Reborn dolls have captured the fascination of doll makers and enthusiasts alike since they were launched back in the 1990s. Part of this lies in the fact that doll artists are challenged to transform a mass produced vinyl play doll into one that resembles a human baby with as much realism as possible. The way to achieve this is to make sure that you prepare your reborn doll kit prior to adding the layers of paint and other features to bring it to life.
Here are just some tips on how to prep up your reborn doll kit to achieve a very realistic finished product.
Inspect the Pieces
After receiving the reborn doll kit that you purchased, take some time to carefully inspect the different parts. Make sure that there are no ink marks, scratches or bubbles on the vinyl. Lightly move your fingers around the pieces to make sure that it is smooth. This is because any lumps or bubbles that are present in the doll kit parts will greatly affect the way that the finished product will look after all the layers of paint have been added.
Make sure that you also check for stray pieces of vinyl that may be sticking out from your doll kit, especially around the fingertips and toes. They should be smooth and free from all of this.
Check the connecting parts of the limbs and the head to make sure that there are no tears, bubbles or stray parts sticking out as these would definitely make assembling your reborn doll in the end extremely challenging, increasing the risk that you might ruin it altogether.
Finally, check the body to make sure that the limbs will fit perfectly, and that there are no tears and the joints are all present along the arms and leg parts. This is especially important if you purchased a custom-made reborn doll kit online, or if you have bought certain parts of your reborn doll separately. It is definitely a good idea to try to connect all the parts of your reborn doll kit together before starting out with your reborn doll project to make sure that everything fits together. That way, you can have these parts replaced by the distributor where you purchased them without any problems whatsoever.
Thoroughly Wash the Parts of Your Reborn Doll Kit
While inspecting the different parts of your reborn doll kit, you may have noticed that it is a bit greasy. That is the factory oil that is placed on the different parts of your reborn doll kit that the manufacturer puts before packaging them to prevent any damage on the actual vinyl. Unfortunately, the oil cause the paint that you will add onto the reborn doll to run and not stick.
To do this, you need a bowl of warm water with some dishwashing liquid, a soft untreated cloth, tub of warm water and a towel. Submerge the parts of the reborn doll kit in the bowl of warm water with dishwashing liquid. With the soft cloth, gently scrub the different parts to get rid of the oils. Make sure that you do not scrub too hard or you might end up creating scratches on the delicate vinyl. Allow some of the soapy water to get into the insides of the parts and gently shake them to help get rid of the oils inside. Drain the soapy liquid before putting them in the tub of warm water to rinse out all of the soapy water to prevent any residue from attaching. Completely drain the parts of any water, and leave them on a towel overnight to allow them to dry completely, making sure to turn the parts every so often.
Apply the Correct Wash
While many of the vinyl reborn doll kits will have them flesh in color, some of them tend to be a tad bit too pink or orange. Having a nice pale color undertone is great not only if you are going to create Caucasian reborn dolls. It will also greatly help create reborn dolls of different ethnic backgrounds like African American reborn dolls and Asian dolls a lot easier and more realistic-looking.
The best way to get the pale flesh undertone color is to do this with the help of a color wash. A color wash is basically an extremely thinned out paint so that you only get a tint of it when you apply it. There are two kinds of washes that are commonly used when prepping reborn doll kits: green washes and blue washes. Green washes are used if the reborn doll parts or a bit too pink while the blue washes are used to tone it down if it is too orange-looking.
To prepare your wash, get your paint palate and add a small amount of an odorless paint thinner. Using a mop brush, add the right color into the thinner. Make sure that you add a little bit at a time so until you get the right color. To test this, apply a little on a piece of white paper. You are looking for a "just barely there" tint. Using a color wheel can also help. Try to match the color of the vinyl on the wheel. The opposite color in the color wheel will be the one that will go for.
Once you have gotten the color you need, apply a generous coating of the wash all over the different parts of your reborn doll kit, making sure that you get this into the creases, the eyes, mouth and ears if you are trying to correct one that is too orange. If the vinyl is too pink, it is highly recommended to make sure to avoid the mouth area to keep it pinkish. The coat should give a shine to the vinyl. There should not be any presence of the color from the color wash on the vinyl. If any streaks of color comes out, it means that the wash is not thin enough, and you will need to add more paint thinner. On the other hand, if you do not seem to see any color change on the surface of the vinyl, it means that you will need to add more color. Make sure that if you are going to be making any corrections, make sure that these are done on the paint palate and using some white paper.
While the wash is still wet, get a makeup sponge with a little bit of the wash on it and begin dabbing all over the doll part to remove the excess wash. This technique is also called pouncing. This does two things for you: first, it helps you get rid of the excess wash on the different parts of the doll, especially in the creases so that there are no blotches of the color wash left behind. The second is that it provides a much smoother finish of the color wash.
Once the thinner has completely dried, bake the pieces in an oven at 130 degrees Celsius (265 degrees Fahrenheit) in a conventional home oven for about nine minutes. Allow it first to completely cool down before you begin with your painting and bringing your reborn doll to life.