The Art of Reborn Dolls
More and more doll collectors are embracing a market that produces realistic baby dolls. The creativity and hard work necessary to produce the lifelike figures has been named “creating reborn dolls.” This article takes a look at this popular trend, explores its popularity, and suggests some pros and cons.
A review of doll history indicates that the Berenguer and Preemie dolls were the forerunners of this current trend. These dolls were the first of their kind to closely resemble human babies with their realistic expressions, body shapes, materials used on the outer surfaces, and other lifelike attributes. Once the desire for realism was sparked, doll artists began to experiment with laborious processes to eliminate artificial appearances. Discoveries of new artistic techniques resulted in more realistic enhancements for reborn dolls.
The concept of “reborning” is simple; however, it is a painstaking process that starts with a soft vinyl doll that can come apart. It is then stuffed for realistic weight and painted for lifelike tinting. All features of the dolls are chosen by the creator. There are many choices to make when creating realistic baby dolls: the color and texture of the hair that is individually hand rooted; the color of the eyes; the shape of the mouth; the shape of the face and facial features.
The process begins with purchasing a soft vinyl baby doll with the features you want. Kits to “reborn” dolls are also available to purchase. A good starter kit can be purchased for around $30, and an advanced kit upwards of $150. Berenguer reborning kits are the most basic. They come unassembled and simple. You will actually start by sculpting your own baby’s face yourself. Middleton Dolls, as well, offers unassembled realistic baby doll kits with the baby’s face already sculpted for painting. These faces are sculpts created by two well-known artists, Reva Schick and Eva Helland.
One advantage of creating realistic baby dolls is that reborn dolls are individually handmade and therefore, very unique. It is a work of art that when finished is truly your own original creation. It can be a very personally satisfying experience. “Reborning” may also be a way to represent a memory of a child by recreating a baby that stays forever young and doesn’t grow up. It may replace a child that was lost. Another rewarding aspect of the “reborning” process is purchasing clothes for the baby, or making them yourself. Creating original clothes adds to the uniqueness of the dolls.
While some doll lovers enjoy the realism this new technique offers, many are turned off by the idea. For some, creating realistic baby dolls to represent children, or to replace a child that was lost isn’t desirable. Too much realism by adding a built in beating heart or a breathing mechanism is going too far for some doll lovers’ comfort.
Although creating reborn dolls is a craft that anyone can do, it can be very time consuming. It takes a lot of patience and practice to perfect the technique to produce a realistic baby doll. A disadvantage of the craft for some may be that the process is too time consuming and laborious. That alone is a good reason to pay a good price for well crafted original “reborn” dolls, made by artists who enjoy the rewards of the laborious debate about how “real” realistic baby dolls must be in order to be enjoyed may be related to the age old question, “What is the purpose of art?” Do dolls need to be realistic to be enjoyed, or is it possible to use artistic license to create dolls that transcend reality, and are enjoyed for their aesthetically pleasing qualities?
Whatever one decides about the appeal of “reborning,” it is a trend that has caught on and is very popular. It is a trend that adds creativity and variety to the doll world, and as indicated by its popularity, it is making an impression on the world of dolls and doll history.
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