Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Restoring Old Dolls, the Spa Day for dolls


I'm going to do a short guide to restoring dolls, which I hope helps a few dolls out there!
Maybe you have found some dolls in the local charity (thrift) store and they have seen better days, maybe you've bought a bundle on the internet or maybe you want to bring your childhood dolls back to their former glory. Unless the doll has serious issues they can be easily cleaned up or restored.
Dolls are hardy, they have to be with all the little brothers in this world, so don't be afraid to soak/scrub.

Sindy has fallen on hard times so trips to the hairdresser are no longer an option!
 First things first, remove all clothes, shoes, rubber bands from hair. These need separate care.

Sindys little sister Patch from the 60s and Trendy Girl  Walker Sindy from early 1970s. Patch was in great condition,
just dirty and in need of a hairbrush. Sindy was missing some paint from eyes, eyelashes are half missing and hair was a big ball of fluff.
 Sometimes dirt can unintentionally preserve the doll.

Tammy, an American doll from the 60s, this was one of the dirtiest I've ever seen. Doesnt look too bad in this photo but the dirt was engrained everwhere.
This method can be used for most teenage dolls (Sindy/Barbie etc.) Do not entirely submerge dolls that need batteries etc!  Fill a basin with washing up liquid and warm water and leave the doll/s to soak for an hour or so. Longer soaking usually means less scrubbing. Get a toothbrush (Buy a pack of cheap ones, soft or medium) and scrub gently. Most dirt will come right off with a gently scrub.
If there is still marks on the doll, its time for a little stronger stuff. The next step is to soak overnight in washing powder, I use any brand of non-bio washing powder. (I use non-bio in the house so its not a specific choice against bio powder)
The next day you can give a gentle brush with the toothbrush again and rinse off under the tap.
Most dirt will be off by now.
Other marks, stains will need further chemical treatment which I will describe again.  But the average doll should be nice and sparkly (face and body) now.
Now its time for the hair. I use normal shampoo (buy a bottle of cheap own brand shampoo) for the hair, rinse and then its conditioner time.  If its a 1980s Sindy, or Barbie then usually fabric conditioner is perfect for the job. Or a Patch doll in the case below, Patch has fab hair!

Fabric Conditioner Time
Depending on the hair, I usually leave for a few hours. And then rinse. The hair always feels so soft afterwards. But if the hair is really dry, fizzy this method wont be enough. Now you need to break out the good stuff! Time to share the intensive conditioner.
Intensive conditioner time, its ok her head somes off easily.
You apply plenty of conditioner to the hair and cover with a plastic bag/cling film. Seal bag. Leave
in a drawer for a couple of weeks. If the hair still has not improved a lot, then reapply conditioner and leave
back in the drawer. You don't actually need a drawer, just keep out of direct sunlight. I leave in drawer to stop my impatience and opening too soon.

Once doll is rinsed leave to dry on a towel out of direct sunlight. Usually overnight is long enough.

Once all these steps have been followed then most dolls are ready for hair styling and dressing.
I'll cover hair and clothes another day.
Hope this was helpful!

Take care,