Friday, March 27, 2020

Ella Fitzgerald - Barbie Signature Collection

Ella Fitzgerald by Mattel

Ella Fitzgerald is from the Inspiring Women Series of the Barbie Signature Collection by Mattel.  My doll arrived several weeks ago.  In light of the uncertainties of our ailing world, I have not been in the mood to write about her until now.


Details:
This lovely doll bears a close resemblance to the jazz legend who was Ella Fitzgerald.  She has black rooted hair worn in an upswept hairstyle with bangs.  Her eyes are painted brown.  She has slightly parted lips that are painted red.  

As Ms. Fitzgerald was a full-figured woman, the doll appropriately uses the Curvy Barbie articulated body.  


Her clothing ensemble includes a full-length purple gown that has silver shimmery accents on the fabric and purple tulle at the collar and sleeves.  A white broach accents the dress and matches the white stud earrings she wears.  As seen in this stock photo, her shoes are purple.  

Her accessories include a microphone with stand, a doll stand, and a certificate of authenticity.


The back of the box bears a headshot image of Ms. Fitzgerald who graced our earth from 1917-1996.



Back-of-the-box Description:

"Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do." –Ella Fitzgerald 

Barbie recognizes all female role models. The Inspiring Women Series pays tribute to incredible heroines of their time; courageous women who took risks, changed rules, and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before. 
A chance opportunity to perform at the famous Apollo Theater catapulted Ella Fitzgerald into stardom to become one of the most popular and beloved jazz singers in the world.  With vocalization and improvisation, Ella learned to use her voice as an instrument, and earned countless prestigious awards. Throughout her career, Ella lent her voice to people in need and her foundation, The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, provides aid to children and communities by fostering a love of music and reading.  With her incomparable voice and spirit of determination, Ella Fitzgerald earned the title "First Lady of Song" and the adoration of fans across generations.
Girls need more role models like Ella Fitzgerald because imagining they can be anything is just the beginning.  Actually seeing that they can makes all the difference.
Visit the Ella Fitzgerald website where additional stock photos of the Ella Fitzgerald doll have been added.  The website includes her complete biography.  Also at the website, you can listen to samples of some of Ms. Fitzgerald's popular songs and hear her angelic voice.

Other recent portrait dolls by Mattel that I own and have written about include:
Rosa Parks released 08/26/2019
Katherine Johnson released 05/2018
Ibtihaj Muhammad released 07/30/2018, seen here among non-portrait dolls
Gabby Douglas released 05/01/2017
Misty Copeland released 05/02/2016 (original review) and picture review
Ava Duvernay released 02/07/2015



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There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.
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Monday, March 16, 2020

My Twinn Beatriz Made Whole


This is a repoured, unpainted My Twinn Beatriz head in 05 complexion wearing an unglued wig.

For years I had wanted a My Twinn Beatriz doll.  I failed at winning one on eBay on several occasions.  Always getting outbid or giving up after the bid reached an amount that I was not willing to pay, 3-1/2-years ago, I finally had an opportunity to purchase the repoured head shown above.  After the head arrived, I found a suitable wig in my wig stash, and immediately began looking for a body to match.  I was unable to find a body until recently.  I hoped it would be a perfect match for the 05 complexion of the head.

The body, however, was a shade lighter (04), but I was determined to make it work.  My girl had been waiting on this body and it was high time to make her whole.

The Beatriz head on the left has the original 05 (or darker) complexion.  The same head is shown on the right after I painted it to match the 04 body I purchased.  The rim of the neck maintains the original color.
Initially, I was going to paint the body but realized it would be much easier to paint the head to match it, which is what I did.  Using wedge make-up sponges, I applied a mixture of brown and tan acrylic paints.  After painting the head, I blushed the cheeks with light strokes of a maroon-colored pencil and smudged the strokes with my moistened fingertip to blend.  I added lip color with acrylic paint as illustrated above.

After painting, the head and body colors match.

The body has a neck prong to add stability to the head and allow it to be turned in different positions.

With the head painted, it was time to attach it to the body, which has a neck prong as illustrated above.  With suggestions from a couple of people in the My Twinn Collectors Facebook group and the ultimate help of my husband, we opened up the small circular area underneath the neck using a Phillips screwdriver and an X-ACTO knife.

In order to attach the head to the body, the small circular area underneath the head had to be opened.

The neck plug was loosened up first with the screwdriver until the surrounding vinyl was weak enough for me to cut out the hole with the knife as illustrated next.

This photo was taken after the neck plug was removed.
The head was attached to the body after the next step was completed.

Drawing Eyebrows

Next up was the most challenging part.  I waited several weeks before mustering up enough courage to draw the eyebrows, and truth be told, I didn't draw them.

I purchased a package of adult-size eyebrow stencils hoping that I could use one to trace Beatriz's eyebrows.  That plan was aborted because the stencils were too long.  "Well, I'll just make a stencil," I thought.


To make the stencil, I cut out a piece of plastic from the cover of a Barbie box to trace one of my other doll's eyebrows onto.  I added a hole to each side of the plastic and threaded a piece of elastic through each to hold the plastic on the doll's head.
I like the shape of  Lenora's eyebrows and chose her as the eyebrow stencil model.  The horizontal length across her eyes from one eye to the other is the same as Beatriz's eye length, which is another reason she was chosen as the eyebrow model.  
Lenora's eyebrows were traced onto the plastic as illustrated above.

Beatriz wears the eyebrow stencil prior to my failed attempt to cut out the outline of the eyebrows.

I asked my husband to use the X-ACTO knife to cut out the traced eyebrow area.  He said, "You're making this too difficult."  All you need to do is draw the eyebrows on the doll with a pencil and use an eraser if you make a mistake.  (That's very easy for a person who can draw to say.) I told him about the human eyebrow stencils I had and retrieved them.

Beatriz's eyebrows have been drawn using the stencil I am holding over the drawn eyebrow.

Using the stencil I purchased, my husband said, "Just place the end of the stencil where you want the end of the eyebrow to be and trace the eyebrow.  Extend it over to this line in the center." (The stencils are lined.)  He took the stencil and drew one eyebrow, flipped the stencil over and drew the other eyebrow using an ebony-colored artist's pencil.

After one eyebrow was drawn, the same stencil was flipped over and used to draw the other eyebrow.

Drawn eyebrows

I'm not so thrilled about the width of the eyebrows or the color (I would have preferred dark brown and lighter strokes), but they will have to do for now.  The good thing is that the eyebrows can be washed off and redone if I desire.

After I made some minor stroke adjustments to the eyebrows my husband drew, I returned to my doll room with Beatriz where I found the eyebrow template I made on my desk with one of the traced eyebrows cut out.


Instead of cutting the eyebrows out beginning at the corner of the tracing as I had attempted to do, my husband cut a slit in the template that lines up with the corner of one of the eyebrows.  This made it easier for him to use scissors to cut out the traced eyebrow.  If necessary, now I can use this with ease to draw eyebrows.  Only one cutout is needed to make a perfect pair of eyebrows by tracing one eyebrow and then flipping the template over to trace the other.  He's such a genius, but if I tell him, his head will swell more than it already is.

Beatriz has eyebrows and her head and body are connected.

Beatriz's head was then placed on the body and secured in place with a zip tie as illustrated above.

Beatriz wears a stocking cap underneath her wig.  (I love her face!)

Before placing the wig, I put a knee-high stocking on Beatriz's head so the wig, which is a size too big for her head, will not fall off.  For added security, I might place Velcro strips underneath the wig and on the stocking cap. I have no plans to glue any wig on her in case I want to change the wig later.

Beatriz modeled her wig.
Getting Dressed

Several years ago, one of my friends made this dress for another one of my Twinns.


The dress has an Easter-bunny/Easter-egg-theme which Beatriz wears with infant-sized white lace ankle socks and white patent-leather shoes.


For the final photo, Beatriz posed with stuffed bunnies that I have used for Easter decorations.  I am so glad I finally have my gorgeous Bea!

__________

Click here for detailed information about the now-defunct My Twinn Doll company and here to see a lighter-complexioned Beatriz that was identified as one of the new African American and Hispanic girls at the time that web page was published.  According to Logan's Ladies (the My Twinn history link provided previously), the Beatriz head sculpt was retired in 2009 before the company closed its doors in 2013.

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There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.
__________

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Saturday, March 7, 2020

Extended Presale Date for Brains and Beauty Nia

Brains and Beauty Nia


03/31/20 is the last day to take advantage of the presale sale price for Brains and Beauty Nia for $69.99 + shipping. 100 preorders are needed to make Nia a reality.

Nia is an 18-inch vinyl doll with cloth mid-section. She speaks positive affirmations and her voice box can be customized. Nia has loc'd hair, which makes her the first 18-inch talking doll with locs!

Read more about her here.

Order Nia here.


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There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.
__________

Thank you for following, commenting, and sharing using the share button below.

Check out what I am selling here
Check out my eBay listings here.
Please follow my sister blog Ebony-Essence of Dolls in Black.
Donate here to support this blog. Thank you!

dbg


There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.
__________

Thank you for following, commenting, and sharing using the share button below.

Check out what I am selling here
Check out my eBay listings here.
Please follow my sister blog Ebony-Essence of Dolls in Black.
Donate here to support this blog. Thank you!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

First image of the Jean Michel Basquiat Barbie collector 2020 doll

Please follow the link:
First image of the Jean Michel Basquiat Barbie collector 2020 doll

Can someone explain to me why this doll is not male?  Is it inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat, a male artist who rose to fame during the 1980s or is it supposed to represent him?  Even though I love the doll, I'm scratching my head about the doll's gender.

Read more about Jean-Michel Basquiat, the artist, here.


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There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.

__________


Thank you for following, commenting, and sharing using the share button below.



Check out what I am selling here

Check out my eBay listings here.

Please follow my sister blog Ebony-Essence of Dolls in Black.

Donate here to support this blog. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Notecard Memory Leads to Discovery


A drawn child wearing an orange fabric romper is on the cover of a framed notecard designed by illustrator and fabric creator, Freda L. Thomas ©1991.

As I was dusting the items on the bookshelf where this framed notecard is usually displayed, I noticed the corner of what appeared to be an envelope protruding from the back of the framed notecard.

The corner of a folded envelope was visible on the back of the frame.

I opened the back of the frame to examine the envelope when I rediscovered the written note dated January 25, 2009, from the late Ms. Lillian Bartok of New York.

Ms. Bartok and I had communicated by mail over a five-year period at the time the card was received and for several years afterward.  Whenever she saw articles on Black dolls or learned of Black-doll events and exhibitions, Ms. Bartok would mail the information to me to share with others.

Unframed, this is the front of the notecard.  The illustrator's unique use of hand-dyed fabric for the hand-drawn child's romper heightened my appreciation for the artwork.
The little girl on the notecard has an expression that is similar to the expression captured in a photograph of my daughter that was taken when she was three, as illustrated in the next photo.

Daughter at age 3 in a photo taken at kindergarten.  The girl's expression and my daughter's expression are similar.  My daughter is smiling but not really wanting to smile at the stranger taking the photograph.

For years, the notecard was kept with the other correspondence received from Ms. Bartok until I decided to frame it in a resin frame which has my favorite Bible scripture incised on it.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:17.

The beautifully handwritten note from Ms. Bartok reads as follows:
                         January 25, 2009

Dear Debbie,
     The thrill of January 20th is still in the air.  It has raised hopes and answered some of our prayers.
 
      In the same week the mail brings me my copy of Doll magazine and I find several articles in this issue by one of our favorite Black Doll  advocates.  I hope this year will continue to enrich our lives. 
I must thank you for your contributions to the history of dolls and especially Black Dolls which as you know are African American history!
   
     Debbie, you are to be commended for really making a difference.
   
     I wish the NAACP would give you one of their Image Awards!  You certainly deserve it.
   
     Stay well and may God grant you a long and healthy life!
                          Fondly,
                          Lillian Bartok

The February 2009 issue of DOLLS magazine (which was probably in the hands of subscribers in January 2009), contains two articles I wrote.  These are the articles I believe Ms. Bartok referred to in her kind note written on the beautiful notecard designed by Freda L. Thomas.  The back of the card is shown next.

According to the artist's LinkedIn page, Ms. Thomas no longer creates these beautiful cards.

In 2017, I was saddened to learn of Ms. Bartok's transition.  Shortly after learning of her death, I made copies of all her mailings and created a tribute board that was sent to Ms. Ellen Ferebee of Morrisania Doll Society.  The board was displayed during a Harlem tribute to Ms. Bartok and other collectors who had recently passed.

The above text was part of a tribute board created in honor of Ms. Lillian M. Bartok.

While writing this post, I was pleased to discover that Ms. Bartok's dolls were donated to the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center (NAAMCC) in Wilberforce, Ohio, where the exhibition, Playing with Identity, Selections from the Lillian M. Bartok Black Doll Collection was introduced on Saturday, April 20, 2019.  The Facebook page dedicated to the exhibition reads partly:

Lillian M. Bartok was a doll collector who believed in the importance of preserving Black dolls because they show how African American identity has changed over time.

I can attest to the fact that she believed in preserving Black doll literature because, for nearly a decade, she shared it with me.  I attempted to contact the NAAMCC to inquire if Ms. Bartok's collection is a permanent installation but was unable to reach anyone who could provide an answer.  I visited the museum's Facebook page where the following three images from Ms. Bartok's donated collection are posted in separate status updates.






Ms. Bartok was a collector after my own heart.  Her collection illustrates the progression of Black dolls -- from stereotypical caricatures to contemporary dolls by African American doll artists.  There are even some playline dolls in the mix.  If you are in the Wilberforce, Ohio area, an inquiry and/or trip to the museum to view the 800-doll donation of Ms. Lillian M. Bartok should be rewarding.

Related Links
Scroll to the bottom of this link to see more dolls from the Lillian M. Bartok Collection.
Playing with Identity-Lillian M. Bartok Black Doll Collection

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There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.
__________

Thank you for following, commenting, and sharing using the share button below.

Check out what I am selling here
Check out my eBay listings here.
Please follow my sister blog Ebony-Essence of Dolls in Black.
Donate here to support this blog. Thank you!