Here's some emails about composition dolls
I recently purchased a Boudoir doll (I think that's
what she is anyways!) and wanted to try and fix her face myself. Her
arms and legs are plastic and in perfect shape but as you can see by the
pictures I have attached with this email, her face has sever cracking and paint
loss. I was wondering how best to restore her? Should I take off all the old
composition first? I've never really tried this before so any advice, if you
have the time to give it, would be greatly appreciated!
Boy! That's quite a project you have there! Crazing is just splits in the surface paint on the compo. Fixing this isn't hard. Tiny pieces that break off isn't too bad, either. But when the surface has bubbles under it and the entire surface is pealing off, it's a hard fix. As you work on this you'll know why. The first task is to get the head off the doll and he wig off the head. I don't know if this is possible with the boudoir dolls because I've never worked on one. If you can get the head off and the wig off, then you have a decision to make. Generally, I'd say try to stabilize the surface paint by injecting Elmer's Glue under the paint, heating the surface with a hair dryer so the paint becomes soft enough to push down onto the glue and attach once again to the compo core. If this isn't going to work, then you'll have to peal off all the surface paint and put on about twenty or so coats of new paint on the compo. Let each dry thoroughly and lightly sand between coats. When you get it to a smooth surface, airbrush the last few coats with paint exactly the color of the hands. I use oil-based satin finish enamel. Acrylics don't sand as well and can dry in the airbrush. Use the photo you sent me for reference to paint the eyes, mouth, lashes and brows. I use makeup powder blush and eye shadow just like making up a face. To make it permanent, I use the airbrush to give a final coat of clear non-gloss lacquer. I get it in a spray can and just spray a lot of it into the airbrush bottle. The reason I don't spray from the spray can is that the can gives a spray that's too coarse and beads up on the doll's surface.
Now, if you can use the Elmer's to glue down the loose pieces, you can rub oil based paint exactly the same color into the face like applying liquid makeup. Do this several times until the cracks are filled. Lightly sand any ridges. (I use a sanding sponge I bought at Lowes Building Center but if you can't find this, a sponge type emery board/fingernail file is the same thing) Once this is done, touch up the brows, eyes, mouth, and lashes. The advantage to this is that enough of the features will show through the paint to guide you so you won't be painting on a blank face.
Now that the head is almost like new, you can put the wig back on. Use mucilage paper glue from the office supply department. Elmer's makes it and LePages and other brands are out there - the funny shaped bottle with the rubber applicator top - it's shown in the "What I Use" tools section on my web site.
Now put the head back on. Good luck!
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