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The Wonderful World of Reborn Baby Dolls

Updated on July 12, 2015
Wonderful reborn babies from Little Munchkins Nursery.
Wonderful reborn babies from Little Munchkins Nursery. | Source

Reborn Doll Beginnings

The beginning of reborn doll making was a subtle one that happened sometime in the 1990's. Whomever made that first doll that started the reborn craze is unknown, but it the reason behind it is known. A desire for more realistic baby dolls started it all and that is still the focus today.

At the time (and still going on today) reborn dolls were made by taking preexisting dolls and changing them. Their outfits were removed, their painting stripped off of them, hair unplugged, and head and limbs pulled off. The next steps were to fully repaint the doll in several layers, and then replug the hair. The end result was of course a reborn doll with striking similarities to a real baby.

It was clearly such a likable result that it spread about the US and into the UK, and then onward about the world. Since then the techniques has become more and more complex, the tools more available, and the results even more real.

The Debate Over Reborn Dolls

The creation of reborn dolls has not been without problems. As people began to seek out these dolls many turned to them for comfort. This includes women who have lost a child, have empty nest syndrome, and those seeking adoptions for one reason or another. There have also been incidents with the police where reborn dolls have been sitting in cars and mistaken for real babies in need of rescue.

The real debate has been about whether or not the use of reborn dolls is therapeutic or harmful to those who use them for comfort. In the extremes these women pretend the dolls are real, changing their clothes and diapers regularly, using car seats to take them out shopping, pushing them in strollers, and having complete daily routines with them. Many of them don't get out of this routine which in turn makes it questionable as to its therapeutic value.

A reborn berenguer doll that was store bought and stripped of all its paint.
A reborn berenguer doll that was store bought and stripped of all its paint. | Source

The Art of Reborning

So, are you wondering just how to go about making a reborn doll for yourself? It is a complex process depending on the realism you intend to achieve, and it is not a quick nor easy thing either. It can take many hours depending on your method, for some even 40+ hours.

Now going into a complete tutorial is out of the scope of this article, but I can give you an idea of what is in store for you if you chose to pursue this art. You are no longer required to buy premade dolls and strip them down like in the old days (although you can if you want to but it will take longer). You can buy kits for making a reborn doll that will include a head, limbs, and either a sack body or full vinyl body. You will also need some type of hair if you plan for your doll to have hair, and most doll artists use mohair which is angora goat hair. You also need eyes (unless the eyes are closed), stuffing, fine glass beads (for weight and realistic feel), and paints (genesis heat set paints for silicone are quite popular these days).

The actual work is typically done by carefully painting layer after layer of paint and baking the doll to set the paint between each layer. After the veins, reddening, and flesh tones have been applied the fingernails, eyebrows and lips are painted on and baked. Next up is the hair being carefully plugged into the head just a few hairs at a time (based on preference) with a small needle like tool. Once hair is complete it is onto the eyes which requires cutting into the back of the eye sockets from inside the head so that the eyes can be pushed into place. At this point some people choose to drill the nostril holes open with tiny drill bits before placing a purple or similar toned felt behind the nose inside the head. Last but not least, the doll is stuffed with stuffing and fine glass beads before being assembled.

The doll is typically dressed and posed for photos to present to potential buyers. Some also choose to create birth certificates for their reborns, and still more send the doll to their new owners with an assortment of items like bottles, diapers, pacifiers, and more! If your work is good enough you may even attract the attention of collectors who may want to not only buy your current doll, but buy some of your future dolls as well.

Reborn Doll Maddie Mae from Little Munchkins Nursery.
Reborn Doll Maddie Mae from Little Munchkins Nursery. | Source

Where To Find A Reborn Doll

Perhaps reborning is not for you or maybe you are simply just in the market for a reborn doll to buy. You are in luck! There are numerous places to buy them including fairs and other similar events. You can also purchase them online on sites like ebay, or from sites made by the artists themselves which are typically dubbed 'nurseries'.

One such place online to buy reborn dolls is http://www.littlemunchkinsnursery.com . Here you can find a number of reborn dolls for sale and usually new ones appear frequently.

Final Note

I hope that I have done my job well and given you a great introduction into the wonderful world of reborn dolls. It truly is a fabulous art and one that is not likely to fade into obscurity anytime soon. So whether you are interested in becoming a reborn doll artist yourself or simply want to begin your own collection of beautiful reborn dolls I wish you well in your endeavors!

How do you feel about reborn dolls?

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© 2015 Michael Wyant

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