Lake George native thrives making jewelry from Barbie doll body parts

By Hannah Hughes, Chronicle Summer Staff

With the Barbie movie breaking box office records, Lake George native Margaux Lange is thriving, too.

Ms. Lange, who lives now in Beacon, N.Y., has been making jewelry from Barbie body parts for around 23 years.

“I’ve been making Barbie jewelry for a long, long time,” she told The Chronicle. “There’s always been a niche for it, but now with the Barbie Movie it’s even more. It’s awesome, I love it.”

Ms. Lange sells her earrings, pins, brooches, necklaces and more through her own website, and she is also represented by Gallery 2052 in Chicago.

Most items on her own site, where prices range from $120 to $450, are currently sold out. At the Chicago website, prices for Ms. Lange’s jewelry range from $170 to $1,600 for a Lip Stitch Bracelet; three of eight featured items are also sold out.

“I’ve had a relationship with Barbie since I was tiny,” Ms. Lange said. “I was obsessed with the doll as a kid…I would craft little miniature details for her world out of everything and anything that I could find.

“I was drawn to her just naturally as a child and then later as a subject. Once I started looking more critically at what she represented, she became interesting to me in a different way, so that’s when I started exploring her in my work.”

“Barbie has proven she has staying power, she’s not going away,” said Margaux. “I find her endlessly inspiring as a subject and as a material.”

She says, “Everyone’s experience with her is unique, and personal, and varied. Therein lies her value.”

Ms. Lange started early making jewelry. “Lake George High School…had the materials for jewelry making and the teachers knew how to teach it,” she said. “So I took some really basic, intro level jewelry courses there.”

She went on to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, receiving her Fine Arts degree with a concentration in metalworking and jewelry making.

She also credits her parents Joan and Mark Lange. “My mother still lives in Lake George (born and raised) and my dad grew up in Glens Falls and Lake George but is now deceased. My dad was a prolific graphic designer who owned a firm in Glens Falls for many years (Lange Design.),” she replied via email.

“My parents have encouraged my creativity for as long as I can remember. After I graduated from college they helped me set up my very first metalsmithing studio in the basement of their house. I’ll always be grateful for their support and trust.

Ms. Lange’s jewelry draws mixed reactions as she utilizes body parts from Barbie dolls.

“I’ve heard everything you can possibly imagine, positive and negative,” she says. “People have very strong feelings about Barbie, she’s polarizing as a subject in general.

“There are some that cannot separate the plastic from the human, and see [my work] as gruesome.”

For others, “it really feeds like a sense of nostalgia for them. They get to relive their childhood in a way that makes it special.”

Ms. Lange says she sources the parts she uses second-hand. They’ve “had a life in the hands of a child,” as that’s important to the jewelry’s conceptual nature.

The pieces are handmade, down to the fabrication of the metal and pigmentation of the resin.

And just like Barbie, Ms. Lange doesn’t see her business going out of style anytime soon. “I plan to continue making this work… for as long as I can,” she said. “It’s what I’ve become known for in the art jewelry world.”

You can find Ms. Lange’s work on her website, www.margauxlange.com.

She is also selling her work via Gallery 2052 in Chicago. Find them at: www.gallerytwentyfiftytwo.com.

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