.At Saint Cloud Nursery I only make custom babies for the film and television industry. They have tight production schedules and depending on what they need and want it can be time consuming. I like to leave that time open for those projects.

I make Therapy babies and those do require custom weighting and the addition or subtraction of magnets, hair, and vinyl limbs but for the most part I make babies because I love the process of not having a plan, just having fun and seeing who shows up when it's complete. I cross my fingers and hope someone falls in love, so far my babies have always found where they were always meant to be.

That being said I can understand why someone would want to customize a baby. There are a lot of wonderful artists out there that offer that service, it isn't an easy job it requires organization, patience, and the ability to collaborate well. I would like to offer a few tips if you are about to make the leap and hire a custom doll artist.

Do your research.

-Take time to explore sculpts you love, what they cost, if they are available.

-Take even more time researching custom doll artists. Find someone who does the kind of work you like.

-Take a realistic look at the investment, this is expensive, a lot of work goes into making a doll like this.

Don't fall for a scam.

It happens. There are people out there who will take advantage of you, there are those who just don't understand the skill required to make a quality baby and feel like this is a good way to make some fast money. If it is too good to be true, it is. The highest price doesn't mean the best baby, the lowest price doesn't mean a good deal.

A quality Reborn Artist

-Will use their own photos to market their skills and service. (watch out for artists that use other artists photos, big red flag).

Reborn artists are proud of their work, they have a lot of photos and love to show of their babies, again, beware of the artist who uses prototype photos of other artists work.

-Will have good time management skills. They will be realistic about their schedule and open spots when available, they make take a waiting list but you should never pay to be on a waiting list. You should never have long production time, anything over 30 days is unacceptable and buyers protection is usually lost with most payment platforms.

-Will have a written contract stating payment arrangement (usually half down and half when project is ready to ship after last looks). Artist may provide the sculpt or client can ship sculpt to artist.

This contract will also state What is expected for example:

Ashley sculpt, preemie baby 17 in. , client to provide sculpt, client will ship by February 9th. Work to begin February 12, estimated completion time March 2nd.

Doll will be painted using Genesis heat set paint.

Per clients request: Medium complexion, light mottling, green eyes 18mm acrylic (eyes in stock with artist). Doll will have light brown painted hair, with a light brown mohair combi root, directional rooting, wavy, trimmed for styling. Doll will be weighted to four pounds with glass beads, Doll will have a stork bite on back of neck and very light over right eye.

Client has viewed artists previous works and understands artists individual style client expects quality work but understands art is organic and trusts artists intuition when creating this baby.

Artist to provide photos before paint is sealed, after hair painting is complete, after all rooting is complete, before eyes are sealed, when baby is assembled and complete for last looks.

Baby will be shipped USPS, client to pay for shipping at final payment.

*This is just an example there will obviously be some variation. If this is a larger baby that needs complex rooting , if a sculpt is unavailable or will take some time to ship, if a certain color or quality of hair or eyes needs to be ordered, lead times may be a little longer but realistically an artist should not over book and should specify added wait time in the contract.

Trust Your Artist

If you don't, then you shouldn't hire her to do the work. You are investing in your artists. Check references, do online research, take a good look at past work. If an artist tells you "uh...purple eyes, red hair and a big star birthmark on the cheek does not work for me and that is something I don't think I can do" there is a good reason and this may not be the artist for you, you might need to look for an artist that does alternative work.

Never ask and artist to imitate someone else's work, it isn't respectful and any artist who claims they can is not an artist. An artists style is developed over time, you chose this artist for their own unique style and skill.

If you are unhappy at anytime during the process communicate, a quality artist wants to make you happy needs feedback but remember you are hiring them to do what they do best. Make sure you know what you want and you are ready. before you begin. It is unfair and unreasonable to "change your mind" during the process. You can't expect an artist to rip out 40 hours of rooting because you decided that blond hair might look better than brown, or that you decided you want a fair skin baby instead of an ethnic skin tone baby, blue eyes instead of green...

It is reasonable to say, "can we deepen that skin tone a little, is it possible to give her a little more pink around her cheeks" it is reasonable to request that hair be cut a little shorter or add some fine baby hair around the temples. It is reasonable to ask that the baby be more or less floppy that lips a bit darker. If the artist lets you know that any of that may not be a good creative choice you should respect the artists opinion.

If the doll is progressing in a way that conflicts with the photos provided by the artist and you notice the skill level is not the same it is a good time to comment and maybe ask for a refund before baby is completed.

If you are unhappy in anyway, work it out with the artist, it is not fair to go on social media and crush and artist because you have buyers remorse or didn't communicate well.

If you feel you have been scammed be sure to leave an appropriate review to warn off other buyers.

This is a collaboration, it requires, trust and honesty. If you have any doubts at all take some time, listen to your instincts and don't enter into an agreement until you are sure and you are ready.

The reborn community is small and tight. That being said there are a lot of reborn "artists" our there. Some are awesome some not so much. Some are new and just developing their skills and an honest artist will disclose that right away and their fee's will reflect that. Take your time, ask questions, be sure.