A new expert interview series is starting! The Blythe community also includes people able to create amazing decors for our favorite doll. I was so happy and honored to meet the most famous interior designers for Blythe at BlytheCon 2011 in Portland: Angela, Gina and Lindsay. You know what? They are great friends too. Let’s start our series today with Gina. How I would love to live in a manor like her dolls!
Hi Gina! Can you tell us about yourself?
I just moved to Indiana from Maryland on July 31, both states in the USA. I grew up in Indiana and lived here all my life until moving to Maryland two years ago. I graduated from college with a degree in journalism and Spanish with honors and thought I would always be a reporter or foreign correspondent. After working at a newspaper for six years and working my way up to an associate editor, and sometimes acting managing editor, I left the newspaper for public relations. For the last 20 years I have worked in some form of health care marketing and sales, either as Director of Marketing for a hospital, or a program manager in contracts for a large not-for-profit. I still work for a health care system in Maryland but commute and telecommute from Indiana now.
Photo: Gina2424. The countryside in Indianna.
How and when did you discover Blythe?
Blythe first caught my eye in 2007 on Flickr. I create mixed media, altered art, jewelry, paintings and stitchery, and I noticed a lot of my art friends had “this big-eyed doll”. It almost seemed like the doll was their muse. And I noticed so many different variations in hair and eye color, faces, clothing. I didn’t know anything at all about Blythe and did not remember them from the 1970s. I had Barbie as a child in the 1960s and stopped playing with dolls when I was about 11½. I remember it clearly because my father died that year. So I missed Blythe in 1972-74 the first go-’round.
Photo and art: Gina2424. Mixed Media Art – 2008.
When and why did you start to collect Blythe dolls?
So I started searching on eBay and spent a month studying which one I would buy. I got terribly lucky because at that time I did not understand the difference between Neo Blythe and Petite Blythe or even Kenner, Takara and ADG. I picked Star Dancer in November 2007 and must have watched the mail and my email every day for two weeks. I picked SD because she has long blond hair like my daughter, Adrienne, now 28, and like I once had. I thought she was the prettiest one I had seen. She seemed reasonable at $116 compared to others – although that was the most I had ever spent on a doll! And she came with two outfits, which seemed like a real bonus- especially since I didn’t know then what size she would really be.
Photos: Gina2424. Star Dancer – Lilly London – in her bedroom.
She came the day before Thanksgiving (in America) and I took her to our family dinner with my relatives. My kids thought Mom had flipped! I started taking all kinds of pics with her, and went a little overboard because most of my pictures were pretty bad. Pretty soon I got a brunette ADG to go with my SD. I then started urging other art friends to “get a Blythe.” A funny story is Angela of Gemini Angel’s Art and Dolls who I kept nagging to get her first Blythe. Angela and I were in-person art friends first. Now we are Blythe friends and she has more than 80 Blythe plus a doll room. A dear Flickr friend became Lindsay aka Ellewoods. We finally met in person and roomed together at Blythecon 2011.
How many dolls do you own?
My Blythes have fluctuated from the 4-5 up to 15 back down to 9, and I think I am at 13 right now plus 1 Wonderfrog, 2 minis, 1 Nikki cat and one custom Petite Blythe from Neroli – a gift to match my Yumeko, a Neo custom, also by her. Rui and I have become dear friends and penpals and hope to meet her some day.
One of my biggest accomplishments was doing one custom myself. Polly is a wild purple curly mohair re-rooted by me. I also carved and painted her face, lips, lids, made her eyechips and chose her silver lashes. I gave her a beauty mark that turned out well. I never thought I could do something like this, so I am very proud of her.
Photo: Gina2424. Polly – Custom by Gina.
My current newbie and fave- a SColadolls custom, formerly SylvieCola Dolls. I met Sylvia at Blythecon 2011 and described just what I wanted. I bought eye chips from G♥Baby there and Zaloa27, and Sylvia created this special doll, Sophia Sylvia Sylvana Gina Maria Melaccacia.
You are famous for creating amazing decors for your dolls. How did you start your first project and what was it?
In late 2007 I started posting pics on my Flickr and my art blog, and joined some groups. Besides the Flickr groups, one of those was called ZNE Dolls, a subgroup of the ZNE or VariaZioNE art group, which is now defunct. I started chairing the art dolls forum there in 2008, and edited the ZNE Dolls blog. Because of that I started writing a column called Blythe-It Yourself (kind of like DIY for Blythe). The first project I remember posting was a 1:6 Blythe-size dollhouse storage ottoman made from a small cardboard ring gift box and covered with fabric and trim. I also posted about making Blythe-size necklaces and using designer key ring parts (like Coach) to make Blythe purses.
Photo: Gina2424. Lilly’s of London’ish is Gina’s art blog.
Since then, I have had a 5-story Blythe dollhouse called Blythe Manor, complete with a pool house with second kitchen deck and grill, a family room with lighted aquarium and wet bar, exercise and game room, computer room, and some girly bedrooms. When I moved to Maryland, I dismantled and sold it.
Petite Princess vintage metal dollhouse
Once in Maryland I met a great group of in-person Blythe friends, like Blythe_Stole_My_Heart/Momoko_Girl_1, my dear, dear friend Maggie Stimson. She introduced me to more folks and made me feel welcome. We had playdates about monthly and in-person Blythe meets or going to doll shows about every other month. I started compiling a new 12-room dollhouse out of 3 black CD tower bookcases: Blythe Manor II. I was inspired and it came to life quickly.
Blythe Manor II
Photo: Gina2424. Blythe Manor II fully furnished.
With the move and a new job, a new state and many life changes, controlling the tiny dollhouse world seemed to be the one thing I could keep control of when all around me was changing. Much was good changes, but with stress and long hours, Blythe Manor II proved to be a big stress reliever. It has now been packed and is on its way to Indiana, where I will set it up again.
What are your favorite decors among the ones you have made so far and why?
I really love my Blythe Manor II- all of it, but maybe especially the kitchen which I painted in black, white and yellow with lots of tiny realistic parts, and the closet I made with shoe storage and tiny air freshener. It’s just below the dressing room where I can display my tiny designer purses from La Boutique – Diana Weiler – another dear dolly friend.
Photo: Gina2424. The dressing room… is dreamy!
While in Maryland, I also created a four-room new dollhouse back in Indiana, for my Blythes to use as a “hotel” whenever I was visiting. So I’ll keep that and get the 12-room one set up again. I also have a vintage tin litho metal dollhouse like I had as a child, and have decorated it, too, with Petite Princess vintage Fantasy furniture from the 1960s which I also had as a little girl. I guess I am doll crazy. I have more than three dozen vintage Barbies, along with vintage clothes and cases too.
Photo: Gina2424. The Leesburg Blythe Hotel.
How do you find the 1/6 scale furniture and accessories and what do you make yourself in your decors?
A lot of it is old Barbie furniture, or Bratz, or even older or foreign dolls like Ginny or Jenny. I love taking them apart and spray painting them in mod colors. I like a 1970s look and color scheme, but I usually end up looking a little bit traditional/classic and a little bit eclectic. I love funky finds, vintage and some antiques in my real setting.
I also love garage sales (tag sales) or flea markets and of course E Bay and Blythe Kingdom. You know what they say: One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
Photo: Gina2424. The bathroom of Blythe Manor II.
I feel like I have made a lot myself, because I will completely dismantle the plastic furniture- unscrew tiny screws, etc., and paint various parts different colors. I’ve even been known to put it back together differently, or make it into two pieces and something different.
I have also used scraps of stuff to make: window blinds, rugs, pillows, footstool, wallpaper, towels, plants, lamps, suds, a clock, chandelier, a closet, bedding, artwork, flooring and more. Some of those scraps might be: fabric (obviously), cut-up place-mats, yarn, brads, buttons, fabric trim, bubble wrap, lids and bottle caps and such, straws, toothpicks.
As one example- I took apart a Barbie canopy bed- painted the bed and headboard for one bed room, used the sides of the canopy to make curtain rods and the fabric canopy to make curtains both for my walk-in closet/dressing room. Then I used the scalloped sides to trim and otherwise plain shower. The little plastic hanging beaded ball is used to make a chandelier for the dining room.
What do you like the most with collecting Blythe and what makes you feel happy?
Blythe has led me to so many wonderful people, on-line and in-person. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention another special in-person friend- Libby Sherman-Kuhn of PistachioLibby. She and her daughter joined me and my niece to visit the national Barbie exhibit at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum in 2010. Libby has made me several custom items, and I have a new batch here I haven’t even been able to “play” with yet, because of my move.
Photo: Gina2424. At North Myrtle Beach. Disco Boogie custom by Sookie.
I love making up outfit combos- I think it feeds my creativity for other things and my love of fashion. I love setting up a new room. I love getting a good photo (usually by accident). But the best of Blythe is still the people, and the lifelong dear friendships I have made.
Photo: Annethelibrarian. Meet in Michigan in 2010.
Many, many thanks, Gina, for sharing your expertise and experiences as a designer for Blythe decors. Your manors are both so beautifully furnished and my girls are green with envy!
Don’t miss any new decor made by Gina and follow her dolly blog: Blythe-O-Mania Untamed!