Reborn Baby Dolls
Earlier this month, policemen in Nottingham, UK, rescued what they thought was a baby accidentally left inside a car on a warm day, and discovered, to their consternation, that it was a doll with stunningly lifelike characteristics. Welcome to the world of reborn baby dolls!
Reborn dolls have been crafted in the USA since the 1990s, following an old tradition of restoring dolls to a high degree of realism. The burgeoning demand from collectors for more lifelike baby dolls was the origin of this trend. The first reborn was sold in 2002 on eBay. Since then, the craft has rapidly developed, reaching a wider market of buyers wanting to own reborns for emotional or therapeutic reasons.
The art of reborning
Reborning is the process of working on a standard vinyl baby doll so that it closely resembles a human infant. The artists are called reborners. Today, customers can pick from a vast variety of models, customised dolls replicated from baby photographs, ‘preemies’ (prematurely-born) with incubators and breathing apparatus or reborn doll kits which collectors can assemble themselves.
Reborning is a painstaking, lengthy process in which a basic vinyl doll is dismantled and reassembled with myriad changes and additions to transform the doll’s skin tone, hair, features and more. Veins, umbilical cords, electronic devices that mimic a heartbeat or simulate breathing and weighted heads that must be supported like a real infant’s, these are only some of the amazing features of reborns.
How to buy a reborn doll
A network of support services has grown to bring together reborning artists and collectors, magazines, social networking sites and trade associations that sponsor reborning conferences. An online association, The International Reborn Doll Artists, tutors aspiring craftspersons.The dolls are typically sold on the Internet, priced between a few hundred and several thousand dollars, depending on their quality. When buying a doll, collectors consider several factors that impact the quality and durability, such as complexion colour and fine details like veins, the presence of realistic imperfections, nose shape, nails and materials used to weight the doll.
Who buys reborns?
Typically, customers for reborns are women. Some are avid doll collectors. Others have varying emotional problems, inability to cope with miscarriage, the loss of a baby, the empty nest syndrome or lacking the means to adopt. Reborns fill an emotional vacuum in them, becoming substitute offspring, or babies who will forever remain babies. Some psychiatrists contend that a reborn can help a grieving parent overcome her loss; however, if taken to obsessive levels, it leads to psychological complications.
While the jury is still out on the social implications of this new trend, the business of reborn dolls is growing worldwide at a healthy clip.