“It all started because of my love of my granddaughters,” she said. “Last year they got old enough that they became interested in Barbies. And so I knew for Christmas that it was going to be a Barbie Christmas.”
Turner has two granddaughters: Mya who is 6 years old, and Abbie who is 3 years old.
“They both enjoy playing with it (the Barbie furniture),” Turner said.
To make the furniture, Turner uses ordinary, inexpensive materials in creative ways. A lamp, for example, consists of a cloth draped over a Dixie cup that is turned upside down on top of a dowel rod.
For two bed pieces — one of which is a bunk bed — Turner used cheap plywood and particle board.
The bathroom vanity she made is complete with small mirrors, little beads as bars of soap, and fruit cups serving as sinks.
Even popsicle sticks find their way into Turner’s creations. They are hot glued together and used as chairs.
As Turner says, “Everything I did I tried to keep it where it would be something I could do again without it being expensive.”
Sometimes, it is not even necessary to leave the house to find materials.
“Every time I would get ready to throw something away, I thought, could I make something out of this?” Turner said. “It kind of made me look at things that you were getting ready to throw away differently and think if I could somehow fashion that into a piece of Barbie furniture.”
Turner also draws some inspiration for her Barbie furniture from her mother.
“I remember the first thing that she made was chairs out of oatmeal cans,” Turner recalls. “So I just started cutting apart some oatmeal cans and getting some material. From there, I thought that I certainly can make some beds and some other things, as well.
“My mom was very creative. When I was a little girl, she made all of our Barbies and our furniture, and she could sew really well. She even made all of our Barbie clothes.”
As far as the tools she uses to make her creations, Turner says that “most of the time it was just a hot glue gun and material.”
She offers some advice for those wanting to make Barbie furniture: “Having a heavy material to hot glue onto cardboard or something is important. You need a good sturdy material to work with. You don’t want something that’s slippery.”
Other than a hot glue gun and an exacto knife, Turner uses inexpensive materials. All the sofas she makes are made out of heavy cardboard boxes and foam stuffing.
“You just look around at the craft store and you find cute pieces of material,” she said. “It’s trial and error on a lot of it.”
However, she also needed to research how to create the pieces.
“I did a lot of research on the Internet of other people who had made Barbie furniture. Unfortunately, I thought most of the websites I saw didn’t have quality products. I thought that my girls would have that torn up in no time. You have to make it where it’s sturdy because they’re just little kids.”
Although Turner believes the kind of Barbie furniture sold at stores is too hard. She says that children also need soft pillows and cushions.
“I think the furniture you can make (at home) is a lot better than what you can buy. The stuff that you buy is OK, but it doesn’t look like real furniture. Everything is hard plastic.”
And Turner’s Barbie furniture can be used with other dolls as well.
But for those looking to buy Turner’s crafted furniture, she said she might not part with them.
“As spring comes closer and more people get out for the different fairs and activities, maybe I’ll make a few pieces and see what people think of them. I know Canton has their First Fridays, and I’ve thought about making some extra pieces to take up there to sell. And if they don’t sell, my granddaughters will be just fine.”
Besides, every time Turner makes a piece of Barbie furniture, her granddaughters think they should get to keep it.
Turner is trying to show other people that making Barbie furniture is easy, fun and inexpensive.
“I think there’s other grandmothers or moms out there who are on a budget. At Wal-Mart, you can get a whole package of dowel rods for a dollar or so,” she said. “It’s so easy. And you’ll have the best stuff for your kids and they’ll think it’s really great. Plus, they like to get involved.”
Children aren’t the only ones who can get involved. Even after her granddaughters have finished playing with their Barbie furniture, Turner will straighten it up again.
“People accused me of doing this for my own benefit, not my granddaughters,” she says. “They say I’m having a little too much fun with all this. Well, maybe that’s true, too.”