The reborn doll phenomenon started in the United States in the early 1990’s. As a market began to emerge for custom lifelike infant dolls artists using new internet based technologies began to meet the demand. What makes the entire reborn doll market so unique is that the new technology helped this area of the doll market revert back to its early beginning of individualized beautifully hand crafted dolls.
Although it is true that reborn dolls start out as mass-produced vinyl dolls, the artisans work and collectors desire for top levels of craftsmanship helps this new type of doll collecting keep its old-world feel.
Beyond The Appearance
There are several areas of controversy swirling around reborn dolls and exactly how realistic the doll should be is one of them. Although collectors and artists can agree on ultra-realistic outward appearances not everyone is onboard with going beyond that.
New innovations include adding mechanical devices that simulate heart beats, breathing, disproportionate infant body weight and even noisemaking. Critics claim this goes beyond the artistry of doll-making and enters the boundaries of chicanery and creepiness. Others argue that the point is realism and all innovation is met with consternation.
How Are They Made?
In many ways that is like asking a painter how he makes a painting. We can examine the basics and fundamentals but that magical spark of artistry is beyond words.
Although kits are now available for most of their history reborn dolls start as re-crafted mass produced vinyl dolls, thus the name ‘reborn dolls’. The first step involves removing the paint and some detail work of the original manufacturer. Although each artistic process is different this first step is fairly universal
Next the artist would generally move to the base coat application. This coat is primarily to achieve certain desired effects on the dolls appearance when completed. A common example would be a blue undercoat that would create a vein like appearance when the doll is finished.
After the base coat the real work and craftsmanship begins. This stage involves applying the ‘skin’ layer. As real newborns have a variety of skin colors, tones, textures and complexions so too must reborn dolls. The lighter the skin shade the more difficult this can be. Some dolls have been known to have over 25 different layers of paint to create the perfect realistic look.
Once the body paint looks right the doll needs hair. A lower quality piece might simply have a wig or a hat while a high quality piece usually has individually stranded hair that may take as much as 50 hours to complete. Just imagine how painstaking it must be to individually strand each hair.
Beyond the hair we move into the more individualistic areas of each doll. Open or closed eyes, open or closed noses are al up to either the artist or collector.
Other Social Issues
Although doll collecting has been around for centuries there is something different about collecting reborn dolls and it centers on the quest for ultra-realism. Some commonly held beliefs about people who collect reborn dolls range from people trying to fill a void in their lives to people with severe psychological disorders. There has been several articles written and even TV show focusing on this issue.
What Is The Difference Between A Reborn Doll And A Newborn Doll
Both dolls are aiming for as realistic look as possible the difference lies where they start not where they end up. A reborn doll is called reborn because it started as a mass-produced vinyl doll. Whereas a newborn dolls is sold as a kit and thus has never been a true doll until it is assembled and thus it is ‘newborn’
Unique Collecting Environment
One of the things that has fueled this new reborn doll market is the emergence of new internet technologies. For the first time small independent ‘mom and pop’ doll makers can reach out directly to the collecting community. This process allows for greater diversity in the marketplace and a richer collecting environment in general.