How to Set Eyes in a Porcelain Doll

By Mona Harte
Porcelain dolls gain their personailty through their eyes.
Porcelain dolls gain their personailty through their eyes.

The process of creating a lifelike doll is achieved by setting the eyes after the head has been fired in a kiln and before it is glued together. Eyes are measured in millimeters and come as a pair. They can be purchased online or at doll shops specializing in doll repair and construction along with the eye measuring tool, eye beveler and eye wax. Acrylic eyes cost less; however, they can yellow over time. Paperweight glass eyes have subtle shadings and sparkle. Both come in various eyes colors that are similar to those found in humans.

Measure the eye holes from the exterior of the doll's head with the eye measuring tool. The eye socket measurement, in millimeters, is from side to side, lengthwise, not up and down. Make one cut with a craft knife.

Insert the beveler into the eye cut. Work from the inside of the doll's head. The beveler will fit on both the upper and lower sides of the eye cut and after a few passes will make the eye hole bigger. Also smooth any rough edges around eye holes with a beveler. Work carefully as porcelain can cut like glass.

Apply a thin strip of doll eye wax starting at the top of the eye's front and along the sides and bottom until there is a layer around the entire eye. Cover most of the white part of the eye. Working from the interior of the doll's head, gently push the eye into place. Holding the doll's head straight, find the pinpoint of a light's reflection. When the two pinpoints of the eyes are in the same place, the eyes are set in straight.

Make Plaster of Paris by combining two parts of craft glue to one part warm water in a bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon. Spread a thin layer of the Plaster of Paris over the back of the set-in eyes. This will add stability should the wax eventually dry out.

Things You Will Need

  • Pair of doll eyes
  • Eye measuring tool
  • Eye beveler
  • Craft knife
  • Eye wax
  • Craft glue
  • Warm water
  • Bowl
  • Wooden spoon

Warning

Do not use Fix-All instead of the Plaster of Paris. It can expand and contract and cause the porcelain head to crack under the stress.

About the Author

Since 1993 Mona Harte's work has appeared in various publications, including "NYTimes Regional Newspaper Group," the "Calgary Sun," the "Great Falls Tribune" and the "Tahoe Daily Dispatch," as well as international magazines "Atlantica," "Portfolio," and "Open Skies." She holds an Associate of Arts in layout/design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.