As you probably already know, a tremendous amount of work is involved in taking a generic vinyl or silicone baby form from kit to Lifelike Nuborn. Many folks ask the questions “Why are these dolls so expensive?!” or “What in the world takes her so long to make a baby?”
There are many factors that contribute to the various levels in pricing. The first factor is the cost for the raw materials. How much does a specific doll mold cost? For a solid silicone blank the prices generally start at around a $1,900 and go progressively higher as the realism of the sculpt and the popularity and rarity of the mold itself is increased. For the vinyl babies, which always involve a cloth body either on its own or inserted beneath a vinyl torso overlay the prices are equivalent to the level of detail in the sculpt, the popularity of the sculptor and the type of vinyl the artist prefers to work with.
I’m sure everyone has seen the extremely cheap babies on ebay and amazon and likely wonder why all artists don’t just use those baby kits and charge less for our dolls. Well, the sad truth is that many times the cheapest kits AND BABIES are manufactured in places that do not require stringent testing for safety and some have been found to have been made with toxic chemicals that are not only dangerous to the artist’s health but also to the recipient’s health as well. Please don’t ever think you’ve stumbled onto a goldmine when you find a surprisingly cheap reborn doll. Do your research! It could be an amazing sale for an amazing baby created by a very talented artist. It could be completely safe. But, it could be dangerous. Check them out before you buy because the chances are very high that what you may be getting is a poor quality doll that is possibly even toxic. Not ALL inexpensive babies are dangerous or substandard, but it is always best to do some investigating to be sure the kit used is safe and authentic.
So, we’ve talked about the pricing. Now let’s get into how they’re made. Below is an outline of the basic 25 steps I use to create all of my babies. Please keep in mind that some of these steps must be repeated as many as 6 times before moving on to the next step depending on the goal for the doll, the vinyl and how well the paints are adhering during the curing process. There is also a “resting phase” for the vinyl to allow it to settle from being baked a number of times before you can work it again. The doll parts may also need to be “washed” to remove any excess paints that have begun to build up during the layering of the skin colors.
My Artistic Process
- Begin with a beautiful, high quality & detailed doll canvas.
- Make sure all vinyl pieces are clean and dry.
- Neutralize vinyl color to a base tone that is workable for the doll I am creating. (3-9 layers of paint)
- Begin mottling layers at the deepest layer of skin.
- Add overlaying skin tones.
- Balance the tone, if necessary. (2-6 color washes)
- Customize additional color washes to enhance depth and remove unnecessary redness.
- Begin crease, eyelid and lip detailing.
- Add a layer of subtle veining with deeper color in areas of thinnest skin.
- Re-balance skin tone.
- Add more dimension with uppermost mottling layers.
- Neutralize any unwanted coloring that has developed. (1 to 4 color washes)
- Enhance details to create three dimensional appearance to the skin.
- Create eyebrows & nail tips.
- Enhance creases and wrinkles.
- Add dimensions to lips and eye areas.
- Complete setting paint to canvas by double baking & sealing the paint.
- Install eyes on awake baby.
- Create blueprint for hair mapping & draw it onto the scalp.
- Root or paint the hair.
- Glue hair into scalp.
- Root/apply eyelashes.
- Weight, scent & assemble the doll.
- Dressing & Photo Shoot.
- Package doll & any accessories to await his/her trip home.
Blank Vinyl Sculpt:
Low End $90
High End $295
Low End $17
High End $25
$10-$15 per baby
Hair, Eyes, Paints & Needles:
Hair (Kid Mohair) $40-$50 per doll
Hair (Alpaca Straight) $65-$145 per doll
Optical Acrylic Eyes: $15
Compound Rooting Needles $10 for 5 needles
Heat Set Paints $7-$17 per jar of paint (one jar will make several babies)
German Glass Eyes $55.00 per set
Hair Adhesive $5-$9 per can
Coming Home Items:
Hospital Blanket $9.00
Hospital Formula Bottle $8
Hospital Bracelet $3.00
Thank You Gift & Printed Materials $4.50
Nylon Fillers $2
Nylon Fasteners $2.50/set
Labor Cost Per Doll:
Total Labor cost for a completed baby is on average $950 when billed at just $10/hour
Painting Skin Layers 15-17 hours
Detailing 10-19 hours
Hair Painting 7-12 hours
Hair Rooting 32-40 hours
Assembly/Gluing 1 hour
Newborn Photography 4-6 hours
70-90 hours is spent on average per doll and that is not including any possible complications with the processing.