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Resculpting Vinyl Heads

Over the years, I've had a few questions about reshaping vinyl doll heads, so thought I'd make this little semi-tutorial. I shrink the heads of all my dolls using acetone, so this page shows what I do from that point on. However, if you are not shrinking your doll's head, you can still reshape it. Just pick up from step 2. You can read more about head shrinking in the tutorial section. 

Watch the video below,

or read the written version below that. 


Step 1 Compression Drying/Shaping: If shrinking, after drying about 24 hours or so, you can arrange the head in a compression set up to start out. There's only so much vinyl that you can cut off obviously, since the heads are hollow, so compression is key for some drastic changes. Check it every so many hours because as the head shrinks, you want to make sure it stays centered and doesn't go lopsided and get mishapen. Leave it like this till it is dry and hardened. That can take anywhere from 3-14 days. It's usually on the shorter end of that scale though.


So here's my usual routine:

Please ignore the text on the photos because I'm too lazy to go change them all after adding a step to my new version of the tutorial here. 


Step 3 Use coarse diamond coated gold dremel bits to do the shaping:  This lets you quickly remove large portions of vinyl. Remember to wear goggles! It really hurts if a piece of vinyl flicks into your eye. 

Step 2 Adding Sculpted Features (Optional): There are many different materials you can use, but you'll likely want to use something that won't be fragile and break easily.  I have always used Milliput and never had any problems with it, but lately I've seen people suggesting Apoxie Sculpt, which is pretty expensive. So for myself, I'm taking the: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" route. Sometimes I will use Worbla if I need to add very thin details that run the risk of cracking easily. It's a thermoplastic, so you just heat it up, shape it, it sticks to things really well and hardens back up when it cools. The point is that it has more elasticity and tensile strength. Now there is also UV cure resin which I hale as a modern miracle! It is really fun to use, is exceptionally strong, if you have a strong enough UV lamp, you can do things in just minutes that would take you days to do waiting for other mediums to dry. I'll be making a tutorial about that later. 


Step 4 Use the finer dremel bits to smooth the surface back out: This works faster than the hand files, but isn't as gentle, so tends to still leave things a bit rough. Still worth the step in grading down because it takes so long to sand with too fine a grit. 


Step 5 Use fine grit metal hand files for this next grade of sanding: It's similar to the last step but you'll have more control since they aren't a power tool.  

Step 6 Grade down to a fine grit sandpaper: I like to use these sponge backed ones because I can pretty much reach any place I need with them.  


Step 7 Down to super fine grit: Again, I go for the sponges.   

And you're done! You can use a sealant if you like to make sure that the whole surface has the same finish and exposure to oxygen and thus should age evenly. But only time will tell if that would really make any difference.  

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