Sunday, August 9, 2009

The reborn doll of 2009: Weighting the doll

We have come a long ways in choosing materials to weight our reborn dolls with! Back when reborning first began, of course everything was trial and error. Some of the popular items to give weight and movement to the reborns were sand, salt, polished rocks, kitty litter, plastic pellets, BB's and whatever else one could find that would add weight.

Well, sand quickly proved to be a problem as one could not ship the dolls out of the country with sand in it for fear that the sand might carry micro-organisms. Artists tried putting sand in latex gloves inside the body only to later find out that the latex gloves deteriorated over time creating quite a mess in the doll which was another problem to overcome.

Salt was not a good option either as salt could eat through the vinyl and make a mess of the cloth.

Kitty litter~ewe! Even clean litter is dusty and does not smell like a baby!

Polished rocks, plastic pellets and BB's are still used by some reborner's today. I personally do not use the polished rocks as I think they are too bulky for a baby and I have only used the BB's once when I needed to add a good amount of weight. They were contained and I don't expect any problems. I use plastic pellets in some dolls~especially toddlers that I don't want have a lot of weight which would happen if using other items of weight.

Plastic pellets are fabulous for dolls that I want to have be chubby and squishy. There is something about filling a bodice with the plastic pellets that give character and movement to the doll.

Today's reborners typically use these products while creating weight in their dolls: Baby Fat pellets, pouches of silicone that are used for masectomy patients, plastic pellets, granulated glass beads, and of course, stuffing.

Baby fat pellets are a great product IF you can find the ones that we found out deteriorate when coming into contact with vinyl. What a gooey mess that interaction makes! Silicone baby fat pellets have proven to be non-corrosive. These can be dumped right into the body of the doll or placed in a nylon stocking.

I have not used the pouches of silicone so cannot really comment on that subject although I do know that they are expensive to purchase.

The plastic pellets were and always will be a mainstay in reborning. They are great. I like the ones that are roundish and very smooth.

Many place the granulated glass beads in nylon stockings but I find that the beads can come out into the body and head of the doll. I use VINYL surgical gloves for my tiny, tiny granulated glass beads, therefore solving the problem of deterioration. These go inside the body and in the head. To weight the limbs, the glass beads are put directly into the limb, along with stuffing, depending on how heavy the limb is to be, and sealed. I use E6000 glue to seal the top of my limbs assuring that the glass beads are not going to come out.

Stuffing is used in all parts of the doll to fill in areas, so soften the space around the weighting materials, and to give life like feel. I don't believe there are any "wrong" stuffings to buy. I have my favorite and I am sure that other artists do too.

I am PICKY PICKY PICKY about how my dolls feel. I don't want them to be stiff nor do I want their nostrils to fling up into the air when I lay them down. THAT is a HUGE pet peeve for me when I look at reborns that I would consider buying.

The chin of the doll should tuck nicely into the chest when the doll is set down to rest. The way to prevent the flinging nostrils is to not put the weight of the head in the top of the head. Stuffing should be placed in the top of the head and the weight in the bottom near the neck and forward into the chin area.

When I am weighting my babies, I meticiously put them all together and just barely snug the zip ties down. I clip most of the tie off, leaving just enough for me to grab with a plyer so that, if the weight is right, I can tighten the tie. If the weight is not right, I can pop the limb or head off and make adjustments without having to use a new zip tie each time. I carry the doll around the house and make adjustements as needed, then I tighten the ties. When I am taking pictures of the doll, changing clothes and posing, if it does not move right or feel right, I take the doll apart and fix area's that need fixing.

When reborning first began, I believe the orginal bodies were used from the manufactured doll. The artist simply restuffed and weighted them. Then someone got crafty and started making new bodies for the dolls. The bodies of todays reborns are wonderful! With joints that help in the movement of the doll, thick fabric and many, many size options, the reborn body is built to last and give life-like appeal and movement.

Todays reborn is an incredible work of art that came through years of growing pains. Artsits are constantly on the lookout for ways to make the doll more and more life-like. In years past, I remember using white out pens to tip the nails of the dolls fingers and toes. I remember using colored pencils to draw in the eye brows. I remember using acrylic Glass Paints to color the lips and nails. Those things have been tossed by the wayside with the release of fabulous paints for the artist to use to fully paint the whole doll from head to toe. The artist of today, and yesteryear for that matter, are blessed to have other artists share tips and give a helping hand. It is in this spirit of sharing that the reborn doll of 2009 is as fabulous as it is. I can't wait for future years! Happy doll collecting and making!


  1. Once again I learned something! Thanks so much for sharing!!!!

  2. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  3. Thanks. So many reborners do not realize the importance of a doll that is weighted properly. Almost every one I've bought must be taken apart by me & re-stuffed & weighted.

    1. My pleasure and, as a collector myself, I understand your "pain".