Meet Gumboots Barbie, cousin to Malibu Barbie (R), City Shopper Barbie (R) and too many other Barbies to count. Gumboots Barbie was a rescue doll from a thrift store, an apparent cast-off from a girl who likely became tired of her or outgrew the Barbie stage.
I was looking for a sidekick (read: marketing gimmick) to take along on signings for my new book, From High Heels to Gumboots, One Cow Pie at a Time. When I found Barbie, she was buried in a pile of other dolls. I gently and patiently separated my Barbie from the tangled mess, and respectfully laid the other dolls side-by-side on the shelf.
FROM SILK PURSE TO SOW'S EAR
That wild blonde hair had to go! I would not have a blonde with big boobs as my sidekick at book signings!
My vision was a doll with short silver/white hair like mine—a mini-me, if you will. After searching online catalogs specializing in doll-making parts and accessories, I discovered the only wigs available in my color were made for large Mrs. Santa Claus dolls, and those wigs were curly. I regrouped and searched for wigs in short styles with dark brown hair, my childhood color until junior high school when the gray sneaked in. I found two available in "Barbie doll size," so ordered one.
The next project in the country-fication of Barbie was clothes. She couldn't accompany me to book signings wearing only a stretchy hot pink mini-skirt with matching skimpy midriff tank top! Uh-uh! I went shopping on Ebay and found blue jeans, a jean jacket and white Wellington boots. My gumboots are an olive drab color and I wanted Barbie's to match so I set out for a hobby and crafts store to get paint.
I ventured along the aisle containing model kits. My assumption was there was still a demand for military kits of planes, ships, soldiers and other war-related items, and also the paint. That assumption was correct, but I wasn't prepared for the vast array of olive drab shades. I swear, there must have been an olive drab paint for every war vessel or military uniform for every country participating in every war during the 20th and 21st centuries!
Looking at the little bottles that were about an inch tall and trying to determine a close match to my boots, I selected half a dozen. I rooted through my purse in search of a piece of white paper to use as a testing palette and found the previous week's grocery shopping list. One by one, I thoroughly shook the bottles, uncapped them and poured a small dot of paint on the paper while keeping an eye peeled for a roving clerk who would question what I was doing. I wondered how this looked to a security person watching camera feeds on his monitors?
Of the half dozen shades of olive drab paint, some were too dark and some were too green. One looked to be about right. I recapped the bottles and returned all but that one to the shelf. I checked the label of the chosen bottle. The shade was "World War II Russian Uniform Olive Green." Great! Would I have to change Barbie's name to Olga or Svetlana?
Another item on my farm accessorizing list for Barbie was a miniature bale of hay. So far, searching farm stores turned up nothing, but I had bookmarked an online site that sold them. Just on the off-chance the craft store might stock the little bales, I hunted down a clerk. She escorted me to the boys' birthday party supplies. Never would have guessed that one! I asked if they happen to also carry miniature hay hooks. No, they did not. Oh well, I already had a plan for the hay hook.
Once I arrived home I set to work on the boots. The paint looked good going on and even better once it dried. Not just a close match, but perfect!
Bill and I tried various types of wire, from baling wire to plastic coated electrical wire, to fashion a hay hook for Barbie. Some types were too stiff to manipulate and others were too flimsy to hold shape. He finally found a workable piece and formed the hay hook, then painted it with bright red enamel paint.
Time for the make-over! Using a pair of scissors, I scalped off the unruly blonde hair, then fitted the wig. The wig liner was stretchy so glue wouldn't be necessary. Good—no mess to deal with. The wig was styled with bangs that could be swept to the side or combed down to partially conceal Barbie's heavily made up eyes. I don't wear eye makeup.
Now for the clothes, I removed the hot pink mini-skirt and found Barbie wore permanent bikini panties as part of her molded plastic body. At least she wouldn't go commando! The blue jeans were tight and required a lot of tugging to get them over the bottom half of Barbie's hour-glass figure. I fastened the Velcro closure, vowing those jeans were never coming off. Unless she went on a diet, I would never get them back on her!
The Ebay shopping excursion hadn't turned up a farmy-looking t-shirt or blouse so, for now, Barbie would keep her hot pink midriff tank top. Fortunately, the jean jacket fit perfectly and covered it up.
I slipped the gumboots on Barbie's feet, feeling like the prince fitting the glass slipper on Cinderella. Voila! Gumboots Barbie!
The make-over was complete. A thrift store rescue doll was country-fied into Gumboots Barbie. And did I ever have fun! As a kid, I didn't play with my first Barbie doll this much!