encaustic barbie?!

Today has been a wax day. I finished up two encaustic paintings that have been in the works and I also started experimenting with altering a barbie with encaustics. Yes, that’s right, a barbie!

My friend and talented artist Patricia Anders is curating a show called Barbie Redux. As a faithful reader of her blog I saw her call and thought -that’s interesting and sounds like fun- but didn’t give it much more thought as I don’t normally work in 3D and would never think of altering a doll, if I did. But then Tricia challenged me to expand my horizons and give it a try with encaustics. After a couple of emails and her pushing me along I decided to heed her challenge and see what came of it.

I found two barbies in a bin at my neighborhood thrift store for 90 cents. I really only wanted to buy one, but thought getting two was better planning since I have no idea what I’m doing. I wasn’t sure how I would get wax onto her as wax on rubber and not good matches. I came up with wrapping her up in plaster. I also added some wire I had to form a larger surface to work on as well as to hold her up.


adding encaustic medium to the plaster

adding encaustic and paint

definitely not looking like perky Barbie anymore!

I’ll see how this turns out. If I like it, I will submit it. But if not, it was still fun to play with. It’s funny because when I was a little girl I was NOT a barbie type of gal. I was a tom-boy through and through. My favorite place to play was in the huge, ancient Magnolia tree in our front yard. I did have barbies though and being the youngest of four girls I had inherited my sisters’ dolls. But after being in my possession, their hair usually ended up being stubble or a mohawk or with their heads totally lopped off. I have this vague memory of giving barbies spa treatments in the toilet! ewww. My best friend though loved Barbie and would have to force me to play “barbie”, which I did not get. Asides from playing with toilet water, I guess I still have that little girl in me- destroying Barbie! haha!

{The art that you see on the wall to the left of the top Barbie are printouts of paintings of an artist who I LOVE. Jeanie Tomanek’s images make me still and quiet, yet evoke many emotions inside. I have her images up on my studio wall as inspiration.}

Edit: Adding this for those who are interested in altering your own barbie now- go to Patrcia Ander’s Blog and go through her archives. She has several links to You Tube videos on barbie alterations. If you go to You Tube and do a search you should be able to find demos too to go about altering a rubber doll. You have to do all this prep stuff to the rubber to get paint to stick to it. Have Fun!

a barbie link on Patricia’s blog


  1. SHUT UP! This is a totally better Barbie! she is over the top! absolutely love her! – geez, I need to muslin a B-doll! you’ve inspired me to try one!

  2. you know this would be a perfect entry for the “beauty and it’s opposites” show at montserrat….in fact i can’t think of a more perfect entry! (it’s a great day for painting….)

  3. I didn’t have any Barbies, though I did have baby dolls when I was a preschooler. Glad to hear lots of you were, like me, climbing trees and exploring in woods and not setting up impossible Barbie standards to make ourselves feel inadequate. I don’t think my real legs are as long as her plastic legs!

  4. I can’t wait to see how this turns out!! very interesting approach! and she is already looking very cool and mummified! thanks so much for posting this in progress! feeling inspired!

  5. I think you may just start a new craze with this. I played with barbies but I liked decorating her house and making clothes for her most. My 6yo Pajama Girl has no interest what-so-ever! I may have to scam one she got as a gift and try…but then what if the parent of the gift giver saw it…yikes!

  6. wow, that is interesting to say the least… I however, did love Barbie, but I’ve seen them at the second hand store around here and now you’ve given me some ideas–warped ones, I might add–but fun! I could stick strange Barbies in my flower garden. Yeah, I really want to see the final result, whatever it may be!

  7. I only had a “Malibu Barbie” when I was young. She had unmanageable straight hair that could not be curled (even though I tried). My sister was 6 years younger than me and by then there were hair styling Barbies and Sindies that she had a few of.

    I have always wanted to alter a Barbie in some way. I saw a young artist teenager in a local magazine years ago that altered barbies and I absolutely loved how she cut their hair into short bobs and coloured them black or bright punk colours and gave them heavy eye makeup. The smiling Barbie face still shone through all the goth/punk look!!


  8. This is SO much of an improvement.
    Maybe I’m just expressing buried jealousy because I never got one when I was a kid in the 60’s. I had Tammy (who had an adolescent body), Pepper(Tammy’s little sister?), and Francie. I liked Francie, but she wasn’t Barbie. Her body wasn’t as exagerated as Barbie. So my sister, who alway had a boyfriend and the perfect hair for the era, had Barbie. My hair wasn’t right & I never had a boyfriend. And I didn’t have Barbie.
    Hey, I’m perfectly adjusted, happily married nearly 28 years. But I’m so happy to see what you’ve done to that doll. 😉

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