“Reborning” Not a Religious Experience – But an Exhilarating Art Form

“Reborning” Not a Religious Experience – But an Exhilarating Art Form


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Some of the most fascinating art forms in today’s culture are distinguished not just by their craft, but also by their passions. The term “reborning” may sound to many as if it refers a type of Evangelistic experience, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Reborning is the fine art of taking a doll to the height of realism. In other words to re-born it into something different. The craft of making reborn or newborn dolls began in the in the late 1990s in the United States. Initially, it began with doll aficionados enhancing manufactured dolls to improve their realism. Over time not only were talented doll collectors taking apart and repainting their dolls, but others, who were talented sculptors, began sculpting dolls from beginning to end to look so life-like that they often cause "good Samaritans" to break into stranger's vehicles thinking a baby was trapped inside.


These talented sculptors begin with a clay modeling such as plasticine clay or WED clay. Once their art work is complete down to the dimpled on the chin, then they create a plaster mold in which vinyl or silicone can be cast as a life-like skin. After the skin has cured, they really show off their talents by adding glass eyes and a realistic skin colors with applications of paint through air brushing or fine detail brush work. The last step is to actually take hair and tediously punch it into the silicone surface one strand at a time to create actual head hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. The final result is that the completed reborn or (newborn) doll can be easily confused as a living being and often are, as that is the artist’s goal. That is because the dolls resemble human babies in almost every way except their silence, in their expressions, body shapes, surface materials, and other lifelike attributes.

Initially reborn dolls were made of vinyl. It was satisfactory to give them close to a life-like appearance in their skin. But soon translucent silicone was discovered and began appearing on dolls that had a more realistic skin look as well as feel. Not only could the translucent skin be better colored using special silicone paints and dyes which could be applied to resemble realistic skin tones, unlike vinyl which has a stiff feel to the touch, certain silicones cure to a very soft skin-like feel. Much of today’s realistic advanced animatronic creations use this type silicone prosthetic skin as well, due to silicone flexibility and realistic appearance.

The art of reborn awareness among collectors has grown as rapidly as the number of artists dedicating their time to this new art form. For example, it was only in January of 2005 that the International Reborn Doll Artists (IRDA) was formed, holding its first conference for reborn doll artists. The IRDA’s purpose is to educate and improve the skills of reborning sculptors. As such, the organization offers tutorials and instruction so these special artists can remain up to date on the newest techniques and meet others who share a common interest in reborn doll sculpting. Since then the IRDA has blossomed into over fifty reborning artist members.

The founding of a new art form is in deed exciting, as it is still in its infancy (pun intended). You can find out more about the talented artists making contributions to this fledging field and their techniques through an on-line search. You will be fascinated by their craft as well as their passion.

For more details about the type of silicone skins and silicone paints used by these reborning artists, you can find out about them on these links:

SkinRite Silicon Skin

Ed McCormick


Edmund McCormick is the founder of Cape Crystal Brands and EnvironMolds LLC. He is the author of several non-fiction “How-to” books, past publisher of the ArtMolds Journal Magazine, editor of Beginner's Guide to Hydrocolloids, and author of six eBook recipe books available for download on this site. He resides in Far Hill, NJ and lives and breathes his art and food blogs as both writer and editor. You can follow him on Twitter and Linkedin.


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