In my previous reborn “how to” article, I discussed the preparation work and how to change out the eyes. In this second half of how to reborn Berenguer dolls, we’re going to focus completely on the paint.
To reborn a doll, you need to be ready to paint them from the inside out. The inside paint is a step called “purple washing” because the person who first started making reborn dolls used a pure, straight purple paint to coat the inside of the dolls they made. As the hobby progresses, reborn artists have experimented with many different ways to perform this step … but it has to be done to give dolls that so-alive-blood-is-flowing look.
After the purple wash, we get to add rosy cheeks and then finish our dolls off with eyelashes.
The only step in renewing that I won’t discuss is the hair. Simply, there are too many ways to do reborn hair from hand-rooting to attaching a mohair wig. When you first start renewing dolls, I seriously suggest going the easier route and using a mohair wig. This will cost you a bit more to purchase, but it will also save you a lot of frustration. Hand rooting is a lengthy process that involves using a needle and heat to root mohair into the doll’s head strand-by-strand. Really, it’s up to you.
So, on to the paint. Here’s what you’ll need:
Violet acrylic paint
Flesh or Beige acrylic paint
Berry, Mauve, or Pink acrylic paint
A fan-tipped paint brush
A Tupperware container for paint mixing and storage
Painting Reborns Step One – The Purple Wash
Many fantastic reborn artists have perfected the use of straight purple paint so that when they use this as their purple wash, the final reborn doll is luminous with life. The rest of us end up with a “bruised baby” look that isn’t the least bit appealing.
How to fix that? Easy – you mix 3 paints together to achieve a much lighter purple with more color to it. I use a blend of flesh, pink, and violet. The darker purple you go with the mixture, the more life-like your final reborn will look. However, it can backfire and lead to the bruised bit I just mentioned. Try using a larger amount of purple, half that amount of pink, and half the pink’s amount in white.
Mix your paints in a Tupperware-style container. You will want to mix enough in one batch that you can paint the entire doll inside (the head and the body) – so you’ll probably have some mixture left over. Cap a lid on the paint mixture and you’ll have it to use on your next reborn doll project – believe me, there will be another.
Once your paints are well blended, use a fan-tip paint brush to coat the inside of the head and body with an even layer of purple. This can take a bit of time, but just keep going smoothly along until you don’t see many bright streaks inside the head where light is shining through the vinyl.
After painting the inside of the head and body, set the pieces somewhere safe until the purple wash is well dry.
Painting Reborns Step Two – Adding Rosy Bits
Babies have very thin skin, which gives them that rosy “blush” look on their faces and body. We’re going to replicate that blush look now that the purple wash is all dry.
The materials you need for this step depend on what you feel most comfortable with. Many beginning reborn artists prefer using a stencil creme to add blush to their babies, but I’ve always stuck with the same acrylic paints I used to create the purple wash. No matter which way you go, you’re going to get your fingers messy. It really just depends on which style of paint feels most natural to you.
Using the pink (stencil creme or acrylic paint), dot a small amount of paint on each cheek, the chin, the nose, and the middle of the forehead. Then, use your finger to rub the paint in until it’s smoothly blended. This is just like applying liquid blush makeup – you want it to show up, but flow flawlessly across the skin it’s meant to brighten.
Don’t put pink all over the face. You just want to highlight areas that a real newborn tends to be redder – cheeks, chin, nose, forehead, and ears.
Set the head aside to dry a bit while you work on the body. Blushing the body works the same way – you don’t want it to be colored everywhere, only where a real baby would be pinker. Do a small bit on the shoulders, the chest, the belly, elbows, knees, and the tops and bottoms of both hands and feet. Again, rub the paint in until it blends seamlessly into the un-colored skin.
Allow these pieces to dry well and take another look at them. Vinyl tends to suck paint in like a sponge, so you may have to reapply the blush colors within a few hours.
Painting Reborns Step Three – Eyelashes and Eyebrows
All that’s left (other than the hair, which we’re not getting into) are the eyelashes and eyebrows. Eyelashes are easiest, so let’s start there.
Carefully peel the doll eyelashes from their backing. You may need tweezers – it’s very sticky, which is a good thing once you’ve got the lashes in place but fairly irritating when you can’t get them off the plastic container they arrived in. Set the eyelashes on the eyeball, as close to the lid as you can. Then, using a toothpick, start gently pressing the sticky top end of the lashes behind the lids – they’ll slip inside the head, clinging to the eye, and form a beautiful doll look.
Last step – the eyebrows. You can either use a regular eyeliner pencil or paint in an appropriate color … but you’ll want to sketch the eyebrows on lightly so that they have the right shape and then rub them hard so that they nearly disappear. Newborns have eyebrows, but they’re practically invisible, nothing more than a suggestion of shape and color.
Beautiful work! Put some hair on that baby’s head and you’ve got a gorgeous reborn doll.