Wyatt Hugo Hunter
October 16, 2014
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He's making his cross country journey as we speak. Can't wait till he's home!
CustomDollBaby.com uses only the finest materials to create a truly lifelike doll baby.
So that the baby is heavy and floppy in all the right spots, I use very fine glass beads to add weight. The material has the consistency of granulated sugar. This creates soft, cuddly and even weighting in the baby. [Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that some leading brands in collectible dolls weight their product with sand - like the kind you find on the beach on the ground. In addition to creating a stiff and non-uniform texture in the doll, the sand will start to smell overtime. So if you ever buy a doll stuffed with sand, like I did, send it back immediately or consider replacing the sand with higher quality materials.]
In addition to quality weighting materials, I also use two kinds of premium stuffing. I use a heavy poly-fill, like that found in teddy bears, to fill the vinyl arms and legs. But I use a light-weight silky fill to create a soft and cuddly cloth body. These combine to create a huggable baby doll that feels lifelike in your arms.
When it comes to weighting, I go from artist to analyst. I get really scientific when I weight my dolls because I really want to achieve the most lifelike weight distribution possible.
First thing I learned about weighting: real baby weight on a doll feels much heavier than a real baby. The first doll I ever made was 7lbs and she was far too dense. I’m guessing that may have something to do with the fact that 7 lbs of mostly water is going to feel softer and lighter than 7 lbs of weighting material. I needed to find the ideal doll weight.
That required research. About a year ago, I scoured the web to create a database of top selling reborn dolls. I had columns for the length of the kit in inches and the weight of the kit in ounces. Calculating some averages and ratios, I learned that the pros were adding about 3.5oz of weight for each inch of doll. So, for example, an 18” baby would weigh (18 x 3.5 =) 63oz (about 4 lbs). Fortunately, Wyatt’s mommy wants him at 70oz – so that saves me some math. :)
The next question was to figure out how to distribute the weight. I started to experiment – literally! I found an abstract for a physics paper online that was published in 1860 called “The Static Moments of Human Limbs.” The experiments in that paper were pretty gross, but the data was great. The key finding for me was that the weight of each body part on the human body is proportional to its volume. In other words, if your leg is 4 times as big as your arm, it also weighs 4 times as much as your arm. So if I could calculate the density of each baby part, I could calculate the weight.
So I got a big bucket of water, just like they did in 1860, and dunked individual doll parts in the bucket to see how much water was displaced. I did this for doll kits of various sizes because we all know that smaller babies are mostly head. I couldn’t dunk the torso because it is cloth, so I took enough measurements to approximate the volume as an ellipsoid. (With help from my materials scientist husband, of course ;)).
Turns out that a newborn gets 25% of his weight from his head – which is why you have to hold them so carefully. But a toddler is only 15% head.
Reborning is not just an art, its a science. :)
From Barber Shop to Beauty Salon
Today, Wyatt was ready for Baby's First Shampoo. Since he had all night for the hair sealant to dry, it was time to wash the dust, paint and other residues out of his locks.
Before the shampoo, I did a Keratin treatment on his hair to add shine and softness. Then I used Baby Shampoo (any gentle shampoo would work) to clean his hair and scalp. Finally, to lock in moisture, I de-tangled his wet hair with diluted mohair conditioner. After all that TLC, his hair was glowing, especially once it air dried.
Don't worry, his hair rarely needs to be washed in the future. Usually a little mohair conditioner will keep it shiny and wispy. But in the event that he does get dirty, I'll be sure to send him home with instructions and supplies.
Glue, Goo and Bubbles Too
The rest of the day was glues, glazes and varnishes. So the eyebrows would not be bushy, I set them with a matte varnish. I also used this to lay down the fine hairs on the temple.
Water-proof glue was used to set his wispy, blonde lashes in place. (Don't worry, it dries clear). Paper glaze around the inside of the eyelid prevents water and debris from getting into the eyes and creates the nice moist look of tears.
A gloss varnish gave his lips and nostrils the wetness they needed. Finally, with a micro-pipette and a lot of patience, I even put some frothy little spit bubbles in his mouth.
All that goop needs at least 24 hours to dry. That's okay, I think Wyatt could use to take a little break.
Once everything is sealed and dry, we start the process of stuffing and weighting - or as I call it - Cuddle Optimization!
Today was a great day. In the amount of time it takes to watch Disney's "The Emperor's New Groove," I finished Wyatt's rooting! I filled in that little bald section on the back of his head and added a little more depth to the eyebrows.
I must admit that Wyatt's mommy has converted me into a blonde lover. I had my reservations at first because it so hard to see individual strands of blonde hair when I'm rooting. But a head full of it is simply gorgeous. I can't wait to see his hair in the sunlight!
As expected, our little guy was in need of a haircut. When I finished rooting, his hair fell a good two inches below his neckline - not very newborn like.
So, tonight, I also gave him my special newborn baby trim. When you see this trim, you'll know that it was not done by a cosmetologist. I wasn't going for a bowl cut or a bob. Instead, I cut his hair to look like it has never been cut at all! Ironic, isn't it?
Wyatt's hair is long at the crown but gets shorter as you approach the hairline - just like a real baby. I left his hair on the long-ish side so we get plenty of layers of that beautiful blonde. But it is still nice and wispy like a newborn baby.
After the trim, I sealed the hair. Sealing is the process of thoroughly gluing the hair at the root so it does not come out when washed or styled. He'll be drying overnight. From there - its all finishing touches. He's almost ready to go home!
I'm back from my little hiatus and rooting away. We've only got a few more inches of rooting to go! He's looking more and more like a real boy every day.
After 13 hours of rooting, we've finally covered the top of his head ear to ear. I also finished rooting the fuzzy little area on the temple and the rest of the hairline.
As I mentioned previously, blonde hair is very hard to see. But when you look closely, you can see that he has plenty of soft, wispy hair.
Tonight's playlist: Disney's Oliver and Company and Tangled. Tangled has given me an exciting idea for a doll: Baby Rapunzel. Can you imagine a sweet, green-eyed baby with 12 inches of soft blonde hair? Irresistible!
I'm such a Disney princess at heart.
I love rooting because it is a very relaxing process. However, it takes many hours to carefully place every individual strand of hair on the baby's head. So that Wyatt and I are both entertained as I root, I like to play movies in the background. Since I am listening to the TV rather than watching it, to qualify for my rooting playlist, a movie needs to have either great music, funny dialog or both.
Today's selections were all Disney: Hercules, Princess and the Frog and Frozen. I think Wyatt enjoyed Hercules the most. :)
We've finally reached the top of the right ear. Next, we'll do the same on the other side. His light, wispy hair is filling in very nicely. And its so soft!
Sometimes progress doesn't look like progress. But we're making our way around the head...one strand at at time. :)
We just completed the crown and the area on the top of the head where the hair is thickest.
For no particular reason, I like to root in strips from the edges to the crown. Maybe because, as I go, the back of the head, reminds me of a pie chart gradually approaching 100%. Always an analyst at heart. :)
When we're done, this little guy is getting a haircut!
Now for some real magic!
One thing I love most about reborn dolls is the fact that they appear to have hair growing out of their scalps. This is thanks to the process of micro-rooting - inserting premium hair a strand or two at a time in a natural hair growth pattern.
Before starting, I painted the hair growth pattern on his head so I'd know which way to angle the hair as I'm rooting.
Then, I rooted his eyebrows. One thing I learned from this experience so far: blonde hair is very hard to see! Once I had a section of hair rooted, I could see it well. But looking at one strand at a time against peach skin took bright lights and high magnification. Good thing I'm equipped for that!
Over the years I've learned that if there is anything I dislike in the painting of a doll, I don't typically notice it until the baby is done and I can't do anything about it.
So this time, we did an interim review to make sure Wyatt's painting is as lifelike as we can get it. He passed his review with flying colors. Indoor lighting, outdoor lighting, from every angle he's a sweetheart.
Enjoy our pictures from today!
Today's focus was fine details. To create the illusion of depth, I shade all the creases and folds of skin on the baby. I also continued blushing for that perfect rosy look.
Today, we continued our painting journey. As I mentioned yesterday, creating a lifelike baby involves many, many, many...many layers of paint. Each additional layer adds subtle depth and life.
Unfortunately, the details are so subtle that your eyes see them better than my camera can. Still, I put together the time lapse photography video below to show the steps that we covered today. Looking at just his right foot, it starts with the blank vinyl, goes through the primer and all the mottling, ending with blushing. Can you see the transformation?
To create lifelike baby skin, there are six layers of mottling. Each layer is a different color. Each color, has a special sponge. I pattern each sponge by hand to create a natural-looking skin pattern.
As you can see, red, blue, purple and even green are needed to bring a baby to life.
Once the mottling is complete, I hand paint veins on the head, hands and feet. Then, I add a few flesh tone layers (Flesh 08 as requested) to place these veins under the skin.
I love everything about creating dolls, but blushing is one of my favorite parts.
Once I'm happy with the skin tone, I begin to add a little extra sweet rosiness to the fingers and toes, cheeks and nose. This detail really brings the doll to life.
So far, I've only done the first layer of blushing on the hands and feet. Next time, we'll blush the face and continue to work on some more details.
More to come!
Which eye color is your favorite?
The Pre-Reborning Process
Before I begin transforming a doll into a baby, I undergo an involved pre-reborning process to prepare the doll and the artist for the magic about to take place.
Reborn Doll Babies
Reborn Doll Artist
Hi! My name is Kim. I am a reborn artist based in NC. I have been creating dolls since I was a child. I discovered the art of life-like baby dolls in 2011 and have been reborning ever since.