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My name is Michelle Manning Williamson.

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Wit & Whimzy Reborn Nursery Store.

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Monday, November 19, 2012


November 19, 2012

The artistry of new life

Monday, November 19, 2012 — With five children, including 10-year-old twin girls, Angela Moore certainly knows a thing or two about life’s creations.

Holding each of her newborn children in her hands has been a blessing she’d never want to turn away, though she says with a giggle “I think I’m finished making those babies.”

Nowadays, she’s creating life in a different way. She makes miniature clay babies that are a work of art with their attention to detail and life-like features. From the little fingers and toes right up to the button noses and wrinkled features, all of that comes from a 3.5- to 4-inch model she’s been making since she began her work, more out of curiosity, back in 2006, not long after she had her last child.

“I was looking on eBay one day for these old Cabbage Patch Kids dolls I used to have as a kid,” Moore said.

“… As I was looking, I saw this sculpture on there and I was like ‘Wow, that’s crazy looking.’

“I started reading and I found out it was hand sculptured, and I was like ‘I want to really try to do that.’ I did some research to see what materials and tools I would need, so I ordered all that.”

Moore has dabbled in the arts before. She says she’s sold paintings she’s done and even has a beautiful hand-painted ironing board she made that sits in her living room, a creation as much for its beauty as its uniqueness.

She had never tried making little bundles of joy out of clay, paint and lots of love and detail. But when she began working on her first doll, using her newborn son as a model, the inspiration and talent free-flowed from her fingertips onto the block of clay.

“He was still little, so I’d look at his little wrinkles,” Moore said of her youngest son.

“When I made my first one, when I look back at it, it was so horrible. It looked like E.T. It was hideous.

“But as I progressed, the better they got. Now, people are like looking back at this and comparing it to this, how life-like they are.”

Moore first did the dolls with the idea of selling them on eBay. Before long, she got enough interest that she decided to start her own website, She was also starting to get a lot of personal requests from people wanting a clay doll that resembled their own baby.

Moore asks people to send several photos of their new baby. She’ll get information on the child and find out how the people interested in purchasing the finished product want the baby posed, whether they are making a face and any other small details.

From there, she estimates it takes about six hours to make the head and face then the body. After contouring all the details, she’ll place the molded product into her home oven to bake it. After that, she applies special paint for the hair, eyes and skin color. Then that goes back into the oven to make the completed project.

She purchases her clay online and can typically get 5-6 small babies made out of a $20 block of clay. She’s shipped her finished product through donations from the people purchasing to places such as Japan, Ireland and Australia, in addition to the United States.

“When I first started, it was because I was interested in it … I can do this,” Moore said.

“When I say I can do something, I think I can do it and I usually do it.

“I feel I’ve come a long way. Some of the sculptures I’ve made I look at and don’t like and I’ll just squish them up and start over. But I enjoy knowing it touches other people when they receive it. That’s why I do it.”

She also holds a special place in her heart for people who want a miniature baby made after losing a child, usually during pregnancy or childbirth. If someone contacts her with that kind of request, she says she puts them in front of the line.

Getting requests like that used to really break her heart, but she says she’s gotten used to it, somewhat. Still, she places the goal of finishing that project high on her list to help those grieving.

“I’ve had a lot of people that have come to me that’s lost a child,” Moore said.

“Most of my work, maybe 75 percent of it, is memorial sculptures, which is from pictures of a child.

“Sometimes you don’t even have a picture … it’s a pregnancy they lost. So I’ll make a sculpture for them, a keepsake.

“I’ll always put the people first that’s lost a child. … When somebody’s lost a baby, that’s something I just go ahead and do. It’s not even about the donation, it’s about what it does for them.

"It’s something I can do that a lot of people can’t do that can help them. I’ve received letters, emails, thanking me. That’s why I keep doing it, because of how it touches them.”

But the work she does in making these precious little treasures doesn’t come easily. She has a full-time job and also has the ups-and-downs that come with raising a family, like homework, cooking and cleaning.

Moore said she has maybe 14-15 people currently on a waiting list and will try to be honest with people about her time constraints and how she may not be able to fill every order. But her work certainly doesn't go unnoticed to her family and the people who make the purchases. In fact, she says she’s even had several local businesses wanting to gauge her interest in selling the completed works in their store.

So, in more ways than one, a labor of love has developed from what started as a simple search on eBay.

“That little search on eBay and seeing that inspired me to … ‘Hey, I can do this.’ ”

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Jan Depuy makes life like dolls in Martinez

Posted Nov 18, 2012

Antique lace, hand sewn dresses with thousands of beads, blown glass eyes and detailed painted porcelain heads make up some of the dolls found at Nature’s Way Doll Centre in Martinez, Calif. Owner Jan Depuy teaches classes on doll making and repairs dolls at her shop where her collection spans centuries.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Training in creative arts thrives at the local level: find your passion and sell it well 

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Artwalk: Reborn Dolls in Downtown Abilene Thursday

By: Staff
Updated: November 8, 2012

On Thursday, November 8 downtown Abilene will host ArtWalk: Reborn Dolls in the main library display area from 5 to 8 p.m.

Victoria Lovett of Abilene makes dolls, but it's more of an art than a craft.  

See her work in the main library display case during November, as she demonstrates the steps to create a beautiful, unique Reborn Doll.  

Ms. Lovett will be on hand during Artwalk to answer questions about her work. 

The children's librarians will have a make and take craft for fun.  

Visitors can also view the library's own original mural by Abilene artist Debra Warr in the children's storyroom.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Reborn Baby Renaissance

The last time we wrote about the phenomenon of artist-made, startlingly realistic baby dolls, in the post Hauntingly real “reborn” babies, readers were divided on whether these collectibles were creepy creations or beautiful (and sometimes personally meaningful) works of art.  Since that time, the interest in these dolls has not waned, at least if you use eBay listings and sales as a barometer of popular opinion.
In fact, today’s first listing has garnered a surge of interest and bids, for a doll that looks so real, from the dimpled knees to the variations in skin tone, you would probably have to pinch its cheeks just to make sure.  See the baby pictures here for **A Romie Baby**SOLID Full SILICONE DOLL***LENNOX***#5 by Romie Strydom -reborn:

The fans set us straight last time, instructing us to do our homework and distinguish between true reborn dolls and silicone dolls, so we only quote the listing title, which perhaps uses the term “reborn” to attract collectors’ attention.  And it has, to the tune of 28 bids and a high bid of $10,700. Last week, another Romie baby, the LENNOX #4, sold for $15,100. Incredible!
If you fall on the “this might be creepy” side of the spectrum in regard to these realistic dolls, watch this video of baby doll Lennox #1 being moved about by the artist, Romie Strydom:
What mostly seems strange here is to see a baby handled so much, especially as the disembodied laughter loops in the background but, the longer the video goes (and it goes over six minutes), the more real Lennox seems, to the point where at least this viewer began to worry: maybe even real babies are a little creepy, while also being cute and adorable?
Here is everything else you need to know about Lennox, from the listing:
“Lennox is a full bodied silicone baby, with a ball jointed neck.  She is flexible and moves like a real baby…
I sculpted her from a ball of clay, which I am reproducing  into a small edition of soft platinum silicone babies.  Her body is poured in ONE piece for realism and strength.  The limbs are not joined on afterwards, so no seam lines.
Lennox has been painted with the recommended silicone paints, with beautiful coloring and mottling.  No detail has been missed on her.
She is totally adorable,  very realistic and is totally solid.  Nothing has been hollowed out, she is solid silicone.  For this reason her hair cannot be sealed inside her head, so extreme care must be taken with his hair as it can come out with brushing etc.”
Another intriguing listing is for this Boo boo FULL BODIED SOLID SILICONE preemie ooak BABY doll GIRL not reborn NR!. Take a look at this collage:

Again, this is silicone creation not a vinyl one, made by Sherry Bowden.  She has a solid legion of fans, garnering 37 bids and a current high bid of $3,050 for what the artist describes as a “Lil’ early bird preemie girl baby.”
Last time we wrote about these realistic dolls, we focused on the dedication of collectors, but this listing is striking for providing a window for looking at the experience of the artist as she labors on her dolls. Last week, Sherry also had another micro preemie named Gracie up for sale (sold for $765) and describes her nicely in the listing. Read below, it all sounds quite maternal:
“I enjoy painting my silicone babies very much and go the extra mile to make them as realistic as possible!  Different lighting situations (day, night, evening) have been employed during the photography of this baby so you can see her coloring under different conditions.  Many many hours alone when into her painting alone and many weeks into bringing her to life for you!  All photos were taken before her eyelashes were delicately rooted, but she will have wispy eyelashes upon arrival for her new mum.”
The experience of creating the silicone doll sounds more than a little like pregnancy, although without all the discomfort.
If you find this boundary-blurring between humans and silicone depictions of humans produces feelings of uneasiness, you are not alone.  The Wikipedia entry on “Reborn doll” describes this reaction as falling under the “uncanny valley” hypothesis, which states that as an inanimate object looks more lifelike, our empathy toward it increases, until it reaches a point in which our response changes to repulsion.  So some people’s turning point from interest in to distaste for lifelike dolls occurs at a far earlier point than others’.  And for those passionate collectors, that turning point never arrives.  Where do you fall on the spectrum?