Buying a Reborn Doll

I collect and create reborn dolls.  I often cruise through eBay to find used reborn to either collect as is, or to repair/upgrade them (they’re also USUALLY cheaper)…. and I have found some shady junk inside of those dolls.  And those are the ones that are actually reborns.  Many are just plain old dolls or collectible dolls that are mass produced.  None of those are reborns. They CAN be made INTO reborns- but out of the box factory dolls are not art.  Reborns are an art form.  Those who paint them are reborn artists.

What is a reborn?   A reborn doll is a one of a kind, hand painted collectible doll for adults. They are NOT toys.   It is not a factory made doll. It’s not a doll from Ashton Drake or Paradise Galleries (those are collectible dolls- and many are very sweet).  It is not a “handmade” thing with over 100 available from China.

It takes hours to make a reborn from a blank kit.  The paint is done in layers- starting with the veining, base skin tone, blushing, nails tipped in white, eyebrows and lashes, etc.  Many are indistinguishable from a real baby in photos.


They are then weighted and stuffed.  The weighting is done with fine GLASS BEADS- not aquarium rocks, steel wool, rags, newspaper, pebbles, or anything else besides polyfill stuffing.  I’ve actually pulled those things out of dolls I’ve purchased… and immediately fixed.  I personally do not like poly pellets.  They don’t add enough realistic weight, and take up much more space, without providing any real benefit.

Reborns shouldn’t have eyebrows drawn on by permanent markers.  There should be visible blushing. Every wrinkle should be painted.  Hair can vary.  I personally find human hair to be creepy- but mohair rooted one hair at a time is exquisite when done well.  The limbs should be filled half way with glass beads, and the rest STUFFED with polyfil.   The weight in the body and head is done by filling nylon knee highs with fine glass beads, and putting them in the head (so it needs to be supported and is floppy IF the size of the doll is realistic with that- so no floppy 24 inch and up babies.  Another  weight is put in the butt.  The head should be fully stuffed with polyfil stuffing. You don’t want empty cheeks.   If there is a magnet for the pacifier, it should be placed correctly so that the pacifier fits the face properly.

They are expensive. Just the basic materials cost more than 130.00 just for the very basic doll kit (others cost more), body, stuffing, paint, beads, clothing, magnet for pacifier, etc.   That doesn’t include anything for the time it takes, or the ability to do them.   Solid silicone dolls are much more expensive.   And they weigh a ton.  But some are stunning.   The ‘usual’ reborn is vinyl (not the same as silicone, no matter how many times the Chinese sellers on eBay repeat it).   I typically charge $250-350, depending on the size and cost of materials. That gives me about $100 for my work, which takes many hours over several days.

This is how they start….

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

So be picky.  Ask questions.  If your reborn doesn’t look like a real baby- and I mean REAL, then don’t waste your money.  Keep looking.    Forever Babies Reborns on Facebook is my page, and where I will post when I have dolls available (studio is being reorganized at the moment).

“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.

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. 🙂

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…

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’.

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 !

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 🙂

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.

Only One Diaper and No College Fund


This gallery contains 4 photos.

I started collecting baby dolls about 27 years ago.  I’d played with dolls as a kid (sometimes while climbing trees 🙂 ).  When I got older, I still liked the idea of a silent baby that never smelled. So I … Continue reading