lip and was able to scrape it away easily.

017  Same with the eyes, softening, scraping gently, pulling up the gunk in the deep crevice around the eyes.

019 Husband dear took this photo.  He was hoping Rosey was under aesthetic.  lol.


I sanded off her brows, her cheek blush, used a toothbrush to brush away the excesses.  A bit of wood shaving here and there.  Mostly to even up and smooth the wood under the eye.  A trick I learned after sanding is to use soft paper to smooth-polish the wood before painting.

Another thing I wanted to do was make her toes more toesie shaped.  So with a few knick cuts, I was able to take away the block look and make the toes so sweet!

023  Before.

026 Before sanding.

024  Look at those sweet things!

018 Another clean up, cutting away these bits of rough wood.  When I first stripped Rosey, I was on home-time from the truck and had precious little time to finish her properly.  I could have sanded her better and cleaned up these original rough spots, but just didn’t have the time.  Now I do.

028 Sanding time.  I smoothed out a few places, but really wished I had my old Dremel.  I would have reshaped a few uneven places, but was not able to.

I used oil paints.  What a wonderful way to paint a wooden doll.  One can blend and wipe away until it is right.  I added a rose blush above her eyes to create warmth, blended the eye whites to antique them, and was able to correct a few flaws.

030 Here is the almost finish look.  She will probably need some touch ups, I am sure I will darken the blush, but this being oil paint, it will need time to dry and set.  My aim was to keep her looking as antique as I could, although not particularly Schoenhut style.  To make the eyes as antique looking as I could, it meant darkening the crevices until it seemed like there were glass eyes in sockets.  Rosey is a dolly face style, so I wanted to keep that integrity.  Once I have watched her face for awhile, made any adjustments, I will then seal her face which will take some (but not all) of the uneven mottled look away.

032  I am now trying all kinds of photo angles, another way I study how she will look, I “see” it better in photographs.

044 I plopped her wig on, it is not glued down yet. 



I am looking at how the lighting hits, the eye placements, the brows, which look much lighter than I thought they would.  Remember that her eyeballs are shaped differently and creating the iris and pupil is a challenge.  One eye is larger than the other and more almond shaped. 

Close up are now possible, the eye is not flaky! 


057  She did not lose her Rosey look (thank goodness).  Bangs are not close to her eyes because they still need to dry.


066  Another thing I fixed, was using the oil paint to disguise some of the light areas from carving.  Around her nose and mouth were such areas, and the oil blended well into the wood. I tried to get a hint of eye lashes, and surprisingly my fine brush was not all that fine.   Again oil paint was fabulous for being able to scrape away anything I didn’t like.  So the thick lines were thinned out, as well as the eyebrows by scraping away excess paint. 

So far, I am very pleased, and I can already see that I want to darken the brows, give her rosier cheeks.  Her eyes will be glossed and her skin will be a bit more even when I seal her up.