Adding To The Vintage Crew


I started the summer with two vintage Barbie dolls in my collection. After going on vacation, I came home with a third, thrilled to finally give my pair of dolls a new friend.

Barbie Pic 1

Twist and Turn (’66-’67), Blond Bubblecut (’64-’67), Brunette Midge (’64-’67)

Little did I know that her arrival would trigger a vintage windfall. A simple visit to eBay (to help me identify the new girl and assess her condition) lead to a little browsing of other vintage Barbies and fashion.

Most vintage listings are way beyond what I can afford, but hidden in between the rare and pricey dolls are those that have seen better days. Those are the dolls I started looking at and I ended up finding a beautiful doll for only $19.

Brunette Bubble Cut in Blue

Brunette Bubblecut (’64-’67)

She’s a Brunette Bubblecut Barbie (1964-67). While I already have a blonde Bubblecut, something about this doll really appealed to me. She has a different look and is in better condition for the most part.

On the pro side her face paint is nearly perfect, fingernail paint is only a little faded, no cracks or splits on her body or limbs, no green ear, and perfect hair.

On the con side, she has two head splits. One is at the base of the head on the left side. Luckily, it can’t be seen from the front! This should be a relatively easy repair with a little plastic bonding glue.

Brunette Bubblecut Nect Split

The dreaded head split!

The other split is on top of her head. I’ve decided to leave it be as I don’t want to risk getting glue in her hair. A little creative combing of her hair should hide the split!

Brunette Bubblecut Head Split

A comb over should solve this problem!

Just as I was putting the finishing touches on Little Miss Bubblecut’s new blue dress, (the one she’s wearing in the pics!), another vintage doll fell into my lap. This time around, my sister was shopping at a local thrift shop when she spotted a “old looking Barbie.” It was half price day at the store, so she picked it up for only $12.50. When she dropped it off at my house, I almost died. This was a special doll that needed a lot of love.

This “old looking Barbie” is actually a Ponytail #5 Barbie (1961). Her hair has been pinned up into a bun so it’s hard to tell! Ponytail Barbies are a sought after bunch in the vintage world and I can’t believe one just landed on my doorstep.

Ponytail 5 Barbie Head

Hello, Ponytail #5!

All things considered, she’s in decent shape. Her face paint is largely in place (with exception to a few lip paint chips), her fingernail and toenail paint is perfect, and she has no green ear.

However, she also has some serious issues. Her hair is pinned up with straight pins that have rusted. I pulled them out, but one hole has turned green (thankfully, her hair covers it up). I have to clean that entire area to make sure the green stops spreading.

Ponytail 5 Barbie Head Side

The rusted offender is right next to her bangs.

Like many Ponytail #5 dolls, she has a greasy face. This is the result of the type of plastic that Mattel used during production. As it degrades, it releases a sticky film. There’s nothing I can do about it except to keep her face clean with warm soap and water.

The “grease” on her face has also leached into her hair. While, the original styling is still in place, her hair is in dire need of a good washing. Between the rust residue and grease, there is also the problem of the original rubber band disintegrating into the strands of her ponytail. At the moment, I’m researching how to properly clean and restore her hair.

Her legs are another problem. Ponytail #5 dolls are notorious for “splayed legs” and mine is no exception! One of her legs is bent so far out of alignment she can’t stand. Little by little I’m bending the leg back into shape by heating it in the blistering Arizona sun and tying her legs together at decreasing widths with ribbon.

Ponytail 5 Barbie Front

Not a good look!

The same leg is stained with dark marks that start beneath the knee and travel down to her foot. I’m working on bleaching them out with a little acne cream and the sun.

The last issue is an odd one, but I believe it is fixable. Her torso is split at the very bottom across a mold seam between her legs. It’s a clean split and should repair easily with some plastic bonding glue.

After just a little work, she’s already looking better! I made her a pretty little yellow dress to make her feel better and show off the progress on her leg.

Yellow Dress

A little TLC goes a long way!

Some would say these dolls are a mess and not worth the time and energy I’m putting into them. Some might even say they are ugly, but to me they are beautiful. Despite the damage and scars, I look at them and see stunning dolls that have inspired little girls for more than 50 years. How could I not save them?

Now that I have the dolls, I’ve started the process of acquiring vintage clothing that also needs a little TLC. Stay tuned for vintage style on these vintage dolls once I get some of the repair work done!

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c.b.w. 2016


My Vintage Gals


I’ve been collecting Barbie Dolls since I was a teenager. It started with Special Edition Holiday Barbies and then grew to include more exclusive limited edition dolls. In recent years, I find myself fawning over vintage dolls or vintage inspired style. I love the Barbie Fashion Model Collection for its elegant nod to vintage fashion, while also leaning towards a modern aesthetic. It’s a nice substitute for actual vintage dolls and clothing which can be very expensive.

While vintage is usually out of my price range, I’ve still managed to collect three beautiful vintage dolls. Condition-wise, they are far from perfect, but I love them just the same.

My first ever vintage doll is a Bubble Cut Barbie, (1964-67). I found her on eBay almost 15 years ago. Some of her face paint was gone, her body was dirty, and she’s missing a pinkie finger. However, she doesn’t have green ear and her hair is perfect! Because of her faults, she was the perfect starter doll for a new vintage collector. I paid just $40 for her and the seller threw in a vintage yellow dress for free.

All she needed was some TLC. A little soap and water cleaned off the dirt. I touched up her face with some latex paint and made her some new clothes (using actual vintage Barbie clothing patterns I had in my sewing chest). Before I knew it, I had a pretty nice looking doll!

Bubble Cut Barbie

Bubble Cut Barbie, 1964-67. Handmade dress, vintage pattern.

It was at least seven years until I got my next vintage doll. While perusing tables at flea market in Northern Wisconsin, I came across a Midge Doll. She was buried under a bunch of other well played with Barbies (likely from the 80s), but as soon as I saw that distinctive flipped hair and vintage body style, I knew she was something special. A quick check of her markings told me she was an original 1964-67 Midge Doll. The seller and I haggled over the price until we arrived at $45. Her face paint is nearly perfect (only her lips are a bit faded), her hair is intact, there was a little dirt on her body, all limbs and fingers are perfect including toe and nail polish. All in all, I got a great deal.

Midge cleaned up beautifully and stands proudly next to her Bubble Cut friend. I made her some vintage style clothing as well.

Midge Pic

Midge Doll, 1964-67. Handmade shorts and shirt, vintage pattern.

While on vacation this year, I was lucky enough to receive a Twist & Turn Barbie (1966-67) as a gift. She was a little rough around the edges at first – her face and arms were greasy, the rest of her body had stains, and she’s missing some eye lashes. However, her hair and face paint are absolutely perfect. A little diluted rubbing alcohol took care of the grease, while soap and water took care of most of the stains. A cute modern dress finished off her new look and she’s absolutely beautiful!

Twist and Turn Barbie

Twist & Turn Barbie, 1966-67. Modern dress.

I’m in the process of making her a dress of her own using vintage fabric and patterns. I’ll post pictures when its done!

The doll case behind each of my dolls is another new addition to my collection. It too was a gift. After doing some research, I found out it’s from 1965 and the graphics depict American Girl Barbie wearing the outfit Fashion Shiner. Since these pictures were taken, I cleaned the case using warm soap and water and a toothbrush to wash the dirt out of every groove. Sadly, the case cover is almost completely detached, (one small piece of vinyl is holding it on). I used some sticky white auto vinyl to temporarily repair the damage. The clasp still works, so I’m using it as storage for Barbie Clothes and as a display piece.

Group Picture! Here are my vintage gals hanging out together…

Barbie Pic 1

My vintage gals hanging out with their handmade vintage style wardrobe. What will they wear??

Aside from new clothes, they are in for another surprise. Yesterday, I won an auction on eBay for a vintage brunette Bubble Cut Barbie, (only $19!!!). She’s on her way and I can’t wait!

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c.b.w. 2016

Favorite Thing Friday: Pink & Pretty Barbie


It all started 33 years ago, when I asked (well, actually begged) for a Pink & Pretty Barbie. I was three years old and knew exactly what I wanted. My mother had no way of knowing I was not your average fickle little girl. I held true to my heart’s desire and every year around Christmas my desire for a Pink & Pretty Barbie never waned.

My undying Christmas wish has even been documented on this blog on multiple occasions, (here, here,  and here). Never mind that I’m in my mid-thirties and don’t really play with Barbie dolls anymore. I do, however, collect Barbie dolls, (see The Barbie Shelf) and my collection will never be complete without one Pink & Pretty Barbie.

As the years (and years and years …) went by I never gave up hope, even though the situation was looking bleak. Over the last few years, the collector’s market has heavily favored play dolls from the 80s. Dolls like Crystal Barbie and Peaches n’ Cream Barbie started to soar in price as collectors sought to regain childhood memories.

Pink & Pretty Barbie fell into the same ranks sending her price through the roof, especially if she was still in her box. She was going for as much as $250. Yikes! I would’ve seriously been mad if my mother or anyone else spent that kind of money on a gift for me.

Still, I kept wishing. I had to believe that one day Pink & Pretty Barbie would find her way to me. Somewhere out there she was sitting on a shelf or inside the closet of a person who no longer wanted her.  I should mention that this amount of wishing over such a long time takes an extreme amount of faith and persistence.

This year, a Christmas present wrapped in pink and white polka dots had my name on it. I wanted it to be her so much, but I was too afraid to dare to believe that Pink & Pretty Barbie could really be inside that polka dot box. I ripped open the paper and found ….



My Pink & Pretty Barbie!


I’m pretty sure I squealed, jumped up and down, and hugged her. Then, I hugged my mother, who quite possibly gave me the most perfect Christmas gift ever. Aside from the doll itself, the fact that it came from my mother makes it all the more meaningful. She never forgot and had been looking for this doll for as long as I’ve been wishing for her.

My Pink & Pretty Barbie is pretty amazing. She’s never been removed from her box. The wire twist-ties and plastic fasteners are still factory mint. The box has one dent and one tear, but is still in pretty great shape – the plastic front is still crystal clear (no yellowing), and the top and bottom flaps stay closed. Not bad for a 33 year old box! However, the best part of the box is that fact that it has an original price sticker of $10.60.

I cleared out a space in my curio cabinet where Pink & Pretty Barbie can sit in the front. In many ways, it is surreal that she is sitting on my shelf. Sometimes I touch the box just to make sure she’s real and not just a figment of my imagination.

It’s funny how one little thing can mean so much. To most people, she is an old doll that isn’t even that pretty, but to me she is a reflection of my childhood and an incredibly special and thoughtful gift from a mother I love very much.

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c.b.w. 2014

Favorite Thing Friday: The Barbie Shelf


It’s funny how poking around Pinterest can inspire the most unexpected projects. While cruising through the “Everything” category, I saw a pin for a beautiful doll – Lisette from the Barbie Fashion Model Collection. I let out a sigh and smiled. That very doll is in my curio cabinet, tucked away in her box. I haven’t seen her in years.


Lisette, Barbie Fashion Model Collection

A little spark inside of me was rekindled when I lifted the lid off the long stashed away box. There she was in all her glory. Mint green satin and black velvet with a touch of rhinestone sparkle caught my eye more than ten years ago and it did once again.

That little spark lead to pulling all of my dolls out of the cabinet. I just had to see them again and remember what I loved about each and every one. I’ve been collecting Barbie dolls since I was a kid, but in recent years it’s fallen by the wayside. It’s not a cheap hobby (which was a concern) and quite frankly I wasn’t impressed with Mattel’s offerings. I’m a picky collector who likes to be wowed!

All of my dolls are just as beautiful as I remember. Although, I pulled out a few that I totally forgot were part of the collection. I have dolls tucked in one cabinet, one shelf, and two closets. Boxes are bound to be hidden and that makes it hard to enjoy the full scope of a collection. The concept of “the forgotten doll” was the inspiration for a little project that kept me busy for days. Never again, did I want to forget what dolls I had, nor did I want to lose out on enjoying their beauty.

To solve my “forgotten doll” problem, I turned back to Pinterest. I created a board, The Barbie Shelf, to catalog my collection with the help of the Mattel’s Barbie Collector website. For three days, I pulled out every box from every shelf  to say hello and “pin” her to my Barbie Shelf board.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 8.43.11 PM

Click image to see the entire collection on Pinterest!

Not only was it fun to see all of my dolls again, but each doll has a memory. I remember who gave me certain dolls or I remember where I worked to save up for another. Over 20 years of my life is documented in my Barbie collection. From vintage style to the fashions of the 90s, these dolls represent a history I cherish.

Creating a catalog also helped me answer a burning question: How many dolls are in my collection? To my shock, the magic number is 84, (two of the pins are fashion ensembles). At one time, I know I had over a hundred, but the lack of space to store them forced me to purge some of my collection. I don’t have any regrets about the dolls I let go as I know they are in the hands of someone who will love them as much as I did. I kept the ones that meant the most to me and that’s good enough for me!

My little jaunt into Barbie heaven inspired me to dig up the dolls I played with as a child. I kept a select few and like the others, I hadn’t seen them in years. I pulled out my old Barbie carrying case and jumped head first into my early childhood. I had so much fun, I decided to create a Pinterest board cataloging those dolls as well, (Barbie Toy Chest). The funny thing is I remember the name of each and every doll, even if the dress is missing. I know them by their hair and face. The memories of playing with them are priceless.

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Click image to see more dolls. Maybe they were part of your childhood, too!

Revisiting so many wonderful memories turned that little spark into a flame. I’m excited about Barbie collecting again and I’m anxious to make new memories. To get started, I created a Barbie Wish List board on Pinterest. I’m combing through the Barbie Collectibles archives to pin images of dolls I’d love to have in my collection. It’s been so fun to revisit dolls I remember wanting 10 years ago and catching up on dolls I’ve missed.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 8.50.42 PM

Click image to see what else I’m wishing for (hint, hint, Mom!)

To celebrate both the nostalgia of my Barbie Shelf and my newly rekindled excitement, I’ve decided to buy a doll with my next paycheck. I don’t know which one yet, but I know she’ll be gorgeous. And she’ll be the doll I’ll always remember as being the one that reminded me how fun it is to collect Barbie.

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c.b.w. 2014

Paper Dolls Are Partially At Fault


There are days when I wonder why I subject myself to the process of writing.  As much as I love wordsmithing, it often  keeps me up at night (or wakes me from a rare, valuable sleep) and drives me crazy on a daily basis.  I can’t help but wonder, what got me into this mess?  Then I’ll come across something the reminds me I’ve never really had a choice when it comes to playing with words.  Right before I left for London, I cleaned out a drawer and found a surprising stash of childhood toys, including a large envelope of my old paper dolls. I smiled like a complete idiot and embraced my inner child.  I pulled out each doll with all their clothes and instantly began to remember how they once let my imagination run free with interesting characters and plot lines.  Even when my age was a single digit – I was making up stories!

Paper dolls were among my favorite toys for a number of reasons: 1) I could afford them on my allowance. 2) I loved the hands-on process of punching them out.  I can still hear the sound of the perforated edges “popping” 3)  I could change their clothes much faster than the standard doll. Faster wardrobe changes meant I could get through the story I made up before I forgot how it ended.

Above:  The Heart Family paper doll set.  Awwww, I loved playing with this family.  I remember how I always had the little kids playing hide and seek with the parents.

Above: Teddy Bear Family, (Western Publishing, Co.).  This remains my favorite set of paper dolls. Not only are the bears adorable, but these were made in a unique way.  All the fabric for the clothing and the bears was photographed instead of drawn to give everything a more realistic appearance of texture.  My bear family did everything from family picnics to trips to the lake!

Above: Maxie and Barbie & The Rockers.  The fun thing about these is I still have the matching standard 11½” dolls! Barbie and her short-lived rival Maxie provided endless hours of make-believe magic. In particular, my rockers would give concerts and lip sync to cassettes I had lying around, while Maxie was always on a shopping trip to pick a dress for her prom.

Above: William and Kate.  Apparently, I will never be too old for paper dolls.  While in London, I couldn’t resist buying this fantastic set of dolls and clothes.   Whenever I have a few minutes I sit down and cut out an outfit or two, (no perforated edges!).  It’s amazing how these little dolls are once again firing up my creativity.

The need to tell stories has been part of my personality for as long as I can remember.  Before I ever picked up a pen, my imagination was always in overdrive with my paper dolls, stuffed animals, and just about anything else around me.  As an adult, the storytelling part of my soul exists as a writer and as a history teacher (I joke around that I spend my entire day telling stories in the classroom . . . they just happen to be true stories!).   I take it to be a good sign that in both work and leisure I am truly in my element, doing what I love.  Even though words sometimes threaten my sanity, I am always going to be a writer.  However, I have to put some of the blame on my paper dolls!

c.b. 2011