by TaLeiza Calloway – firstname.lastname@example.org
The babies born at the Loving Hearts Nursery in St. Joseph look and feel so real you wouldn’t know you were holding a doll until someone told you so. That’s the point.
St. Joseph residents Cindy and Daryl Lindbloom create the three-dimensional interactive art so others can experience the comfort and healing that can come from holding a baby.
“They give a comforting, relaxing mood,” Daryl said. “They’re kind of like a de-stressor.”
“They are serenity babies,” Cindy said. “They bring peace to people wherever they are.”
Cindy said they have made babies for a variety of clients that include mothers who have lost children, as well as for nursing-home residents in the Twin Cities area. Their inspiration came from a desire to comfort those residents.
What they like most is seeing how senior citizens react to the babies. It doesn’t matter the baby can’t hear them as they talk to them. For the person holding them, it reminds them of their own children and in that moment offers companionship.
“You don’t have to believe they’re real to get any enjoyment out of it,” she said.
Two hearts make up the logo for Loving Hearts Nursery. The bottom of the hearts – the shape of two letter “Vs” stand for Viola and Vivian. The Lindblooms launched the business to honor those two women, Cindy said. Viola and Vivian had spent some time in a nursing home before they passed on. The Lindblooms’ focus has been on serving nursing-home communities, but they do take custom orders.
“It’s our way of them still giving their heart to those in nursing homes,” she said. “We’re trying to kind of carry on their (memory) and have them still being able to give.”
The launch of the nursery just came naturally. Cindy happened to see the dolls while on a trip out East. They stopped at a doll market, and she went in and thought “This is really cool.” They haven’t looked back.
Work of art
Each baby is one-of-a-kind with a starting price of $650. Made of German vinyl, they are sculpted, painted and custom-made. It can take 30-40 hours to make one baby from start to finish, they said. The sculptures of the baby’s head, arms and legs are shipped from Germany and the Lindblooms do the rest. Daryl, who dabbled in canvas-painting in high school, paints the babies, and Cindy finalizes the child’s details that include hair, lips, wrinkles and eyelashes. They make premature babies, infants and toddlers.
“It’s a labor of love,” she said. “Our whole life is about children.”
Aside from their own children, they have seven grandchildren. Some of the grandchildren have expressed an interest in the art form. One of her 12-year-old grandchildren helps make bags for accessories the babies are sent home with, and Cindy’s 83-year-old mother-in-law makes hats for the little ones.
This kind of three-dimensional art in the form of babies is not a new concept. In fact, it is well known in England and Australia, the Lindblooms said. It is, however, new to central Minnesota, hence the delayed response they have received so far, she said.
Some view their work as a craft. Another misconception is the serenity babies are toys. The Lindblooms liken the babies to priceless pieces of art – something normally kept out of the hands of children.
‘They’re not meant for children,” she said. “Picture (art) brought to life that you can interact with.”
Interest has peaked locally since the St. Joseph couple gained media attention. While the babies are Caucasian, they are working on creating babies of color. The Lindblooms admit this is something they are trying out to make a difference for others. If their journey ended tomorrow, the Lindblooms would be satisfied, they said. Their goal in launching Loving Hearts Nursery is not to get rich; it’s to give comfort and to honor Viola and Vivian.
“We’re just going with God’s direction,” she said. “If it stops tomorrow, that’s OK. We’re OK with whatever happens. It’s not about us.”
For more information about Loving Hearts Nursery, visit: www.lovingheartsnursery.com. They will also be featured in a book written by New York Times reporter Rebecca Martinez.