Can you turn your love for art, children and handicraft into a business? That’s what young Kuwaiti artist Ghadeer Al-Shirazi has done, who managed to gather everything she loves in a ‘reborn doll’ – a doll that has been transformed to resemble a human infant. Kuwait Times spoke with Shirazi, who has a unique talent that people can rarely find in Kuwait, to tell us more about her creative pursuit.
Kuwait Times: When and how did you find out about reborn art?
Ghadeer Al-Shirazi: I was introduced to the art of reborn dolls in 2007 while studying in the United Kingdom. I then started to make dolls and provide training courses when I got back to Kuwait.
Kuwait Times: What sparked your interest in becoming a reborn artist?
Shirazi: I have always loved arts, handcraft and kids, so seeing how realistic the dolls were and the details each doll had motivated me to learn more about creating a doll from scratch.
Kuwait Times: What is the biggest challenge you have encountered in creating reborn dolls?
Shirazi: In the beginning, making a realistic doll was a challenge in itself, but I don’t call it a challenge anymore. However, rooting the hair takes most of my time and effort as I root one strand at a time.
Kuwait Times: How did the Kuwaiti community react to your work?
Shirazi: The reaction I have received so far has been full of positivity and encouragement. They love the dolls and some people want to learn how to create one themselves by joining my reborn doll training courses.
Kuwait Times: When do you feel fulfilled with your work?
Shirazi: I love it when people provide their feedback on my ‘work in progress’ photos of the dolls on my Instagram account, where they share their disbelief as they can’t comprehend how real the dolls look compared to actual babies. However, nothing compares to the satisfaction I get when I see the happiness on my customers’ faces when they share their reactions as they hold their dolls for the first time.
Kuwait Times: How long does it take for you to create a reborn doll? What are the processes?
Shirazi: When I first started, it took me around three months to complete one doll, as the process includes painting, rooting the hair, assembling the doll, taking photos and transferring it to a box with all of its clothes and birth certificate, so that it is shipped in time to its lucky new parent. But as the years went by, the more I created reborn dolls the easier it got, to the point where the process now takes me around three to four weeks compared to three months.
Kuwait Times: How can people purchase your dolls? Do you accept customized orders?
Shirazi: Interested customers can check out my Instagram page @q8reborn where they can view photos and videos of reborn dolls while learning more about the process of creating them. Then once they have decided what they want, they can contact me on WhatsApp to place an order. I do accept customized orders based on personal photos of babies not exceeding the age of one year where requests for specific face and body features are met.
Kuwait Times: What was the most special moment that you have experienced?
Shirazi: There were two major moments in my life as a reborn artist where I felt proud of myself and my work the most: (1) When I competed against 40 businesswomen in the Middle East and qualified as a finalist in the Hadafi Women Entrepreneurship Program-Season 3 in Dubai, where I proudly managed to place third. (2) When production companies started approaching me to include my dolls in TV series and movies.
Kuwait Times: Have you encountered people who are scared of your dolls?
Shirazi: Yes, I have, and it made me feel even more proud and confident as their unexpected reaction to my reborn dolls only proved that my effort and ability to focus on all details to resemble those of a real baby were very successful.
Kuwait Times: What is the strangest request you have received?
Shirazi: I was once asked to sculpt someone’s grandmother’s face into a reborn doll of an infant’s size.
Kuwait Times: What are your future plans?
Shirazi: I’m planning on opening my shop where I can sell reborn dolls and possibly display them in a museum dedicated just for them. Finally, I wish to establish a reborn doll institution where I can share my experiences and skills to spread the art of creating reborn dolls.
By Faten Omar