This is how it goes for me and I am guessing I am not too much unlike any other artists who makes these babies.

First let me start by saying I have a small studio where I work making art. I illustrate, write, sculpt, paint and I make babies for the film and television industry as well as for collectors and people who need therapy babies. I got a lot going on here but lately my focus and energy has been on the babies. I love doing it, my clients seem to love my work, and I have become a part of an little community that is kinda awesome.

So this is how its done

I get up at 4:30 in the morning because that is just the way I do it. I'm a morning person, always have been. I love early mornings before everyone wakes up, the sky is still dark, the air smells clean, a few houses awake with people off to work early. It is so quiet and peaceful.

My studio is always cold in the morning, I turn on my space heater, warm up my OTT lights, make a cup of tea (Earl Grey) and I take a look at the work bench. I work in multiples, three's or fours. I try to keep them all a little different so it doesn't get boring. Everything in my studio is how I left it when I was working last, that is the perk of having a workspace, you can spread out, make a perfectly organized mess and there it is when you get back, like you stopped time.

I grab kits I like, they need to speak to me, be on sale (a really good one if they are challenging). I love babies with big pouty lips, elongated heads, wide noses, hands open and expressive, curly toes and peaceful faces. I am weird about ears, I like a good ear, they can be big or small, low set or sticking out but they have to have a lot of detail to make me want to paint them and not hide them under a hat.

Babies that slay me are the ones that remind me of my kids when they were born.

I love babies, who doesn't? We are born that way to love cheeky little wrinkled things with big heads and facial features all squished way down low. When I was little I loved, loved, loved babies. When I was in my twenties I worked in Labor and deliver so I got to meet babies as they entered the world and took first breaths and sometimes when they took last breaths. There is something magical and so beautiful about a being in its first moments here.

The nursery was a cool place but my heart beat fast in Labor and Delivery, it was one of my favorite jobs. There is this moment when a mother reaches for her baby instinctually and this screaming naked creature that has no idea what the hell just happens calms to her voice and her touch, the warmth and feel of her skin. I swear I cried at every birth.

I digress...

So here I am raising my kids most of the day and making vinyl kids in my studio the rest of the time, never in a million years did I think I would be doing this.

My "work" day starts with me washing kits, painting layers, baking and curing each of those layers and finding a way to make each layer count, create depth and illusion. It's tedious, smoke and mirrors, and love. A pale piece of vinyl slowly comes to life with color and tiny details and you get more and more excited the closer you get to real.

It can take days or weeks, (mostly days for me) to get to the place where I start hair. I love this part, more tedious work, again strand by strand painted or rooted, sometimes both. I do what a lot of artists do and binge listen to pod casts, old music mixes, Hulu episodes of shows I would never admit I watch.

Then its time for mani-pedi's more touch ups, eyes, magnets, weighting bodies with glass beads and poly. I spend a lot of time waiting for glue to dry, praying to the reborn gods that my eyes stay put, that my limbs don't get sticky, that my magnet doesn't move. I spend a lot of time cleaning up stray glass beads, cloud hair, spilled paint, dirty brushes, and piles of sponges. It looks like some kind of science experiment exploded most days. I varnish, gloss, shine, seal, texture, tip, glaze...

When everyone is all suited up in their baby skin I tag and sign my babies wrap them in soft flannel and place them back in their little plastic bins with a lid on top to keep them safe. They stopped being kits and parts and now they have some kind of strange person-ness. They have little tags on their bins (nursery names for inventory) I name them after favorite food, fruit, flowers, things in nature. I sit back and think, "Holy, that was a lot of work". I when they are done and wait for a sunny day so I can take photos.

I photograph in natural light, they just look better, and I want my clients to see true colors. I don't dress my babies in lace and frilly dresses. As a kid I hated that stuff and as a mom I wanted my babies to be naked or dressed in soft cotton, they seemed happier. Life shouldn't feel starchy and scratchy and plastic, not at first anyway, there is plenty of time for that later. A diaper, a t-shirt, a soft blanket knit by someones grandmother, a cotton hat, bare feet...ahhh thats babyness.

I have a big basket I photograph all my babies in, it's deep and oval shaped thick and woven with a fluffy duvet inside that I cover with soft blankets. I push it under a window where the sun is coming through and get them all snuggled in. They sleep I click and then I load all the photos (more than I need) into my computer where I am always warned that my disc space is filling to capacity and I promise myself I will thin out the photos but I never do.

I post babies and try to be fair with pricing. I look at the same sculpt created by other artists and try to find my place in the line up. There are new artists and artists who struggle, there are those out to make a quick buck slapping a baby together, factories mass manufacturing, and there are people making creative promises they can't keep. There are artists who blow my mind, prototype artists who nail it every time, and these wild artists from Russia who have some kinda painting mojo that blows everyone out of the water. I am somewhere in the middle of all of it and no matter how good someone tells me the baby is I have an inner critic that is super type A and points out all my mistakes to me, I try to ignore that "is this good enough, am I good enough" mind chatter but I am human and it keeps me humble (ish).

Then it is time to wait. People look, people ask questions. I love to answer questions but there are some that make me scratch my head, laugh or delete all together.

They range from "is this a real baby" to " can it poop and take a bath" i guess they are kinda the same question really.

No matter what I put in the description I will be asked the same seven questions over and over and I totally get where that comes from and I try to be patient and kind because I know how hard it must be to make such a big personal purchase without being able to touch, hold, and see it in person.

Then there are those who are lonely and reaching out for some kind of contact most times it is a positive experience, sometimes not so much and I am conflicted.

I get kids who have borrowed a parents credit card, and bandits who have access to a card that belongs to a stranger. I am asked to ship dolls to odd places I can't and shouldn't and don't. I have been asked to launder money. I have "sold" dolls to people who do funny things with credit card companies thinking we both win: I get my money, and they get a free doll, but "homie don't play that" and I stick to my belief that no one wins if we are being dishonest.

On shipping day I get babies ready to go. I have this table where I keep tissue, chocolate, headbands, hats, a stack of folded blankets, cards, birth certificates, newborn baby bracelets, bubble wrap, boxes, mailing labels9 I painted and copied) and pretty tape. It is a big table and looks like a birthday party.

I dress babies for the trip home in soft pajamas. I have a closet full of baby clothes I fall in love with. I bring them home and wash them in baby soap to make them soft, shrink perfect, and smell like a new baby. I fold them and sort them into labeled bins marked "Newborn boys onesies" and "3-6 months girls leggings and sweaters" I have a shelf just for diapers in four different sizes and another shelf with bins for baby socks and cradle slippers. It doesn't matter how much I have I end up running out to the store to find the perfect pink or the right aqua.

I pack the box like a a Christmas present for my best friend knowing that there is a possibility it will be turned upside down, stacked on its side, thrown in a truck, pushed down a conveyer belt, dropped in a bin, transferred to another truck and tossed on a porch. I don't care, I wrap, tuck, put a sticker on it, tie a bow to it, seal it up , and cross my fingers.

I keep an eye on tracking waiting for that little line to turn green and say "Delivered" so I can take a deep breath. Babies have a funny way of getting lost out there, falling into melted snow puddles, ending up in Peru, showing up on the doorstep of an 80 year old man who can't figure out what it is and if he needs to call the police (yes this has happened).

Everyday I get up and check my email, I am looking for Paypal to tell me it is ok to send a baby home. I am waiting to hear from a client that a baby arrived safely and they are in love, or the doll is perfect for the film, or their grandaughter just called and is very happy with her gift. I wait for the email telling me a non-verbal kid who has a hard time sleeping feels comforted.

Then i start the process all over again.

It's an interesting life, a good one, I get to make people happy, each day I wake up thinking of new ways to make that happen.