Barbie® brings out the worst in me, sometimes. This is a good example.
She’s not quite Toy Story, but she certainly is strange.
I replaced her torso with a cloth body, and reinforced the (cloth) neck so it will hold her head up.
Her arms and legs are jointed, attached at the hips and shoulders with antique buttons.
She is a new Barbie that I bought for this purpose, so she has bendable knees, too.
The reinforcement in her neck makes it possible for you to angle her head how you’d like, too.
Around her neck I’ve hung a “fetish”-type necklace that I made from glass and wooden beads, bits of fabric, and feathers.
She already has a few (removable) “Voodoo” pins in place. The next owner can decide what to do about that.
(I mean no disrespect to those who practice Voodoo, Hoodoo, Vodun, or any related spirituality. This doll is pretty far removed from those actual beliefs and practices. She’s more closely related to the tourist-y “Voodoo” dolls sold in very commercial shops in New Orleans & Salem, MA.)
In my mind, this doll was created to amuse everyone who’s ever shuddered or sighed when dealing with airhead blondes (by nature or nurture) who aspire to be Barbie.
I also say that with the greatest respect. In the 1960s, I desperately wanted to grow up to look like Solo in the Spotlight Barbie. Instead, I looked more like a very skinny Pitiful Pearl, for most of my teen years
Mostly, Voodoo Barbie was made for every mom who’s spent two weeks hitting every Toys R Us in the state, looking for the exact Barbie doll a little girl asked for, for Christmas. (Not that I ever did that, mind you. Ahem.)
In this redesign, Barbie’s cloth torso is a “normal” size and shape. In other words, the chick has hips. This makes her legs far enough apart to straddle New York City, but I like the effect.
It makes her look just a little off-balance and dangerous, and perhaps more normal… whatever that is.
She now lives in the home of a doll collector who appreciates this kind of art.
I have three more Barbies that I view with a slightly deranged look, on days when stress catches up with me!
Altered dolls usually (but not always) start with ready-made, store-bought dolls. They may be modified or even deconstructed to make a different art doll or mixed-media figure.
These can include anything from themed, customized BarbieTM dolls, to Raggedy Ann gone wild, to McD’s doll toys that are made into jewelry or chess pieces.
However, that definition of altered dolls is the tip of the iceberg. For many doll artists, “altered dolls” mean anything that even vaguely resembles a doll. This takes altered dolls into paper arts, mixed media, and beyond.
My doll in the photo above is from around 2002 or so. She’s more an assemblage than an altered doll. My initial concept was to create a futuristic Kachina doll.
The face and feet were cast from existing dolls, using my mold process. The torso/body was a clear plastic cube filled with opalescent Easter grass. The arms were a single lucite rod, decorated with feathers.
(Thread didn’t attach the feathers as well as I’d hoped, so the thread was also glued in place.)
That doll was small enough to sit in my hand. (She was one of several I made at the time, and all dolls from that series are now in private collections.)
Here’s what’s important about altered dolls: There are no limits to what you can do!
December 2011 update
If you’re intrigued by altered dolls, here are some more recent altered art doll articles to inspire you. (If any of these links are broken when you visit, let me know in a comment. Thanks!)
Altered Doll Assemblages: Using Up Your Vintage Junk. Creating Dolls Out of Vintage Junk I would love to be able to try my hand at making Altered Doll Assemblages out of vintage odds and ends. Like many of you who are …
Dianne’s illustrations look similar to the altered dolls and assemblages we used to make when I taught at Artfest. They’re quirky and strange and generally wonderful!
For me, those represent some of the roots of assemblage and altered dolls, going back to the Dada movement and maybe earlier.
Next, scroll down this linked article to see a few interesting altered paper dolls. I think this concept could be taken in very wild directions.
4, 9am – 4pm. I had a fun discovery today -. several completed altered paper dolls! 2 of them are Halloween themed, but I’ll still put them out. Here are 3 that I have scanned. The others need to be resized, etc. and I will share! …
If you like those altered paper dolls, you may enjoy the next examples of altered paper dolls:
Well I have never done anything like this before but it was so much fun. I didn’t know where to start really but the ideas just kept coming as I went along. What a great idea it is to alter a paper doll and I am pleased …
My First Altered Paper Doll – Love It! This month’s challenge at Craft Room is to make an Altered Paper Doll. Click the link in the sidebar for Craft Room Challenge to take part. I’ve never tried anything like this before and must …
Next, some art deco-style altered dolls at Etsy. What intrigues me is that the faces look like the ones I’ve made since 2002 (maybe earlier) using homemade molds. (The same kinds of molds I used for the futuristic kachina, above.)
I love seeing my ideas spread throughout the dollmaking community! (If you have other ways to use cast faces or other doll parts, please let me know. Leave a comment below.)
Create a garden that will delight children. Become sensitive to what delights children- smells, textures, tastes…Create a place for adventures! Friday, October 28, 2011. My Latest Altered Dolls on Etsy …
Now we shift to another extreme, a downright creepy altered doll. It’s one of Natasha Morgan’s stylish dolls, inspired by the DC Comic Book character, the two-faced Mr. Dent. (However, it’s not one of the creepiest dolls I found, when I was searching for altered dolls to share with you.)
Harvey – A Two Faced Altered Doll Portrait. Named by my Husband after the Two Faced vintage DC Comic Book character Mr Dent, I was inspired to make Harvey by a challenge I was asked to take part in on behalf of my …
And finally, returning to altered paper dolls and doll-related paper arts, here are some interesting and elaborate dolls & figures. (The website has music that starts playing on its own. If you’re at work, turn down your speakers.)
Hi Betty, I’m so excited about your Matchbox Dolls tutorial…thank you so much! 🙂 I just love them! …
I could have continued this list for pages & pages, but I think it’s enough of an overview to give you some inspiration and starting points.
The concept of “altered dolls” is huge. From altered children’s dolls (plastic, etc.) to altered paper dolls, to assemblages and found art, to cast elements and odd bits & pieces… there’s a lot to play with!