Alison Rasmussen has a fascination with the Barbie friend Steffie and the subsequent dolls which have been bestowed with this gorgeous sculpt. She has been so inspired by Steffie that she has amassed a huge catalogue of stunning photos many of which can be seen on her highly successful blog Fashion Doll Review. These photos can now be seen in her wonderful new publication, Steffie: Out Of the Box.
I was lucky enough for Alison to give this interview and offer her insight into Steffie, her book and the writing process.
DollObservers: What was it that first drew you to Steffie dolls and the Steffie face sulpt?
AR: Let’s see. I think it was actually a doll: Dream Date PJ. I grew up in Germany, and she was a little hard to come by in those days (1983-4, I think). I had saved up my allowance and babysitting money for a Barbie, and I chose to buy Dream Date Barbie… a gorgeous 1980s Superstar sculpt. However, my neighbor had Dream Date PJ… I was so envious! I liked her blue dress much better than the pink, plus she has darker hair. I think my fascination with Steffie started then and there. Actually, much of my current (Barbie) doll collection is a realization of dolls I didn’t buy as a child; dolls this particular neighbor owned, and I do now!
DollObservers: Why do you think Steffie is so popular amongst collectors?
AR: I think she is one of the most recognized, since she has been used consistently and frequently throughout the years. Even beginning collectors (who perhaps might not really noticed face sculpts) might find an abundance of Steffie’s in their collection–though that might just be because she has been commonly used since her introduction in 1972. I also think she has a certain sweetness (her not-quite-smiling mouth, perhaps?) that is reminiscent of the original (vintage) Barbie.
DollObservers: What inspired you to write the book?
AR: Being a huge Steffie fan myself, I searched for a reference book that featured a full list of dolls that use this sculpt. There wasn’t one on the market that has one of these, or any printed articles (that I could find, at least). I had all these gorgeous dolls in my collection, and I love photography. It seemed like a perfect fit… and a great excuse to add to my collection as well!
DollObservers: What has the feedback been like from collectors so far?
AR: So far, I haven’t received a lot of feedback. What I have received has been very positive. I haven’t received anything negative as yet, which probably means I haven’t been doing enough marketing, LOL. I sold at the 2012 NBCC (at Kathie Tilton’s vintage table), and the book was hot off the presses at that point. I’ve gotten some nice emails and a couple of 5-star reviews on Amazon. It’s been surprisingly encouraging. I tend to be easily discouraged reading negative or lukewarm feedback; though I realize it’s a process every author should do, with the idea of making the next book better than the last. It’s easy to take criticism personally, especially if it’s nasty or sounds bitter, and tone is so hard to convey online, I think.
DollObservers: What was the most difficult aspect in the process of getting the book written and finally published?
AR: This book was actually very easy to write and publish, unlike my first book, Ball-Jointed Dolls for Beginners, which has a lot of tutorials. The most difficult part was getting the photos to look like in print as they do on screen or at least to have them be acceptable. I used a self-publisher, CreateSpace, which is a fantastic print-on-demand service, for this book. The colorspace leaves a little to be desired–and while the proof always looked great on screen, there was always something I wanted different when I had it in my hands. I also (still) wish that I’d had an option for glossy paper but there wasn’t anything that I felt was affordable (I really wanted to keep the price down for myself and the reader) and that I wouldn’t have to stock myself. I actually don’t have to keep a garage-full of books–I just don’t have room. I need it for dolls!
DollObservers: What plans do you have for the follow up book/s?
AR: I actually have Volume II in the works, though obtaining the dolls has been more difficult. There are quite a few Steffie sculpts that aren’t pictured in Volume I, and ideally, I’d like to have photos of every Steffie ever made. Additionally, in the Out of the Box series, I’ve got a few more exciting collaborative works in process, including a two more on vintage Barbie, and two other books that highlight doll sculpts from another company–but I’d like to get approval from the other manufacturer before I announce those. I also currently have another in the series called Alice: Out of the Box, which includes dolls originally styled (and also restyled) as Alice in Wonderland.
Thanks you so much for this fascinating interview Alison. You can find her latest work; Steffie: Out of the Box on Amazon. Use the links below to check it out!
The Doll Observer
Hello! My name is Simon, AKA "The Doll Observer"! I am a long-time Fashion Doll Aficionado, creator of the online community DollObservers.com and columnist for Haute Doll Magazine.
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