Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tutorial: How To Fix Dolls With Epoxy

Dolls needing split repair
Today I got a bunch of dolls repaired using hard plastic epoxy. When a hard material doll has a split or is missing a finger, hard plastic epoxy is my go-to product. You can use epoxy to repair PVC plastic, hard plastic, resin, composition, and more. You can use it on vinyl as well, although it isn't ideal because the difference in texture between soft plastic and the hard epoxy makes the repair really noticeable. Today, besides using epoxy on the dolls, I tried it on a mirror insert made of Styrofoam with a plastic coating.

Hard plastic epoxy
You can find hard plastic epoxy in the painting section of the hardware store. There are several kinds. Some have two different vials which must be mixed like paint. I prefer the kind sold in putty-like sticks. Kwik Plastic is one brand you might see, but there are several different brands. I've heard of a type of epoxy called Milliput or something like that which is tintable so you don't have to paint it, but I've never seen it anywhere I've lived. I think I'd probably end up painting it anyway.

Materials for epoxy repair

When you want to epoxy something make sure to have a disposable knife, paper towels, and water on hand. The epoxy will not stick to your fingers if they are damp. You don't want your hands dripping wet, but I find it helpful to dip my fingers in the water and dry them a little on the paper towel every couple minutes as I'm working. This makes the epoxy stick to the plastic and not to my hands.

 Cut off a piece of epoxy.

Knead to mix.

The mixed epoxy.

To start your repair, cut off a piece of epoxy and knead it together to mix the two parts. When the epoxy is a uniform color it is ready to use. The epoxy dries fast, so try to only take as much as you will use in a short period, no more than 20 minutes.

Repairing a split

Make sure your doll has been cleaned and dried ahead of time when you want to do a repair. Apply the epoxy to the split in your doll and try to get the edges as smooth as possible while the epoxy is wet. You can sand it down later, but it's much easier to do as much as you can when you apply it so the repair is not visible.

Sculpting a part

Besides split repairs, you can sculpt new parts for broken dolls using epoxy. In this case I am making new hard eyelashes because a piece broke off this doll. Apply your epoxy to the area and use a skewer or other sculpting tool to form it as you want, as if you were using modeling clay. Try to get the piece as finished as you want while you are sculpting; try not to rely too much on sanding to shape the piece.

Repairing a seam

The finished seam

Sometimes a doll will have only a tiny split or factory flaw where the seams don't quite meet as they should. This is a really easy repair. Just take a tiny bit of epoxy and rub it into the split. Then clean the excess off the surface with a skewer or wet paper towel, leaving the epoxy in the seam only. This kind of repair is virtually undetectable when it is finished!

Allow to dry.

When your repairs are finished allow the dolls to sit without handling for at least two hours. If it's really humid or rainy the epoxy may take longer to dry. Today while mine were drying I repaired a mirror my mom gave me.

A broken piece
My mom ordered several mirrors with an insert that makes the mirror look like a paned window. One arrived with the pane insert broken, so the company sent her a new one. She gave me the broken mirror because I know how to fix things with epoxy.

Sculpt the repair.

The mirror pane is Styrofoam with only a thin shell of resin over it, so I couldn't press too hard on it. I gently applied the epoxy and sculpted it to look like the rest of the piece with a skewer. When it dries I will paint it to camouflage the repair. I plan to hang this over the door to our living room. It's just the right size and will look like a transom window when it's finished. I think it will be really pretty!

When the epoxy is dry it will turn from a light blue/gray color to white. Then it is ready for light sanding and painting. I use oil based paint for all the the tiniest repairs. The very small seam repair shown below will disappear with a light coat of acrylic paint dabbed over it with a makeup sponge. The dolls you see here are coming soon to my Atelier Mandaline stores on eBay and Etsy, so please check.

The dry epoxy

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