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What's new in various product categories; monthly update.

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"Reborning" A New Form of Dollmaking

Realism beyond what many thought possible.

by Staff Report (August 18, 2008)

What's new in the craft world? Actually, something that's old. Remember when the Cabbage Patch doll set off a huge dollmaking trend, then faded? Like so many other trends, dollmaking goes in cycles. And like the legendary Phoenix, the new rises up out of the ashes of the old.

How old is this baby? Yes, it's a newborn, but it was brought into the world through the art of "reborning." It's not porcelain; it's made on a 3D canvas of vinyl in the shape of a newborn baby. With special brushes, paints, and a myriad of other tools and supplies, a "reborn artist" has given birth to this incredibly life-like creation.

How life-like is it? Recently, on a hot sunny day in Australia, police and fire department officials' broke into the back seat of a car to save ... a baby doll. (Visit www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,24019578-1248,00.html.) This event has been repeated with stories from Europe, South America, Africa, Canada, and the U.S. Why? A growing number of crafters are entering the market, then taking their reborn babies here and there and occasionally forgetting them in the car

Reborning began in the U.S. about six years ago when a crafter tried to improve a toy doll she had purchased. The results were impressive and the doll sold for hundreds of dollars on eBay. Word spread and over the next four years others entered the field with even better results.

By 2004 the Secrist Doll Company recognized the trend and developed a line of blank vinyl doll kits that were more life like. Crafters bought the kits, then asked for help in making the dolls look real.

In response, Secrist developed a line of training DVDs and supplies. That was like pouring gasoline on a fire sales exploded. Soon requests for supplies came from around the world and the company had to establish warehouses in each continent to meet the demand. Now reborn artists number in the thousands.

In response to the trend, a European TV network produced an hour-long documentary, My Fake Baby. The result was an explosion in the demand for these life-like newborns and a demand for more artists to make them. The surge was so great that many reborn suppliers were completely wiped out of their inventory. It took the company three months to catch up.

Secrist reports that the wave hasn't subsided; growth this year has been better than ever. Surveys of reborn artists revealed the majority had seen or purchased a Secrist DVD about the art on eBay, liked what they had learned, and ordered supplies. The DVD was initially created to teach reborning, but it became a global ad for the art form. (Secrist now offers a DVD in Spanish and Portuguese.)

Reborning has given birth to a new wave of professional crafters. Secrist reports that a good reborn artist can expect to sell life-like babies on eBay for $250 to $500; some have gone for as much as $1,000 or more. Crafters can make $2,000 a month or more through this art form. With eBay as their sales venue, crafters are no longer limited to craft and doll shows, but now can play on a global stage.

Because growth in this industry depends on making the art form available to a broader audience through products geared for the beginner, Secrist continues to produce more DVDs to unlock the secrets of making life-like reborn dolls. This effort also includes special paints and brushes designed to make reborning easier than ever.

To increase the visibility of the industry, there are competitions in the U.S. and Europe. Secrist sponsors "Reborn Baby of the Year," the category's version of Time's "Man of the Year." The most life-like entry is featured on the cover of Secrist's annual magazine, the logic being that the first thing that attracts consumers to reborning is seeing a picture of a cute baby that turns out to be a doll. The journey begins when they read about how this baby was made.

There are numerous products available to help the reborner make that special baby, thus inspiring the consumer to return to the store for more supplies and new tools. Secrist even offers a drop ship program to help keep inventory costs down for the retailer.

This art form is not about dolls but about a women's love for the child. Those who buy the finished babies do not consider themselves collectors. Instead, they are reliving a moment in time and through the reborn artist that time is now.

To learn more, visit www.secristdolls.com.



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