Quinceañera Monster Dollsby Moon House Productions
Moon House Productions is Paprika Clark and Emily Hansen, two close friends and multi-talented creative types. We met after college and have known each other for over 20 years – but we never played with dolls together until just a few short weeks ago, when we brainstormed the idea for our first ever entry in Gothtober. After lobbing around a dozen or so ideas for this year’s Quinceañera theme (creeper juice recipe anyone?) we landed on the idea of creating character figures from used dolls. We thought it would be fun to make an eclectic group mashing up monsters, mythical figures, and superheroes – that were also a bit like a Latino version of the Addams Family. We brought them all together and made a short film to celebrate their uniquely blended heritage for the 15 year old daughter’s coming out as a splendid young Mexican-Monster woman. We used posed stills of the dolls interacting in a few peak moments before and during the Quinceañera and then added effects to create a silent movie feel.
The characters starring in Día de La Quinceañera started out as previously loved Bratz and Monster High dolls tracked down on eBay and garage sales – some with homemade tattoos and really terrible haircuts. Each was carefully auditioned and screen tested, then hand painted and costumed in (mostly) custom made clothing. The Moon House crew managed to spend weeks designing the characters and crafting the look and style of the film without dancing the dolls around and talking for them… much. The sets were fun to make as well. Located on the counter in Emily’s kitchen, cardboard and corks helped create the house and furniture. Emily’s little skeleton cat and dog from Ensenada got to hang out in the bedroom, and she turned one of her little containers into the cake.
After many layers of artist’s acrylic paint and Mr. Super Clear sealant – and a little strategic polymer clay – the dolls were ready for their closeups. An iPhone 7’s Portrait Mode helped give depth to the staging of the dolls. In the end our favorite characters were the ones filling out the film as background artists – the Ghost of Frida Kahlo and our Día de los Muertos figure, who are both at the party repping the ancestors. Long live our honored forebearers!
If you would like to see more on the doll-creation process, keep scrolling! If you would like to purchase one of the “actors” for your own collection, please come back on November 1st when we will post most of them on Etsy! (Or contact in us before they go on sale if you are interested in purchasing multiple creations!) We enjoyed this project immensely, and look forward to making many more variations on these themes in the future. We will even take commission requests!
Fine print on purchasing: Please note these dolls are hand-crafted art pieces and are not intended for use as toys, especially by younger children. Each doll is individually hand-painted, so a request for an “identical” doll can never be exactly the same!
The Group in Progress
If you count the dolls below, there are 12, but the one on the far left and the one in the center are extra dolls we used to try out paint patterns. Also missing is the Monster High doll that became the Día de los Muertos figure because, at the time, we were not sure we would be able to paint her before our video was due.
Miércoles Alvarez – Niña Quinceañera
(Wednesday Alvarez – Quinceañera Girl)
Miéri was given her name as an homage to Wednesday Addams of the Addams Family. Although in the Addams family Wednesday looked like a fairly normal human, we decided to take Miércoles in a different direction and make her a Naiad – or Náyade, en Español. Paprika layered her with aquatic textures across parts of her face, arms, and legs to symbolize her connection to fresh water. It took a few different test runs to get the look we were after, as seen in our progress pictures.
Emily picked out the dress material and Paprika cut and hand stitched it into an asymmetric handkerchief hem gown, and made a pearl and white rose hairpiece. Emily painted a pair of pink Bratz high heeled pumps white to match.
Martina Alvarez – Mamá Tierra
(Martina Alvarez – Mother Earth)
Mother Earth is our warmer, browner, more organic(!) version of Morticia Addams, and she has the wild hair and botanical tendrils and vines to show it. She is a forest nymph and a proud Latina, who can’t wait to show off her precious baby girl to the world.
Paprika tested different stamping techniques for applying the delicate reverse tendril pattern accenting Mamá Tierra’s face and neck, then added a few hand painted leaves and vines. Her outfit went through a couple iterations as well, with an early full white satin skirt being replaced by the hand stitched sueded tan fit and flare skirt you see in the final film. We had ideas for taking the look further, but we held back a bit in the interest of getting this project delivered on time for our Gothtober release date.
Frida Kahlo – Fantasma
(Frida Kahlo – Ghost)
Frida Kahlo is a particular inspiration on many levels; her devotion to her culture, her rebellious approach to art and life, her love of nature and gardens, and her unconventional beauty and magnificent style. We thought Frida should make an appearance in our little movie, and since she is deceased we decided to make her a ghost. Despite what you see in the video, she is not see-through!
Since she would be a spectral ghost, Paprika covered her entire face and body in a pale shade, then hand painted her bold red lips and signature strong brows. Then her hair was carefully braided and formed into a majestic crown accented with roses, as so often seen in Frida’s self portraits. Her outfit was sewn by hand to resemble the outfit worn in her 1938 photo taken by Nickolas Murphy. Emily applied effects to transform the very solid doll into the ghostly figure in the film. Frida may have been gone for decades, but she loves a good photobomb!
Gonzalo Alvarez – Papá Lobo
(Gonzalo Alvarez – Wolf Father)
We decided fairly early on to have some sort of wolfman, and had randomly picked up a sheet of long fur at Goodwill, so Emily decided that the hair would be his clothes. But first she painted his entire body, giving him a wolfish nose, tiny black fingernails, and a multicolored hair-like appearance. You can see in the early photos that he looks brightly colored and younger, but she continued to play around with gray speckling on his body and in his blond hair, periodically spraying on some Mr. Super Clear to keep the deeper layers intact. Emily cut out fur pieces in the shape of a vest and then attached them to his body. Then, she cut out pieces for his sideburns and for the hair on the back of his head and neck and attached those as well. Next she gave all the fur a trim as it was much too long for his body and he had an extreme mullet. She used a rougher paintbrush to add some gray to the fur and his original hair to blend them together and make it a more cohesive piece. Finally she used polymer clay to make him some wolfish feet!
Pablo Alvarez – Hermano Roca
(Pablo Alvarez – Rock Brother)
Pablo (P for Pugsley!) was painted to be reminiscent of stone. The light and dark speckles were done with fine point and bristle brushes, sometimes smeared or blotted with a bit of water and paper towel. He even has a little “chip” in his eyebrow! His feet are squared off blocks of polymer clay to keep in the stone theme. His simple loincloth was cut from an old t-shirt in a squared-off fashion so he would look ancient (Roman? Greek?) in his attire. It attaches in the back with a clasp, and has a t-shirt rope to tie it off. No peaking underneath!
Menor Alvarez – Hermanita Árbol
(Junior Alvarez – Little Tree Sister)
Junior earned her name because one of the iterations of the Addams Family had Wednesday Jr. and Pugsley Jr., younger siblings to Wednesday and Pugsley. Why were they not named Morticia Jr. and Gomez Jr.? Because they were weird, I suppose!
She has tendrils stamped in the same method as her Mamí, but fewer because she’s younger, and her hair is a delicate shiny green achieved with repeated applications of food dye (definitely not permanent or at all water resistant). Her shirt was cut from a human-sized, spaghetti strap tank top and sewn into a cute asymmetric top. The skirt is an actual Bratz skirt (though it did need some repairs!) The shoes were made out of polymer clay be reminiscent of leaves.
Calliope – Cíclope
(Calliope – Cyclops)
Not available on Etsy at this time
In the video, Callie is Miéri’s best friend. The cyclops was one of our early – and almost accidental – character ideas. Ironically we were testing her as one of the dolls we thought we were least likely use, both because she was a blonde and because she was a knock off with a different face shape than the Bratz dolls. We wanted to find out if an all over coat of paint would be feasible to get the results we wanted, so Paprika mixed up a rich toasty tan and covered her completely. When she was done, we noticed how the shape of her face lent itself to a cyclops look, and the rest was history. Emily picked out the dress material, and Paprika worked it into a long lace accented gown and painted her eye and soft pink lip for a natural look.
Arturo – Muchacho Mer
(Arthur – Sea Boy)
Available on Etsy as of October 26th, 2017
Arturo gets his name as a homage to Arthur Curry, the true identity of Aquaman. If you look closely at Miéri’s bedroom wall, you may see a blurry Aquaman photo above her pillow. 😉 Arthur is Miéri’s soon-to-be boyfriend – they are deeply attracted to each other by their mutual affinity for water.
Arturo has a jet black waveform faux hawk streaked in cobalt blue, and we thought his rich blue skin complemented his eye and hair coloring and Elvis like good looks very nicely. This was the second doll Paprika went all out with and covered entirely with paint. She sponged him with a subtle texture to evoke ocean wave foam and light on water and gave him a slightly green tinted mouth. We thought about what a Sea Boy would wear out and about, and decided an outfit crafted from a fabric reminiscent of a stylized fishing net seemed sea appropriate.
Tía Pudrirse – Momia
(Aunt Fester – Mummy)
Available on Etsy as of October 27th, 2017
Though she looks nothing like him, Aunt Fester’s name is a homage to Uncle Fester of the Addams Family. Emily cut an old t-shirt into tiny strips to wrap the mummy’s body, leaving the head exposed as we did want her to be approachable as an Auntie. After she was wrapped, she looked very bright & clean in her white linen, so two types of tea were used to stain the fabric. Next Emily applied paint to create a dried up mummy look, taking special care to make the eyelids more closed and to chap the lips. The previous owner had attempted to cut the hair in a unique fashion, so Emily trimmed it up to give it a more sharp Egyptian look. The headwrap is just tied off and is adjustable, but the body wraps are attached to the body, and should not be removed or adjusted.
Tía Culebra – Medusa
(Aunt Snake – Medusa)
Available on Etsy as of October 27th, 2017
Medusa was another of those characters that started out as a likely throwaway – Paprika tried to mix up a nice palette of green hues for Mama Martina and her nymph daughter Menor, but the results had a distinctly “dead reptile” look to them. We had noticed one of our dolls had tiny green tinted braids in her red hair, so we came up with the idea of a Medusa figure and painted her entirely in the unhealthy (but interesting!) shade. After the rest of the family was done, we came back and crafted a snake tail base for her from polymer clay. The first try crumbled because we made it from unconditioned clay, but on the second attempt we rolled the clay first and it worked much better, and allows her to “stand” steady on her taped and painted legs. Her tail and parts of her body were sponged through a piece of mesh fabric to simulate a scale pattern, and Paprika carefully painted her creepy red slit pupil eyes and facial textures and drew her snake mouth with Micron pigment pen.
Antepasado – Mujer Muerta
(Ancestor – Dead Woman)
Available on Etsy as of October 26th, 2017
Our Day of the Dead contribution sports a full coat of black paint with stylized bone and floral details. Paprika used a thick opaque white to build up texture in the details dots and bones to create this full body interpretation of the sugar skull art that embellishes shrines and decorations on Día de Los Muertos, when we honor and celebrate our ancestors who have passed. This was one of the most fun and meaningful dolls to paint, and we definitely look forward to making more Día de Los Muertos figures, with features and accents specific to our own loved ones who are gone – and maybe in the future, on request, those of others’ as well.