How to Repair the Face of a Composition Doll

If the composition doll your grandmother gave you is cracked, you can try repairing it yourself instead of sending it off to an expensive doll restoration service. Composition dolls are made from a mixture of sawdust and glue. They were considered indestructible, and used widely until doll manufacturers started using plastic in the 1950's. You can repair the faces of these dolls the same way you would fill in the cracks of the wood molding in your home.

Clean any dirt out of the cracks and surrounding area, by gently brushing them with a soft, damp toothbrush. Dry the area right away with a soft, dry washcloth.

Mix equal amounts of both parts of a wood epoxy putty on a mixing board with a putty knife 1. Use separate utensils so you don't accidentally mix the two parts in the containers. The two parts of the epoxy consist of putty and the catalyst, which will cause the mixture to harden. You should only need a nickel-sized amount of each. Mix them together quickly, as you will have about 30 minutes before the mixture is too hard to work with.

Apply small amounts to the insides of the cracks and gradually build up to the surface of the doll's face. Smooth the surface and work with the contours of the doll's face the best that you can. Don't worry if the filled spots don't have perfect surfaces. Wait about two to three hours for the putty to harden.

Sand the putty gently, in circular motions, and work with the contours of the doll's face (so you don't end up with a flat spot). Get rid of any bumps with an 80-grit sheet of sandpaper and then smooth the surface with a 120-grit sheet of sandpaper. Wipe away the dust frequently with a clean, dry rag. Seal the surface with a coat of PVA glue.

Mix some acrylic paint to match the color of the doll's face. You will need to mix varying degrees of white, red, yellow and brown to come up with the right skin color. Apply a thin coat to the filled areas, allow it to dry, then apply another coat. Wait at least 12 hours for the paint to dry completely.

Spray the patched area with four coats of clear acrylic varnish with a satin finish. If the doll's face is very glossy, use a clear varnish with a glossy finish. Wait at least 12 hours for each coat to cure before applying another.


Work outside or in a well ventilated area when working with the wood epoxy.

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