The hobby of creating reborn baby dolls began in America around the early 1990’s when doll enthusiasts wanted more lifelike looking dolls. Since then, an industry surrounding reborn baby dolls has developed. Depending on realism they range in price from hundreds to thousands of pounds. Basically, A reborn doll is a manufactured vinyl doll that has been transformed to into a realistic looking human baby with as much realism as possible (it’s usually a human baby- but sometimes elves or chimpanzees may be made).
The process of creating a reborn doll is referred to as reborning and the doll artists are referred to as reborners and 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’.
Reborning involves numerous time consuming steps. The most basic form of the process involves taking a vinyl doll, adding many layers of paint, and adding other physical features to the doll. However, more recently, artists use a manufactured vinyl kit made specially to be reborn. New kits are always coming out regularly and they are more and more detailed and diverse. Making a doll from a kit is called newborning and allows artists to omit some steps in the creation process. Many parts are needed for both external and internal modifications of reborns to make the doll seem more realistic. Special paints have been developed specially for the art. The paints are applied with brushes and sponges to get as realistic skin tones as possible. Realism is the ultimate goal of the artist and the range of techniques and methods that are used is large and varied.
Once the paint has been applied, 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 superb skin tones on the vinyl and this contributes greatly to the final cost.
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. Some even have beating hearts; little devices that allow you to “hear” the heart beat, or voice boxes, with short tapes of real babies crying, or laughing. Some have fat pockets for that squishy baby feel, and others have baby powder scent packets added. Many have magnetic or putty pacifiers.
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’.