Please note that as of the 29th of February, 2016 cracks have slowly started to re-appear on Chibi’s face after a very harsh summer. Will update soon.
I have told you about how much I love Chibi, the second girl in my Poison Girl family. The seller who sent her to me was an absolutely lovely lady in London, and packed her super well. Chibi was an April 2015 doll, and was one of the last before Poison Girl announced she was stopping customs, which I read with much sadness – as I LOVED seeing her dolls every month. The reason she was stopping customs was because MSC Matt had started to produce cracks all over her dolls. I barely thought that this would affect me, but when I opened Chibi, I realised that she had fine cracks all over her face.
I could see cracks all over her forehead and nose – the one around her nose was deep and thick. I panicked, and took out Toffee, who under natural daylight looked perfect, but upon closer inspection in artificial light I found that it was not the case.
The top of this picture is Toffee, the bottom is Chibi. You can see that Chibi’s cracks were significantly worse than Toffee’s. Toffee’s cracks were located around here eye and her nose, whereas Chibi’s covered her entire face. I realised I needed to act with Chibi sooner rather than later, as there were fears that her sealant would actually flake off.
So let’s just say I was completely distraught (but calm). Somewhat calm. Google searches yielded similar stories on dolls of plastic and resin. MSC cracking and flaking is quite well documented due to its finicky nature (here). Quick background story – I work in the Architecture and Construction field and for half the days in a week I lend my time to the University here as a lecturer and tutor. This looked very similar to what happens to surfaces of concrete. So, regardless of what people thought about a full-grown professional woman toting a doll with her to University, I bought Chibi along with me.
The hypothesis was that Mr Super Clear Matt (once Flat), not UV Cut, was causing the cracks on the doll. I brandished poor Chibi in front of some shocked Chemical Engineers in their department, and they said they would look at her for me. Report: she was covered in crazing – very much like what happens to a pottery glaze. Super-fine cracks all over the surface of the doll.
The engineers also said that she was staring at them the whole time. Something was breaking the polymer bonds in the sealant (and they guessed properly there was some alcohol in the MSC formula to help Mr. Super Clear dry quickly). This could either be chemical, or due to heat stresses. On close inspection (with Lasers!) they said that it was likely to be temperature stresses. The Pullip face was stretching beyond the capabilities of the sealant to stretch it’s bonds, causing the maze of cracks on her surface. Pullip’s and Blythes are on thin plastic, so would be subject to movement, especially if you open and close the doll lots. Thankfully, Pullips move about a lot less when you open her up.
They recommended in the future that I use a water-based sealant, or oil-based. Thankfully, what I am currently using (Liquitex Matte Medium) is already water based. What was not good was that they said “You should just wipe it off and start again”. NO. That was not an option! This was CHIBI! I was not erasing her face! She was a Poison Girl!
So we had a look at the chemical data sheets for the sealants and decided that it would be best to use something as close to the original chemical composition as possible, so as not to cause any adverse reactions. We decided on Mr Super Clear UV Flat Cut, which had it’s formula changed in 2011, and with no adverse cracking.
Alright – so off to sealing the cracks. Because it was winter, I had to make sure the day was sunny, dry, and not too windy. I was careful not to deform the plastic too much when I opened her. Please be warned – this is just a recommended test that I did, and I will not be responsible for any damage to your doll! If you wish to do so, please do so at your own prerogative.
So after stressfully opening up the doll, I made sure to document her face-up with 100’s of photos so I could fix any errors that I may cause. Using Mr. Super Clear UV Flat Cut I did a spray of 6-7 thin layers to completely reseal her.
Layer 1: All over face – no noticeable change. I waited at least 20 minutes between layers to ensure that it was dry enough.
Layer 2: All over face – small changes and smaller cracks gone
Layer 3-5: Most major cracks had disappeared at this point.
Layer 5-6: Concentrated sprays on major problem areas (the nose and the forehead). At this point, all the cracks were gone.
Visuals under the microscope showed that the sealant had penetrated down to the original layer, ‘melted’ the original bonds, and re-bonded with the new sealant, creating a new protective layer. (Photograph below under similar lighting conditions)
That giant nose crack was probably the last one to go, the cheeks re-bonded quite quickly. Another similar example was done by someone using Purity Seal which fixed the cracks after 2 layers or so. Purity Seal is not easily available in Australia, so I am so happy that the UV Cut worked. Afterwards, I needed to re-gloss Chibi’s lips as well as use a semi-gloss on her eyes to get her looking back to normal.
I think she’s appreciative being back to her usual, flawless self! (While I had her head off, I also rebodied her, which I’ll be posting a quick tutorial to soon).
I’ll be updating this over the next few weeks to see how the sealing has held up.