Six months ago, I promised an update on my Barbie® den upon completing my vision for it. Of course, any collector would know that one's collection is never quite complete. I constantly change my displays as new dolls come in, and the occasional doll is sent to a new home. When I wrote the post, I had a total of two sparsely populated glass cabinets in the den. Most of my dolls were stored in a large built-in closet.
I reached a turning point in my collecting habits a few weeks after posting that blog entry. I decided that it was not worth having all these dolls unless I could display most of them. I didn't want them to sit in their respective boxes in a closet, only to be admired when I pull them out for a photo session, so I talked my spouse into allowing me to purchase three additional display cabinets. It took weeks to pull all the dolls out of their boxes, dress them, and arrange them in the cabinets.
I also hung up some framed Barbie® sketches to give the space a very Barbie®-centric ambience. I left a smattering of Barbie® books on the coffee table and arranged some little dioramas all over the room. Lastly, I got an inexpensive dresser to organize my doll fashions, accessories, beadwork materials, and other doll accoutrements. I can't tolerate a cluttered doll room.
I go through periods of time when I don't seem to have any energy or enthusiasm for dolls, but seeing my collection on display always makes me happy. :)
How do you store and display your dolls?
I attended "Everyday's a Holiday with Barbie®", the 2014 National Barbie Doll Collectors Convention in Nashville, Tennessee a few weeks ago. The convention officially ran from July 23-26, but I was told that some of the best convention activities are unofficial--room sales, parties hosted by doll artists, etcetera, so my husband and I checked in at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Nashville on the 21st to take advantage of everything this gathering of Barbie aficionados has to offer. I am so glad that we did because my favorite convention activity turned out to be room shopping! There's something especially thrilling about hunting for Barbie dolls, accessories, fashions and diorama pieces on several hotel floors where sellers leave their rooms open for conventioneers to enter and browse their staggering displays of merchandise. I was not expecting the scale at which this took place.
Anyway, there were so many wonderful sights, sounds and people throughout the convention week that just the thought of writing about the entire experience is exhausting. Instead of writing a novella, I'll simply share a little photo gallery with some captions.
The "Red, White, Blue and Pink" fashion show where participants modeled human scale Barbie® fashions from every era was a big hit and deserves its own photo gallery:
Fashion Show Gallery
Lastly, I want to give a shoutout to our table hostess, Julia Bush, and our tablemates Elizabeth, Allison, Barb, Lisa, Debbie, Kim and Kathleen. Thank you for making this convention so fun! I hope to see everyone again at the 2015 convention in Arlington, Virginia.
I haven't posted a blog entry in over a month. That's because I've spent almost every waking moment (when I'm not working) hauling my things to the newly renovated home that I now share with my partner.
We carried in a lot of furniture, household items, clothes and other personal effects. I also had to transport my Barbie collection. It's a modest collection by the standards of some long term collectors I've encountered online--some have amassed hundreds of dolls. My latest official count is 132 dolls with their original boxes and about 20 loose dolls (no boxes). I also have a lot of doll accoutrements--fashion, 1:6 scale furniture, and accessories. Packing, transporting, and unpacking these is no easy task!
I'm quite excited about this year's Barbie® Fashion Model Collection. For 2014, the Silkstone doll collection will have an Italian high fashion theme. Barbie® is no stranger to the runways of the world's fashion capitals, so having Milan as the next source of fashion inspiration is a brilliant concept.
So far, only Fiorella™ Barbie® doll (shown here) has been officially released. Members of the Barbie® Fan Club have been treated to sneak peeks of several upcoming dolls, including another glamorous Silkstone doll called Dulcissima™. You can catch a glimpse of her in the teaser video below, which features the storyline created for Fiorella™.
In honor of the Swimsuit Issue's 50th Anniversary, Barbie® doll will be joining the ranks of their legendary cover models in a special editorial shoot with famed photographer Walter Iooss Jr.
Like many of the trailblazing cover models in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue, Barbie® made her public debut wearing a swimsuit--a black-and-white striped maillot. From being a "teenage fashion model", Barbie® has embarked on more than 150 careers, and has reached the status of global icon.
As an anniversary tribute, Barbie® is issuing a collector Sports Illustrated™ Barbie® Doll, which will be available exclusively on Target.com.
You can also watch behind-the-scenes footage of Barbie®'s photo shoot (below), and join the conversation on social media with #Unapologetic.
Having a strong online presence has greatly enriched my Barbie collecting experience. Just over a month ago, I made the online acquaintance of Nick Corporon, the writer and director of a thought-provoking short film called "Barbie Boy," which is still making the rounds of film festivals all over the USA.
Then, the other day, I received an invitation to a gallery showing of the oil paintings done by artist Judy Ragagli, whose muse and favored subject is Barbie® doll--specifically, the nostalgic face sculpt (circa 1960s). Her lifelike depictions of our favorite fashion doll are achieved by mixing oil paints using only seven original tubes of oil! The results are stunning, from what I can see on my screen.
Why has Judy chosen to focus on Barbie®? In her words:
"I have always loved nostalgic Barbie and her mystique of elegance and worldliness. I see her as possessing a soul and positive spirit; her true persona extends beyond the plastic facade. She represents and contains knowledge of culture and society thus becoming more significant than an object of child's play. She is an indicator of trends, a marker of historical eras, and a positive role model for the past, present, and future..."
Judy Ragagli's work will be on display at Porch Gallery in Ojai, California from February 13 to March 25. There's an opening cocktail reception on February 15th, from 5 to 7 PM. You may also visit her website, http://www.judyragagli.com, to see more of her art.
I've loved Barbie since childhood. I remember surreptitiously grabbing my cousin's Barbie from her toy shelf and brushing those beautifully coiffed blonde curls, admiring the glittery little outfits and the high heeled shoes that magically stayed on those permanently arched feet. Even as a child, I was aware that most people would scoff at me for playing with a doll--Barbie was my dirty little secret. Over two decades after my earliest encounters with the 11.5-inch vinyl fashion icon, I came across the teaser trailer for Barbie Boy, a short film written and directed by Nick Corporon. Memories of my clandestine childhood affair with Barbie came rushing back. I knew that the story would resonate with me and my male Barbie-collecting contemporaries, so I watched it.
Imposing Gender Roles
The film follows Bobby (Trent Carlton), an imaginative 7-year old boy who begins to re-evaluate his relationship with Barbie and Ken after his father (William Kidd) expresses concern about how Bobby's peers might react to his playthings. While most parents would have been more forceful in imposing gender roles on toys, Bobby's dad simply discouraged him from sharing his love of Barbie with his friends. Mom (Lauren Dobbins Webb) is quite the enabler--even partaking in the role-playing games involving the dolls.
Conformity and Repression
"Then He Kissed Me," the Phil Spector-produced song that plays during the opening credits is a mood lifting gem, beginning an otherwise serious film with a touch of levity. Barbie Boy's central theme is conformity. Must parents and society at large impose gender roles on children by guiding them towards the "appropriate" toys and games? Is it really okay to let boys play with dolls and other toys intended for girls? Do these little plastic things shape the character of a young person, and if so, to what extent?
The 13-and-a-half-minute short raises more questions than it answers. Still, given the constraints of the format, it does its job of giving us something to ponder. The film has some very poignant and beautifully shot scenes, mostly of Bobby's home life. It would be easy to write a lot of expository dialogue on the subject of boys and dolls, but Mr. Corporon deftly chose to create silent moments brimming with thought and emotion. There were quite a few tight shots of Bobby's cherubic visage that captured his internal conflict. Trent Carlton, the young actor who portrays Bobby gave a very satisfactory performance, bringing the anguish of repressed desire just below the surface, subtly conveying the frustrations of a little boy who just wants to play with his dolls.
I enjoyed this short both for the nostalgia of the circa 1980s-1990s Superstar Barbie face mold heavily featured in the film (my childhood Barbie!), and for the thought-provoking content. It's a subtle yet effective piece. I hope it makes a New York City stop when it continues to make the rounds of film festivals all over the USA in the coming year.
Watch the official trailer!
Photo credit: ©2013 Mattel (stock photos)
The latest installment of Bill Greening's The Barbie Look™ series was released just a few days ago (available for pre-order at BarbieCollector.com). In Mr. Greening's Barbie Fan Club exclusive designer interview this past September, he hinted that the 2014 Barbie Look™ dolls would have a glamorous theme.
I like these dolls, but the overall series doesn't have the same cohesiveness as the Barbie Basics line. We've already seen a party dress and a red carpet gown in this series, so these new iterations feel a bit redundant. Furthermore, the Mackie face sculpt makes a second appearance in the series, and there are two dolls in this installment that use the Aphrodite sculpt, which has some collectors wondering why The Barbie Look™ doesn't have the same diversity in face sculpts as the Basics line.
My personal favorites from this set are Blue Jumpsuit and Gold Gown. Blue Jumpsuit reminds me of the Versus Barbie® doll from circa 2004, and Gold Gown is a lovely new look for the Goddess face sculpt. I'm looking forward to doing a full review of these dolls when I get my hands on them next year!
About the Webmaster
My name is Jared. I began collecting dolls in 2011. It all started with Barbie® Basics Model No 16 Collection 002 for me. Soon after that, I started photographing my dolls, editing the images and sharing my work on my Tumblr photoblog, Life in Plastic. "Playing" with dolls has inspired me to learn to sew, paint with acrylics, re-root doll hair, practice my bead craft, among other things...My collecting hobby turned into a passion for creating art in different media!