Yesterday I explained why things have been a little crazy at Inside The Fashion Doll Studio. I have been working well over a month and a half ( since Fashion Royalty convention really) to get our house ready for a charity holiday tour that included the doll room. The same weekend the tour happened, I was also contracted to photograph my daughter’s dance schools dress rehearsal of The Nutcracker. We also needed to attend her performances. I also hosted a ladies holiday tea for about 50 ladies and to top it off…it was my birthday in there somewhere. There was LOTS going on the weekend of December 6 – 8th.
I left off in part one of this post explaining my anxiety at opening up the doll room to the public for this holiday walk. I was anxious to see what people would think. I was fully prepared to answer a few questions and field comments like “Are you crazy?’. What I was not prepared for was to be fully occupied the three hours Deanna, Hilda and I proctored the doll room area with comments, questions and exclamations of joy and wonder. I called the evening “better living through Barbie”. I think the thing I heard the most as people came up the stairs to the doll room area was their surprised gasps of “ OH MY GOD!!” upon seeing some of the collection for the first time. It was an exclamation of an unexpected positive experience.
The collection was not what people were expecting and the look of amazement when they looked around warmed my heart. When I questioned people “ Not what you were expecting was it? You were expecting the Barbies you see at Target right?” They would reply every single time “ Yes!” with a wide-eyed expression. I received thank you upon thank you for sharing the collection. There were lines to get up to the doll room area. At some points during the day, there were lines just to get into the house let alone the doll area. The Assistance League of the Eastside had told people that there would be some Barbie experts on hand from the hours of 4-7pm to answer questions. People came back! They came back and brought their mothers, their daughters, their sisters and some even brought back their husbands. I think that was the biggest surprise of the evening for me. These husbands not only came into the doll area but they spent time looking AND ASKED QUESTIONS! I was completely amazed and overwhelmed at the outpouring of interest. I enjoyed hearing the rich tapestry of stories and Barbie memories that unfolded throughout the evening. Sisters recounted playtime memories with each other, Grandmothers and mothers remembered sewing or crocheting for Barbie and the granddaughters and daughters remembered learning how to sew through Barbie. Many remembered the first experiences of self expression through cutting their Barbie’s hair.
The fashion was another big topic of discussion. There were many conversations about particular designer influences and most everyone enjoyed the 1/6 scale purse tree in the actual doll room itself. I had a buyer for Federated Department Stores come up to me and say how much she loved how everything was displayed.
1. How long have you been collecting? Since my daughter was 3 so a little over 10 years.
2. Why did you start collecting? My daughter received a collector Barbie when she was 3 and my first thought was “ Great! who gives a 3 yr old a collector Barbie? She is going to trash it!” But she didn’t so I thought maybe collector Barbies would be something we could do together…you know…something for Christmas and birthdays. I started to do some research on collector Barbies and started looking at Barbiecollector.com and was blown away by the collector doll offerings. I essentially went down the rabbit hole at that point….and have not come out yet.
3. How many dolls do you have? I currently have around 600 and that is most likely as big as it will get. I am maximized right now which means…if something comes in…something has to go out.
4. What is the most expensive doll? I never really answered that question…instead I would point to some of the rarer items that are in the collection. I have a BFMC display case that is a treasure in my collection and I managed to procure a City Smart Silkstone Barbie through a great doll friend a couple years ago. I also have a set of 1/6 Bespaq bedroom furniture that is very rare and I treasure that as well.
Some of the new displays for this year are as follows:
I adored the garden scene I shot so much that it became a permanent display in the doll room
I also picked up some amazing 1/6 scale furniture pieces in Paris this past year.
Elizabeth Taylor joined the work room display
and the nightclub scene
New Fashion Royalty convention additions
And a new treasure added for the walk. A stunning pink silk and French lace gown by Hilda of Bellissima Couture. She made me this for my birthday…and I just about cried when I saw it. Stunningly beautiful beyond words!! Love ya Hilda…Mwah!
The entire day of participating in this home tour and showing this collection was a completely amazing experience and the fact that it helped raise money to support local and very necessary programs made it that much more meaningful. In this season of giving, I am so very grateful to all the people who opened their hearts, minds and pocketbooks to support the Assistance League of the Eastside. I also want to thank those who came up to me and personally commented on the collection. As an avid collector, It was a complete joy to see the love of this doll expressed and for some rekindled.
At the end of August of this year, just as my family and I were home from a long vacation abroad, I was approached by the fabulous ladies of the Assistance League of the Eastside. They hold a holiday home tour fundraiser every year that raises money to fund programs that support families in need in our community. They typically have 5- 6 homes on the tour every year and these homes open their doors to roughly 1200 visitors for a day to show off their holiday décor. The tour runs from 10AM in the morning until 7PM at night. This year, they had a house that had to pull out of the tour and the Assistance League approached me to help out. The main reason they came to me…..the doll room.
Apparently news of the doll room is out and about in my local community. I have to admit, I am always a little nervous talking to non collectors about having a doll room. You get the gamut of responses from people when you tell them that you…as an adult…collect Barbie. Some will take an uncomfortable step back and look at you as if you just said you were schizophrenic…and off meds. Some will immediately downgrade their opinion of you and lump you in with the sad individuals they recently saw on a “Hoarders” episode. You can understand that making the decision to open up the doll room for viewing did not come without a great deal of anxiety. I wondered what people would think. I know that my fellow collectors love the doll room but I was really unsure about what a non collector would think of it. Then I had a moment of clarity….I came back to the reason why I collect in the first place….because I enjoy it. When anyone collects anything, it typically is because they enjoy doing it. If they like it enough to hook into a group of other collectors who enjoy collecting the same thing, they REALLY enjoy it. I decided I was not going to be worried about possibly being labeled the crazy “Barbie” lady and just enjoy showing off something that I truly love to collect. There would be people who get it…and people who didn’t…and that was okay.
To me, and I am finding to many many others, Barbie is a touchstone of sorts. Most woman you talk with today have a Barbie experience to share. I have found that when you put a group of woman together and give them this touchstone, it creates an amazing bonding experience. You can have a group of woman from all different backgrounds, ages, professions and all of the sudden you are all connected through this one toy. You all have an experience to share and that connects you. There are multiple points of connection too. Sometimes it isn’t about the doll but about the fashion and the discussion that promotes. My greatest joys in sharing this doll room through the blog and with friends and family are the sharing of those stories and memories and the connection it creates. It is just plain fun.
If I was going to do this, open up the doll room to roughly 1200 people, I decided I needed to call in some fellow doll experts for the event. I enlisted the help of my dear friends Hilda and Deanna. They graciously agreed to donate their time and expertise to help me show off the collection. I could not have done this without them…from the bottom of my heart “Thank You!” We had told the Assistance League that we would proctor the doll room and landing during the evening hours of the holiday tour. If people had questions, they could come back during those hours and “ask the experts” so to speak.
So…what was the response?? Tune in tomorrow for more pictures and The Doll Room Goes On Display: Part II.
After a couple of weeks of absolute holiday craziness…I am sure you all can relate….I have finally finished editing photos of the doll room and surround for your viewing pleasure. Because I have some avid pinners out there who are still pinning from my skydrive when I have asked “Please, please , please don’t do that ( you know who you are), I will not be posting all the photos in a slideshow. I have , however, put together a slideshow set to music which I have uploaded to youtube and am sharing here too. I will share a few stills but the bulk of the photos are in the slideshow. There are over 100 photos in the slideshow so a little something for everybody
Happy Holidays! From my doll room to your home, I hope you enjoy the photos and slideshow. I also want to take this opportunity to say a huge, huge “Thank You” to my readers and commenters. You are..in a phrase…”why I do what I do”. I thank you all for your support and encouragement. I hope in 2013 that my work will continue to interest you.
Note**** If you want to see the high resolution version of this, you need to tell the youtube player on your scrren to give you the highest quality. It’s one of the small icons on the bottom right of the youtube screen**
First of all, let me thank my friend Jenn for her comment on Flickr that prompted the idea for the title. Yesterday I shared photos of the landing area right outside the actual doll room. I have never really decorated this area for the holidays before so it was fun to show off some of the displays and ideas I have done this year. Today, I will share photos of the actual doll room. I normally have a table in the middle of the room ( it comes out from the wall which is also a wall bed) but for the tea party I needed to allow for as much space in there as I could get so people could see the collection and displays.
The doll room displays have changed from previous years. If you want to see displays from previous years check out my youtube video here….
Perhaps the biggest change in the doll room for this holiday season is that the vintage reproduction section was put into storage and the Silkstones took up residence in the corner area. My “ Belles Choses” boutique moved to the spacious venue bellow the display area and more silkies were moved there to shop. Shopgirls office( at the top of the stairs) had to downsize and Fashion Designer Silkstone ( always Edith Head in my mind as I believe that is who Mr. Best designed her after) got her own space and it looks like she has designed a red gown for the young starlett looking in the mirror. I did manage to maintain one vintage reproduction shelf as an homage to the fabulous Barbie conventions I have been to.
Peeking around the corner as you enter the doll room…..
I love the holidays. I start decorating in November and am usually done by the first week of December to be ready for my Ladies Holiday Tea. This year, my ladies tea was followed immediately by weeks of dress rehearsals for my daughters Nutcracker ballet performances. So…I have been a little swamped. Now that my little ballerina has hung up her dancing shoes for the holiday, I can finally get back to the studio and some fun doll time. The doll room has gone through some changes in the past couple of months and I thought I would take the opportunity to share these fun changes. First off, the landing outside the doll room gets a holiday makeover….
I found these fun acrylic boxes at Micheal’s craft store and I have been wanting to use them for displaying. Like many collectors, I am always looking for new and different ways to display my collection. I new I was going to be putting this new tree up to display all the Barbie ornaments I have collected over the years and these boxes were the perfect “presents” to put under the tree.
Again I am always looking for ways to display my collection and I love when people show photos of what they do. Here are some of the things I have done in this upstairs landing area.
I will continue tomorrow with photos of the doll room itself.
Oh….and one little proud Mamma moment….my daughter as a flower in this years Nutcracker ballet
The doll closet is always changing in the doll room. I am constantly on the lookout for new ways to store and organize doll clothing, props, furniture and all manner of items associated with this wonderful world of collecting. I have been working on a better way of storing doll clothing and I shared what I did a number of months ago. I continue to make improvements on the original idea so I thought I would share some updated pictures and show a little bit more of the Pandora’s Box that is the Doll Room Closet…..
Above is a picture of the gateway to Pandora’s Box .
The latest in organizing clothing on the back of the doors of the closet. Shorter dresses and suits are above and longer gowns are below. I am now using paper cardstock dress forms to hang the clothing on as it helps keep the clothing neat and the cardstock form is more compact than the plastic variety so I am able to store more clothing on each rod.
The rounds of clothing are great because you can just pick up the whole round and take it out to look for what you want. They take up a great deal of space however. The drawers are full of various items like, purses, furs, gloves, glasses ect…
The other half of the doll room closet! Clothing is now spilling over into the other door. It serves as storage for all the various supplies I use in set and diorama building and is a great place to store furniture pieces I use in my doll photography.
I store most of my doll jewelry in little baggies suspended from these clip it up hooks so I can see everything that I have to choose from quickly. Sometimes I only have a short amount of time to do a photo shoot so I find having everything easily accessible makes it easier to do things and more likely that I will actually get the photo shoot done.
As I have said before, I love to see other people’s ‘behind the scenes’ photos so I hope these help give some ideas on how I store things and organize them.
I have been thinking for the last year about different ways to store my doll fashions. I had all the fashions stored with their accessories in plastic zip lock bags with accessories in smaller bags all stored in decorative boxes in the closet of my doll room. There were a few problems with this system. First, I knew that over time the plastic would not be the best idea as it can effect fabric in a negative way. Secondly there was the space issue. The volume of fashions that I have collected meant that I needed five boxes to store them and that took up what I considered a huge amount of space in the closet. I would have rather used that space for other things…..like 1:6 scale furniture and props for my photo shoots. Thirdly, there was the wrinkle factor. I really wanted to hang some of my more unique and delicate outfits ( like the Bogue’s Vogues) so that they would not get crushed or wrinkled while being stored. Lastly, because these items were all stored away in a boxes, I never really knew what I had until I decided to “unpack” a box. I really wanted a system where I could just go in and see what I had and choose from there….like a doll closet.
I was meandering through Flickr a few weeks back and happened upon a photo from one of my favorite photographers. It showed a revolving rack with doll clothing on it. I immediately knew this was what I had been looking for. The system is called “clip it up by Renee” and it was designed to help organize scrapbooking supplies. If did some research and found that the mini rounds were just the right size to store 1:6 doll scale clothing. It would not be able to store the huge ball gowns I had collected over the years but I would figure out something for that. The main downside of the clip it up racks would be the cost. They are pricey. I spent around $35.00 each( that was on sale) for the rounds and I purchased two. The rounds come with 40 clips but I went ahead and ordered more clips….glad I did.
The rounds were very easy to put together and I filled them up very, very quickly. I love the ability to move the rack around – it rotates like a clothing rack at a store – so I could see everything on the round. This was exactly what I had envisioned. The only problem was that I was going to need a couple more rounds and that was more than I wanted to spend on this project. Also, the rounds take up about as much space as the boxes did and I was after more space in the closet for other things. So….I started thinking…..I really liked the clip idea as it made it easy to use. I started thinking about wasted space in the closet. I have a closet in my doll room that has two doors that open out – not sliding doors. I thought….what if I use the space on the back of the doors? It isn’t used for anything. I started looking at racks that hang on the back of your door like for extra towels in the bathroom. The problem there was that the rack bars were too large to use the clip it up clips on. Then I thought “ What if I make my own rack”. I found wooden dowels at Ben Franklin that were the right diameter to use with the hooks, cut them to size to fit the back of the door. Then I attached adhesive hooks to support the dowels and voila! instant rack. I tried to space the dowels so there would be the optimum amount of hanging space on the backs of the doors. I think it worked beautifully for a fraction of the cost of the clip it up rounds. I still like the rounds but prefer the price of the back of the door system. The main expense for the back of the door system were the clips. They cost $8.00 – $12.00 per 40 clip bag depending on where you buy them. I liked the idea so much that I decided to hang the jewelry in small bags too so I could see what I had.
Here is the almost finished project. Still working on it a bit.
The hanging system on the back of the door allows me to hang the big ball gowns without wrinkling the skirts.
The clips also give me the option of keeping outfits and accessories together. I just put accessories for an outfit in a little bag and clip it up with the dress.
All in all, I am very happy with the end product. A big “Thank You” to Princess Di Orama on Flickr for posting the photo that started the ideas churning and helped me to create my doll closet.
I was exchanging emails with another board member on BFC and fellow blogger the other day and she was wondering what the french doors in the doll room led to. I had really never thought about posting photos of the small world beyond the doll room door before but she encouraged me to post the photos on the BFC and I decided to put them here too. I realized that the space that exists outside the doors of the doll room are just as important to me as the room itself because they all work together to inspire me. The doll room has a view of the Olympic Mountains ( one of the best views in the whole house) and overlooks a garden and fountain.
These photos were taken in the spring of 09. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and I wish you all a Happy New Year.
I added a few sprigs of ivy and now they are ready to be filled with Silkstones. Pictures to follow soon.