“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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2 thoughts on ““Forever Babies” Newborning/Reborn Dolls

  1. Which reborn doll can you feed? This will be my one and only doll so I want it to be perfect. It will only be for show on my bed and not for kids to play with.

    • Considering what your website address is (rebornsiliconebabies.com), it would SEEM you would know the answer to that already- though I do presume that you also know that you can’t actually “feed” them, but just stick a sealed-nipple bottle of faux formula in their mouth. There are a few ‘drink and wet’ models out- but get ready to spend at least $1000 on a cheap one.

      The dolls on your page look like typical mass-produced “collectible” dolls, which is what Ashton-Drake produces. They’re NOT reborns. They’re just dolls. ALL true reborns are one of a kind, and hand painted by artists – not factories. The info on your page is not accurate. Reborn collectors do not bother with dolls like Ashton-Drake. Ashton-Drakes are fine for collecting a rather basic doll… I get the idea you don’t have any true reborns.

      Reborns for under $60? Not a real one, unless it’s used, on eBay, and the person selling it has no clue what they are selling. I’ve had that happen; a woman found it at a thrift store. It was from a kit from Bountiful Baby (largest producer of reborn supplies/kits) and needed a little bit of TLC, but turned out to be one of the dolls I posted in the blog entry above- she’s in purple. The price for supplies alone exceeds $100- and that doesn’t include painting, labor/skill, stuffing, glass beads and weighting, clothing, extras (pacifiers, bottles).

      A high quality silicone reborn can cost as much as $3o,000.00 if done by Romie Strydon from South Africa. No reborn is perfect- they all have the assorted skin blemishes and blushing of a real baby if done right- and if you’re lucky the person doing them hasn’t made the eyebrows look like dead caterpillars. Some odd “artists” use Sharpie markers to do the eyebrows- and they look ridiculous.

      Silicone dolls are NOT the typical toy of childhood – childhood toy dolls are vinyl and/or cloth. Silicone would be too heavy for a child if you’re taking about a solid silicone, full-sized baby. Hollow silicone would collapse under its own weight- and I’ve never seen a hollow silicone REBORN doll… been collecting for over 45 years. You can get a mass-produced hollow silicone limb doll from China, on eBay. That is NOT a reborn.

      You might want to update your page.

      The listings on eBay for the Chinese ‘silicone vinyl’ dolls are not accurate- they are cheap vinyl dolls that have some silicone in the material mixture, which is so minimal it makes no difference, and they are essentially overpriced toy dolls, not for adult collectors. They do not look like real babies once they are sitting in your living room- and returning them to China? Not gonna happen- so shop for those with that in mind. I’m glad I checked them out, but the two I have are in the “cheap seats” in my doll collection of the early realistic dolls that started to show up in the mid-80s (I have more than 100 of those, and 12-14 TRUE reborns- a couple are downstairs, so don’t have the exact number in front of me). The first ‘reborns’ were made from those.

      Solid silicone reborns are very expensive as the blank doll (no paint) costs a lot more than a vinyl kit. Then it takes a log time to paint them, as it’s more difficult to paint a solid full sized, accurately weighted doll than it is to do parts and then assemble and weight them later.

      A vinyl reborn kit can be painted to look extremely real – and some have mouths that are more open. Magnetic bottles are also available if you feel the need to feed a piece of inanimate vinyl.

      If you want perfect, get a D-flawless diamond. The whole thing that makes reborns realistic is that they have the blotching, little scratches, birthmarks, etc.

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