What a Doll: West Michigan Artist Sells Popular Reborn Babies
Blanca Nemecek from Coopersville brings dolls to life with realistic details, selling the lifelike babies on eBay to collectors across the globe.
She looks like a bundle in pink. A baby girl with wispy brown hair, wearing a bonnet and pastel dress. A real doll you might say. Actually, that's what she is. A doll.
She's called a reborn and a creation of artist Blanca Nemecek from Coopersville.
"I pride myself in getting as much of the detail as absolutely possible," said Nemecek, who does most of her work in her kitchen.
"At first my husband thought it was a bit weird, there are doll parts all over the place."
The 50-year old grandmother started making the lifelike dolls four years ago after she stumbled upon them on the internet.
"I was looking on eBay for a gift, possibly a doll of some nature, and I came across this. I was like, oh my gosh! I need to know about this. I love babies and love the art of it," she said.
She learned her craft and became certified as a reborn artist through the Reborn Artists of Distinction website where artists can send in their work to get the reborn stamp of approval. Nemecek is now considered advanced status. The idea of reborn is a doll "reborn" to look like a real baby.
"There's something about a baby that people just love," said Nemecek.
The process to create it is a tedious one. A sculpture makes the mold which is then manufactured into a vinyl kit sold to artists as a blank slate. It's their job to take that base and bring it to life with delicate paints and hair. A time consuming process. Nemecek spends hours on every detail down to the skin tone and fingernails.
"It can take several weeks to make one doll from start to finish," she said.
Like other reborn artists, she sells her work on eBay. She lists her dolls and takes custom orders from around the world. Most are international, but some of her regular clients are from the United States. Typically women, who are collectors or buying the dolls as a gift.
Cindy from Illinois just purchased her second doll from Nemecek.
"I can't thank you enough for making this little girl for me," she writes in an e-mail.
Another customer, a family from New York, recently bought a $650 custom toddler boy from Nemecek. Their teenage daughter posted the baby's arrival on YouTube.
"Oh my gosh he is so cute," the girl screams as she tears open a cardboard box with a what appears to be a small child inside.
The reborn baby boom has exploded in the last year, making national headlines.
It has been described as cute, creepy, comforting, therapeutic, controversial, offensive, creative, and just about everything else.
Most of the buzz stems from collectors who treat their dolls like a real baby. Women who take the fake babies shopping or on trips as if they were a child.
The bizarre hobby can catch onlookers off-guard.
"What people will do with them I think that bothers some people as far as taking them to the store and treating them like a real child is they are not a real child, they aren't a real baby. They are a collector's doll and that's all they are intended to be," said Nemecek.
For her and other reborn artists, it's about the creativity and the more lifelike, the better.
"So if it looks creepy real, then they can call them creepy real all they want," she said.