Removing the Wig from an Antique Bisque Head Doll

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You often need to remove either the entire wig (for packing the doll or to get access to the eyes) or just part of it (to check for markings underneath) – this guide advises how to do it without causing damage to either the doll or the wig.

WARNING: Do NOT pull the wig from the head; you could tear the wig and pull chunks from the head. This guide is for bisque or china head dolls – it is not suitable for composition heads.

You might try to gently lift the hair from the head, say, just above the ear; grasp the hair closely between finger and thumb as near to the head as you can and see if the hair lifts from the head. Sometimes the glue loses its stick and comes away completely without effort. If you can lift the hair away from the head, try to do the same with an adjoinng piece of wig and move carefully around the head lifting eventually as much as possible. Do not use any effort – if it is stuck, keep reading.

The original glue used to hold the wig on is water soluble, so the best way to release the hair is as follows (do NOT dunk the head in water), use a sheet or two of wet kitchen roll folded into a sausage– wetter than moist but not dripping – lay the doll face down on a towel and gently move the hair up and away from the head, starting at the neck, place the kitchen roll on the join and leave for 10 – 15 minutes, the glue should be softening now and you might be able to gently pull the hair away from the head a little way (if not ready, leave a bit longer), once the soft glue has been parted from the head, lay the kitchen roll back on the join and leave again. Continue to do this until you have managed to part as much hair from the head as required. The aim is to wet the glue but not the hair and certainly do not get any water onto the body if composition.

If the glue is not original but more modern, you will need to try and identify what will dissolve it; you might need acetone (nail varnish remover but not “acetone free”) or some other solvent. You can try by putting a small amunt on a cotton bud and trying a tiny area first – be careful, if the wig is synthetic you may dissolve or damage it, note also that the solvent might dissolve the glue holding the cotton to the stick. When you find a solvent that works you will need to work your way around the head and upwards bit by bit, gradully pulling the hair from the head as you dissolve the glue, until you have as much free as you need. The solvent will probably work quite quickly so you should only do a small area at a time and be prepared not to leave it but carry on until finished.

I hope this has helped – if you need more advise please contact me and I will try to help.

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