What is Reborning and what are Reborn dolls?
Reborning is the art of transforming a vinyl doll (either whole
doll or kit) into a realistic looking baby doll (usually of a human baby- but
sometimes elves or chimpanzees may be made).
The person who makes this transformation is called a ‘reborner”
or reborn artist. The more realistic looking the doll is the more successful the
artist is considered.
Once completed the doll is called a ‘reborn’, ‘reborn doll’, ‘reborn baby”
or ‘fake baby’.
In more recent times artists use a manufactured vinyl kit made especially to be
reborn. New kits come out regularly and they are more and more detailed and
‘Reborning’ begins with washing and then painting the vinyl parts with oil,
acrylic or water based paints. Paints are being developed especially for the
art. Paints are applied with brushes and sponges to get as realistic skin tones
as possible. This is the ultimate goal of the artist and the range of techniques
used is large and an individual develops these techniques over time.
The paint sinks into the vinyl and tints it (like water colour paint does on
paper) rather than sitting on top of the vinyl. Some artists can create
exquisite skin tones on the vinyl and you should look out for this.
Hair (usually mohair) is then micro-rooted into the dolls head a few strands at
a time so that the head looks natural and realistic. For toddler size dolls high
quality wigs may be used. Some artists may paint the baby’s head one hair at a
time to get a very realistic look.
Micro-rooting a newborn doll size head may take more than 40 hours to ensure a
realistic appearance. Some artists can create wonderfully realistic hair rooting
pattern (painstakingly one hair at a time) including crowns and parts.
Eyelashes are either applied by gluing to open eyed dolls or micro-rooting on
sleeping dolls. The vinyl legs, arms and head are then weighted filled and
connected to a similarly weighted and filled cloth body. Once the head is
connected the doll is considered to be ‘reborn’.
Reborn dolls are used in movies and advertisements and as clothes models.
Physiotherapists use them for their patients and they are used extensively in
old age homes as older people find holding a baby very relaxing and soothing.
Just as it’s proven that pets are therapeutic in nursing homes- so are reborns.
There are people who collect reborn dolls because they love babies, dolls or
art. You will not hear them calling them ‘fake babies”. They call them 'reborns’’
or just babies and many people have a lot of babies in their collection (also
known as nursery).
The media try to make out there is something wrong with artists and collectors,
but that’s just media hype. The collectors don’t take themselves too seriously
and a lot of baby talk is tongue in cheek. They know they are not real and treat
them like porcelain doll collectors have done for hundreds of years- that is
with respect and admiration for their beauty.