Then came photos with Santa, more Christmas shopping, trying to keep my husband's present a secret (it was a new bike so it was a big secret), listening to more Christmas music than was good for me, seeing old friends who live far away... it all became a whirl of craziness. Doldin and I both caught colds on Christmas Eve, which was doubly inconvenient because this year the whole family was invovled in our church's Christmas Eve service. The Precious carried the Christ Child as usual and also the gospel while in the procession, Doldin was an usher, and I was a torchbearer. That had me very nervous--they wanted me to walk around with a flaming candle in a breakable thingy on the end of a long stick! I was sure I was going to set fire to something or someone. But it all went off very well and nobody was hurt. Phew.
Doldin's Christmas present to me was a Kindle Fire! I have already enjoyed reading manga in the comfort of my own bed with it and am looking forward to giving the Sketchpad app a serious try. I may even buy the upgrade. If I make anything worth showing off at all I will be sure to post it here.
The Precious, of course, received all sorts of gifts. The one that intrigued me most was from my sister: a Barbie doll set from Bealls Outlet called Barbie Fashion Design Plates. The set comes with a pretty standard blonde Barbie doll, six plastic fashion plates that are reversible, a two piece plastic frame for the plates, three blank dresses, three markers, three individually wrapped transfer papers already in the right shape, a rubbing tool, three laminated mannequin shapes, and stickers.
I was excited to try this because when I was a little girl one of my favourite toys was the Barbie Rub and Color set, which I have since passed down to my daughter.
You can find it here.
I was a little worried, though, as these special Barbie craft sets do not always work as they are supposed to. What if the transfer didn't work? What if the markers were already dry? It was with a little trepidation that we got started.
Unfortunately I did not photograph the box by itself before opening, because it wasn't until starting the project that I decided to turn it into a blog post. So you will just have to see the pictures of the box after it has been unpackaged. On that note, I will say that there are a lot of elements to unpackage and some of them have to be removed with a modicum of care. Little children will not be able to do this on their own. However, it has been years since it was possible for a child to unbox a Barbie on their own, so this shouldn't be a surprise. Also, please note that this Barbie set is labelled for ages 5 and up.
The box makes it look so straightforward, and after reading the instructions, I found out that it is. You pick out your design plates, place them in the tray, pull a dress over them, lay a transfer paper black side down on top of the dress, put a little paper mannequin shape on top of that (black side up worked best for me), put the second piece of the frame on, then rub the rubbing tool firmly over the top. The first time we tried this we found that it took more force than my four year old could muster, so rubbing became my job. Be sure to rub multiple times over each area and do not miss any corners or those parts of the design will not show up. If you need to check you can unframe the top layers and take a look--it shouldn't mess up your design unless you move the dress itself out of place.
Believe me, I'm making it sound harder than it is!
The design plates, frame, and rubbing tool:
The transfer paper:
To my surprise we got a nice transfer in about a minute.
Then it was time to colour! As she was colouring I worried that the markers were too dark, as they seemed to be covering the black lines from the transfer. I love her choice to add polka dots, though!
Fortunately when the ink dries all the way, you can see the black lines clearly and it all looks great. I am really impressed with how well it all works! Except for the stickers. The stickers do not really stick to the dresses very well. But that's no big deal really. We're excited at how many dresses are still left to design! The set comes with three dresses. Ours were pink, white, and aqua. They're perfect for the purpose but I did find it odd that only one half of each dress is hemmed. The Precious never noticed that, of course, and they will get plenty of play time once they are all styled to the hilt.
And here is the finished (but still not dried) product of our first attempt.
It has been so much fun that I am tempted to see if there are any more left at the store so I can buy one for myself! I can foresee a lot of fun mommy and daughter time coming from this set and when we use up all of the dresses provided I think I can make more easily enough. And someday when the transfer papers are all used up, etc, the dress design plates will be fun to use the same way as the Barbie Rub and Color plates, to make crayon pictures of dresses.
Yes, this is a project for older children or younger children with adults to help them, not a project for a little one alone. But it is such a fun project with such nice results that I can't give it anything other than an enthusiastic recommendation. If you can buy it, by all means do so! And show me your creations :) I'd love to see them!