The Heat is On!!!

Created: Sunday, 20 July 2014 Print Email

During my 10 years of Reborning, I've tried them all... From my normal oven right up to the Turbo Convection oven... So what is the best to use?

There are basically 4 Types of ovens that can be successfully used for reborning but some are definitely better than others.  Here is my opinion on the different ovens that can be used....

The Normal House Oven

10 Years ago, we just bought a brand new Bosch Eye Level oven and paid a fortune for it.  I was so happy to have this beautiful stainless steel piece in my kitchen and was very excited to cook my first roast or leg of lamb in it :o)))  But before I got around to do that, reborning became my new obsession and I proudly baked my first ever doll in my brand new oven... OMGosh!! BIG MISTAKE!!!!  Little did I know at the time that the vinyl will give off some really bad fumes that tastes even worse lol... Shortly after baking this first doll of mine, I decided to go all out and cook a wonderful Sunday lunch.... Well... what can I say?  The leg of lamb ended up in the trash can, as I soon found out, to my dismay, that reborning and cooking in the same oven, DOES NOT go hand in hand lol... It tasted like PLASTIC!!! Yuck!!!! lol  I was never again able to use my oven:o((((

So this option is just a NO GO if you plan to ever cook in your oven again and can be an expensive lesson.  If you have an old oven that you can use exclusively for your dolls, then that's obviously a whole different story.  Just beware of hot spots in the oven especially if it does not have a fan as you can potentially melt your doll.

The Toaster Oven

Even though toaster ovens can be your cheapest option, its not necessarily the best option to choose.  These ovens are relatively small and the heat source is too close to the heat source which means you have to constantly watch your doll parts to make sure you have no mishaps.  The temperature of these ovens are also very unreliable and can vary widely, and it will be a good idea to keep a thermometer in the oven at all times to make sure you keep an eye on any sudden fluctuations.  Another con about these ovens is that you cannot bake any of the larger babies of around 23" or bigger in them, which means you will still need another alternative.

I know its such a temptation to save money and go the cheapest route, but I promise you - it's really not.... In the end it might just cost you way more than it's worth, especially if you melt that high priced Limited Edition Kit that has been sold out for ages.

The Convection Microwave Oven

Now this is like comparing Gucci to Walmart lol... This is the cream of the crop and the best I have EVER baked in.  The Convection Microwave has a BAKE function which is what I used.  Because it is digital, its temperature is extremely reliable and due to the convection fan, you do not get any hot spots.  Another plus about the Convection Microwave is the fact that is has a digital timer that switches off once its done and no dial like most toaster ovens, which could get stuck and could lead to a melted baby.  If you opt of this oven, you will really need to be willing to invest in one of the big ones to make sure you can fit a bigger baby in it, but this option is once again a problem for toddler dolls, except if you are willing to bake one part at a time, which is very time consuming.  These ovens are pricey and the range around $200 and up for a good quality one.  Don't settle for a small, cheap one as it will not suit your needs and you will soon realize you made a mistake.

The Turbo Convection Oven

In 2011 I learned from our German artists about a new oven that they have been using successfully for baking their dolls...

I was about to do a 3 month tour across the USA and Canada to teach Reborn Doll Making classes and I was considering these ovens for my workshops... They were fairly priced, easy to ship to the different venues and it made sense to give them a try.  I went ahead and ordered a few for each venue and I must confess... I fell in love:o))  Ever since this has been the only ovens I have used.  There are generally two different sizes... The smaller one and then the family sized one, which can fit a turkey, This one is usually referred to as the 17 Quart one and usually with the Extender ring.  Now make sure you get the one with the extender ring as you will need the extra height...  This oven also comes with a low wire rack that I use in the bottom of the oven with a white dollar store hand towel.  I find this ideal as it insures circulation from below your dolls parts too, unlike a cookie sheet.

Now the beauty of this oven, is that you can extend it as tall as you want to by investing in some additional extender rings... I stack up to 6 of them on my oven to give me the height I need for baking the larger dolls - YES ~ I have baked one of the 6 year old child dolls in it with no problems lol... It takes a few bakes, of course, but it can be done:o)))

The video below showsyou how I set up my oven....


Other Heat Sources...

In 2009 I also did some classes and at the time the 1st mentioned ovens was not an option to travel with and I decided to use heat guns... This was a definite learning curve for me as I soon found out that the only real option is the industrial type heat guns.  You will find many reborn supply stores that offer the little blue "heat gun" which is in fact not a real heat gun but an Embossing Gun.  These guns are absolutely a NO GO for reborn doll making as they do not reach the desired temperature to heat set your paints properly, and you will end up with a doll that will have paint that will rub off.

Another really bad idea, is the silver heat gun as also sold by many of the reborn supply stores... Do you really want to know??? lol... OK.. here goes.... These guns has the same problem as the blue ones - they do not reach the desired temperature.  But this is the least of it's problems... These guns are dangerous and a serious fire hazard.  Believe me - I had not just one malfunction on me lol... The last straw was at my class in Portland...  One of my students heat set her doll, switched it off and put it back on the carpet in the hotel's board room where we had the class... I smelled something like burnt plastic and just saw smoke... The heat gun was on the floor... litterally GLOWING orange.... Yup... the whole thing was red hot!!!!  I ran and ripped the cord out of the wall socket and picked it up by the cord... running into the next door bathroom and dumped it in the basin and poured water over it to cool it down... {{BIG EYES}}
The manager came into the room to ask what is burning and all we could say, was... "Oh, its us baking our dolls" lol... Imagine if he knew we almost burnt down the hotel? lol  So PLEASE STAY AWAY from these dangerous weapons of mass destruction lol

The only heat gun that really reaches a good temperature that will truly heat set your paints, is the industrial type heat guns as used by professionals for stripping paint, heating pipes, plastic etc... These guns gets really hot and you can melt your doll or heat the vinyl too much and get a very very shiny doll.  The trick is to hold it around 12 inches away from your parts.  You need to constantly move the gun around and not concentrate on one spot as you WILL melt your doll.  You need to swing it left and right... left and right... just like when you would dry your hair.  Your fingers will get really hot so either wear a heat resistant glove or put your doll part on a dowel stick so that you can get some distance between your hand and the gun to keep the heat away from your hands and fingers.

Some other helpful tips and info...

  • Genesis Heat Set Paints is a paint that will stay wet and "workable" until it has been heat set.  The curing point for Genesis, is between 250°F and 265°F for around 8 - 10 minutes.  If you do not reach this temperature, your paint will NOT be set and it will rub off.
  • Genesis Mediums will turn a white color if they are not properly heat set and they will rub off.  You must reached the curing point temperature and since these mediums are thicker than your translucent washes, its best to heat set them for at least 10 minutes.... let it cool in the oven for at least another 10 minutes.  Turn your parts over and heat set the other sides for at least another 5 minutes and leave to cool in the oven.
  • Genesis thinning medium will turn a whitish color if cooled down instantly in front of a fan ~ so keep away from sudden cold temperatures and rather leave your parts to cool down slowly in the oven.
  • Use a Digital Thermometer in your oven to make sure your temperature does not go beyond the 265°F mark.  I use this one that are originally made to measure the temperature of meat.  I let the pen hang inside my oven and set my temperature to 265°F for the alarm.  If the alarm sounds, I know I need to run and make sure my doll does not burn.