Restoration Techniques & Products

I replace eyes from the front of the doll's head, not by cutting a hole in the back of the head. This is done by slowly heating the vinyl with dry heat and popping the old eyes out.  In some cases, this brutal procedure can cause small nicks at the edges of the eye sockets.  Usually this damage is minimal and barely noticeable, but it can occasionally require sanding of the sockets...and might (very rarely) ruin the face of the doll.

I have been in the habit of using Secrist brand acrylic eyes.  These are similar to the original My Twinn eyes.

I also like Eyeco brand acrylic eyes.  Some of these eyes have very small pupils, which can look strange, but there are some beautiful colors in the Eyeco line that are among my favorite eye choices.

I'm also starting to use Eyeco silicone eyes for certain face molds (Rosemary and Emma) that have small eye sockets and are hard to work with.

If I could, I would give every single doll that I restore D400 low lens glass eyes from Hand Glass Craft in the United Kingdom.  These eyes are absolutely gorgeous, and they fit My Twinn dolls perfectly.  They cost about $80 per pair, but I think they're worth it.

For non-Denver dolls (especially China re-pour heads) I'd ideally use glass eyes every time.  For less expensive repairs, though, I choose silicone over acrylic.  This is because I suspect that the faded eyes on newer My Twinn dolls are due in part to a reaction between the lower-quality vinyl and the plastics in the eyes.

Secrist Ocean Green eyes.
If a doll comes with a messy wig with no bare patches, I will boil-wash the wig and add some spray conditioner.  This conditioner is designed for synthetic wigs (not real hair) and is safe to use.  Wigs that have been treated this way tend to look extremely straight at first, but they feel super soft and silky.  The technique does not work well on bangs.

If a doll needs a full wig replacement, I can sometimes find another original My Twinn wig.  I also use new Monique wigs, preferably in a custom 13-14" size (they fit perfectly) which I buy from Dolleanne.  I occasionally purchase custom wigs from smaller shops like Doll of a Kind.  The custom wigs in this shop are beautiful and can add tremendously to the personality of a doll.

I glue all new wigs using a minimal amount of glue (from a hot glue gun).  I'm not very good at gluing wigs, so there's often a small bead of glue visible somewhere along the doll's hairline.  The wigs are easily removable, though, with an application of low heat from a hair dryer.

A wig that has been boil-washed and is poker-straight.
Face Paint:
I use high-grade acrylic paints for blush, lip, eyebrow, and freckle application.  This paint is easy to layer and is water soluble.  It's durable, but can be removed with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

I am no longer using watercolor pencils for eyebrows.  The pigment is too short-lived.

Post-Denver Madison with heavy freckles and Eyeco eyes.
Vinyl Cleaning:
I always do a surface clean with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  I'm told that this is just a fine-grit sandpaper.  I follow this with a mild soap and rinse.

I use lower-grit sandpaper to remove gouges in the vinyl or stubborn stains and shiny scuffs.

For ink stains, I use Twin Pines of Maine's Remove-Zit.  This cream is then removed using Twin Pines' 9-1-1 cleaner.  Remove-Zit doesn't always remove ink stains completely.

I will use acetone on very rare occasions.  I rinse the vinyl immediately after contact with acetone.  Acetone is nasty stuff and I avoid it whenever possible.

Body Cleaning:
I spot-clean bodies unless they are stinky or stained.  In the worst cases, I will remove the foam core from the body and wash each component separately.

Re-assembling bodies is difficult.  I've been using my hot glue gun for this, and sometimes the excess glue leaves hard seams along the sides of the doll.  I'm working to minimize this.

Armature Repair:
If I have a body dismantled for cleaning, I will often lubricate the armature by coating it with WD-40 to reduces squeakiness.  I let the WD-40 dry and then wipe away any residue before replacing the foam.

If the arms are rotating on their armature but not hanging loose, I will sometimes leave things alone.  However, if the arm is floppy, I will go inside the body and re-glue the joint with a hot glue gun.  If the vinyl is badly damaged, I might use Gorilla Glue for a stronger fix.

If a doll's head is loose, I will removed the head, strip the old glue, heat the neck, and re-glue the head with a hot glue gun.

*Two of the dolls in my own collection have heads that came loose again after repair.  I suspect this is because I didn't get a tight enough connection as the hot glue was drying.  I'm going to stick with hot glue for neck repairs (stronger glues are not recommended and can limit future work on the doll), but if you've purchased a doll from me and the head ever comes loose, send her back and I will re-glue the head more securely for free!

An arm that was loose and floppy because of damaged vinyl.
I always use Monique 815 eyelashes.  These are thin and delicate and look like original My Twinn lashes.

Molded Digits:
I try to avoid replacing fingers and toes if at all possible.  Denver dolls rarely have trouble with broken digits, but occasionally accidents occur.

I have limited experience molding and casting a new finger.  Here is the one example of moderate success I've had in this area:

A repaired finger.