Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fun and Failure with Acetone

Last year I did [a post] about my attempts using nail polish remover to shrink the heads of vinyl dolls.  A reader commented that they used regular acetone diluted with water to shrink heads .  He said he used a much shorter soak time (10 hours) and that the heads retained some softness but still shrunk. I replied that I'd experiment with that combo and finally have.


I'm using 16oz pickle jars and I placed measurements on them with a sharpie.  In the photo above I'm just trying to determine the least amount of liquid I need to adequately cover a large doll head.  I put 1 cup of water in each jar and it seems sufficient.


I'll be conducting two sets of experiments using 1 quart of Klean Strip Acetone from Walmart ($6.88 - you'll find it near the paint section). Note that you have to be an adult and show photo ID as proof of age to purchase pure acetone.  However, you can buy an 8 oz bottle of Onyx 100% Pure Acetone nail polish remover at the same store for $2.96 and no ID is required. That seems ridiculous to me, but I don't make the rules.  If you are a young person, ask your parent's permission anyway.

Since I have no familiarity with pure acetone my experiments are going to be more about its strengths and testing water to acetone ratios.  Any shrinking that may occur is secondary. First I want to see 1) what 100% does to vinyl in 3 hours, 2) what 50% in 6 hours does to Liv eyes and 3) what 25% in 9 hours does to Moxie Teenz eyes.


As soon as I put the Liv head into jar No.1 all the paint melted away.  I was so busy being in awe that I forgot to take photos of it happening.  Therefore all you get to see is a jar filled with yellow liquid.


I checked the jars every hour to see if any changes were occurring.  After the 1st hour everything was the same.  Fifty minutes later I just happened to glance over and saw this huge hump poking out of the 100% jar.  Man, did I freak out, lol.  It was almost too big to fit through the opening of the jar and once removed I saw that it had absorbed almost 3/16 of the liquid.


Holy crap, look how big it got.  This one only made it to 1 hour and 50 minutes instead of the 3 hours planned, but it sure was interesting!  I actually would have liked to have it remain this big but it shrunk in due time.

The other jars made it their allotted times:


6 hours at 50%.  Her left eye became cloudy but there was no "melting."  She's a little bit bigger but didn't absorb much of the liquid, perhaps 1/16 if even that.


9 hours at 25%.  She also didn't absorb much of the liquid and there was absolutely no change to her eyes.  I let her dry for 16 hours and there was no difference in size at all so I later redipped her in a previously used 75% solution for 6 hours.


My second experiment will test 1) what 100% in 2 hours does to a Bratz's much harder vinyl head, 2) what 75% in 6 hours does to Jake eyes and 3) what 75% in 6 hours does to playline Barbies and the effect it has on every one's hair.


Here you can see the face paint sliding off the 100% Bratz soon as I put her in the jar and how she progressively expanded on the hour.


So yeah, when I pulled her out of the jar I was having a hard time flipping her over so in the end I grabbed her by the hair and pulled upward.  Her face fell off, lol!  Her hair holes created a perfect seam that allowed her much weightier face to separate from her scalp.  The tip with a Bratz is to pour out the liquid first and let the head remain in the jar until it dissipates enough acetone to allow you to turn the jar over and gently let the head fall out.


Jake did not make it to 6 hours at 75%.  At the 2 hour mark I could see his eyes were getting mushy so I pulled him out.  I only have one of him so I don't have a comparison head to place next to him.  He also didn't absorb much of the liquid.


The Barbies completed their 6 hours at 75%.  Their eye paint was fine but I could see that their lip paint was weakened.  They are only slightly larger in size.


The Moxie Teenz completed her redip in the Barbie solution at 75% for 6 hours with a noticeable change.  Her head is quite bigger and her eyes have clouded over.  Additionally, bubbles of liquid that formed over her eyes while in the solution have eaten away at them leaving pock marks in the acrylic.

Without rinsing off the heads or washing or conditioning any one's hair, I left the dolls alone and let them dry for 14 days.  These are the shrinkage results:


100% Liv reduced 1/4".  Although the head has hardened some, it's still actually softer than an original head.  However, a double dip in Walgreen's nail solution at 36 hours each, yielded better reduction.


50% Liv reduced 0".  No change in size and her left eye even lost the cloudiness I saw when first removed from the jar.  Her lip paint isn't as glossy as it was, but it's not bad.  Her head is also softer than original.


25% Moxie reduced 0".  75% Moxie reduced 1/8".  Her eyes got jacked up!  I did remove one to see why her lashes never melted or fell out so that's why one looks super wonky.  The lashes are not glued to the eye socket.  They are attached to the eye itself and seem to be made from nylon.  Not that I'm a materials expert, but they are very well done.  Until you yank one out and make the lashes go all weird.


Her ears got smaller than anything.  Look at the difference in the ear piercing.  That's curious because it's not like her ears are made from a different vinyl but perhaps they were less dense.  The sides of her head are softer than the top.


100% Bratz reduced 1/8".  Since the back of her head is gone I'm measuring from ear to ear instead of circumference.  Her face is very hard.  I feel like if I dropped it, it would shatter.  I always thought it was the way their lips were painted that made them lose their philtrums, but the mouths are actually molded that way.


75% Jake reduced 1/8".  His head still has some give to it.  I remember when I did this using nail remover it took 6 hours for the eyes to start to melt.  Jake's eyes are much smaller than the girls so if you ever reduced a Liv girl really small you could give her Jake's eyes.


75% Nikkie reduced 1/8".  75% Barbie reduced 1/2".  Again, I'm measuring from ear to ear since one of the dolls doesn't have hair.  That Barbie reduction cant be right.  Her head must have been smaller to begin with and I didn't measure her before.  Her original head was exceptionally hard, completely unlike any Barbie I've come across.  I found out she had an excessive amount of glue inside of her.  The head's a little bit softer but not by much.  Nikkie's is just as pliable as when I put it in.  Both Barbie and Nikkie were $5 door busters so I'm not sure why one would reduce so much more than the other. 


Comparing only Nikkie's, I had better playline reduction with nail remover than with the acetone.  The lip paint was better too.  Here's a closeup:


The eye paint is similar (one face looks blurry because I'm using a macro lens) but the lip paint is remarkably different.  The acetone turns gloss into powder but doesn't affect matte finishes.  Good to know.

Some conclusions:

  • 100% yielded some interesting results but I don't recommend it at all.  Even if you intended to repaint it anyway the chemical change to the vinyl doesn't seem worth it to me.
  • 75% is just too strong.  It makes the "skin" of the vinyl feel dry and does the same to hair.  Barbie's hair was silky smooth but now it has a rough consistency.  I left conditioner in it for 2 hours and it combs fine but still feels very harsh.
  • 50% might be the way to go but double (12h) or triple (18h) the soak time and remove the eyes, of course.  25% at 36 hours could also be good but might not give you the "dramatic" reduction you want.  I'll have to test these two out and I have jars upon jars of heads at the ready, lol.
  • Because the acetone dissipates slower than nail remover it gives you a much longer drying time so you can fiddle with eye inserts, rooting and the like.  It also, for a time being, gives you a much softer head than you started out with.

Keep in mind that it has only been two weeks, so these heads may reduce even further.  However, with the conclusions I've reached thus far, my preference is the Walgreen's brand nail polish remover and here's why: 

  • I don't want anything to take more than two weeks to cure.  I mean, seriously, just get on with it.  I want to do what I want to do to the doll now, not weeks from now.
  • There is little to no change in paint or hair quality when using remover.
  • I don't have to measure jack or write fractions on stuff to pour a whole bottle of remover into a jar.  It's 10 ounces and ready to go.

These reasons aren't overly valid and to be fair I need to try 50-25% acetone at longer soak times as it may yield the same results -- but frankly, I'm still leaning toward remover.

43 comments:

  1. WOW! Wonderful post. I feel like I have attended the Master Class in head shrinking. The comparison were very informative. I have read about the use of acetone put this post gives me a much clearer picture of the process. I agree with you, somehow acetone doesn't seem worth it. You really should send this to a doll mag to publish! May you will get paid for the heads and the acetone. Great Job!

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    1. Ms. Leo, this post is more of a cautionary tale of what not to do so I'm not sure a doll mag would want it, lol. But, I'm glad you enjoyed the class! ^_^

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  2. I think I won't be trying any of these experiments. I'm a chicken..LOL. Your results are very informative if I did want to give this a try. You are a braver soul than I am :O)

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    1. LOL, Dollz4Moi, cluck cluck! I do enjoy a good experiment. Many times for me it's about the attempt and not necessarily the results.

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  3. aaaahhhhh numbers, math, percentages, measurements. I cant deal!!! lol very informative post muff as always you are truly the great Dr. Muffenstein.

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    1. Dr. Muffinstein... hmm. I like that title, Jay!

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  4. Great post Muff! I may have to brave this using some dolls that I don't want or have no use for. You are a Frankendolly genius! Lol! I need to learn how to change the hands on the action figures to get rid of the black gloved hands. Hint, hint Lol! Any chance of doing a tutorial on that? Lol!

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    1. Thanks, Georgia Girl! Those Power Team black gloves seem to be a bone of contention with many, lol. It's easy to pull them off and exchange them with the flesh ones. I think Vanessa said you can buy hands at Monkey Depot but I don't want to buy them, lol. I'll figure out something crafty to do with them one day.

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  5. Hello from Spain: I like your experiments to reduce overhead. I can not bring myself to do it but I like to see your photos from this experiment. I think not worth it. Your post is very interesting ... keep in touch

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    1. Hi, Marta and thanks for looking even if it's not something you want to try yourself. ^_^

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  6. Interesting post and thanks for sharing your findings.

    I would be too afraid to inhale any unknown chemicals and/or be in the presence of possible chemical reactions between the unknown compounds used in the dolls' heads and the acetone or diluted acetone mixture.

    dbg

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    1. Hey there, DBG! I'm very safety conscious when I do anything, even using regular craft paint. Just because it says it's non toxic doesn't mean it's true. I researched the properties of Acetone before I experimented and made sure it could be mixed with water and that pure acetone could be applied to vinyl. For one thing, it says clearly on the container, "Do not mix with other products," so I was all, "What the heck?!" You should not mix it with another solvent but it's homogeneous with water.

      I went through at least 20 pairs of latex gloves and wore a filtered mask throughout this process. Someone who is used to nail polish or not smell sensitive might not be bothered by the pungent odors. Still, safety first.

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    2. Great, Muff. I am glad you chose safety first!

      dbg

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  7. Great comparison, but I agree that the remover will be my best bet. I will be trying the remover this week, and my results might be the first post I make to this account. Thanks for sharing. It was a great read.

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    1. Hi, Onyyx and thanks! I hope you do post your results as I would love to see them.

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  8. What an awesome post, the words ''mad scientist'' kept going on in my head xD
    It's really interesting to see all the changes aceton makes. I'm not going to try it myself though, Moxie Teenz are hard to find here, Liv aren't sold and Bratz and Barbie are expensive.
    I'm happy with the sizes of the heads on my dolls anyway. Well, that's something you don't say everyday xD

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    1. Thanks, Tali! I like small and big heads, but I dunno, I just like the ability to be able to change something on the dolls if I want, lol.

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  9. doll science is soo cool...great post*.*

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    1. Hi, Nykole and thanks for commenting! ^_^

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  10. Ok, you're officially Professor Klump, that was nutty! LOL. Your posts are always so detailed and awesome, I really appreciate that. So, at the end of the day...I think if I try shrinking a head, I will use your previous method. :)

    Awesome Muff!!

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    1. LOL, Tracy, thanks. Yeah, for now I'm recommending using remover if you are interested in reducing a doll head. Acetone is a lot of work.

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  11. A well done informative post! I feel like at school
    *he takes note*

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    1. LOL, Sergio. Class is dismissed. Oh, that made me feel like I was in school again.

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  12. I tried to shrink a Moxie girl head with zero success. Well, I say zero--it looks to be the exact same size as before, but I didn't measure it. Fail.

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    1. Miss Lola, Moxie heads are extremely hard and if you used nail remover they vary in strength. I know the Walmart and Target brand removers did absolutely nothing when I tried them in the past. I would doubt that even Walgreens brand would reduce a Moxie unless you let it set for 5 days or something.

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  13. My my Muff looks like you got a lab to do all these SCARY dolly experiments!!!Congratz!This is surely an interesting post!! :)

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    1. Pam, I do have a laboratory - at least that's what I call it, lol.

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  14. Absolutely fascinating post - love your mad experiments. I must admit nail polish remover seems the way to go. However, the Walgreen brand is not for sale in Australia so is it an acetone based remover or not? And if not, what is its active ingredient so I can look for something similiar if I ever want to shrink a head (doll's that is)?

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    1. Carrickters, the Walgreen's brand is Acetone based. Our labels don't require the pecentages contained within a product so you never know which brand has the most Acetone unless it says 100% in the title - and you dont' want that. It's really a trial and error to find a brand that gives you the reduction you want. Love that you specified you wanted to shrink a doll head, as opposed to say, a humans?

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  15. ╔═════════ ೋღ❤ღೋ ══════════╗
    ║░ٌٌٌӇ░ٌٌٌƛ░ٌٌٌƤ░ٌٌٌƤ░ٌٌٌƳ ░ٌٌٌ░ٌٌٌƝ░ٌٌٌЄ░ٌٌٌƜ░ٌٌٌ░ٌٌٌ Ƴ░ٌٌٌЄ░ٌٌٌƛ░ٌٌٌƦ░ٌٌٌ!░
    ╚═════════ ೋღ❤ღೋ ══════════╝

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    1. Hi, Habanero! Happy New Year to you too!

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  16. WOW. It's really great post. Mayby in the future I would use your tips. Congratulations !!!
    Happy New Year :)
    Marille

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    1. Hi, Marille and thanks! Happy New Year to you as well. ^_^

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  17. I have been totally absorbed by the reading of your experiment. I don't know if I would be as patient as you've been, and so accurate in taking and showing your results. Thanks for your work!!

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    1. Rossetti, we mad scientists are always willing to go that extra mile, lol. Patience is the easy part.

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  18. Thank you Muff! I've tried it twice now. The first head I shrunk was Oz's head from The Great and Powerful. The head shrunk and really did a number on his makeup. I turned him into a goth so it works. Recently I shrunk the head of a Fashion Fever Kayla from the Makeup Chic line. Her makeup changed a little bit, (toned it down, really,) and her head shrunk so much that her hair style no longer worked, so I took it out of its partly-up style and now it's all down. With your permission I'll add a photo of a before and after: https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2900/14419866471_5b70e54e2f_n.jpg
    Both dolls are rebodied onto Model Muse/Pivotal bodies.
    Thanks again for your instructions!

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    1. Wow, Holly, that Kayla shrinking change was huge! I recently got a Oz and Theodora doll on clearance myself but I don't know that I will shrink them. Although his head does seem quite enormous, but maybe it's the top hat adding to the visual girth.

      Makeup changes aside, glad you found some use in my experiments!

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  19. Gostaria de saber se com a acetona pura poderia encolher perucas Liv para servir na boneca Barbie ? Comprei algumas perucas, moro no Brasil e não sabia o tamanho da Liv, quando chegaram as perucas a diferença de tamanho é enorme. Poderia fazer este experimento com as perucas da boneca Liv ????

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    1. Oi, Lane! Eu nunca tentei encolher uma peruca Liv, mas vou dar-lhe uma tentativa! Volte em cerca de 10 dias e vou postar os resultados. Porque eles são dois tipos diferentes de plástico, na verdade eu suspeito que a peruca vai derreter, mas acho que vamos descobrir. ^__^

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  20. Amazing laboratory of pickled heads, I am not that brave.

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  21. LOL, Karen @ "pickled heads."

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