Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cathy's Eyes

Today I received a package, a Chatty Cathy head from one of my regular customers. My client wanted me to replace the eyes in her Chatty Cathy doll after she ordered eyes a size too small. She sent a photo of a metal piece that originally came attached to Cathy's eyes, but the eyes themselves were broken so I couldn't see them.

Cleaning the doll
I told her I've never worked on Chatty Cathy before, but said I was willing to try to help her. I started he way I start all my restorations, with cleaning. I like to get the doll's face nice and clean before inserting eyes so the new eyes aren't spoiled by cleaning.

Heating the head
My client wanted me to replace the eyes using the heat method, even though it seems like she is much more accomplished at that technique than I. The heat method requires you to heat the head with a hair dryer or something and pop the old eyes out of the head. Then you pop new eyes into the head. My client advised rubbing petroleum jelly on the new eyes to put them in. Well, I tried it. I heated the head and lubricated the new eyes. Then I tried to push the new eyes in. The only size I could get into the socket was a 10mm and it was way too small. The 18 inch Chatty Cathy requires a 14mm eye, but the eye socket is too wide and shallow for that size. When I tried to insert the eyes I broke the first one and bruised my hand. I took the photo immediately after it happened; now my palm has a much darker bruise.

Two examples of why I don't use the heat method.

In order to remove the broken eye I had to cut the back of the eye socket. This is how I usually insert eyes anyway, so I went ahead and inserted 14mm eyes from the inside. The 14mm eyes are all right, though not a perfect fit. Cathy obviously had originally come with almond-shaped eyes connected with a metal nose bridge. The Margon eyes are a bit too round and quite a bit too tall for the Cathy eye sockets. If you have a Cathy to repair I suggest you try to find a junk doll with decent eyes you can harvest to repair your doll. Barring that, you can use the 14mm Margon eyes but you will have to cut the eye pockets inside the head open. Then you will have to heat the inside of the head with a hair dryer and pull the vinyl pocket edges out of the way. Pop the eyes in and draw the vinyl pocket flaps over the eyes as far as possible. The eyes are too tall to be covered completely. Glue the flaps of the vinyl pockets back down over the backs of the eyes with thick glue like Aleene's Tacky Glue or acrylic modeling paste. Acrylic modeling paste is available in art supply stores.

You can order eye replacement kits from my eBay and Etsy shops. I don't have all sizes listed, but I have eyes in size 6mm to 27mm available in brown, blue or green. Just send a message to to let me know which you would like or to request help with measuring.

I have had several questions about Chatty Cathy dolls and this is the first one I've ever restored, so I am happy to finally be able to answer questions accurately! This doll id heading back to her owner, but I have many beautiful dolls already restored in my shops. Link from to all my stores.

Cathy's new eyes

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.