Susan Gibbs, 49, from Canada, loves baby dolls and has made perfecting them her life’s works. “I saw reborns for the first time in 2009, and I couldn’t believe how real they looked. I purchased my first one that same year, then added two more after a couple of months. I realized they were expensive dolls to collect, so I tried my hand at making them myself.”
Susan decided that she had to make these dolls herself. They mesmerized her and did not let go of her attention.
“First, I was only making them for my family and me. Then it took off, especially when I made the switch to silicone dolls. Now I teach worldwide how to paint silicone dolls.”
It takes Susan up to four weeks to perfect each of her “babies.” She achieves this realistic look by applying layers of paint. This technique allows her to mimic the natural look of skin. Then, she inserts hair follicles one by one until she has achieved perfection. This process takes a long time, usually around thirty hours of hard, focused work. But the results are stunning!
“Each doll I try to make better than the last one,” she said. “When I do my online class, I finish painting a doll in five days, but on average, I make one or two newborns a month. I don’t take custom orders. I sell what I finish. Some are more expensive than others, depending on the price of the doll and the quality of the kit I use.”
Her dolls are very popular. Susan can hardly field all of the requests.
“I get a lot of inquiries daily. I can’t keep up with the messages. I always tell them that I will post photos on my social media when I’m done, but usually, my dolls sell before I start painting them. People message me what my line-up of kit is, then they secure the doll that they want to adopt.”
Customers buy dolls from Susan for too many different reasons to name. Not every person is trying to mimic the experience of having a real baby. But some are!
“Most of these dolls are used as therapy tools in nursing homes,” she said. “Some are memorial dolls for mothers who have lost their babies or had a miscarriage. While some are just collectors’ items. They are also used as special effects props in the film industry, especially birthing scenes.”
Susan remembers the moment she gave an elderly woman a doll as a gift in 2011.
She added, “She never had a doll as a child. So on Christmas, I gave her a doll that I made to look like me when I was a baby. It was her very first doll, and she was 83. She squealed like a little girl and cried happy tears. That was priceless.”
All of Susan’s work is remarkable and unique.
“I know most of my customers. Interestingly, they are young mothers between [the ages of] 30 [and] 40 from the USA. I don’t have a big clientele like eBay users do, and I don’t like selling on there because I want to know where my babies go. I don’t do custom orders.”
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