Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My biography :)

Here is my "biography" exactly as I wrote it for the "magazine" I was told would be submitted to:  

Bio for Debbie Henshaw
They Never Grow Up Nursery
March 2012

Hello!  My name is Debbie Henshaw.  I am the reborn doll artist at
They Never Grow Up Nursery.  Where babies are babies…Forever! 

I am happily married to the love of my life and live in the small town of Baker City Oregon, in the United States.

Life has been an amazing journey and it seems that the journey will full circle in the end.  At least at this moment, as a 47 year old, this is how I see it.

Looking back, the formation of my life, what I would do with it and how it would “full circle” started when I was a little girl. 

As a little girl, I LOVED babies, baby dolls and every kind of baby item.  Sounds reasonable for a little girl doesn’t it? 

My mom managed apartments when I was in the 4th-6th grades.  Anything “baby” that was left behind she gave to me to play with.  That was such a delight to me!

I began babysitting when I was just 10 years old and remember that after I put the children and babies to sleep at night, I would “help” the working mom by sorting through the children’s and baby’s clothing, neatly folding them and placing them in the drawers.

In the 6th grade, I was assigned to write and illustrate a book in an age group of my choosing.

My choice was for pre-school age children.  The story about a baby ant that was born sibling-less and lonely.  His parents loved him.  They had every type of baby item that was needed for his care and spent a great deal of time with him, yet the little ant remained lonely.

When he was three, his parents gave him siblings.  He was elated!  The parents multiplied the baby items needed for their growing family.  The moral of the story was patience…and I got to draw all kinds of baby things!   

I did not know it at the time but this book mattered in my Circle of Life.
I still have the book.

When I was in Jr. High, I worked for an elderly woman in her home.  Not only did she let me dress her live cat in baby clothes, she shared her amazing doll room with me!  It was then that I dreamed of having a doll room and collection myself.

My favorite subjects in high school were debate and public speaking. 

The high school years came and went.  I applied for college.  I desired to be a kindergarten assistant.  I was accepted and at the same time, also found out that I was expecting my second child.   My desire was stronger to be available for my growing family so I declined my acceptance.

I spent the next 20 years working part time at jobs that I loved, raising my kids as well as co-raising 3 step-kids. 

One day while shopping at Costco, a large, stuffed rabbit jumped into my cart.  (What???  YOU don’t have items jump into your cart when shopping???)  I had MORE fun dressing that rabbit up to amuse the kids!  They just about died of embarrassment the day I put him in “big boy underwear” and placed him in the cherry-wood high chair that was given to me as a house-warming gift.  “Buttons” soon became a family favorite.   I still have him…and the high chair.

My kids knew of my doll room/doll collection dream, and in 2002, when I was turning 38 years old, my youngest step-daughter gifted me with a manufactured Berenguer LaBaby baby doll~the first official doll in my collection.   She could not wait to give me that doll and I have loved her dearly!  I still have “Kara Ann” and our family has had a wonderful time with her.   I would pose her in whimsical ways that would capture the attention of the family and any visitors.

Soon though, I desired to have a baby boy doll in my collection.  I asked my husband for one that following Christmas.  He began his search on eBay.  Wow, were there ever a lot of choices and he was confused!  He asked me to help and it turns out, he was not the only one that was confused!  I was not familiar with all of the different types of materials that dolls were made of and we ended up choosing a 23” porcelain doll named Jamie.  I adore Jamie and still have him, even though he is not my favorite medium.

We added to my collection over the next several months adding Welcome Home Emily and Michael the Little Slugger from Ashton Drake.

And I kept looking at dolls on eBay, who knew there were so many dolls out there?!?!?  Due to the eBay browsing, I soon discovered the new art of reborn dolls!  I was intrigued and baffled about them at the same time!   I could not wrap my head around WHY people were taking these already beautiful dolls apart (like Emily, Micheal and my precious Kara) and changing them!

As the art progressed and the dolls became more life-like, I got it!  I studied every auction, every term, and every photo as well as researched everything I could find about reborning dolls.  I did this for well over 2 years as I was so mesmerized by it.  I had no intention of trying my hand at it but one day, it just occurred to me that I COULD try this.  With the prodding of a dear friend in the Philippines, They Never Grow Up Nursery was established in February of 2005, and the first two dolls began.   

It took me until the end of March to finish my first doll, Abby.  Although I was a skilled cake decorator for more than 20 years, I never painted anything but the walls in my house! I stripped her oil paint three times!  It was during all those strippings and re-doings that I began to develop what has become my trademark multi-dimensional skin tone layering.

I had purchased some mohair to root Abby’s hair with but it only took a few pokes of the needle to realize that what I bought was NOT quality hair as said to be.  I located a small angora farm just 60 miles from my home and have been purchasing hand selected hair from that farm ever since.  It took some time but I eventually became skilled enough with processing the hair that I now sell it all over the world to many top reborn and silicone doll artists.

Abby sold for $87.50 to a new mommy in Canada.  As much as I hated to part with her, the joy her “mommy” expressed when she received her spurred me onward.

 My next doll, Caleb, was even better than the Abby and I only had to strip him once! 

Even though my studies had helped me to quickly progress in the art, there are always new things to learn and try so one never really “arrives”.    Each day of my work is more exciting and passionate than the last and I have those things which I love…baby dolls, baby clothes and baby things around me at all times.  My personal collection exceeds 75 dolls now! 

At the time of this writing, I am in my 7th year of reborning.  During the first two years of my adventure, I worked part time outside the home.  In November of 2007, I left the “work field” and have been running my reborning and mohair processing business full time ever since.   I’ve never worked harder, or longer, in my life!  But it brings great joy not only to me, but to my customers as well, making all the hard work worth it.   I have placed reborn babies all over the world and have met so many wonderful people in the industry from all over the world.  I’ve attended IDEX for 6 of the 7 years I have been involved in this amazing art and delight being with my all of my friends and peers once again.  Several of my customers have become my best friends.  I am so blessed!

I am an advocate for the reborn and doll art industry.  If there is scamming going on, I will call it out.  I do not tolerate back-biting and cattiness amongst artists and within groups.  I will speak out when I see someone being taken advantage of and I will always support and defend the artist and his/her means of living.  This must have come from my enjoyment with debate class in high school! 

In my spare moments, one of my greatest joys is writing pictures stories using my personal dolls as the subjects.  I share these online and in international doll magazines and have had more fun than is probably legal writing these stories!  I own and ride horses who have often found themselves involved in the picture stories as well.  Do you suppose my little book from the 6th grade had anything to do with these stories?  How about dressing the cat up and staging “Buttons” the rabbit to amuse the kids?

It is my utmost delight to mention here that at the present time, I have three beautiful grand children.  Just last week, the oldest one sent me, via text message from her phone, her first self arranged picture stories!  That fully delighted me!  I posted them on my blog (www.theynevergrowupnursery.blogspot.com) as “Jena’s picture story #1 & 2.

My peers and the public have awarded me the title of “Master Artist”, to which I am most honored and work every day to live up to.  I’ve been awarded much recognition for my work including 2009 Tiny Treasures Reborn Baby of the Year and a 2009 Colliii nomination.  These days, it is difficult for me to compete in competitions, as I am so busy just trying to keep up with all of the other aspects of my reborning.  However, paying utmost attention to every fine detail, I strive in making each reborn baby an exceptional piece of artwork and an award winning creation!

I have had the thrilling honor of reborning prototype babies for so many amazing sculpting artists over the years few years.  I constantly have to pinch myself to assure that this has been really real!  Who me???

I have a huge passion for teaching the art (see…I did fulfill my desire to teach~I simply am not teaching kindergarteners!) and hold live classes all around the United States at show venues.  I dream of teaching internationally as well, and am tentatively planning on teaching and showing at the Peterborough show in the UK in October 2012.
I’ve taught several private, one-on-one full reborn courses in my home studio/nursery .

With the love of writing and passion for the doll art industry, I’ve been asked to write articles for several doll magazines.  The articles have ranged many different topics and have included reborning tutorials.

The production of my first Full Reborn Course DVD set is happening as I write this article!  This will be a great asset to those who cannot travel to the locations where I am teaching, and covers each and every reborn step from beginning to end.  It was my GREATEST honor to film this video in the studio of world-renowned porcelain doll artist, Dianna Effner as I taught her the reborn techniques on her first vinyl kit, Huggy Bear.    A great honor and a dream come true!  By the way, Dianna did an exceptional job on her reborn Huggy Bear.  Of course that is not too surprising, being the wonderful artist that she is.

The Reborning Course DVD set will be available from my website www.theynevergrowupnursery.com and also on my ArtFire selling site

where you can also find my premium acid dyed angora mohair and helpful LDC air dry paint color guides.

Be sure to check out my free LDC Air Dry paint tutorial on the Doll Dreams and Pupen-Traumland websites: 

My babies are available either on eBay under user ID redcar_99, on my website and at live shows across the US and hopefully abroad soon.

As I continue to reborn, teach, process mohair and share picture stories I know that someday I will need to retire from these things.  Well most of them anyway!  When I retire from my current work, I have decided that I will be writing picture stories for children using the dolls in my personal collection as the subjects.    My husbands questions as to why I do not do this already.  The answer…TIME!

So the babies, baby dolls and real baby items of so long ago did matter.  That little book did matter.  The dressing of the cat and the visits to the doll room did matter. Debate class did matter.  Desiring to teach did matter.  Amusing my kids with the big stuffed rabbit in underwear did matter.  Being a perfectionist in my cake-decorating career did matter.  Reborning has mattered and has had a place in my Circle of Life.  It has been the tape that secured the ends of that circle together. 

1 comment:

  1. Very inspiring story Debbie. Thanks for sharing with us!