What ARE Reborn Baby Dolls?
Many people still ask me this question, though reborn dolls have been around for over a decade now, in 2011. As a writer and reviewer of these art dolls, it is hard to believe that everyone hasn't seen one. It is possible, I suppose, that these people may have seen a reborn doll, but thought it was a real baby. They are just that life like!
The reborn artists and sculpt artists of the 21st century have a very specialized 3 D, photo realistic artistic talent. when you see the life like art dolls that they make these days, you just can not believe these baby dolls are NOT real. Gone are the days when baby dolls were all stiff and staring blankly; the baby dolls of today are cuddly and soft and their infant facial expressions are truly like a human baby. There are now hundreds of different vinyl sculpts to start with, some with character expressions, some yawning, some crying, others have a sweet smile or a mischievious glance that just melts your heart.
The materials used in the making of a reborn doll have advanced to the point where even the vinyl or solid silicone used to make the doll's head and limbs is soft and pliable to the touch. The cloth or doe suede bodies are usually jointed so the baby doll's limbs can be positioned in lots of different ways. Fillings used to stuff the head, limbs and body include fine glass beads, polyfil, poly pellets of baby fat and baby fat inserts for belly and tushie. The baby fat fillings give the baby a very soft squishy feel. Weighting is done to give a life like 'heft' to the doll and the materials used to give weight to the head and limbs are usually glass beads or rust proof steel pellets. Reborn artists used to use sand to weight the baby dolls, but this practice is now obsolete.
The baby doll's hair can be produced in two ways; the most common method is to micro root, one or two strands at a time, a high quality mohair or even human hair. The other method of giving the doll a life like head of hair is to use transparent layers of paint to create a 3D painting of the baby scalp and wispy hair strands. It sounds hard to believe, but the painted hair baby dolls look very real, even though their hair is just painted on. the painted heads are of course much easier to care for than the micro rooted mohair heads, although some micro roots, if the head is sealed on the inside, can be washed and styled just like a real baby's hair.
The eyes and eyelashes of the baby doll are fantastic these days. No more blank eyes staring at nothing, baby dolls these days have realistic eye placement and positioning, that perfectly mimics the way real babies eyes are set. High quality hand or mouth blown glass eyes from Germany are used in the best dolls and these eyes are sparkling and shiny, made in real baby eye colors. Eyes can also be made of plastic or polyglass and some are even solid glass which makes them easier to keep safe. Eyelashes are almost always micro rooted with soft wispy lashes, using mohair or sometimes even real human hair.
One of the biggest improvements in baby doll production, in my humble opinion has been in the way the arms and legs are sculpted. Each arm and leg is sculpted as a separate mold with it's own finger/hand/foot/toe position so that no two are alike on the doll; some have hands that are curled up tightly like a newborn, others spread out, one finger reaching perhaps or one hand just half way open. The limbs are attached with disc joints that can allow the arms and legs to rotate and turn and move around. This gives you endless possibilities for posing the doll in life like positions. The head is also jointed so that it can turn and move. This usually means the dolls head will need to be supported, just like a real baby.
The realism of the reborn doll, though it starts with the characteristics of the sculpt, is achieved by the reborn artist. The one of a kind characteristics of each doll is created through the use of many, many layers of transparent skin tone paints which are used to create shadows, blushing, mottled complexions, creases, dimples, birthmarks, baby pimples, bruising, discolorations and every other possible tiny detail that one finds on human infants. This is a very lengthy process as each layer of paint is set by baking in a hot oven for a short time. Once set, the next layer of transparent paint is applied. This layering is what gives the skin a three dimensional quality and makes it look so real. It can take days or even weeks to complete just the painting of the dolls head, face and limbs.
Many baby dolls also come with a vinyl or silicone body plate, often called tummy plates, belly plates, tushie and back plates. There are also anatomically correct plates or girl or boy dolls and you can also buy a tummy plate with the newborn umbilicus or belly button in place. These body plates are ultra realistic and just like the rest of the reborn doll and the reborn artist must realistically paint the body plate, just the same as the face, arms and legs. Plates can easily be attached and removed by ties, snaps or magnetic attachments. They really make for an ultra realistic doll because you can dress the baby without covering the body.
So that's a general overview of what a reborn doll is and how it is made. If you really want to know more about them, you really ought to see one up close and hold it in your arms. You wont believe it's not real!