Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gummi Baby: unliving or undead?

I admit I tend to harp on one subject until I can't stand it any more. It's part of my relentless nature and necessary for surviving all my self-generated difficulties.

But these! These things, these "reborns" (sometimes called "unborn" or even "unliving") got me onto the subject of "the undead", though not in the usual zombie sense of people staggering around with raggy clothes and painted faces.

I am drawn to this subject, and yet repelled. Yes, sometimes I wish I could hold a baby again. Hell, ALL the time! My grandchildren are my life now, I'd be bored and/or dead of despair by now without them, but my eldest granddaughter is turning NINE on October 31.

I was there in the delivery room when she was born, an amazing experience that can never be exceeded in power and wonder and love. But it will never happen again. In a sense, it was the very peak of my life, but of course I didn't know it.

My first novel had just been published, I was the thinnest I'd been in many years, and people kept asking me, "What have you been doing? You look ten years younger!"

Never mind the rest of the story, but let's say I'm lucky to be alive now, if very fat, and much, much older, most of my dreams sadly packed away.

But these babies! I can see how someone, stricken with grief, might latch on to one of them. They don't poop, never cry (though as the info below explains, some of them "coo" and make baby noises when you throw a switch somewhere). Some are heated and/or even appear to breathe and have a heartbeat.

The newest category, and one I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around, is "full-body silicone babies". These are molded out of that rubbery stuff you make sex toys out of (not that I'd know anything about THAT), not to mention fake breasts and full-size sex dolls. It's hard for me to get a bead on what the exact difference is between these and conventional vinyl Reborns. I know that the original reborns were baked in the oven, and I don't think you'd do that to silicone unless you wanted a big puddle. The artists who make the Reborns don't say much about the silicones (which I suspect are a new thing that's catching on now) except to be defensive and rather negative. I suppose they're poured into a mold of some sort, but it's hard for me to grasp how you'd make that mold. I have horrible visions of newborn babies being encased in plaster of Paris.

One traditional Reborn site said that "silicones" have the squishy texture and cold feel of a Gummi Bear. The real plus however is that you don't have to look at that awful cloth body when you change them. I always hated that about dolls: it interfered with any feeling that I was handling a real baby. Plus you can bathe them and make their little arms wave around and splash in the water cuz they're so rubbery.

I HAVE to get off this, I know, but I'm stuck in it now and feel like I'm walking around in the Ninth Circle of Hell. So, more knowledge from Wikipedia:


Starter kits are equipped with basic reborning necessities such as limbs, faces, heads, paint brushes, eyelashes, weighting pellets, genesis 'heat set' paints, cloth bodies, cable ties, nose drill bits, fake tears, thinning shears, cosmetic foam wedges, cotton dipped applicators, and glue. Genesis 'heat set' paints are an odorless, non-toxic paint that dries when the artist chooses by applying heat. The nose drill bits are used for creating and perfecting the nostrils of the doll. Acetone or a paint thinner medium is needed for removing the factory paint from the doll. Hair is an optional choice to add to a doll. Fine mohair, human hair, or wigs are usually used, but it is found in a variety of types. Rooting tools are utilized for this process and are available in numerous sizes 20,36,38, 40, and 42. The smaller the number the thicker the needle which will grab more hair and leave a bigger hole in the head of the doll. Eyes for a reborn doll are offered in a variety of brands and sizes.[6]


Before and after image of a doll sculpted out of clay, reproduced into a vinyl kit and reborned
Vinyl doll kit shown side by side (unpainted parts & painted "reborn" doll). The doll has a "chest/belly plate".
The technique of reborning a play doll typically involves a number of steps. To begin the doll is taken apart and factory paint is removed. Then a blue color wash may be applied to the inside of each vinyl part to give the appearance of realistic baby skin undertones. For dolls with an awake appearance eyes must be replaced.

The outer layer of the vinyl doll is given its skin tone by adding dozens of layers of flesh colored paint. If heat set paints are used, the doll parts must be heat set by baking them inside an oven or by using a heatgun after each layer of paint is applied. Lighter skin tone dolls can take 15 to 30 layers. The effects of the blue color wash combined with the outside layers of paint creates the appearance of veins, and gives the doll its newborn mottled look.

Manicured nails and opening of the nose holes are other details that are added during this process. The next step is to apply hair. The hair can either done in one of two ways; wigging or microrooting. When microrooting, hair is added strand by strand. This can take up to 30 or more hours per head. Once the hair is finished, the original vinyl body is weighted with a soft stuffed body filled with pellets. The weight corresponds with its age to achieve a real effect.

Various additions also can be added to give the doll an even more life like appearance. Reborns heads are often weighted, so that owners have to support the head like one would a real newborn. Purchasers can have magnets attached inside the mouth or head for attaching a pacifier or hair bows. Electronic devices that mimic a heart beat, or make the chest rise and fall to simulate breathing are common. Reborns can come with an umbilical cord, baby fat, heat packs to make the reborn warm to the touch, or voice boxes that mimic infant sounds. For preemie dolls, they may come in incubators with a breathing apparatus attached to their nose.

(Emphasis mine.) If you found one of these lying in a crib, motionless, not breathing (unless it had one of those pump thingies installed inside it), wouldn't you think you had a dead baby on your hands? If this thing is really as rubbery as they say it is, wouldn't picking it up be like scooping up a giant jellyfish?

I think technology has gone too far, both in filling gaping needs with inanimate objects, and in preventing those needs from really being filled because there are such satisfying and manageable substitutes available on eBay. Ones you can buy and sell, not bother to feed or change, and toss in the closet when you get tired of them.

What mother was ever so richly blessed?


Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book
    It took me years to write, will you take a look