The Grandma of the doll community does really exist. She is real! Have you ever met her? She is beautiful, caring, always there to give some wise advice... I can spend hours watching her on Instagram hunting down Barbie bargains at garage sales, organising her miniature room, and setting her dioramas up.
So, it was with great pleasure that I caught up with Tonya for Dolls Talks chat.
My name is Tonya Ruiz. I have an Instagram account that is a miniature plastic parallel universe of my real life.
- Can you describe how you feel about your doll hobby in 5 words?
My happy corner of the world.
-Tell me how you manage to be a full-time grandma to your own grandchildren as well as the whole doll community?
I get up early, so I have plenty of time to do both.
- As someone who had a model career, what is the message to the little girls you would like to put out there to help them with accepting their body image, etc.?
I think we need to raise our children embracing their uniqueness instead of looking to an unattainable airbrushed or filtered standard of beauty.
- Your life is a perfect example of how God can save! What advice would you give to someone who is yet to meet Him?
I don't really give advice, but I love to share my story.
- If you could go back in time to when you were small what doll would you take with you and why?
I guess I'd have to take Grandma Barbie - back then there were no "senior" Barbie dolls.
- What/who inspired you to start your doll collection?
When we started our dollstagram account - we began collecting dolls that resembled our family. Then I kept adding to it...
- How big is your collection? Are there only dolls or have you ever collected other toys?
I have over 300 dolls. I also collect a few other toys - like Vintage Fisher Price Toys - that I use in my photos.
- What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started collecting dolls?
Probably pick a niche.
- How do you store your dolls? Are they on display? What are your recommendations
on keeping dolls intact?
Some of them are on display in my attic room. I haven't been collecting long enough to know much about keeping them intact.
- When it comes to doll photography do you prefer indoor or outdoor?
It's easier for me to take them inside by a window because I prefer soft natural light. BUT... some of my favorite photos were taken outside.
- What advice would you give to someone who’s just re-discovered their childhood hobby and started collecting dolls?
I would say choose the dolls that speak to you. Don't buy it because the dolls are new and everyone else is getting it. Dare to be different and have a unique collection.
- What’s next on your dolls wishlist?
I would love to complete my Happy Family Collection. They are so expensive online. I'm hoping to run across them at a garage sale.
- If you could get absolutely any doll you want, what would that be?
I would like to recreate my childhood collection - so a 1968 TNT
- Do you think dolls are a good investment? Or is it rather an excuse?
I don't know. I have never purchased dolls as an investment. I buy them to photograph.
- Do you think the doll community world will change in 10 years from now? And if yes, how?
Things always change. I would imagine that it will continue growing. I'm sure that video and photo technology will continue to advance and allow us to do amazing things.
- What advice would you give to adult doll collectors who have odd looks from their family and friends?
Just keep being yourself.
- Unbox or not unbox? (& Why?)
I unbox everything - but I consider myself a Barbie photographer not a Barbie Collector.
-Fabulous chatting to you Tonya! I love it!
All photographs are property of Tonya Ruiz and have been published with her kind permission.