PIKEVILLE — Walk into one room in Jane Jones’ home and you’ll find nothing but dolls — dolls standing on the floor, dolls sitting on shelves, dolls in baskets and dolls in cribs. There are so many that Jones has lost count of exactly how many she has. A few are store-bought dolls, but most of them are ones she has made.
Jones, 64, started making reborns, dolls that you buy and pretty much remake, about 15 years ago. Since she retired in January, she has also started making tiny clay babies.
“I don’t know who started reborns, but it started on eBay, she said. “Somebody started taking dolls and stripping the paint off and repainting them to look like real babies. They first used makeup, and then they went to acrylic paint. It just keeps evolving. I started doing it because I couldn’t afford to pay what they were asking.”
Jones makes boy and girl dolls and all nationalities of dolls.
“One boy doll, someone had already what they call ‘reborn’ him, but he had all this ugly yellow hair and was real splotched up,” she said. “So I stripped him completely down and pulled all the hair out and redid him. Now he wears a blue-striped outfit and is holding a monkey.”
Jones once made a doll to look like her grandson, Dayton Mooring, who was 6 at the time.
“His front teeth were missing at the time,” she said. “The doll has its front teeth missing, too. I painted it took look like Dayton. When he saw it, he was like, ‘Aw, Gee, Granny.’ His other granddaddy was like, ‘You can give me that.’ And I said, ‘No, you can’t have it.’”
Jones also made a doll five years ago when her daughter was expecting. She used it for her baby shower. It was a baby all bundled up with a bottle.
“What I mostly use for my reborns is Genesis heatset paint,” she said. “You do a layer, then bake it for eight minutes in the oven at 265 degrees. It’s not long and it’s low temperature. But it’s just parts at this stage, not a whole doll. After each layer of paint, you bake it. You keep adding layers to give it the skin tone you want.”
When she’s done painting the parts, Jones starts the assembly process, which includes using finely granulated glass beads, which she pours into the arms and legs to give them weight. Then she sticks a little stuffing in each so the beads don’t come out.
For the torso, Jones puts plastic pellets into knee-high hose and stuffs them into the body to give it weight. She puts cotton in the head, along with another stocking filled with plastic pellets. Then all she has left to do is to connect all the parts for a customized reborn.
She has even rooted eyelashes and hair on her dolls by laying strands of hair on the eyes or head and sticking them in with a needle. Then she goes inside the doll and glues the backside to keep the hair from coming out.
With all the reborns she does, Jones is alvways on the lookout for dolls.
“One of the things I like to do is take a yard sale baby and refurbish it,” she said.
Jones said each reborn is special in its own way.
“When I look at a finished reborn, I am thinking, ‘Wow, that looks a lot different from when I got the parts,’” she said. “It’s a good feeling when I get through.”
Hold one of Jones’ reborns, and it feels just like you’re holding a real baby.
“And a lot of times when I’m putting one of my reborns together, I’ll put baby powder into the body. Or if I forget, I’ll take some baby lotion and rub around the neck,” Jones said.
The tiny babies are made out of polymer clay. Jones uses molds to make them.
“What got me started on the little clay babies was when my daughter was expecting five years ago,” she said. “I ordered a little mold and a friend of mine made some white chocolate babies to put on top of the cupcakes for the shower.
“After I retired in January, I got the mold out to see what I could do. Once I got started, I got hooked. I ended up finding all these cool molds for my babies.”
Jones has all kinds of molds in different sizes now, including a three-dimensional one. The smallest clay baby is maybe an inch long.
Jones takes a piece of clay and squeezes it until it’s soft, then presses it into a mold. With the super-small babies, she has to put the mold in the refrigerator to get it to come out in one piece.
Then she scrapes some color off her dry pastel sticks and paints her clay babies. They go into a 275-degree oven for about 30 minutes. After cooling in the oven, they are done.
“I pick up all sorts of little things for my babies from hobby shops,” Jones said. “So now when I go out shopping, I’m usually looking to see if I can find a cute little basket to put one in or if I can find something I can use to make a little starfish for the merbabies or flowers or other things.”
When she makes her clay babies, sometimes Jones has something specific in mind and sometimes she doesn’t
“Sometimes I’ll start with a baby and think it’s going to have blue eyes and blond hair,” she said. “Then as I get into it and start layering the skin tone, I’m thinking no, this baby maybe needs brown eyes and red hair or whatever.”
Jones has made all kinds of clay babies, including a cat baby for her niece, puppy dogs, a lady bug, the Grinch, angels and merbabies.
“Working on my reborns and clay babies, I just kind of get into my zone,” she said. “I have my rock ‘n’ roll music turned up loud. It makes me forget all the stresses. And I get so wrapped up in it that my day goes by so fast.
“All my babies, I just do it because I enjoy it. I probably need to get rid of some of them because they do tend to kind of take over. Some people are overwhelmed by all these babies in this room. Some people probably think I’m crazy. But I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I don’t do drugs. I enjoy this. I always liked my dolls when I was a little girl and just never outgrew them. I just hate that I don’t have a bigger room for my dolls.”