Making reborn dolls is the craft of turning an ordinary manufactured vinyl or plastic doll into a realistic model of a living infant. Reborn dolls are painted, sculpted and given new wigs and eyes. Soft bodies are created for them that simulate the feel of a real baby.
An important aspect of making a soft body and limbs is getting the weight right. To this end, reborn doll-makers, known as reborners, use several different kinds of filler for their dolls. Heavy fibre, polymer beads, gel pads, glass beads and sand are all different options available to reborners. The filling is put inside a nylon stocking to give shape and weight to the body.
The array of different fillers available can be quite dizzying for a new reborner. One key question for a lot of reborn makers and collectors concerns the use of sand for a filler. They wonder if it is acceptable to substitute sand in place of the very fine glass beads used to provide a pleasing roundness and weight.
Benefits of Sand
At first glance, sand seems like an acceptable compromise. Sand looks less appealing than glass beads, but since it will be tucked away inside the doll, the appearance is not an issue. Sand is far cheaper, and much easier to come by. Glass beads must be sourced from specialist stores, but purified sand is available from a number of sources.
Drawbacks of Sand
Some doll enthusiasts, however, consider the use of sand in a reborn baby to be bad practice. Sand has irregularly sized and shaped particles, and some feel that this affects the feel of the limbs. Purified sand such as children's play sand or decor sand will be clean and free from detritus, but horror stories also circulate among collectors of dolls that were revealed to contain unpurified sand along with dirt and even bugs.
If the reborn dolls are to be offered for sale, it should be remembered that many collectors will wish to adapt their dolls after purchase. They may decide to open the doll's body to re-weight the doll, or to insert items such as heating pads or beating heart units. On finding that sand has been used for weighting, even clean, purified sand, many collectors will be disgruntled. Sellers who offer high-quality filler materials thus may have an advantage over those who substitute cheaper ones, such as sand or rocks.