VIDEO: M’bah ‘reborn’ doll artist goes global

THE Murwillumbah doll artist bringing to life the dreams of "reborn" collectors around the world, has a new offering.

Racheal Ambler, of home-based Twinkle Tots Reborn Nursery, has rebirthed "Mermaid Baby" Mishell, a life-like model of a real baby but with a mermaid tail.

The model was designed by renowned doll sculptor Shawna Clymer.

Mrs Ambler spent at least a week painting the doll's head and arms in Genesis heat set paints, with acrylic metallic paints used on the tail, while its mohair eyelashes are threaded on one-by-one.

A buyer from rural Victoria paid $275 for the doll through an online forum, joining a long list of fans of Mrs Ambler from as far as Italy and America, where the movement has numbers large enough for conventions.

Mermaid Baby Mishell sculpted by Shawna Clymer and hand painted by Racheal Ambler.
Mermaid Baby Mishell sculpted by Shawna Clymer and hand painted by Racheal Ambler. Contributed

"The buyers just have a love of babies, and these babies don't grow up, they don't make a mess, they just take you back to that special time," Mrs Ambler said.

"After six years painting the dolls it still just blows my mind."

Mrs Ambler "loves the creative aspect" of doll-making, and her buyers have ordered custom

designs including premmie, Down Syndrome, Chinese, toddler standing size, and Avatar themed dolls.

"It's a labour of love, especially the hair rooting, because it's so tedious, you have to root in a single hair at a time," she said.

Some of Mrs Ambler's buyers first become involved in the industry through the purchase of a memorial baby - which is a lifelike, fully weighted replica of a baby that has passed away.

Mrs Ambler has happy customers such as Lismore pensioner couple Gwen and Max Pursey, who have purchased four of Mrs Ambler's dolls since December 2013.

HAPPY FAMILY: Max and Gwen Pursey of Limsore, witrh their reborn, custom-made dolls.
HAPPY FAMILY: Max and Gwen Pursey of Limsore, witrh their reborn, custom-made dolls. Contributed

Tegan, with brown hair and dark blue eyes; a "gorgeous, sweet little thing, with cute frog feet" was Mrs Pursey's first doll from Mrs Ambler, for $600.

Mrs Pursey's second was modelled on her son, now 35 and living in London, using old photos, and each doll has its own bed and bassinet in a custom-made nursery.

"We're a big happy family, I've got many sets of clothes and I change them whenever I feel like it and at the moment they're in their winter gear," Mrs Pursey said.

"I don't do anything else, we don't go anywhere else, it's like a hobby."

Mrs Pursey first read about Mrs Ambler in a newspaper article.

"I'm thinking of getting one next year and that will be it, because my husband says I've got too many," Mrs Pursey said.

As for her own future, Mrs Ambler is delving into work as a "prototype artist", having worked for reputable Victorian artist Bonnie Brown.

When the sculptor designs a "reborn doll kit", Mrs Ambler paints the prototypes, for international shows, auctions or for marketing purposes.



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