One of the other things that interested me in this project is that I love the idea of taking something dirty and unwanted and making it beautiful again. To me, it's a good reminder of what Christ does with us when we believe in Him and let Him into our lives. I love starting with a messy, bedraggled doll that seems to have seen her last playdate and finishing with a princess ready to grace a gift box under the Christmas tree.
So,do you have well-loved Barbies laying around the house? The type with tangled, messy hair that seem a hopeless cause? Have you ever wished they could be as good as new again? If so, then this is the post for you. I'll give you some ideas on how to give your Barbie a new lease on life. :) You can even take it a step further and fix them up to sell, like I do. When I started this a few years ago, I did a lot of online research, did some trial and error, and have now come up with the method I'm going to share with you today.
Before we start, I'd like to forewarn you that this post will have lots of naked Barbie pics. If this is offensive to you, you might want to skip it. It's just impossible to keep them clothed while doing all this. If you're a mom, you're most likely used to having tons of naked Barbie dolls laying around, so you shouldn't have a problem. :)
The other thing I wanted to mention is that I realized as I got ready to do this post that I didn't take any before pics of the current dolls I'm working on. As a result, there will be a few pics from past Barbie projects mixed in here and there to give you a better idea of how I do things.
CHRISTMAS BARBIE PROJECT
You will need:
- a well-loved Barbie
- fabric softener, unscented or with a mild scent
- a plastic Barbie brush
- several dish towels
- white tissue paper cut into small rectangles (about 4-5 inches long and at least 2 inches wide)
- small drinking straws, cut into about 4 pieces each
- lots of standard sized bobby pins
- 2 medium sized mixing bowls
-water (boiling and cold)
- LOTS of patience! :)
If you purchase your doll from a thrift store, it's always a good idea to give it a good cleaning (you never know how many grubby little hands have touched it before you). I typically use Clorox or Lysol wipes (gently), just to make sure all the vinyl is clean. I don't know if this is recommended or not, but so far it hasn't given me any problems. You can also use a Magic Eraser on the face, arms or torso if there are marks you need to get rid of. I don't normally use a Magic Eraser on Barbie legs. It doesn't seem to help much, and the eraser ends up tearing because the leg vinyl is so much stickier.
Once you've cleaned your doll, the next step is the Downy (or off-brand) Dunk. I've found that tall Tupperware type containers filled around half-way full work the best. Then I can turn the doll upside down, bend her legs behind her, and balance her over the edge.
The dolls in front had longer hair, so I used a long, narrow container for them instead.Every other time I've done this, I've used full fabric softener with no water. I've always used the Wal-mart or Winco brand in a nice mild scent. This time around, I couldn't find my normal brand, so I used Ultra Gain fabric softener in the Spring Lavender scent. It had a nice smell, but it was so overpowering that I ended up adding water to it. I didn't want my customers gagging when they smelled their Barbie's hair. Sorry, for those of you who want exact measurements, I just added a little water. I didn't measure how much. :}
I usually let the Barbies soak for at least 3 or 4 hours. If you have a Barbie with extremely tangled hair, you may even want to let them soak overnight. When they've thoroughly soaked, it's time for the next step.
Spread a dish towel out on the counter beside your sink. Carefully move the fabric softener container (with the Barbie or Barbies still in it) over to the sink as well, preferably not right next to the dish towel. One at a time, take the Barbies out. Holding the doll with one hand, gently form a circle with your other hand around her hair just behind her scalp and carefully slide your hand down the length of her hair. This will get rid of some of the excess fabric softener that is still there. Gently brush her hair with the plastic Barbie brush BEFORE rinsing the fabric softener out. I typically use a Barbie brush with more space between the tines, like the one in the pic below (you can see another pic of this in the pic of my workstation below, next to a more typical pink Barbie brush). This makes brushing the hair easier and can help you not pull out as much hair.
Normally I don't like using curly-haired Barbies, but I loved the face on this one. Her hair actually turned out great! I'm going to let it air dry and call it good. :)
Can you see the pink and white brushes at the bottom of the table that I was talking about earlier?
Barbie in the ice waterWhen that's finished, carefully blot some of the excess water from her hair with the dish towel and put her in her drying spot. If you're doing more than one Barbie, you can work up a pretty spiffy assembly line here, and have one Barbie in the boiling water with one hand and another Barbie in the ice water at the same time with your other hand (sorry, I don't have a picture of that...I needed a third hand). :)
Here are my dolls with their curlers taken out.