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Dolls, Bears and Collecables Profile – The Reborn Renaissance

Published in the February edition of Dolls, Bears and Collectables Magazine. Vol16 No2

Reborn Baby Dolls have become a phenomenon around
the world. You only have to search on the Internet to see the
interest in these lifelike dolls is growing by the second. Nikki
Holland, who runs the Melbourne based Still Moments
, is one of Australia’s well-known reborn artists.

Custom order dolls.

Nikki has always had a passion
for dolls. Growing up in New
Zealand, Papua New Guinea
and Tasmania, her interest started
when she was very young.

“I remember going to a toy shop
on my seventh birthday and I got to
pick out my very own Magic Nursery
Doll,” she says. “I remember my
cousin made her own porcelain
baby and from then on I always
wanted to create my own.”

However, Nikki never had the
opportunity until ‘reborning’
came along.

Reborn Dolls are made out of
vinyl and through a very long
process are enhanced to resemble
real life babies. This process called
‘reborning’ has been around since
the early 1990s. Nikki first came
across Reborns when she was
searching the Internet in 2004,
looking for porcelain dolls to add to
her collection. However, her search
took a diversion when she stumbled
across these lifelike dolls, where
one in particular took her fancy.

“I spent weeks looking through
all the babies on offer and I just
couldn’t get over how much
detailing they all had,” she
remembers. “When I finally found
‘Tristan’, he looked so sweet sleeping
on a beanbag, I had to have him.”

Known as a ‘Sleeping Berenguer’,
‘Tristan’ has long fine hair, a soft
cloth body and is weighed just like a
newborn baby. When the doll arrived,
Nikki was overcome at how lifelike he
looked and felt.

“I loved the fact that he was soft
and different from the dolls I was
used to holding,” she says. “I was
intrigued by how they were made,
so I jumped online and started


With not a lot of information readily
available, Nikki joined many Internet
forums and asked lots of questions.
Finding ‘Tristan’ ultimately changed
Nikki’s career and life path.

“He is one of my most treasured
reborn dolls as he was the beginning
of my new adventure into the world
of reborns and the start of my

Nikki first practiced on Berenguer
Dolls before she attempted a reborn
kit, purchased from the United States.

“My first baby turned out okay
but I was flying blind,” she recalls.
“I was using stencil creams and he
has a wig applied as I didn’t know
about felting needles then. He did
turn out a little on the red side but
I learnt as I went along how to thin
down the paints.”

Hooked after this first go, Nikki
started to make more reborns,
perfecting her intricate art. Artistic
while growing up, Nikki realised
that this type of doll making was
something she really enjoyed and
was skillful at.


“I tried my hand at most things –
sewing, woodwork, cross stitch – but
I always came back to painting,” she
says. “I get this from my father, who is
also arty.”

Making a reborn doll requires
a good eye and patience. After
receiving her dolls from a
manufacturer, Nikki washes the vinyl
parts and lets them dry. She then
starts her work using Genesis Heat
Set paints, oils or stencil creams.

“Coat one is a flesh colour and I
might do this a couple of times,”
Nikki explains. “I then do any
veining and birthmarks, then do
another coat.”

For novices, what is wonderful
about making a reborn is if you make a
painting mistake, you can always fix it
up. However, this can only be done if
you have not already heat-set the doll.

Nikki’s expert advice is: “Don’t be
scared to jump in, the coats should
be very watery and remember the
paint is removable until you heat it;
so keep playing around until you have
the look you are after.”

Next comes the blushing, which can
be mottled, peach or cream, followed
by the tipping and sealing of the nails.

“Every baby should have a full
manicure and pedicure,” Nikki says.

Nikki then paints the eyelids and
lips, followed by the attachment of
the eyes. She explains, “They come in a wide range of realistic
lifelike colours and sizes to fit most doll kits.”

Timothy John.

Her doll’s limbs are then weighed and added to a cloth
body, which is also weighed. Finally, it’s time for the hair,
which is a slow process.

 “Yes, it is very time consuming but it is relaxing at the
same time,” Nikki says. “I only use kid mohair and use a
fine felting needle, inserting only a few hairs at a time.”


 This gives the look that the hair is growing out
from the skull naturally. The head is then weighed and
attached to the body, before the doll is dressed and made
ready for a new home.

Nikki explains that you really have to plan your reborn
before you start

. “You have to take into account what the doll will
look like and you have to make sure you have the
correct skin, eye and hair colour; otherwise it will
look a bit funny,” she says. “I am always researching
baby colourings before I start and I focus on these in


Together with her partner Tim, Nikki decided a while
after making her first doll that she would take the risk
and become a full time reborn artist. Giving up a career
in catering, Nikki says Still Moments Nursery did not
happen overnight.

“Starting any business is difficult, especially the first
year,” she says. “I started selling my completed dolls on
eBay, and then Tim built me a website to sell and display
my dolls online.”

At first Nikki began with a picture gallery, but soon
artists from around the world started contacting her,
asking if she sold supplies. Realising this gap in the
market helped her to push the business forward.

Still Moments Nursery sells completed reborn dolls,
that you can also custom order. Nikki explains she has
clients all over the world, who buy her dolls for many
diverse reasons.

“Grandmothers get lookalikes of their grandchildren
or mothers buy one to give to their daughter,” she says.
“Some are elderly people in homes wanting a reborn for
company, whilst others are porcelain doll makers trying
the new art.”

Nikki sells an array of supplies including tools,
brushes, and whole kits used in reborning. She also
sells Genesis Heat Set paints in many colours for
personalized colour mixing. You can even purchase
clothes, when your reborn is complete. In conjunction
with all of this, Nikki runs online tutorials and
weekend classes for new reborn artists.

“I provide my knowledge to new artists and they also
go home with (hopefully) a completed doll, as well as
all the paints and tools during the class,” she says. “My
online tutorials are little projects I will be working on or
a technique I want to share with


Although some media have
been negative about reborn dolls,
this hasn’t affected their growing
recognition worldwide.

“I personally think that reborns
have become so popular because
you can make them look and feel
so realistic,” Nikki says. “I have
heard many of the media stories
over the last few years and think
people are just uneducated about
the art. They are just dolls and for
some people they mean more. I
am more than happy to bring that
kind of joy into someone’s life.
That’s the best part of creating a
Reborn Baby Doll!”

Nikki Holland
Still Moments Nursery
Ph: 03 9735 1824 Email:




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One thought on “Dolls, Bears and Collecables Profile – The Reborn Renaissance

  1. Hello Nikki,

    I love your blog here and your ‘babies’ are beautiful. I currently own 4 going on more.. LOL. I wish I live near a place to learn & take classes. My sister lives in Alaska and she has 3 kits and is planning on learning…

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