Why do you do what you do?
I started reborning for a few reasons. The first because my mother was a huge doll collector. She collected every kind of doll there was. I remember her telling me a story when I was young about how she wanted a doll so bad but her family didn't have the money. Her friend got a doll for Christmas and my mom hid in the closet with it all day long while the whole neighborhood searched for her. She said she knew she would be in so much trouble but she just didn't want to give it up.
I guess that is why she had so many as an adult. I lost her to cancer in 2014 after caring for her through her illness. Reborning gives me a sense of closeness with her. She would have had at least 15 of these. Every baby I finish I say, "Well Mom, what do you think?"
The other reason is that I see the joy it brings to people. When I started, I just thought I would paint a few and be done with it. After I saw the reaction that some of the ladies have had to my babies, I just couldn't stop. I have heard so many stories of how they have helped people cope with a loss or give them a new perspective on their life. If I can be a part of that then that makes me happy.
What's your background?
I have always been an artist. I used to draw the "Draw Me" pictures out of the TV guide when I was just 5 years old. My art teachers have always singled me out and tried to help me develop into the best artist I could be. My whole family if very musical and artsy. We sew, crochet, draw, paint, quilt, do crafts, make puppets...you name it we have tried it.
My first business was a custom airbrush shop. I airbrushed helmets and t-shirts, motorcycles, anything that didn't move! From there I started a vinyl graphics and sign business. I also offered silk screen t-shirts and web design. Before that, I was a nail technician and competed in nail art compitions. I once painted an entire Wizard Of Oz Emerald City on a set of finger nails.
What memorable responses have you had from your work?
I recently had the opportunity to work with a local dementia support program using some of my babies as a therapy device. It has been such a rewarding experience to see how the patients come alive when they place a baby in their arms. A lot of times they have become withdrawn and combative. It is touching to see those walls start to crumble when they introduce the baby into their daily lives. It makes them feel needed again, like they are a functioning part of society.
I took a baby to a lady that had ordered one for her sister who struggles with the early signs of Alzheimers. She met me at the door and when I handed her the baby, she just stood there and cried for about 5 minutes before she could speak. She finally looked up at me through her tears and said, " I'm sorry. I didn't expect her to look so real!!" That, to me, is worth more than anything else.
I have recently been asked to participate in a study using these babies as therapy for dementia patients. I am excited and honored to get to be a part of this research program. It is a small price to pay to help someone feel like a human being again.
Not only demetia patients benefit from my babies. My favorite thing to do when I finish a new piece is to take it to our local mall. The reactions of people are priceless. They are amazed at the realism and detail of these babies. I had one lady call me a miracle worker, another said that it was the best day of her life. Others just stand there speechless. This is probably one of the most rewarding forms of art that I have ever been involved with.
What do you dislike about your work?
I am a perfectionist all the way. I can complete a project and everyone around me will be so excited and telling me what a wonderful job I have done, but I will look at it and see the one tiny little flaw. I do it with everything I do. In a lot of ways that is good. It forces me to always strive to do better. I always want to be growing. Not just in my art, but in life period. When you stop growing or feeling a need to grow, that is when you are in trouble.
Name something you love and why.
I love music and art. The world can be so stressful and even lonely sometimes. Art and music are the best escape I know from reality. It allows your mind to be somewhere else and see things a different way. If there weren't any artists, there would be no inventions or architecture. The world as we know it would not be what it is today. Someone had to dream all of these things in order for them to exist. I think God himself is an artist. His creation is the greatest masterpiece I've ever seen.
Professionally, what is your goal?
My biggest goal as a reborn artist is to be memorable. I want to get to a level of artistry that people can't help but look at. I want people to be able to recognize one of my babies just by seeing it. I want them to say, " That is one of Rachel Smith's babies. Look how real that is." I want people who buy my babies to be so proud and happy with what I created for them.
What wouldn't I do without?
Through all of this process, the one thing I could not do without is the support of my family and the love of a great God. My family pushes me. They give me purpose and reason to always strive to be better. They are my support and strength in all I do. Without them, I would be nothing. And, as far as my Lord and Saviour goes...."Through my weakness, His strengths are made perfect."
I want to thank Luminaire Paint for being such a big part of what I do. They make a great product and I wouldn't change a thing. Their product is easy to use and extremely dependable. The owners of the company have been so supportive and have given me great advice. I can not say enough about these people and this company. May God bless them for many years to come and I look forward to a long relationship with them.