That's right, if you follow these 5 simple rules, you will never fail as a reborn artist.
Rule #5: Expect to Fail
Wait! This fifth "Never Fail Rule" is to Fail?? That's right!
Unlike other skills that you learn - like computer programming, math or baking - most of us approach reborning a little overconfident. We see a doll we love on the internet and expect to be able to reproduce that same level of quality in the first shot with just a starter kit and a DVD.
My first two reborn dolls were not hideous, but not great. Nothing I'd want to put on eBay, anyway. Yet like any proud new mom, I was always shoving pictures of them in people's faces, like they were the best thing ever made.
That eventually wore off and I realized I still had a lot to learn. Yet, I still love and cherish my first dolls. They remind me of why I got into this business and show me just how much I've grown since I started.
If your goal is perfection out of the gate, you're probably en route to frustration and disappointment. Some folks are naturals, but most of us go through a several iterations to learn - even if we already have art training.
If you're just starting out, buy the cheapest doll kit you can find - even one that is defective - and expect to mess it up. Not only is this a normal part of learning anything, but the tutorial you're using is also working against you...which brings me to Rule Number 4.
Rule #4: Burn the Tutorials
While you might not be ready to throw that $50 DVD into the fireplace and dance around the ashes, bring a critical mind to every tutorial you get - including the ones I write.
I started with the Bountiful Baby Paint by Numbers. I did paint by numbers as a kid.
Surely I could master this thing as an adult, right?
I watched the DVD several times before even attempting to paint my doll.
But no matter how diligently I reproduced every detail in the tutorial - even down to painting the nails with a toothpick (?!) - I was not getting the results I wanted. Why?
Most beginner tutorials over-simplify the reborning process. Especially tutorials created by doll kit or paint manufacturers. They want you to feel like creating a doll is fast and easy so you'll make a lot of them and buy more doll kits.
We've all got to start somewhere and the beginner tutorials are great for orienting you to the many different steps in reborning. But don't get too attached to doing things exactly the way they specify in the tutorial. When I finally gave up on painting by numbers, I saw a remarkable improvement in the quality of my dolls. When I create a doll today, there are very few steps that I continue to do the way I learned from that first tutorial. I've also over time eliminated from my pallet a lot of the paints that have body parts in the name (lip, nail, blush...). If your blush doesn't look right no matter what you do, it just may be a problem with the paint.
When I buy a new tutorial from another artist or take a live class, I'm always bringing a test kit - not something I would have otherwise sold. I fully expect that I'm not going to adopt everything in the tutorial and I don't subject my good doll kits to that experimentation process.
But experimentation takes a lot of time and money, which brings me to Rule Number 3...
Rule # 3: Waste Time and Money
The felt need to stick to a budget holds many of us back in the art.
When I first started, I bought the cheapest convection oven I could find on eBay to cure my Genesis Heat Set paints. That cheap oven melted several of my dolls.
I also tried to resist buying more paints and tools when I first started. "Well, this looks close enough," I'd reassure myself before completely messing up the veins on an otherwise good doll.
Reborn dolls are expensive and so are the materials and equipment. You've got to be ready to invest in the good stuff so you can see your dolls flourish. Here are two quotes I like to share with beginners on wasting money:
Businesses optimize profits, while families optimize utility."
We threw away about $10,000 in materials during our learning process..."
If you need to drop another $150 to make your dolls more beautiful and make your craft more fulfilling, just do it and don't look back. You deserve the best!
Rule # 2: Remain Teachable
Okay, so after telling you to burn your tutorials, I'm now telling you to remain teachable? Yes!
Even though my customers are happy with how my dolls look, I'm always on the lookout for learning something new.
My goal is that each doll I create be even more lifelike than the one that came before it. And you can't reach a goal like that doing the same thing over and over again. In order to grow, you have to remain teachable.
Of course, in addition to the free stuff mentioned above, you can always buy the DVDs and attend the live classes. But remember for any tutorial you encounter:
Get It > Learn It > Burn It!
Adopt what's useful and throw away the rest.
Rule # 1: Never Give Up!
So by now, your floor is covered with:
- several ruined doll kits
- shredded pieces of tutorials
- a credit card bill you're afraid to look at
- and a few nasty and/or super critical e-mails from artists you once idolized
You're starting to think this reborn gig is not all its cracked up to be. But Rule #1 will keep you in it: Don't Quit!
Its really that simple. But I didn't say don't cry or don't take a break from it. Learning is painful and stressful. You've got to productively manage that stress. But don't let it pull you out of the game. Call and vent on a friend. Find other folks online struggling with the same issues as you.
Let whatever motivated you to buy that starter doll kit in the first place - loss of a loved one, desire to try something new, plans to become a tycoon on eBay - carry you through the tough times. When you finally hold that baby you dreamed of in your arms, you'll know it was worth what it took to get you there. And if you're like me, you'll put that baby in a box, ship it to someone else, feel depressed for about a day then grab a new doll kit and start the process all over again!
Rule #6: Don't Cure Until You're Sure!
This rule is so important that it's worth adding a 6th rule to the 5 Never Fail Rules!
Always thoroughly inspect your pieces before you cure the paint. That tiny crease you forgot to buff out will you haunt you forever. Some of the worst boo boos on my dolls have been things I could have prevented had I seen it.
Once you see it, fix it! This may sound obvious, but its very temping in reborning to assume that something wrong can be painted over later. But we work in transparent layers. That thing you could have fixed will only get darker as you go. So never put anything in the oven that you don't like, or put differently, don't cure until you're sure!
What Are Your Never Fail Rules?
So you probably figured out by now that my 5 (or 6) Never Fail Rules are all things that I totally failed at but overcame. What have you learned that has become a Never Fail Rule for you?
Hi! I am Kim. I've been creating dolls all my life. I started stuffing cotton balls into my mom's pantyhose when I was a little girl. Now I hand-craft dolls that look and feel like real babies.