La Louviere, Belgium
By Yves Herman
“I would like to adopt please,” “I would like to buy a life-like baby”, or “I would love to adopt Mathilda or Stefy” are sentences you hear from clients entering the workshop of Belgian artist Beatrice Van Landeghem in La Louviere in the south of Belgium. “La nurserie des Tis Lous De Bea”, which can be translated as “The nursery of Bea’s babies” (Bea for Beatrice) is a very atypical store, situated in the small town, a 45 minute drive from Brussels. Welcome to the Belgian “Reborn Baby” paradise.
Everybody can buy a “Reborn Baby”-kit and try to make their own life-like baby but not all of us have the skills to make them appear real. Belgian artist Beatrice Van Landeghem knows how to make her customers fall in love with a beautifully made doll. You have to see it with your own eyes. It’s hard to believe how realistic it can be. Lying in his cradle, “Loan”, a one month-old baby doll, carefully crafted in vinyl and wonderfully hand-painted by the artist looks as if he is far away and sleeping.
“Let’s adopt him, he is ours!” The customers seem to think as if preparing themselves to become virtual parents.
The dolls are created by the artist from a kit consisting of the limbs and a head made from vinyl and a torso made from fabric. The items are painted several times to create the skin tone of newborn babies. Then Van Landeghem adds hair and eyelashes which look like the real thing. The dolls are then filled to make them feel as heavy as human babies when carried. It takes around 25 hours to make a baby with a level of precision that makes them look almost like a real baby.
Why would you buy such a doll? Some “Reborn Babies” found a second life thanks to the internet. Some saw their value increase with collectors. The dolls sold by Beatrice cost around 300 to 400 euro but some rare pieces have reached a value of several thousands of euros.