Applying Eyelashes on a Reborn Doll
One of the biggest hurdles that newcomers face when reborning their first doll is trying to apply the eyelashes. If it's not done just right, you run the risk of damaging the eye or vinyl around the socket, which can set you back several hours worth of extra work (and money for additional materials). To make matters worse, there are few very guides or tutorials online that show the correct way to apply eyelashes on a reborn. You can scour the internet for hours on end and still not find any solid info on reborn eyelashes.
After receiving several requests from our visitors and readers, we decided to create an easy-to-follow guide on proper reborn doll eyelash application. Whether you are a professional or amateur reborner, the steps listed below will guide you through the process in a quick, hassle-free manner. Like all of our previous reborning tutorials, we write them in so that anyone can follow, regardless of experience. As the old saying goes - practice makes perfect - holds true with reborning, so jump in and get started. If you still have questions or concerns on proper eyelash application, drop us a comment at the bottom of the page or shoot us an email through our contact form.
Does My Reborn Really Need Eyelashes?
First and foremost, you'll need to decide whether or not your reborn doll (or dolls) will truly benefit from having eyelashes. Many artists skip over this step to save time and energy. After all, completing a reborn doll is already a long and arduous process that takes dozens of hours, so why would you want to tack on an even greater amount of time to the process? The reason is simple - eyelashes are just another subtle element that brings more realism and appeal to your reborn doll, and that's what the hobby is all about.
Most traditional toy vinyl dolls are manufactured with eyelashes that are either painted on, or made with low-quality eyelashes that simply don't look real. If you are complacent with the factory eyelashes on your reborn doll, then you can probably skip over this step. However, swapping out the paint or factory eyelashes with higher-quality ones will drastically improve the appearance of your doll, making it look more like a real baby and less like the toy doll that it once was.
Of course eyelashes aren't necessary if your reborn doll is going to have closed eyes. The sleeping position is oftentimes preferred by reborners because it creates a calm and peaceful appearance that's associated with newborns. You can use this to your advantage by reborning your doll with their eyes closed instead of open. If you take this approach, then eyelash application isn't necessary and you can skip this step.
Application Method #1 - Rooting
While some reborners may have their own methods for applying eyelashes, we generally recommend using one of the two following methods listed here. The first method, rooting, is similar to how mohair is applied to the scalp of a reborn doll. If you are good with your hands and have some experience under your belt with rooting mohair, then you may want to give this method a shot. It's pretty much the same concept, just on a smaller scale and with less "wiggle" room for error.
Follow these steps to root eyelashes into your reborn doll:
- Choose a material to use for your reborn doll's eyelashes. Mohair is a popular choice, but there are also plenty of other fabrics that work well for eyelashes.
- Go ahead and separate the mohair or other material you intend using for eyelashes into small strands that are cut to the desired length. You can place them up to your doll's eyes see how they will look before rooting them.
- If your doll doesn't already have holes where the factory eyelashes were (which it probably doesn't), you'll need to poke holes in the eyelids. This can be done using a small drill bit or felting needle. I recommend spacing the holes out a bit more than necessary just so you have some room for error. If your holes are placed to close together, you run the risk of damaging the eyelids if the vinyl breaks in between them.
- Using a 36-38 gauge rooting needle, take individual strands of the eyelashes and gently poke them into the eyelid area directly above the eyes using a fluid, rhythmic motion. When it's done right, the eyelashes should remain securely in the holes without moving around. Unfortunately, however, many artists run into the problem of having them move around. If your eyelashes are still moving around and you feel like they could fall out, re-root the eyelashes with a small amount of tacky glue placed at the base of the strands.
- Continue rooting the eyelashes until the eyelids are full with a naturally realistic appearance. If it looks to thin, go back and root more holes into the eyelids. Just remember to use caution and not poke your holes too close together; otherwise, you may end up damaging your doll.
Application Method #2 - Gluing
If you feel like rooting is too difficult, you can opt for gluing the eyelashes instead. It's actually much easier, takes less time, and most reborners will agree that it creates better-looking eyelashes once finished. From start to finish, you should be able to finish both eyelashes in roughly 15-25 minutes, giving you more time to focus on other areas of your reborn doll. The only downside is that certain glues can damage the eyes and surrounding area if it accidentally gets on it, but this is a risk you must take when reborning a doll.
Steps to gluing eyelashes on your reborn doll:
- Purchase the eyelashes you wish to use on your reborn doll. These can either be individual eyelashes, or they can be long strands that require cutting before application.
- Ideally, the eyelashes should be around 5-6mm long, as this is the perfect length for most "normal" sized dolls. Any larger and the eyelashes will be too prominent and take away from the realism factor. Trim the eyelashes to achieve this length if necessary.
- Use a pair of tweezers to carefully remove the strip of glue (if it's there) on the back of the eyelashes. Once you get underneath the glue with a pair of tweezers, it should peel off without much effort.
- Some people may attempt to superglue eyelashes on their reborn dolls, but this isn't recommended. Superglue is practically impossible to remove once it hardens, hence the name. If you happen to get even a small drop on the eye or surrounding area, it could ruin your doll. Instead, pick up a bottle of tacky glue (about $2 or $3 bucks) from your local arts and crafts store. It's not quite as strong, but you can also remove it from unwanted areas.
- Here's a trick that I've learned from some of my fellow reborners - dip a wet toothpick in the tacky glue and then rub it around the eyelid where you want to attach the lashes. The moisture on the toothpick will prevent it from hardening on or clumping up. You don't have to use a ton of tacky glue, but just create a nicely-arched line where the lashes that sit.
- To create the realistic arch-shape that's commonly associated with eyelashes, you'll need to bend them a bit as you apply them to the doll's eyelid. I've found that holding one side of the eyelashes down with a toothpick while curving the other side up into the tacky glue with a pair of tweezers works well. Go slow and firmly press the eyelashes into the glue so they will remain secure without falling out.