or, The Case of the Headless Doll
I knew as soon as I started writing for Rosie that I wanted one of her adventures to involve dolls. Rosie is my representation in the land of dolls – a younger me, but still, me. And I wanted her/me to have dolls.
When you’re photographing your stories, though, it’s not enough to come up with a plot. You need a plot that you can photograph, which means that you need to be able to get your hands on all of the characters and props.
My original plot idea was to have Rosie playing with a doll scaled to her world, setting it aside, and then seeing out of the corner of her eye that it had suddenly become her size (or larger). Then the adventure begins.
OK idea, I think, but playing it out meant that I needed a doll that came in two sizes. I had two large dolls that had smaller versions available, so I began take rough shoots to see how they looked.
Here’s Rosie with my Blythe doll.
I adore the Blythe doll but she just seems . . . unstable. I have no idea what kind of adventure she’d lead Rosie into, but I suspected it wouldn’t be all crumpets and butterflies. Still, I got a smaller version of Blythe off Ebay, just in case I decided to put Blythe into the plot line. You’ll find out in part 2 of Rosie’s Doll Adventure whether she got cast.
BTW, here Blythe is with her smaller version who is, if possible, even creepier than she is.
My other big doll is really big – a 14″ version of the china doll from Oz. Here she is with Rosie.
I loved the pictures of these two dolls together. It completely changed the feel of the story – now, instead of playing with dolls, the doll was mothering her – but I thought they looked great together and I could rewrite the story to make it work. More than just make it work, it sweetened up the one sad part of Rosie’s story – that she’s motherless.
I took a few rough shots of the setup, and I thought it worked.
But I ended up with two problems – one small and one huge. The small problem was that I couldn’t figure out how to represent the china doll when other people were around. The most reasonable representation was to make her small when other people were there, and to grow her back to 14″ when Rosie was alone with her, like this:
Which left me with a very strong Calvin and Hobbes reference. Not great, but probably OK.
The second issue was much more serious. The China doll isn’t just a doll. She’s a character in a film in which she’s a doll who becomes real/animated. So, I was no longer casting a doll in my photos, I was casting a character from a film and having her play that same character in my adventure. Plus, Rosie’s scenes were going to use my James Franco doll, who’s from the same movie, and the whole thing just seemed way too tangled up in another story altogether.
So, much as I loved the picture of the two dolls together, I had to figure out something else for this story.
I came back to a doll I’d fallen in love with on Etsy – a handmade, handstrung jointed doll with a dreamy expression and a yellow flowered dress. Not only did she bear some resemblance to Rosie – her name was Rosemary.
So, I rewrote the storyline and waited for Rosemary, who arrived in a few weeks from Lithuania.
Here she is with Rosie, lying in her box.
Unfortunately, in the shipping process her head had broken from her body in a jagged line, erasing any hope of a seamless reattachment. Now I had three storylines that didn’t work, and a broken doll that had to be returned to Lithuania. Which was a huge shame, because Rosie and Rosemary were just perfect together.
UPS finally settled the issue for me – the cost of shipping the doll back to Lithuania was almost more than the (now devalued) cost of the doll. So, I grabbed a big tube of Aileen’s tacky glue, rejoined Rosemary’s head to Rosemary’s body, and she’s virtually as good as new as long as you don’t look too closely as her neck.
Not only can she sit, she can fly (as you’ll see in the next part of Rosie’s doll adventure). And that’s how Rosemary joined the cast.