Ever looked at a Barbie’s face and thought: I’d like to wear that as a ring?
Jeweler Margaux Lange has. The Beacon, NY, resident turns dismembered Barbie parts, such as eyes, lips, hands and feet, into eerily beautiful accessories.
In one piece, Barbie’s smiling lips are encircled in a ring of bright, turquoise resin to make an $80 brooch. In another, her eye becomes the center of a $1,200 pendant necklace, winking out from behind a swell of pink and purple waves.
The 39-year-old artist, whose doll designs start at $80, admits she’s been “obsessed” with the iconic doll for as long as she can remember. But it wasn’t until high school that she really started experimenting with her form.
“One time I made her into a carrot,” Lange tells The Post. “Her body was orange and her hair stuck up straight, green at the top.”
Though Lange has dabbled in artistic mediums from painting to drawing to photography, she always comes back to Barbie. After getting her BFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art, she searched for an idea that was “unique and different that hadn’t been done before.” That’s when she first took an X-Acto knife to the doll.
“The first piece [of Barbie jewelry] I ever made was a pair of hand earrings,” she says. “It just seemed kind of easy — one hand for each ear. Then, it grew from there.”
Lange, who took introductory silversmithing classes at her high school in Lake George, NY, searches high and low for new dolls to take apart. She buys them off eBay, from garage sales and from a vendor at her local flea market, who shows up with a selection of discarded Barbies every Sunday. Her 6-year-old daughter helps pick them out.
(Don’t worry, she isn’t traumatized by the mutilated dolls: “She calls them ‘ghost Barbies,’” and plays with them anyway, Lange says.)
Of course, Lange recognizes that her jewelry isn’t for everyone. “Some people are a little creeped out [by my designs],” she says. “They say it’s like cutting up a woman and isolating her parts, but I don’t see it that way.”
Neither, apparently, does Mattel, the California-based toy manufacturing giant that introduced the first blond, azure-eyed Barbie in 1959. Years ago, Lange says the company reached out — not to discourage her work, but to ask if they could include a few of her special pieces in a shopping catalog for collectors.
Although Barbie’s feminist merits are famously debated — is she a symbol of female oppression or empowerment? — Lange says that her own relationship to the plastic babe has always been positive.
“In my life, Barbie played such a pivotal role in my creative development,” she says. “However, I do appreciate that that’s not everybody’s experience with her. I like to keep my work open and have people interpret it as they will.”
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