Debbie Henshaw, meet the Colliii Award 2009 nominated doll artistDebbie Henshaw, meet the Colliii Award 2009 nominated doll artist

In this interview we meet American doll artist Debbie Henshaw, who was nominated for the 2009 Colliii Awards. Read on to find out more about Debbie, her dolls and her doll making courses.....

Debbie with Ari
Debbie with Ari So its one year on since you were nominated for the Colliii Award with little Ari, do you still have her, if not what has happened since then?

Debbie: Ari was a custom order reborn from the popular Reva Schick "Arianna" doll kit. She now lives with her "Mommy" in my home state of Oregon, USA. Her "Mommy" is a dear friend, great customer and wonderful doll show helper that I first met at a horse training event 3 years ago. I had one of my personal dolls with me (Matthew the little Cowboy) and she was drawn to him and we got to talking dolls! Since we are such good friends and she helps me with all of my doll shows, I get to see Ari several times a year. Each time I see Ari again, I just have to pinch myself! I just can't believe I made such a life-like doll. How do you choose which doll to Reborn?

Debbie: Wow. This is such a complex question to answer as it depends on my show, custom order and prototype schedules.

When preparing for a show, I choose sculpts that go with the "theme" or character of the show. For example, EXPO 2010 (October 1-3 Winston-Salem North Carolina USA) has the theme of "Just Play" so I am selecting sculpts with happy expressions as babies in play.

For custom orders, I allow my customers to select the sculpt that they desire or I select one that best matches the face of their child if I am reborning a portrait doll for them. I appreciate my customers so much as they always ask my opinions and respect my professional advice on a sculpt.

Since Tiny Treasures (May 2009) I've been asked by several artists to reborn upcoming sculpt prototypes. The artists also are very respectful in allowing me to accept or reject a sculpt. They know that if I don't love the sculpt then I cannot bring forth art from my heart. For the record though, to date, I have not rejected one prototype. We are so blessed with amazing sculpting artists!

For reborns that I just want to create, I look for symmetry between the head and limbs and also life-like, sculpted details in the sculpt. I choose sculpts that draw emotion from my heart. Do you do custom orders for people too?

Debbie: Yes, I do. My custom order list is open just a few short months of the year. I fear with the prototype load and shows that I may soon have to stop doing custom orders.

My specialty is custom "portrait" babies. I will fit those into my schedule just about at any time as I just adore creating those precious replicates of real children. When making the dolls what things about the materials are important for you, quality,price etc?

Debbie: Quality is always, ALWAYS the most important thing to me. I love bargains but I never place a bargain over quality when I shop. I shop with only a few vendors because I have come to know the quality that they consistently provide. Is there anything special you can tell us about the supplies you use for Reborning dolls?

Debbie: Twice a year I travel to an angora goat farm where I am the exclusive buyer of mohair that is the best to use for doll hair. I am exclusive because I am lucky enough to be the farms best customer.

I spend an incredible amount of time preparing this raw hair to be used for dolls. Each and every lock is managed by hand from the initial sorting to combing to banding to washing to acid dyeing to washing again to conditioning to combing again to rinsing and to final packaging. It's gorgeous hair that is used by artists all over the world...and by me You also do classes. How and when do you do them?

Debbie: I love teaching the art of the reborn doll. I started teaching one-on-one full reborn classes at my home nursery in August of 2007. In May of 2009, I taught my first group classes at Tiny Treasures. I gave 2-2 hour hands on demonstrations teaching blending of LDC air dry paints. At IDEX 2010, I taught my first all day LDC painting class. It was so wonderful that I will teaching a day and a half LDC painting class at EXPO 2010.

Besides teaching the at home, one-on-one full reborn classes and the LDC painting classes, I have added "weighting the reborn" to my shorter class demos and plan on doing other shorter demonstrations in the future~things like setting and gluing eyes in, giving your baby lashes and gloss etc.

I am willing to travel to about anywhere to give full day up to one week classes for groups of 6 or more interested persons. Where can people buy your dolls from?

Debbie: People can purchase/adopt my dolls from several places. Since 2008, it has been my larger desire to sell my dolls via live shows across the country. I try to add 1-2 more shows to each year. Again, one can follow my show schedule on my blogspot.

My prototype dolls can be adopted via eBay under ID redcar_99 or simply type in TNGUN in the eBay search bar and my auctions will pop right up.

I post each and every doll onto my website, and some of the dolls there are available for immediate adoption under the Reborn Baby Dolls tab.

And I sell directly to customers via custom orders and through my mass email mailings of available dolls. Interested persons who want on this emailing list can request this by emailing me at Do you also buy dolls yourself or do you just make them?

Debbie: It's come to my attention that I am a bit odd compared to the general artist community in that not only do I create high quality artist dolls, but I love to collect them as well. Actually, I collect many types of dolls, even manufactured ones and I simply love to spend time dressing and posing them, but my big passion is writing picture stories with them! Oh my have I had fun doing that! With nearly 80 dolls in my collection, there is always somebody calling out to me with a funny story line. What plans have you got for this year and the future?

Debbie: 2010 is proving to be a very busy and exciting year! I currently have 9 prototype dolls assigned, 9 custom orders on the list, 2 more shows and a group class scheduled and one one-on-one class to teach. This one-on-one class is unique as I will travel to Missouri to teach it. The class will be recorded and I will produce a full reborning DVD~a goal I've had now for 2 years and one that has been requested of me many times. I am VERY excited about it! I hope to have it available for purchase by the end of the year.

My future goals are to continue to strive towards perfection in my reborns, continue to offer high quality hand dyed hair to other artists, to teach more and more people this amazing and ever-changing art and to travel abroad to other countries to teach and show.

Debbie with Ari
Debbie Henshaw and her doll collection
Debbie works hard...
...and takes time to...
...create beautifull babies.
She also works hard to...
..teach others her art.
Beautiful babies such as....
Miaka Tam
Little Nicky
Sweet Stuff
Wee Yawns Proto-type