How To Strip and Prepare a Doll For Reborning
The first step in creating a reborn is to strip a traditional vinyl doll. If you don't already have one, take a trip to your local toy store and pick one out. Try to find one with some general characteristics and features that you would like to see in your reborn doll. For instance, if you prefer a certain position or posture, look for a doll already in this position. While the process of reborning allows you to change a number of features with your doll, altering their position or how their limbs are designed requires some more advanced, time-consuming techniques.
Don't worry about spending $70 or more on an expensive vinyl doll since you'll be taking it apart and making some serious changes to it anyway. Instead, stick with some of the cheaper dolls that run about around $20 or $30 bucks. You can find these available at most big-name toy stores, or you can go around to some thrift stores and yard sales to find them. They key thing to remember when selecting a doll for reborning is to choose one with a favorable posture.
Note: The easiest type of doll to use for reborning is a Berenguer. Some of the earliest reborns were made using these dolls, and many artists still prefer them today. Berenguer dolls naturally possesses lifelike features and details that allow for a smoother, easier reborning experience. Of course, you can still use other dolls, but newcomers to the hobby might want to stick with a Berenguer to begin with.
Removing The Arms, Legs and Head
After you've chosen and purchased a vinyl doll to reborn, it's time to start removing the arms, legs and head. Depending on the type of vinyl doll you have, this may or may not be an easy process. Some of the cheaper dolls will allow you to simply snap the limbs out without giving it much effort. On the other hand, more expensive dolls will require a little more ingenuity to completely remove their limbs.
Start by GENTLY pulling the legs and arms to see if they are willing to come out on their own. Using too much force could result in torn sealing rings. Lightly pull your doll's limbs while twisting them back and forth. If all goes well, they should snap out.
If you're having trouble removing the limbs from your vinyl doll, pull them out as far as they will go and then inspect the joint to see what's keeping it in place. There could be a small connecting band that prevents the arms and legs from popping out of the body. If this is the case, then you'll need to use a small knife or box-cutter to cut them out. Just make sure that you don't make any unnecessary cuts that will prevent the limbs from reattaching. A short swipe with an X-Acto knife will typically make easy work of any connecting bands or pieces.
Soaking The Limbs and Head
With the limbs and head removed from the doll's body, you will now need to let them soak in a solution of warm soapy water. You can do this by either using a large bucket or a pot. Just fill it up with warm water, add a small amount of mild dish soap, and place the limbs and head of your doll in it. Generally, the longer you allow them to soak, the better. However, the minimum amount of time needed to soak the limbs and head is 2-3 hours at the very least. This step is important, as it will work to clean the surface and allow for a higher-quality painting job, so don't skip out on soaking the limbs and head.
After the limbs and head are done soaking, place them on a paper towel and allow them to dry. When the limbs are completely dry to the touch, you'll need to remove the factory paint from them. There are several different ways to accomplish this, but I recommend using a liquid cleaning product called "Goof Off." This stuff is amazing and will work wonders on your doll's factory paint. Just place a small amount onto a cotton ball or cosmetic wedge and run the old paint off.
Removing The Hair Paint
The next step necessary to prepare a vinyl doll for reborning is to strip the hair lines painted on the head (assuming your doll has painted and not fabric hair). In order to accomplish this, you'll first need to pick up a couple items. The process of removing the hair paint is pretty much the same as removing the paint from your doll's limb. You can use a basic acetone-based paint remover, nail polish remover, or one of my favorite products Goof Off. Take a trip to your local Wal-Mart or home improvement store and pick up one of these products along with a pair of latex gloves and some cotton balls.
Once you've acquired the items listed above, take your vinyl doll outside where you won't breathe in any of the fumes from these harmful chemicals. Now, put on the gloves to protect your hands, and pour a small amount of the paint-removing solution of your choice onto a cotton ball.
Make sure that you don't use too much, as Goof Off, nail polish remover or paint thinner will eat away at the natural paint on their body, which is something you don't want to happen. Just put a small a mount of the solution onto a cotton ball and gently rub it over their head with the hair is painted on. It should come off fairly easily, so continue doing this until it's removed. Immediately discard the used cotton balls in a nearby trash can when you are finished to avoid any paint from staining your table or workstation.