“Forever Babies” Newborning/Reborn Dolls

It’s hard for me to get out at all, so my life is pretty much in my apartment.  I’ve been a doll collector for many years (realistic vinyl), and when the ‘reborn’ dolls became popular, I really liked them (I have 2 of the older ones, that were basically a toy store doll with some weights and white tips on the finger and toenails.  NOW, they are very realistic.   They aren’t cheap, so I decided to start making them !  🙂   It is a hobby that is very forgiving if I can only stay back  in my studio area for a few minutes at a time. The process of changing blank vinyl into a realistic doll is fun. I still have lots to learn (like rooting each individual hair- no joke), but for only having done a few, I’m pleased.  I’m eager to learn more techniques, and even more realistic features.

How the vinyl kits start out:

This is the Caleb kit (first one I did).

This is the Caleb kit (first one I did).

The term ‘reborn’ is probably better known.  It came from the process of taking already painted dolls from the toy store, removing all factory ink and coloring, and starting over to ‘reborn’ the doll.  ‘Newborning’ is a newer term, and comes from the new kits that are blank vinyl- no paint to remove, so nothing ‘re’ done about it- it’s all from scratch.  The ‘kits’ refer to the name of the sculpt, and who did the original prototype for making the molds.

Here is my first one  (Caleb kit by Boneham) – I’m saving him 🙂

"Caleb" kit 14" long, 2 pounds

“Caleb” kit
14″ long, 2 pounds

Caleb kit

Caleb kit

The next one I did was a rather tricky sculpt.  I had trouble getting her the way I wanted her (or would accept of myself).  She’s the “Paige” kit by Tasha Edenholm.  She’s a petite little thing, and I had to get a smaller body than what was recommended, since she looked like too much of a pinhead 😮   For now, she’s staying here.  I have yet to learn how to root the hair (each hair is rooted individually)… so she has a cap on normally- she will probably be my practice doll for doing the hair. 🙂

"Paige"   19.5 inches, 4 pounds 6 ounces

“Paige” 19.5 inches, 4 pounds 6 ounces

Then it was time for a thrift store rescue I got from eBay (gotta be very careful getting reborns/newbornings on eBay- some shoddy stuff around there).  This doll is the Avery kit by Denise Pratt.  She needed some help with coloring of her skin, and she didn’t have eyelashes.  She was sold to a friend of mine for her granddaughter’s first birthday.  She’s one I really enjoyed…

'Avery' sculpt 21 inches, and about 6 pounds

‘Avery’ sculpt
21 inches, and about 6 pounds

Next was to redo a doll I had made for  my 50th birthday…. she was SO pale, but not any more !   She’s still cranky , however.   This is the ‘Taite’ kit by Denise Pratt…  I’m pleased with her coloring and ‘veining’.

'Taite' kit 16 inches and about 3 pounds.

‘Taite’ kit
16 inches and about 3 pounds.

The next one is a custom doll for the friend who got one for the littlest granddaughter’s first birthday.  The 1-year old has a big sister (I think she’s six).  SO, this one is waiting to be shipped, but is ready to go !  Her pacifier is held in place with a magnet on the inside of her mouth, and the other one in the pacifier !

Scarlett kit by Cindy Musgrove 22 inches long 7 pounds 8 1/2 inches

Scarlett kit by Cindy Musgrove
22 inches long
7 pounds 8 1/2 inches

When shopping for a reborn/newborning doll- consider these things… NEVER get a doll with beans or rice (any food) for weighting- they will mold if any moisture gets inside (even if just environmental humidity).  Glass beads are the preferred weights for most dolls.  They are very smooth, tiny beads. Open nostrils (backed by felt, usually) are also a way for moisture to get into the head, and spread throughout the doll body and limbs (which basically = expensive trash at that point).  Look for a lot of photos- if there is just some dim photo, ask to see more photos.   If they won’t show them, move on !  These are not meant for kids (the ones I sold have a clear instruction sheet that go with them).  These are made for adult collectors.  A child who is old enough to understand that they aren’t the same as toy store dolls can be taught to carefully change the clothes, gently brush the mohair (wig or rooted), etc.

Closer look at the finger/toenail detailing:

Details of finger and toenails on the 'Avery' sculpt.

Details of finger and toenails on the ‘Avery’ sculpt.

About the cost- for a very basic newborn sized (bald) doll, the parts and materials alone are about $125, minimum.  Then there is the time spent making the dolls (bald dolls take about 16-20 hours each).  Rooting the hair can easily add 10-15 hours from what I’ve been told by someone who has been rooting for years. Wigs run from $15-$35, depending on the quality of the mohair.  I don’t like synthetic wigs- they look and feel fake- I won’t use them.  The whole idea behind these dolls is as much realism as possible.    My belief is that early artists (such as myself) need to charge less because of less experience.   I don’t do silicone dolls (which can be more than $12,ooo.oo).  The unpainted silicone bodies are very different than the vinyl kits and very expensive. When they are done well, they are exquisite.  I don’t know many people who have $12K ‘pocket change’.  I try to keep prices reasonable- gotta cover expenses, and something to make a little money; so far I’ve done them for cost for my friends- she gave me a chance to get some sales under my belt, and I greatly appreciate that !

Anyway, this is something that I’m using to pass time 🙂   If you have questions in general about reborns/newborning, please ask in the comments- I’m still learning, but have a LOT of doll experience, and the artist aspect is coming along 🙂   I also have a  very new FB page called “Forever Babies Newborning/Reborn Dolls.  It’s a public page open to anyone who will follow the guidelines about what is/isn’t OK on the page (basically just being civilized and at least 21 years old- no teen angst 😉 ).  Per other reborn sites, some people take their dolls in public with them (strollers, baby seats, etc)… to each their own.  Others just like the art form and/or paint the dolls (I’m in that last category).  But all are welcome to check things out !

This is NOT a place to ask for free dolls (many, many teenagers are on many message board and chat type sites who ask for free stuff, and generally highjack the boards/pages with their teen drama, God bless ’em… my suggestion to them is get a job, save the money to get supplies and make one exactly like they want it- some very nice dolls have been made by pre-teens and teens ! ).

Anyway, I hope there are others out there who are doing this, or just like the art form of reborns/newborning.

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Sorting Through The Symptoms…

 I’m whining.  *** Warning *** I’m not chipper and smiley right now…

Read at your own risk 😉

This has been a weird few weeks.  Actually, things started to get worse with the dysautonomia during chemo for leukemia, which was fairly expected, but it’s getting worse.  Chemo messes with autonomic dysfunction, especially with diabetics, or those with previously diagnosed dysautonomia.  Add in some menopause, and changes in some medications/insulin- and the party just keeps getting better.  I’m tired of trying to figure out what is from what (fibromyalgia/chronic pain, chronic migraines, chronic headaches, reactions to foods, etc).

This past weekend (a few days after two epidural injections- one in my thoracic spine, and one in the lumbar spine), I had some horrific nights with severe leg spasms and cramping. Normally, I don’t have any type of reaction to the steroid injections, other than a day or so of higher than usual blood sugars, so I didn’t really think that was the cause.   I’ve had these  spasms before, but usually getting up once and forcing my feet into a ‘flat’ position, then walking around for a few minutes generally helps.  Friday night was like that.  Saturday night was a nightmare.  I was up every 45-60 minutes, with spasms that actually made the calf muscle (the ‘drumstick’ one) have an indentation in it (like a shallow dish) until I could get the muscle relaxed.  These types of muscle spasms are incredibly painful, and I find myself doing  sort of breathing that reminds me of someone giving birth on TV. Or acting like it.

I finally gave in and called my pain doc early Sunday morning – around 7:30 a.m.  He was very prompt in calling back, and heard me out when I  asked about serotonin syndrome- which he didn’t think was likely. That was good news (no need to go to the ER).   He did  tell me to not take the tramadol anymore, just in case.  I’ve been on methadone for pain for several months now, and had noticed that it wasn’t working as well with that original dose (which spooks me after watching people detox from methadone when I worked drug/alcohol detox.  It’s THE worst type of detox that I’ve ever seen -and I’ve seen lots of alcoholics, cocaine/speed addicts, heroin/opiate addicts, and benzodiazepine addicts- they have a ‘bonus’ 10-15 days after they stop taking the benzos, with another round of acute symptoms, etc).  I’ve been chicken about even taking methadone- but it’s a legit pain med, not expensive- AND, when used as prescribed, it’s safe. I use it as prescribed, and it still gives me the creeps.  I’m lucky to have found a pain doc who doesn’t just write prescriptions right and left.  There are ‘rules’ for being one of his patients.  I respect that.  At any rate, he told me to take a bit more methadone then and another muscle relaxant, and try to get some rest.   I did as I was told, and did get some sleep.  During the worst part of the spasms, it feels like the muscle is being torn from the bone- that has stopped, thank God.   Today has been one of fatigue- but no more spasms.

Trying to figure out what is going on when I start having symptoms can be tricky.  I had e-mailed my primary doc about the symptoms on Friday evening, and she wants me to have some lab work done, which is a good thing.  As a diabetic, I’m a little on the paranoid side about my kidneys.  The chemo was hard on my blood sugars, and I’ve got them MUCH better- but still some wacky ones here and there.  I’ve had a lot of peripheral and autonomic neuropathy symptoms- so that’s sort of my ‘default’ assumption when something is weird.  I get flushed, my skin is hot- but I can feel cold (strange for me), I get blotchy areas on my chest, and in general don’t look OK….

Dysautonomia episode w/ chest blotching, severe flushing, lightheadedness, and other symptoms that come and go with various intensities.

Dysautonomia episode w/ chest blotching, severe flushing, lightheadedness, and other symptoms that come and go with various intensities.

It’s hard to know if muscle cramps could be from potassium, sodium, calcium, or magnesium deficiencies (and those can get really bad- as in don’t make plans for next weekend, since you could be six-foot under by then).  Bulimics are very prone to those- and electrolyte deficiencies are big in sudden deaths from eating disordered patients.  But I’m not in that category any longer, thank God.  The peripheral neuropathy (likely diabetes related) in my legs doesn’t help.  My thighs have deteriorated, and actually shrunk (posterior thighs)- so they tend to hurt faster than before, after doing anything.

My blood pressure has been crazy again (directly from dysautonomia changes), and I’m going to have to start a different form of propranolol (Inderal), as every Medicare part D (drug plan) formulary I checked has cut out the extended release from the generic list.  It’s been generic for a LONG time- but now it’s priced in the ‘preferred BRAND’ category.  I have too many meds to spend a $42 co-pay for 90 days for one med (well, actually two- they cut the extended release seizure meds as well- but I do OK on the regular release form of that).  I already have to pay out of pocket for insulin and syringes, since getting them would push me into the ‘coverage gap’ (donut hole) requiring ALL meds to be out of pocket- which is a map for going straight to non-compliance.  And a non-compliant patient is loathed by medical professionals.  Doesn’t matter WHY someone doesn’t take their meds. There are a LOT of us out here who have to juggle medical expenses to be sure there are funds for the entire year.   Medicare is not free.   Anyway, the symptoms are acting weird, and some days, it’s hard to get much of anything done.  BUT, I still have so much to be thankful for.  I can still think, and put together what I think is going on so I can tell my docs the information they need to know.

Menopause is a special little treat that makes the dysautonomia worse. I have had a few hot flashes- and thank GOD that they aren’t the same as my general heat intolerance.  They are brief, and feel like fire from inside… I adjust the air conditioner (had it on when it was 17 degrees Fahrenheit this winter), and ride it out.  I hadn’t expected the ‘morning sickness’ from the hormonal mayhem, so Phenergan and Zofran have become good friends.

Oh well, done venting 😉   It’s been unpleasant.  But, I’m still living indoors, and have the blog and other online interactions (though the public comments on most sites aren’t worth the nastiness).   I’ll get the blood test done this week.  Onward !

UPDATE:  The Propranolol LA 120mg (generic for many, many years) is actually $77 per MONTH out of pocket.  And I have to have it.  I tried the regular release and all I did was sleep, get up to take meds, and sleep some more.  My life is limited, but being awake is one of the perks I do look forward to.