Dickinson artist known around the world for her lifelike creations

- One step into Kristy Walker’s dollhouse in Dickinson and you may catch yourself speaking baby talk.

Her dolls not only look real, they feel real.

“Most people that come and hold them are actually finding themselves holding them like a real baby and rocking and not even realizing they’re rocking,” said Kristy, the owner and artist behind Kristy Leigh Dolls.

Kristy says she was a doll collector but never thought she would become an artist. She laughed when she described how underwhelming her artwork was when she was in grade school.

She recalls the day she discovered her passion.

“I was laying in the bed with my son one night trying to get him to go to sleep. I was scrolling through the internet and found an artist in the U.K. that made these [lifelike dolls] and I was just fascinated with them,” Kristy told FOX 26.

That fascination led her to teach herself how to paint the molds. She began making the dolls full-time 11 years ago, when she sold her daycare business and took a leap of faith.

To achieve the impressive amount of detail on each doll, Kristy applies at least 15 layers of paint on each doll.

“That’s what gives the skin so much depth and texture,” she explained.

Each doll takes several weeks to paint. She says she can achieve any skin tone and hair type.

Kristy says while most of her customers are doll collectors, some are also parents wanting dolls for their children that reflect their own beauty.

“Once I introduced the babies with down syndrome, I realized what a need there was,” she said.

Her dolls have also gone to nursing homes.

“Alzheimer’s and dementia patients – for therapy. They like to hold them. It gives them a sense of calmness,” she added.

She says parents with children who are soon-to-be big sisters or brothers, will also buy them to help the child get used to holding a baby.

Kristy has created a worldwide following and her dolls have shipped as far as Australia.  

But because her dolls are so lifelike, they’ve have caused some trouble.

“I have had some customers that have left their [baby dolls] in the car when they went into the stores. We’ve had almost windows being broken,” she said.

Her dolls are primarily sold through her Facebook page and the dolls start at $600.

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