I have always loved dolls, ever since I was a tiny toddler. As I grew older and my friends put theirs away, I kept mine up as decoration in my room. As teenager, around 15 years of age, Zapff creation began releasing some hyperrealstic babydolls which I bought for my collection, but after a while, their paint would fade off, I began to fix them up so they would look even more realistic after, than what they did when I bought them.
My mum who collected antique dolls kept yelling at me for “ruining my dolls” – little did we know that twenty-something years later, this would be a HUGE doll-art around the entire world, called “reborning of dolls”. So when I started as 15 year old in 1986, I was probably one of THE very first in the world to make these. We didn’t have internet back then, so who really made the very first reborn doll, nobody can say for sure.
Over the years the methods and materials have change very much for the better. Back then the only options were either make-up, acrylic paints or oil-paints. These days we also have air-dry paints of various brands, with and without activators, and we have an oven-set paint named Genesis Heat Set paint, which is to be set in a regular cooking oven at a set temperature – it HAS to be correct temperature, otherwise the paint won’t set, and if its too hot, the vinyl of the dolls will start producing toxic fumes. So its very important with a trustworthy oven-thermometer as well as working in a well-ventilated area.
Myself I use the Genesis brand paint, I find it works best for me as its not as temperemental as the others and I can work on it until I’m 100% satisfied with the result, before I “bake”, whereas air-dry paints has a certain open window of time, before it starts to set and if there are areas which have not yet been outlined with the vinyl, its just a bummer.
One of my preferred tasks is to make portrait dolls from pictures of people’s children or grandchildren as babies. A few times I have been asked if I would make a portrait of a lost or stillborn baby. Most artists say no, but I will make them. My heart will cry, but if this is what a grieving mom needs to get through her loss, then this is what she should have. We all grieve in different ways and in a case like this, MY feelings are completely irellevant.
Most reborn dollmakers in Denmark make dolls from their own inspiration and put them for sale. Only a few take up commissions. I’m one of the few who take commission – as long as the client will accept and obey to MY demands. An artist cannot be rushed in his or her work. Working under pressure will NOT make a good doll, on the contrary. It needs time, it needs proper light, and most important of all, it needs peace and quiet from other pressing tasks. I cannot put a date to when a doll can be finished, because it depends on SO many variables. The worst thing you can do as customer, is to contact me every second day, or more, to ask how YOUR doll in particular is doing. I don’t sit 24/7 all year round making dolls. Its a hobby which is worked on when time and energy permits. And my family will always have first priority.
In the past, most of my dolls have ended up with collectors in Denmark and Norway.
These days I mostly direct my dolls towards special needs people – young ladies who are not allowed to have kids for this or another reason, or ladies who grieve that they are not able to give birth. Psychological studies have shown that having a lifelike doll like this, releases the same good chemicals inside women’s brains, as having to do with a real baby does. This is why having a reborn-doll as “band aid” is not a bad idea. I struggled for ten years before I became a mother – and it helped me to deal with these dolls. So I can relate and tell how it was for me.. This is becoming more and more of a subject in Danish media, and I have on a few occasions, contributed with interviews and radio documentary, about the benefits a doll can have for a childless person.
Two of my dolls were donated to the dementia ward of a nearby nursing home. When an elder lady is upset or has issues which makes it difficult to keep track of her whereabouts, they use these dolls to put in the arms of these ladies, and they will sit and cradle and sing to them, talk to them as if they were real, they cuddle them and calm down. It is so beautiful to see.
Below you can see a selection of the dolls I have made in the past. These are no longer available, but if you would like, please visit my doll website on www.beautiful-baby.dk for more information and more pictures.
Dollmaking: from 750USD and up