Want to Meet Two Real “Reborn” doll artists? Ask Questions? See ‘Reborning’ This Sunday, March 8th

Joanna Strapp in 'Reborning'

Joanna Strapp in ‘Reborning’

Amy Karich and LaJuana Hawkins to Q&A at Fountain Theatre

“Reborn” doll artists Amy Karich and LaJuana Hawkins will lead a discussion at the Fountain Theatre on Sunday, March 8 at 3:30 p.m., following the 2 p.m. matinee performance of Reborning by Zayd Dohrn.

A Reborn doll is a manufactured vinyl doll that has been transformed to resemble a human baby with as much realism as possible. Although many consumers collect Reborns as they would regular dolls, others use them to replace a child they once lost or a child that has grown up. The dolls often come with birth or adoption certificates, and their “parents” care for them as they would an infant. Because of their realistic appearance, Reborn dolls have occasionally been mistaken for real babies and rescued from parked cars after being reported to the police by passers-by.

Kristin Carey in "Reborning".

Kristin Carey in “Reborning”.

The doll design process — called Reborning — is elaborate and time-consuming. Creators hand-root each strand of hair onto a doll’s scalp. They replicate dewy newborn skin by adding up to 80 layers of paint to the vinyl molded baby, which then must be baked to be sealed. Some are then perfumed with new-baby smell. Manicured nails and opening of the nose holes, so that the baby can “breathe,” are other details that are added during the process. Reborn heads are often weighted, so that owners have to support the head like one would a real newborn. Electronic devices that mimic a heart beat, or make the chest rise and fall to simulate breathing are common. Reborns might come with an umbilical cord, baby fat, heat packs to make the reborn warm to the touch, or voice boxes that mimic infant sounds. Reborn dolls can be purchased on EBay and on artist websites, often called “nurseries.” Purchases are not called sales, but “adoptions.” There are trade shows for collectors nationwide. Depending on craftsmanship, dolls range in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Amy Karich is a professional Reborn artist based in Southern California. Her online nursery, Amy’s Dollhouse, can be found at www.amysdollhouse.com.

LaJuana Hawkins is a sculptor of African American figurines who has recently turned her talents to Reborning.

In Zayd Dohrn’s play, currently receiving its Los Angeles premiere at the Fountain. a young artist who crafts custom-made dolls begins to suspect that a demanding client may be the mother who abandoned her at birth. As she tries to unravel the mystery, she discovers the path to her own “Reborning.” Starring Kristin Carey, Ryan Doucette and Joanna Strapp, and directed bySimon Levy, the Fountain Theatre’s production has been named a “Critic’s Choice” by the Los Angeles Times, which calls it an “exquisitely well-realized production… All the actors are rock-solid — a real heart-stopper.”

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