February 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 2
"Reborn" Doll Sales With Kits
Doll Collectors Like to Make Them, Too
Reborning and Newborning Baby Dolls
Pat Secrist and his wife, Joanna, are no strangers to the doll business. They developed the “Zook” line of dolls that sold well in the 1980s and 1990s. And today, they make kits for “newborn” and “reborn” doll makers.
“Reborn means to make over,” explained Pat. When a reborn artist buys a Secrist kit, it often comes unpainted and "ready to be ‘newborn,’ so the artist has nothing to do but start creating,” he said.
Other dollmakers reborn finished play dolls, such as those by Dolls by Berenguer, by stripping off the original paint, repainting and adding details such as individual eyelashes and fingernails.
Grandmas Become Mommies Again
Debra Young of Columbus, Ga., a popular reborn artist, shared with TDmonthly that it takes more than 40 hours to make one doll. “I made the first one for my mother-in-law, and after she showed it around to her friends I could not keep up with the orders. Most of my customers are ladies over 50, whose children are grown.”
Though reborns can sell for up to $4,000 apiece, not all dollmakers are making them. Carole Beausoleil has revived the old art of creating apple head dolls. In 1993, she found a new process that shrinks the apples and gives them rocklike surfaces that won’t deteriorate.
Beausoleil sells apple head kits and booklets, and teaches classes in making the apple head and soft-sculptured dolls. A fellow dollmaker, Roberta Small, was the creator of the Golliwog dolls.
“It is very important to be creative in arranging your dolls,” Beausoleil commented to TDmonthly. “Go for action…have the dolls tell a story. …Couples go well, like a man reading and a woman sewing.”
Teaching Others to be Dollmakers
Kim Hobbs, owner of House of Dolls in Marietta, Ga., advised TDmonthly readers: “You might want to have a reborn artist or another artist … come to your store to give some instruction on doll making. You would sell the kits, perhaps give the first lesson free, and then charge for lessons. … By bringing out the creativity in your customers, you could be creating a whole new customer base.”
Companies such as Adora give retailers the opportunity to host doll-making events. According to Beth Glover of Professional Marketing, more than 80 Adora retailers — primarily independent doll- and toy-store owners — hold Make Your Own Baby events annually. "Some even create themed events each year, or host separate events for adults and children," she said.
For tips on hosting in-store events, click here.
Here are some of the dolls and doll-making kits that newborn and reborn artists use for their creations:
Learn the traditional craft of making granny applehead dolls with this instructive booklet, which includes four project sheets along with patterns for Grandma and Grandpa applehead dolls. The booklet also describes how to make a drying agent that is designed to accelerate the process of drying and preserving the apples for one week instead of the usual four to eight weeks. There´s even a money-back guarantee.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3569 (added 5/16/2005)
Taffy is a cute little preemie baby, and is just 17” long. She is one of the newest kits from the Secrist Dolls Reborn line. She comes as a blank, unfinished doll kit ready for a reborn artist to bring to life. Secrist also offers reborning supplies and an instructional DVD so that newcomers can learn to make their own lifelike newborns. Launch date: 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 9959 (added 11/8/2006)
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Writer's Bio: Virginia Davis is a freelance writer who is considered an expert in the area of dolls and collectibles. She has written hundreds of articles on dolls and toys, as well as other subjects, for numerous publications. She lives in Georgia. Read more articles by this author
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