Introduction: How to Convert Barbie Into Wonder Woman!
Back in the day I played with Barbie and her politically correct friends. But, really, she can't lift a feather next to Wonder Woman, the six-foot-tall Amazon superheroine who is "beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, stronger than Hercules, and swifter than Mercury," according to her comics. Noticing that Barbie and Wonder Woman share the same figure (though Barbie could lift some weights), I thought, why not give Barbie an upgrade?
I now know that Mattel already has several Wonder Woman Barbie dolls. See [http://www.barbiecollector.com//images/showcase/products/24638_9993_main.jpg 1999], 2005, and soon to come Oct. 2008. But who wants to pay for collector's items or wait until October? That doesn't feel right if you're a DIY-er, anyway. Besides, I see things I'd want to change in each of those boxed Wonder Women.
At any rate, this is a good chance to try some Barbie modification.
Step 1: Here She Comes... Miss Imitation Wonder Woman
First up is to find the right doll. I already had some old Barbie dolls sitting in storage, so I checked those out first. Try to get as close to the image of Wonder Woman as you can (or want). Now, this can vary depending on the version of drawing you pick. I've provided a few images below. On a side note, here's a blog discussing her portrayal over time (more character than illustration, but still helpful).
In the end, I found several Barbies that could fit the bill, each with different strengths, so I decided to make the most of each contestant in the 2008 Imitation Wonder Woman Pageant.
Ballerina Barbie Pros: opposable limbs, blue eyes, "diamond" earrings. Cons: blond hair
Casual Dog-walker? Barbie Pros: narrower blue eyes. Cons: blond hair
School Teacher Barbie Pros: dark hair, red lips. Cons: brown eyes, molded with one bent arm and one straight arm, tan skin tone.
Step 2: We Are Here to Mourn the Dyeing of Blond Hair...
Contestants one and two need to lose the golden tresses and make way for Wondy's beautiful black mane. Barbie hair is synthetic and non-porous, meaning it probably won't hold on to human hair dye, or might even melt under it. Searching the internet, I only found a couple easy methods of color altering: permanent marker and acrylic paint. Both methods might make the hair stiffer, but let's give them a shot.
I used the ballerina for permanent marker coloring. Basically, you take a black Sharpie and color the hair from root to tip. Having hair clips of the banana variety helps to separate each row of Barbie's hair. This process is extremely time-consuming. Be careful about the fumes; don't get dizzy. Other downsides: The hairs you can't help but miss give her a graying hair look; the hair's texture is "sticky" and stiffer; it's easy to get smudges on the body. Oh, and the odor doesn't go away. I have a feeling shampooing to remove odor would lessen hours of coloring, so I'm not going to try.
Anyway, let's try the watered acrylic paint method on the dog-walker using these directions here. I didn't use Liquitex brand acrylic paint, and I used a fine comb instead of a flea comb. I much more strongly suggest this method of dying hair. For one, her hair is fairly soft afterward, and no odor! The downside is that the black is a little silvery. This contestant is a more "mature" Wonder Woman, okay? Also, if you want to try to achieve the blue-black hair she sometimes has, you might try mixing in some blue, or coloring an additional time.
For the teacher with dark hair, I decided to change her straight hairstyle. Wonder Woman has voluminous waves. The remedy: foam curlers and spraying with water.
Step 3: The Eyes Have It!
Now that our girls have passed through the hair round with "flying colors," let's move on to makeup. Wonder Woman has piercing blue eyes, black brows, red lips, and dark lashes/eye liner. Two of our Barbies have blue eyes already! Unfortunately, due to accidents during hair dyeing, Ballerina Barbie needs some eye and brow repair. Remember: do not use nail polish remover on painted face areas.
I used acrylic paints, toothpicks, and a (really) tiny paintbrush meant for models. I used red, white, blue, and black paints. Starting with the lips, carefully dip a paintbrush or toothpick in red, picking up minimal amounts, and try as best you can to cover the pink area of the lips, avoiding the teeth. If you end up a little outside the lines, use a clean toothpick to scratch away undesired areas. I used this method for all the makeup. I admit I hit teeth on the first doll I tried painting lipstick. I scratched it then put a little white paint on the teeth using the same method. If you can't scratch paint away, use rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover. For eyebrows, paint black over the brown, trying to keep the same shape. For the eyeliner, I painted black on the top thin brown line of the eye. If you feel skilled, go ahead and do the same to the lower lashline and both sets of lashes. I didn't bother. For the teacher Barbie with brown eyes, I mixed two shades of blue: One vibrant and one lighter. Barbie's iris is usually composed of two overlapping crescent shapes. Paint the left one the vibrant color and the smaller right one the lighter color.
Hopefully your Barbie doesn't look like a clown, but I'm starting to see the Diana Prince in our contestants!
Step 4: The Clothes Make the Wonder Woman.
It's time for the most important part: the outfit. I've honestly never before made clothes for Barbie or any other doll, so I'm nervous as to how this will work out. For now, let's focus on the "strapless bathing suit" without accessories. We need red fabric, blue fabric, and some sort of gold fabric. My gold fabric was a wide ribbon.
The outfit I made was three pieces: red tube top, blue briefs, and gold belt. I first started with the top. The best way to achieve the right shape is to take the fabric and wrap it around Barbie's body. The top of her outfit has two humps over her boobs with a point in between for the W. Draw the final edges you want on top of the fabric while it's wrapped. An important idea before cutting anything: Edges fray, so cut at least 1 cm of extra fabric to fold back and sew a hem. In the back, I sewed a small snap button. You can also use Velcro, but make sure you sew it down well. For the double W logo, I used a gold paint pen by Krylon and drew it on as best as I could.
For the briefs, the steps are similar. It helps to know what kind of flat shape folds into 3-D. In the picture below, the top arc is where her waist goes, the right and left flaps fold back, overlap over the butt, and are sewn to the bottom of the middle flap at the crotch. Remember about the hemming rule, still. Also, I did not sew much of the flaps together over the butt because then the briefs could not be pulled on and off. Keep checking that you can do this as you work. I used Velcro to finish this piece. For the white stars, I decided to glue on regular white paper. I went into Microsoft Word and printed off a bunch of stars (Alt-0171) in size 18 pt in the font face Wingdings. I used the font format tool Outline, so it printed white stars outlined in black. Then I cut each out carefully using an X-acto knife and glued thirteen onto the front of the briefs with school glue, using a toothpick as an applicator. It might not hold up to rough child's play, but it holds better than you might think. I didn't put stars on the back of the briefs, but it's up to you.
I made the belt from a gold ribbon about 2.5 cm wide. Because the material frayed quite easily, I put tape across the backside before cutting. I then cut curves into the sides, leaving two points across from each other in the middle. The rest of the belt I left about 1.5 cm wide. Where the ends overlapped, I sewed another snap button.
Step 5: You Better Recognize the Need to Accessorize.
Wonder Woman has all sorts of cool accessories and/or weapons. She has indestructible, bullet-deflecting metal bracelets formed from the remains of Zeus's Ageis shield. She has an unbreakable Lasso of Truth that forces people captured by it to speak truthfully. She has a golden tiara because she is princess of Themyscira (aka Paradise Island). She has earrings that are usually red or white stars. Though not exactly an accessory, we've not yet made her red boots with white stripes.
For the bracelets, let's make this as simple as possible. Cut a piece of toilet paper tube about 2.5 cm going with the curve by 3.3 cm. Wrap it in aluminum foil, folding the edges onto the backside. Wrap it around the doll's wrist. If you want bracelets that are permanent or harder to get off, hot glue the overlapping ends together. If you want them to be removable, use a small piece of Velcro tape on each end.
For the lasso of truth, take some gold craft cord, yarn in yellow or tan, or uncolored hemp. Wrap about three loops in a circle about 4 or 5 cm in diameter. Cut and tie the end around the bundle.
The tiara I made was made like the bracelets. I took a toilet paper tube piece 2.3 cm long going with the curve and 1 cm wide. I decided to make it pointed only on top instead of pointed on both sides. Then I drew and cut curves coming downward from the center point so the the ends were about 0.5 cm wide. Then I covered with aluminum foil and colored with a yellow permanent marker. If you are able to, use gold foil instead. For the red star, I started with a red gummed star. That was too big for my tiny tiara, so I drew on the back of it a smaller star to cut and glued it on. (Wouldn't stick with saliva.) My tiara could be pressed into the hair and stay fairly well without attaching any mini combs or anything, but you might want to.
If your doll already has earrings, but not in the desired color, pull the earring out slightly so the post is exposed, but don't pull it out of her head. Paint the visible part red or white or whatever color you want. Another option is to remove the existing earrings using a hemostat and transplant another doll's earring. This may cause damage to earrings or the doll's head, so be careful. If your doll has neither earrings nor holes for earrings, you can try gluing a tiny seed bead or other small object to the ear.
For the boots, you need to find already made doll or Barbie boots. The ones I found were pink hiking boots, not quite as tall as I wanted, but they worked. First, using masking tape, mask off a stripe down the front and around the top edge. Paint the boot red with acrylic paint and let dry. Remove the tape and mask off area on either side of the stripe. Paint white stripes. To seal the boot, use clear top coat for models or top coat nail polish.
Step 6: And the Winner Is...
After all this hard work, it's time to see the results of the 2008 Imitation Wonder Woman Pageant. Unfortunately, due to physical trauma, Contestant #1, Ballerina Barbie, has pulled herself from the competition. After her dye job, she developed a few black stains on her body that marred her confidence. As if that weren't enough, one of her eyebrows was removed by an inexperienced makeup artist. Also, she did not qualify for the costume round because she is slightly curvier than the other contestants. We wish her a speedy recovery and hope she does not develop an eating disorder.
Down to Contestant #2, Dog-walker Barbie, and Contestant #3, Teacher Barbie. The winner is... Dog-walker Barbie!
We asked the judges why Contestant #3 didn't win, and this was the response: "Teacher Barbie lacks a few important qualities of Wonder Woman. Her hair can't hold a curl very well, her hair is too long, and she can't stand on her own very well. Wonder Woman should exude more power than that."
The fact that Dog-walker Barbie won with her more mature, older look says something important about this pageant. You can be aging and still be able to save the world. Like Madonna.