This week, follow along as we feature the unique hobby of Danielle Weaver, Military Relocation Specialist at Preferred Movers of Nashville.
Danielle Weaver has collected countless stories over the years due to her unique hobby. Conflicts at work, messes in her kitchen and even run-ins with police officers are just a few of the consequences that she’s had to endure over the years because of her part-time gig. Don’t let your mind wander too far, though. Danielle Weaver’s hobby is doll making.
She has been collecting dolls for as long as she can remember, but Weaver decided she should expand her love from not just collecting, but to creating and producing her own dolls. This decision has turned into a 13-year part-time career called Lil’ Darlin’ Original Reborns. Selling dolls in over 25 countries and 28 states, she has reached all the way from South Africa to Norway as well as Brazil and even New Zealand.
How It’s Done
These dolls are extremely lifelike. Weaver’s talent and creative knack for reproducing a doll from a photo or image is an impressive feat. If you provide her with a snapshot, she will do her best to
replicate it exactly, matching the face in the picture to one of hundreds of choices in both head and face molds. These dolls don’t just look realistic – they feel like real babies too. She uses a stuffing mixture of sandblasting glass and silk polyester, meaning that these dolls weigh the same as their real-life counterparts. Weaver makes the dolls all the way from newborn to 18 months, meaning they can weigh anywhere from around seven pounds all the way to 20 pounds.
Playing pranks with the dolls
These baby dolls look so real in fact that she’s even gotten in trouble with law enforcement. One day, while running errands and shipping a doll order at the local post office, she left the baby doll in her car. This alarmed people who looked in her car and saw what they thought was a real baby locked inside a hot automobile. “I’ve had 911 called on me before. It’s happened too many times. The doll’s eyes are closed and they look like a sleeping baby,” Weaver said. “A sleeping baby in a 90 degree car! The police got to know me real well.”
Weaver laughs as she also remembers being pulled over for speeding one day while transporting a doll in the backseat. “I had to prove to the police officer that it wasn’t a real baby. Now I just keep a car seat in my car. It makes it easier that way.”
Not only has she had some unique experiences dealing with law enforcement, but she also admits that her lifelike, one-of-a-kind handmade dolls are fun to play pranks with. As an employee of Preferred Movers of Nashville, she remembers the first time she brought a doll with her to work. “Shortly after I first started, I brought one in to work. We set the doll at the owner’s desk and when he walked back in, he gasped and wanted to know who brought the baby in.” Danielle continued by saying it took quite a bit of convincing to prove that this was in fact, not a real baby, just a doll.
While pranks and funny stories are part of what goes along with Weaver’s hobby, she has also managed to garner quite a profitable business. She sells almost all of her dolls at the Christmas Village Consumer Show in Nashville, Tenn., working all year preparing for her busiest season. This preparation involves spending around 10 hours on each doll, making sure that the mold matches the face and that each doll has between 12-20 layers of paint. Between every layer of paint, the doll must be baked in her own kitchen oven to make certain that the paint holds true to her vision of the doll. She admits that it is a time-consuming task, but without it, the dolls would not have their same lifelike appearance. The end result is one that hundreds of her customers have been happy with over her 13 years of making the dolls.
Wheaton | Bekins History
Danielle Weaver has worked in the Military Relocation department of Preferred Movers of Nashville, a Wheaton World Wide Moving agent, for a year and a half. Wheaton is Bekins Van Lines partner company. She has lived, along with her daughter, in Nashville for the past 22 years. For more information on Lil’ Darlin’ Original Reborns, visit her Facebook page.
Make sure to read more about the other employees who have been featured in Bekins’ Sunday Spotlight.