Doll­maker’s cre­ations come alive

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

Amy Cos­ford’s ba­bies are mak­ing a splash on the small screen.

The Blockhouse Bay woman is a “re­born­ing” artist, who paints blank doll kits to look like real ba­bies.

Her cre­ations are so con­vinc­ing they are be­ing used as body dou­bles on tele­vi­sion se­ries Ou­tra­geous For­tune.

“I was re­ally ex­cited to know my dolls were dou­bles for baby Jane,” she says.

The show’s co-pro­ducer Car­men Leonard is im­pressed by the dolls’ re­al­ism.

“It’s def­i­nitely the best baby we’ve ever used on the show.

“In terms of height, weight and feel, it was re­ally good for us­ing when the baby was small.”

Mrs Cos­ford first came across re­born­ing when she was looking for baby clothes on the auc­tion web­site TradeMe.

A doll came up in her search and she was in­trigued.

“I thought, I could do that. I’m quite arty.”

She made some in­quiries and searched the in­ter­net for ways to get started.

Re­born­ing started about five years ago, when peo­ple would pull old dolls apart, strip the paint off them and re­paint them as re­al­is­ti­cally as pos­si­ble.

It be­came pop­u­lar in the United States and peo­ple now use doll kits rather than old dolls to paint.

Mrs Cos­ford, who has been re­born­ing since Septem­ber last year, says it is now start­ing to take off in New Zealand.

“I made my first doll and I was re­ally happy with it.

“It sold straight­away on TradeMe.”

Her next doll was bought by South Pa­cific Pic­tures for Ou­tra­geous For­tune and they asked her to make two more in slightly dif­fer­ent sizes as the baby grows.

She says all kinds of peo­ple col­lect the dolls, from the young to the el­derly, but she doesn’t keep any of her own cre­ations.

“Maybe if I have a lit­tle girl one day I might.”

The price of the dolls de­pends on the tal­ent of the artist.

Mrs Cos­ford can sell hers for about $500 but has seen them on the in­ter­na­tional auc­tion web­site eBay for up to US$1200.

“Ev­ery doll is one of a kind,” she says.

“Even if the same kit is used, no two ba­bies will ever look the same.”

The re­born­ing process has sev­eral steps and starts with “vein­ing” the doll, paint­ing in the veins be­fore ap­ply­ing the flesh lay­ers.

Each layer of paint has to be baked in the oven for about eight min­utes to make it per­ma­nent, which means the doll is in and out of the oven about 30 or 40 times.

When it comes to the hair, ev­ery strand has to be at­tached in­di­vid­u­ally with a spe­cial nee­dle and the soft cloth body is weighted with gar­net crys­tals to make it feel re­al­is­tic.

Mrs Cos­ford says if she de­votes all her spare time to a doll, she can fin­ish it in a week.

She has teamed up with re­born artists in Hamil­ton and Blen­heim to of­fer work­shops for peo­ple in­ter­ested in the hobby.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the dolls check out www.im­mac­u­late­cre­ations. co.nz.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Al­most real: Re­born­ing artist Amy Cos­ford with Mil­lie, one of her cre­ations.

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