Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sorry....They are NOT "Fake Babies"

So I guess I'll come out of hiding and blog about My Fake Baby :-)

No doubt this will step on a few toes, but yanno what? I don't think they did the world of reborn doll making any huge favors.

Sure, it's nice that a TV documentary was made showing the world what "reborns" are. It's the after-spin that I find distasteful.

Whose idea was it to call them FAKE BABIES anyway?

They aren't FAKE anything. They are REAL dolls :-)

I've been creating reborn dolls for almost 5 years and teaching the art of reborning in live classes and on DVD for 3. So I have a bit of visibility in the doll world.

Only twice in all that time has anyone contacted me about creating a special doll to replace a lost child. Yes, I did it. (I'd never judge what it takes any parent to get through the day after having lost a baby).

Do I think a vinyl doll can replace a living, breathing infant?
Not for me, it wouldn't. (But who are you and I to sit in judgment?)

Having said that, I'm of the opinion that there is a VERY small percentage of reborn doll collectors that fit this category.

I believe the media is taking this tiny fraction and spinning it to their advantage to make money at the expense of the sensibilities of reborn artists, exploiting the collectors of reborns, and blowing the entire thing out of proportion.

Go do a search on eBay today: "fake baby". A month ago you'd get zero hits. Today there are 3 and there were a couple more that ended over the weekend.

Pullllleeeze. It doesn't even SOUND nice!

'Reborn' might be a contrived name, but at least it has a decent connotation. I honestly do not care at all for this new bandwagon. It's about the money...the latest buzzword....whatever people think is going to give them the edge on eBay to sell their dolls or more advertising on the TV channels.

Pssssst....Artists! I have a secret for you: LEARN THE ART. Get good at it! That's your best hedge against too much competition in the reborn market. Not pandering to the newest and latest fad name.

Did putting "OARB" in your auctions revolutionize the reborn world? Nah.
Did a glut of Reborning Guilds do it? Double nah.

An important point to remember: some reborn artists toss their credibility in the trash for the sake of trying to rise head and shoulders above the eBay masses. It takes time, talent and lots of practice to become an accomplished and recognized artist. Sticking some new letters onto your nursery name won't do it, sorry.

Now, am I saying that women who love to dress up their reborns and take them places to fool people are nuts? No. (Well, no more than anyone who dresses their toy dogs in little jewelled collars and boutique clothing and carries them everywhere tucked into a $185 designer carrier. If it floats your boat...)

But I've been reading the comments in response to the new blogs and reviews of "My Fake Baby". Ruh roh.... Somebody tell me, did they do us reborn artists any favors?? In fairness, I suppose that remains to be seen. Right now, though, it doesn't seem to me as like they have.

So, you won't see HunnyBuns Nursery jumping on the "Fake Baby" bandwagon. I'm usually one of those on the list to be contacted (I was interviewed last summer by a lovely young woman with True North Productions in the UK) by the documentary producers and magazines. Somebody from a Miami Fla. paper contacted me about 2 weeks ago, in fact.

I just don't think Channel 4 did anyone on either side (artists or collectors) any favors with the sensationalizing.

What I don't get is why people can't appreciate the art of reborning and newborning dolls as simply what it is, a creative and endearing art form, like lovely classic porcelain dolls and quirky, imaginative art dolls.
Anyone who knows me and follows my work knows that I am one of the artists who push the envelope with ultra-realism in my own dolls. So it's not that I think that the realism is a problem.

Blurring the lines of reality between real infants and dolls? Yes, I think I have a bit of a problem with that.

I don't begrudge the artists who lent their names to the documentary. I seriously doubt they knew going in how the end result would turn out. I haven't been to DollFan much in the past couple weeks to read the discussions, although I suppose I should. If those artists gain more publicity and their dolls are worthy of the high prices and well-made genuine collector's quality reborn babies, then I wish them all the best success.

I truly hope that's the case. Poorly made reborns hurt all of us by damaging credibility and reputations among collectors. (This is a soapbox I jumped on a lot in the past).
Suddenly the new buzzword is Fake Baby. So how many people are going to jump on eBay or start frantically googling for fake babies? How many artists are going to suddenly decide to capitalize on the new craze? I see dark clouds gathering on the horizon if this happens.
Impassioned but uneducated buyers plus artists who will do anything to sell a doll = very bad combination.

I guess I've gotten at least 3 emails this week as a result of Channel 4's broadcast and the YouTube segment.

Don't get me wrong, I think some parts of the documentary were tastefully presented. But much it was so dramatic, so contrived. Harry's grandmother's comments about a doll seeming to replace a child "no longer around" even creeped ME out a little. I would say, misleading! The ending on the first YouTube segment was deliberately provocative, and the grandmother was in reality, not bereaved, but rather the grandchild had relocated. Big difference.

I've seen 3 out of the 5 YouTube segments now. I don't know when I'll view the rest of them. The last one really "icked me out" to tell you the truth. I don't know one single collector who carries on the way the couple did in Segment 3/5.

So that's why I'm not so pleased about any of this. I don't like the skewed perceptions. I don't think it's fair to any of us.

I'm not at all surprised that people outside the doll world think the whole business is screwy and sick. And as a reborn artist, THAT saddens me.


Carol Anne said...

Stephanie, I fully agree with your comments on the fake babies. We don't make fake babies, we are ARTISTS who put our heart into creating beautiful reborn dolls. Yes, they may look like real babies, but they are only dolls. I've made reborns for ladies who have lost a baby of their own, or a sibling, but these aren't replacements for these ladies, they just want a doll in memory of a lost one.

Thank you very much for posting this subject and for being a wonderful artist. You ROCK Girl!!!

Carol Anne

Stephanie said...

Thanks for your sensible and supportive comments, Carol Anne.

Didi said...

I saw the show on Sky TV and was quite interested in this craft and also the people who are the consumers of the dolls. I don't think the dolls are for ME, but I am amazed at the realism and artistry. As I suspected, the people on the show like the lady who shopped at Herrods for her new baby, are in the minority. Personally *I* would not carry on like that with a doll, nor do I have the means to, but I am in no place to criticize her for this. I am sure that all this uproar will die down soon. And I HOPE that most people will consider the source....Channel 4 is kind of a tabloid of tv channels really...some other shows they offer are "Cutting Edge, My Child's Psychic", "Child Chain Smoker", "Crip on a Trip" (Yes that is the REAL title! about a disabled man and his vacation!), etc. and so forth.