Gene Marshall Doll. Hardest. Re-root. Ever.

January 29, 2016



Hardest Ever. Literally.

I have been DYING to do a blog on this for quite awhile now but it was a gift so I was waiting until I gave the gift to post photos . This doll took me over a year to make-but mostly because I procrastinated and then got stuck on how to finish her so she stood in the far corner of my desk incomplete for about 11 months. I had given up on her until I came up with the crazy idea to re-root a Gene doll-a doll with a REALLY hard head!



Gene by Ashton Drake


Twilight Rumba Gene, arguably my favorite Gene doll I have in my collection

Gene was first released in 1995, 15 inches tall and styled like a classic movie star. She was intensely popular at first but over the years has drastically lost most secondary market value due to Tonner releasing 16 inch dolls that were more poseable. Ashton Drake stopped making her in 2005 and Integrity picked up the line only to retire her in 2010. I still have at least a dozen in my own collection that I adore despite the lack of monetary value. The up side is that you can pick them up for about 80% less of their original cost for customizing-I snagged some lots on eBay and put a few in my collection but now have a drawer full of these bait bombshells! The downside is that she has a rock hard head. Does not squish at all! I had heard it wasn’t possible to re-root Gene dolls. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

VERY belated Christmas gift

I decided to customize a Gene Doll for my friend Tara Kalavista for a 2014 Christmas gift. Since we are both doll lovers and big fans of mythology, I decided to make her a Greek Goddess. Thanks to the help of Super Mom, seamstress extraordinaire, was able to sew this beautiful dress based on my chicken scratch mock-up drawings. I started styling her brown hair and nothing looked good. So I started working on her face and it was HORRIFIC. It seemed like every time I tried to fix it she got uglier. She had a lovely dress but everything else was awful and I was out of ideas and out of time. I knew she was making me a custom doll and it was already in the mail. (She made me an Ever After High Cleo de Nile doll!) So I grabbed a mini pullip and customized her in like 3 hours to ship in time for Christmas with a promise that I she would get a custom Gene doll. 2015 flew by and she was still in the same condition by December. And then I heard about the heating pad method and that it might work. She was so ugly at that point that I figured an attempt at a re-root was worth the risk.

Heating Pad Method

I had heard of this before in passing but really didn’t understand how it worked. Thanks to a friend (MyDollsAreMyModels) on facebook, he showed me how he had used the method on a Novi Stars doll in a tutorial and it gave me a base idea of what to do. When working with vinyl dolls with this hard of plastic, it takes a long period of time to get soft in comparison to a doll or pony. After cutting off her hair I rolled her up in the heating pad for about 2o minutes on high heat. This amount of time softens the head to be as pliable as a Barbie doll-but not for very long. You get maybe 30 minutes until you have to do it again. As you can imagine, this is a long process. And it feels like you are holding a hot potato when rooting. I think my fingers must have calloused over because after awhile it didn’t bother me as much. It is easy to break needles when you are literally rooting on a clock and I tore up my fingers. Oh wait! That was it! I had band-aids on several fingers and that helped with the heat of her head hahaha 🙂 When I do another one I am just going to put band-aids on my fingers first to make it easier. So yes, this is kind of an insane and long process. But when she was finished, it was totally worth it.

Astrea, Star Goddess


Base: Simply Gene Brunette Doll, Original Dress, re-root & face-up, Gene “Stand Up & Cheer” earrings


Gene’s hair is rooted in nylon Purple Rain with a couple of Subtle highlights of Blue Crush and Silver Lining. I used a 3/8 inch curling iron (I got mine at Sally’s Beauty Supply) to curl all of her hair into ringlets. It took awhile because when you use a curling iron on heat resistant hair it takes about 2 minutes on 350 degrees for each curl. I multi-tasked by talking on the phone while curling so the process did not seem so arduous. Her curls were massive, so I just kind of started twisting the hair around to fit the hair styles of Ancient Greece. I tucked a low chignon on one side and pulled the curls through, using a mini alligator clip to keep it in place and let the remaining curls cascade down her back. Her face is a mix of acrylics, prismacolor pencil and pastels.


Re-rooting a Gene doll is a kinda crazy (and yes I do commissions if you don’t want to try this at home) and is not for the faint of heart!She is, to me, however the most beautiful custom I have done to date and am excited to attempt another one! Hope you enjoy the photos, she now resides in Tara Kalavista’s epic doll collection. 

Happy Hair-ing!


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Loose ringlet curl over one eye.


Twisted Chignon Knot

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