We hear the word “reborn” a lot in the doll industry, but what is a reborn… really? In this crash course on reborn dolls, find out exactly what constitutes a “reborn” doll, the history of the reborn movement, and a few clarifications about the process of “reborning.”
A reborn doll is a doll that has been updated by an artist to transform it into a realistic looking human infant. The process is known as reborning and is very time-consuming and detailed work. Because of the intense amount of labor and craftsmanship, these finished reborn dolls can be sold for hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Reborn dolls are typically repurposed from manufactured doll or part kits, with the artist painstakingly removing the original paints and finishes from the doll before beginning their own process of reborning the doll.
Reborn dolls can be made from any manufactured, vinyl doll, but some are more desirable because of their already lifelike features. When selecting a base doll, artists will seek out dolls that already have human expressions, features, and body shapes. Paradise Galleries produces a variety of dolls that provide the perfect base for these reborn doll transformations at an affordable price.
There are several sizes for reborn dolls, ranging from “preemies,” or smaller dolls, to regular-sized dolls. A finished reborn doll can range from mere inches to the size of a small child.
The term reborn applies specifically to these one-of-a-kind, transformed dolls, but has become increasingly common as a term for all realistic-looking baby dolls, regardless of if they are one-of-a-kind or mass manufactured. People often refer to Paradise Galleries’ dolls as “reborn,” when in fact they are referring to their lifelike qualities, so the term is ever-evolving.
A Brief History Of The Reborn Movement
The reborn movement began in the late 1990s, primarily in the United States and the United Kingdom. The trend for creating reborns grew out of the longstanding tradition for creating ultra-realistic dolls within the doll-making community. Collectors and artists alike gravitated to the reborn movement as a way to restore and enhance dolls and incorporate them into this trend toward realism.
Since their initial inception, the reborn dolls have gained a well-established niche space within the doll-making community. With the advancements of the internet, doll makers were also able to create online communities that shared this passion for reborn dolls and realistic baby dolls.
As news outlets across the world began covering the trend, the market expanded to other countries and began including a much broader demographic. Today, reborning has been incorporated into therapeutic processes, has a loyal fan base, and claims magazines, books, conferences and guilds for its loyal followers.
Artists will begin the reborning process with either a doll kit or a completed manufactured doll. If using a doll that is already painted, the artist will soak the vinyl pieces in a chemical solution to remove the original finish. Doll kits are already blank with no finish applied.
The artist will then apply the new finish to the dolls, sometimes applying up to 80 layers of paint. This typically begins with a layer of blue tones to mimic the undertones of realistic baby skin. These painted layers are baked onto the vinyl doll and painstakingly applied to the skin to add layers of depth and realistic veining, rosacea, and other features of a newborn’s mottled skin.
Striving for the most realistic looking doll possible is the main goal of the reborn artist. At this point, they may even open up the nostrils and ears to provide a more accurate shape to these facial features. The eyes will also be replaced with either a detailed paint job, or with prosthetic eyes.
To apply the hair, artists will root the hairs individually into the scalp, or will apply a wig depending on the amount of hair required. Microrooting involves applying the hairs strand by strand to achieve hair that is extremely lifelike and will be styleable in the same way as a newborn infant.
The dolls are then stuffed and weighted so that they are accurately replicating the weight and weight distribution of a real infant. Many dolls are also given electronic features to make them even more realistic, like hot packs to make them warm, voice boxes, or machines that mimic heart beats and breathing.
Reborning is a relatively new field within the doll making industry. There are new techniques and processes coming out every day that allow artists to achieve incredibly realistic looks for their remade dolls. Reborn dolls offer artists the challenge of creating a lifelike, ultra-realistic baby doll using mass manufactured doll parts. Through extensive hours of painting and refinishing, these dolls are reborn into truly masterful works of art.