The 7 Best Reborn Dolls
7. Nkol Gray Boy
6. Paradise Galleries Hoot! Hoot!
5. Adora Toddler WOOF!
4. Chloe's Look Of Love
3. Berenguer Boutique La Newborn
2. Chantilly by Paradise Galleries
1. Ashton-Drake Galleries Little Peanut
All About Reborn Dolls
The art of crafting reborn dolls first emerged in the late 1930s, but up until recently the public demand for them was limited. This began to change in the early 2000s as people started selling them on eBay, bringing them to the attention of the general public.
Originally reborn dolls were termed as such, because the artists creating them would start with a previously manufactured doll. They would take it apart to paint and reassemble it in the most lifelike fashion possible, oftentimes including real human hair and adjusting the facial features. Vinyl dolls are most suitable for the reborning process as they take on the most realistic look once transformed.
Many of the mass market reborn dolls commonly found for sale are newborn, as opposed to reborn. This means the doll was created specifically to resemble a lifelike baby from the moment the manufacturing process was started. There are also reborn doll kits available which allow the consumer to piece together their own newborn doll by themselves. When assembling a kit newborn doll, the first few steps are completed by the doll manufacturer and a reborn doll artists, with the final stages left up to the purchaser.
Currently most reborn and newborn dolls are sold online, but they can also be found at certain types of fairs and doll shows, such as the Rose International Doll Expo. The average reborn doll costs somewhere in the $50 to $500 range, but the ceiling is the limit as far as collectors are concerned. The most expensive reborn doll sold for $22,600 on eBay in 2012. It was part of a limited run of 10 created by reborner Romie Stryden and was made entirely from silicone.
In 2005 the International Reborn Doll Artists Group (IRDA) was created to educate artists and the public on the art of reborning and newborning.
Emotional Response To Reborn Dolls
The newborn and reborn doll market is comprised of mainly two types of consumers: collectors and those looking to fill an emotional void. The lifelike nature of these types of dolls makes them ideally suited for the latter kind of consumer. Because they look so realistic, it becomes very easy to create a strong emotional bond, which can be utilized for a range therapeutic benefits.
Many newborn doll consumers have experienced some kind of emotional trauma that they are having trouble dealing with. This can include miscarriage, the loss of a child, stillbirth, of those suffering from empty nest syndrome. Those who cannot have children and are unable to adopt may use a reborn doll as substitute for having a child of their own. It allows them to experience feelings associated with motherhood that they may have never otherwise been able to.
There is much debate among medical professionals as to whether this is a healthy or unhealthy practice. Some feel that it is a good way for a person to work through their emotional issues, while others feel that substituting a reborn doll for a deceased child can cause further emotional issues and delay the grieving process. Proponents of both sides agree that purchasing a reborn or newborn doll with a close resemblance to a deceased child is never a good idea.
Sometimes the media depicts treating a reborn doll as a real living baby as creepy, which has led many in the general public to feel the same. This is most likely attributed to a theory known as the Uncanny Valley Hypothesis. It states that objects create an increasing empathetic response as they become more lifelike, until they reach a tipping point at which the emotional response turns into repulsion. As the object continues to become less distinguishable from a human, the emotional response flips and becomes positive again, even approaching human-to-human empathy levels.
The Process Of Reborning A Doll
Reborning a doll is a time consuming and laborious process involving a number of steps. First a doll is taken apart so the factory paint can be removed, giving the artist a blank base to work from. Next a blue wash is applied, which helps to enhance the appearance of realistic baby skin undertones, before adding multiple layers of flesh colored paint.
If the artist uses heat set paints, the parts of the doll are baked inside an oven to cure after each layer is applied. This process can also be completed with the use of a heat gun if preferred. Lighter skin tones can take anywhere from 15 to 30 layers, with darker flesh tones requiring a little bit less. The combination of the blue undertone with multiple layers of paint creates an exceptionally lifelike look, including veins and the mottled look of newborn skin.
If starting with a doll with an awake appearance, the eyes are usually replaced with ones resembling the droopier eyes of a newborn. Then the nose holes are opened and the nails are manicured. After the painting and stylizing of the facial features are finished, hair is applied in one of two ways; microrooting or wigging.
After all of this has been completed, the dolls body is weighted with soft pellets to correspond with the weight of an actual baby of the same age. The head is often weighted as well, requiring the owner to support it just like holding a live baby. Some may also have magnets included inside the mouth for attaching pacifiers, electronic devices inside the chest to simulate a heartbeat, or heat packs to make the doll warm to the touch.