Friday, 18 December 2015

American Girl Doll Eye Swap Tutorials

American Girl Doll Eye Swap Tutorials

In addition to our original "American Girl Eye Swap" Tutorial, we've made a series of separate eye swaps tutorials - each one showing each of 8 different face molds.

American Girl Doll Eye Swap Tutorials - Eye Swapping Different Face Molds

All our American Girl Doll Face molds eye swap tutorials can be found here:
❤ Classic Mold ❤ video tutorial (which is the main tutorial - you MUST watch this one first!)
❤ Addy Mold ❤ video tutorial
❤ Asian / JLY 4 Mold ❤ video tutorial
❤ Josefina Mold ❤ video tutorial
❤ Kaya Mold ❤ video tutorial
❤ Jess Mold ❤ video tutorial
❤ Sonali Mold ❤ video tutorial
❤ Marie-Grace Mold ❤ video tutorial

In each one I perform an eyeswap on that particular mold. Some face molds are easier and some are harder, so I recommend to watch them all to make your own judgment!

American Girl Doll Eye Swap Tutorials - what can go wrong

Eyeswapping is a great skill to have if you want to create your own unique doll BUT there are lots of things that can go wrong. To support this series of videos, we've added a quick info video on what can potentially go wrong when attempting to eye swap an American Girl doll


American Girl Doll Eye Swap Tutorials - Top Tips

Before we begin please remember that customizing your American Girl doll whether it’s eye swapping or wig swapping will invalidate your guarantee with the American Girl doll and they will most likely refuse to accept any doll to their Doll Hospital if they have been customized.

I'm an adult doll collector, and I do all the eyeswaps and customisations, and I want to share with you the dos and don’ts of eyeswapping as it has become increasingly popular amongst the American Girl doll collectors

First of all, it’s NOT for younger children – American Girl dolls are expensive and I would not want to encourage anyone to try it on their brand new doll. Besides, you need at least 2 dolls to swap eyes with.

It is cheaper to find a doll in bad condition, to use her eyes, rather than look for just the eyes. On the other hand, unexperienced 'eye swappers' are more likely to ruin the eyes during the popping out process, so it may be easier to acquire the eyes by themselves, already 'popped out'.

Tip 1 Hot Hot Hot

Since the eyeswapping American Girl Doll uses hot water, wear gloves that can protect from heat. The doll's head will get REALLY got - I use a washing up glove on the hand I'm holding the hot head with, but the other hand I have free, so I can hold the eye.

Tip 2 Dolls with Holes

For dolls with pierced ears, cover the ear holes with a duck tape, to stop the water from coming out through the holes. I'd recommend you take the earrings out as they'll get VERY got, but put them back on after the eyeswap is finished, because the earrings holes can get smaller as the vinyl cools down.



Older dolls may also have holes in the top of the head, which you may not see, if the wig is still on, or even broken eye sockets – (you could test it by pouring the cold water in first ) so to avoid the hot water leaking out of the head during the heating up time – use a bag (a freezer food bag or a sandwich bag is best) – stuff it in the head, and pour the water into that bag. But do note that the heating time may need to be increased by an extra minute or so, depending on the thickness of the bag.  


(whilst I hear people use a hair drier to heat up a doll, I've never done that so I cannot comment or recommend it)

Tip 3 Heating Time Varies

The heating time will vary depending on the type of the mold and the vinyl – some older dolls require longer time and some shorter, and some require multiple reheats, and the vinyl cools down much faster than others. 

Any doll with neck rim like on the photo below will be guaranteed to be an older doll (from around 2000-2005, I can't tell for sure) that has harder vinyl that takes longer to heat up and cools down faster - so I recommend NOT to eyeswap that one if you're a complete beginner!


I would say newer / more recent dolls are easiest to eyeswap - anything from about 2009 onwards as the vinyl is lighter/thinner and more easy to work with.

So as a general rule, I heat up the head for 2.5 minutes at a time, then try and see if the eyes pop out – if the eye does not come out easily within 10-20 seconds, then don’t continue to struggle - reheat the head again with water inside the head (remember the bag tip – it may take longer if you use a bag!) and try again. 

I never heat the head longer than 2.5 minutes at a time if the eyes are still in (I may reheat it longer when it's time to put the eyes back in - it's safer without eyes in). 

The eyes will be VERY hot if you heat the head multiple times, so I take the eyes apart into their 3 parts immediately after we take the eyes out, to help them cool down faster. 

Sometimes the second (or even third time) you need to heat up, it only needs an extra minute, rather than 2.5, depending how soft the head still is. You need to use your judgment – if you’re struggling to get out the eye within 10-20 second maximum then do NOT struggle – stop and reheat again. 

And if the eye moved out of place – as in it gone/flipped backward – use the nail tool to push it back properly IMMEDIATELY – this is because if the plastic “front” eye is in contact with the hot vinyl even for a short few seconds it WILL melt – it needs to be “protected” from the heat in it’s plastic & metal casing.

Tip 4 Time is precious but don't panic

From the time you pour out the water out of the head, to when you start doing your popping in/out of the eyes, don’t dawdle – have all your tools ready in advance – time is precious, as with every second the head will cool down more – making it harder to do the swap = but on the other hand don’t panic – you can always reheat & try again!

Tip 5 Melted eyes

There’s not much you can do with completely melted eyes, where the backing “fell off” and the plastic eyes are misshapen – if it’s only a little bit melted the eye can be still used but you may need to use a craft knife to cut off a little bit of misshapen plastic if it stops the eye from closing. Best advice to avoid melted eyes in the first place is NOT to struggle taking them out – reheat the head until it’s soft enough to pop the eyes out straight without much struggle. The worst face mold that can cause melted eyes is Addy's mold so make sure you watch that one!!

Tip 6 The Right Tools

DO NOT use any other methods of heating up like microwave – the eyes have metal parts in them and you WILL melt the eyes. I also do not use hair driers for the fear of melting the eyes or the eye lashes. I ONLY  use the hot water method. The water will not “seep out” out out of the sockets – they are solid “enclosures” – only once I have seen broken eye sockets though…and used a bag as shown above.

Tools you use are very important – I have 3 different length wooden spoons to hand, and a nail tool – I don’t use anything else but I have seen people using knifes (gasp), embossing tools and so on – but anything that YOU find comfortable to hold is fine. 

The reason why I have 3 different lengths spoons is because some molds have different socket positions – Addy’s mold in particular, has very deeply situated eye sockets and you need extra long wide handle to be able to reach it to push the eyes out – some easier face molds like Classic one, I use a shorter spoon.

I use the short nail tool as it’s the short and comfortable to grip, and you need to have it close to the eye so it doesn't “slip about” and scratch whilst you position the eyes into place. 

It is not GUARANTEED that you won’t scratch the eye lids – most likely. on your first go, you will – and even most experience eye swappers will scratch the eye lids sometimes – or the paint on the older dolls will just chip off more easily during eye swap – it’s not the end of the word – most customizers are just so happy with the completed eye swap, they don’t care and it doesn't bother them, or you could retouch the scratch with some acrylic paint – there’s tutorial on that on our channel too.

Tip 7 Wonky eyes

In the ideal word, the eyes would just pop in straight back, you push them down, and they are perfectly aligned. Whilst it can happen (and more experienced eyeswappers can do that :) ), chances are it won’t happen for most of us. 

Personally I found Josefina & Kaya mold the easiest, where the eyes seem to pop and be adjusted more easily then in other molds. The second easiest is classic mold. Other molds may take longer to adjust. The trick is to try to push it in at this angle, horizontally to the nose, and if it isn't and you have too much adjusting to perform (i.e. the eye is wonky / way out of line), you'd be better off popping it out and reheat and try again. Always let the eye to cool down between eyeswaps.

In my tutorials, you’d see me adjusting the eyes whilst the head is on the table – this is so you can see it on the camera. In real life I hold the head upright, up to my eye level – it’s so much easier to actually see what you’re doing!

So remember: If the eyes are TOO wonky, it’s better to take them out and try putting them again more straight (which basically means start the eyeswap from scratch) – that’s because the more you push it around, the more chances of the eyes coming apart from it’s backing inside the socket.

Tip 8 Face molds are different

Some Face molds are easier than others. If it’s your first time learning to eyeswap, firstly use a doll that you don’t mind ruining, and learn by just popping the eyes in and putting them back in. The best ones to learn on are Josefina mod, Kaya and Classic, in that order. The worst ones to try on are any Asian molds – Jess, Jly 4 . The hardest is Addy mold and I do not recommend her for complete beginners! When I say some molds are "similar" to Josefina mold, I don't mean they look the same - I mean that in terms of eye swapping / eye sockets they are very similar.

Tip 9 Broken Eyes

Do not let the eye “fly out” across the room or on the floor. It may break – the eye consists of 3 separate parts, which meant to come apart, plus the metal back weight which is glued on to the plastic part – The plastic part – i.e. the actual eye, is the most vulnerable and easily ruined by the heat.  If it’s in it’s plastic and metal casing, it’s protected during the heating up process, but if in direct contact with heat, it will melt within a few seconds! 

If the eye 'flies across the room' when popping out, you can break / have crack in the eye or worse break the tiny plastic “rods” that help the eye rest on the plastic casing and “rock” / open & close. There are ways to fix it – you can use a very small seed bead for example to glue it on in place of the missing rod, but you may find that they eye will not “shut” anymore. 



The 3-parts – metal, plastic backing and the eye, meant to come apart, and I usually take them apart immediately after popping the eyes out for two reasons – first to let the eye cool down faster, and two – to check if the plastic casing has not been misshapen during the pushing out – if so, put JUST the plastic backing part ( it is typically black, but I have seen white or pink too) into hot water for 1 minute, and then use back of the wooden spoon to flatten it – if not flat, the eye will not “close” properly. 

Sometimes the eye rattle too much sideways – that may be because the little plastic pin inside the backing was flatten accidentally – it needs to be straight up so make sure you don’t accidentally flatten it with the spoon if you’re trying to fix the backing!

Sometimes 3-parts of the eyes “fall apart” during the putting back in stage – it helps then to glue them in place together around the metal rim to the plastic backing – you need to let the glue dry completely (I use the glue pictured above).

If the eyes are broken/beyond repair then you'd need to look for another pair - eBay, Facebook groups, forums etc are a place to look for. Sometimes maybe you have one eye left that it's a good one - you can sell/donate/exchange it - somebody else may be in need of one eye - you never know!.

Tip 10 Pop the Eyes Back in - They WILL go in!

I always wear kitchen glove when doing eye swap on the hand I hold the dolls head, but not the one I use to push the eye in – as it helps control the eye direction better, but saves my other hand from burning as the head is HOT HOT HOT! 

The doll’s head needs to be squished, to get the eye in, and not the correct angle of the way the eye has to go in. The important thing to remember at that stage is NOT TO PANIC – that eye have gone in before therefore it WILL go in again – there’s no particular rush, but normally it’s up to 20 seconds before the head is too ‘cold’ and too hard, to get the eye in. 

So your priority is to get the both eyes in, and then to do final adjustments as you have at least 1-2 minute to do adjustments before the head is too cold. 

Or if you prefer, put one eye in, adjust, and then reheat the head again for the second eye. What you must NOT do, is to reheat the head if the eye is not adjusted at least to have NO plastic eyeball in contact with the vinyl. 

Remember: the timings are approximate – some older dolls have harder vinyl that cools down much faster so there’s less time to adjust the eyes completely, and will need an extra 1 minute to reheat to complete the eye adjustment. Just don’t panic-  panic ruins eyes!

To adjust the eyes, you push in on the metal part in the direction you want it to go – I usually go one on each side of the eye, as it’s literally tiny movements that will push it into place. The adjusting is easier if the head is still soft so reheat if necessary (only 1 minute will most likely be enough),

To adjust the eyes I usually hold the doll’s head up to my eye level, so I can see better what I’m doing, rather than leaning over her on the table.

Tip 11 Stand Up & Push!

Stand Up! This job requires some strength, and it may not seem obvious, but standing up gives you more power to pop the eyes out, and ESPECIALLY when putting them back in. Use your body strength as well as your fingers. It will hurt anyway but it should not hurt that much if the head is properly heated up & you're standing up!

Tip 12 Take a Break!

Don’t do it if you’re tired, stressed or there’s other people trying to watch you!! As fascinating as it is, tell them to watch a YouTube AGSM video, instead of gawking at you – it’s stressful enough without additional audience lurking over you. If you’re stressed or tired, you’ll try to rush it, so leave it for next day, when you can come back to it with a fresher mind. Some eyeswaps I've done over the course of 3 days as the doll did not want to co-operate / I was tired, but we got there in the end :)

Tip 13 Cracked Vinyl

Sometimes the vinyl around the socket looks like it “split” during the pushing in stage – you can minimize the damage by using micromesh to smooth it out but there’s always going to be some “scarring” – which funnily enough it’s easier to fix if the eyes are out. For me, the couple of times it had happened, it happened to be just above the eyelashes so it’s not that visible once the eyes are in. 

When you watch the eyeswap, it may look like the doll is being squashed / hurt - if the vinyl is soft, it should not hurt it.

Tip 14 Not all Eyes are the Same

You may find there is some variance between eyes - sometimes they look too sunken, sometimes they still stick out / i.e. you can see the metal rim still showing. There's been occasions that I had to give up on my idea of a Custom American Girl doll because they eyes did not fit properly and did not suit that particular doll



That's it for today. I will be updating this blog occasionally as I remember more tips :)





DISCLAIMER : I am an adult American Girl Doll collector & customizer. Always ask for permission to do any customizations to your doll (if applicable) and do not repost this blog or any of the photos included on here - all Photos & Videos Ó Copyright CraftsAdore - but you may share the link to it :)

3 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this! My Caroline came with her eyes crooked, so I wanted to take them out and put them back in. I used a different tutorial, and while it ended up all right there was a lot of struggle. When I took the eyes out both of them flew out and broke into the three pieces (eye, metal, plastic). Thankfully, they didn't break any more than that and I was able to put them back together. I can see multiple things that I did wrong unknowingly, but again it turned out all right so I know for next time. Caroline came out of it with a few 'scratches' outside her eye, the micromesh finishing cloth should help. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I cant seem to get the doll's eyes back in! It is so difficult!

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  3. I cant seem to get the doll's eyes back in! It is so difficult!

    ReplyDelete

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