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Wednesday
Nov172010

Dolls as Models - Part II

This isn't just any Barbie and Ken - they're part of the Pink Label Collection, which I guess makes them special.  I believe they're supposed to remain in the see-thru box, as it took me 10 minutes and a pair of snips to extricate them from their cardboard desert diorama.

Ken's looking a little on the feminine side - which doesn't make me happy, since he's going to represent me in the book - so he gets silver hair, mustache, goatee, and sideburns.  I don't really wear sideburns, but Ken needed to be manned-up as much as possible.  Barbie's ok right out of the box.

Web search via Bing - I'm boycotting the most popular search engine - tells me Barbie and Ken are 1/6 scale, though Barbie's proportions are hardly human.  Another web search results in a 1/6 scale model of the bike I rode - a Harley-Davidson Road King Classic - which I order.  A week later, the model arrives, in 186 pieces.  Thirty tedious (and unplanned for) hours of labor latter, I've a five lb. metal and plastic model, ready for doll riding.  I Super Glue'd my thumb, index- and middle-fingers together a couple of dozen times, and lost many brain cells to cyanoacrylate fumes.

The big moment - Ken mounts the bike, and…he doesn't fit.  He's inflexible, legs won't bend enough for him to sit in the saddle and reach the handlebars.  So off come the pants: this feels weird, but at moments like this, I can always fall back on: 'hey, I'm an artist!'  I didn't know dolls were androgynous.  Even with no pants, Ken still can't bend as far as needed.  Do I cut the elastic band that holds legs to body?  Then he wouldn't be able to stand up.  After three days of deliberation, I perform major orthopedic surgery, with a hack saw, to Ken's thighs, cutting out the front so his legs will bend up into the thorax.  Now he fits on the bike when not wearing pants, but the pants bunch up and inhibit flexibility when he's wearing them.  So I cut out the front of the pants.  Now his white, mutilated legs show through the pants, so I paint Ken's surgical scars black.  Barbie's complaining, but she avoids surgery, as sitting on the back of the bike doesn't require much flexibility.

The next two days are spent as a pedestrian, at personal risk, photographing pavement and background flora along Hwy 1 and Carmel Valley Road.  I'll make some large prints, use them as backdrops for the model and dolls.

I'm ready to shoot.  Set up a table, light tent, my two-and-only Nikon Speedlight flashes, and build out the set with pavement, background flora, the motorcycle, and Ken.  The initial test shots look like crap:  this set-up is not going to work for the book.

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