This tutorial will show you how to install our premium glass inset doll eyes in your AG or similar doll with deep eye sockets. Any dolls that have open/close eyes will naturally have deeper eye cavities than you need for flat-back inset eyes, and rarely you might come across dolls that are made with full sphere-shaped inset eyes that have the same deep sockets. These deep eye pockets won’t properly accommodate more shallow-fitting eyes on their own. You’ll need to “fill to gap.”
Important: Please, refer to the written part of this tutorial as well as the video. If you only watch the video, you will miss important information!
So, let’s begin!
First you will want to remove the doll’s original eyes. Need instructions? For dolls with wigs and removable heads like AG dolls, follow the heating part of this tutorial (click here)… you’ll be pouring boiling hot water into your doll’s head to heat the vinyl (it’s not as scary as it sounds). For dolls with rooted hair and/or non-removable heads, follow the heating part of this other tutorial (click here)… you’ll be covering the doll’s head with a plastic bag and holding it under very hot water to heat the vinyl. When the doll’s head is hot, return here to this tutorial. If the doll’s head is detached, insert the end of a wooden spoon into the pliable head and press on the back of the eyes to pop them out. If you cannot remove the doll’s head, squeeze the head and pry the eyes out with your fingers or a blunt tool.
Next up, follow this video along with the instructions below it to complete the eye installation:
After removing the doll’s original eyes, complete the following steps while the head is still hot:
STEP ONE. Fill the eye cavities about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way with silicone putty. I have tried several different types of putty and the one I like best is Mack’s Snoozers in the tan color. You can get them at Amazon and probably a lot of other places too. Yes, they are actually moldable ear plugs, but they work pretty great for this! I prefer the tan color over the clear silicone version because it is slightly more solid and slightly less sticky, but the clear silicone does work if that’s what you have on hand.
There are likely a bunch of other materials you could use to “fill the gap.” I would be wary of using anything that solidifies too hard (it could crack the glass eyes) or is too pliable/sticky. I did try white tack and moldable glue, both of which were a sticky mess when heated by the warm vinyl. I wouldn’t recommend those.
Anyway, if you’re using the Mack’s Snoozers you’ll want to break them apart into smaller pieces to squish them into the eyes cavities and press them in evenly to fill the sockets. How much should you use? For AG dolls I found that using one entire Snoozer plus a tad bit of another was just the right amount. Of course, if you want a looser fit for the eye (easier to adjust the eye) you could use less or for a snugger fit (harder to adjust the eye but less likely to shift later on) you could use a little more.
STEP TWO. Next, I suggest using a small tool such as a modeling sculpting tool to push the putty in the middle of the eye socket toward the center of the face to create a small crater in the putty. This will add extra padding on the side where you’ll be pushing the eye into and the crater seems to help the eye align easier.
STEP THREE. Insert the eyes. Slide them into the eye sockets sideways toward the nose just slightly and then push straight inwards. Refer to our video to see this step up close.
This is where patience and practice comes in. Unlike swapping open/close eyes, with inset eyes you cannot pop the eyes in just any-which-way and then adjust them to get them to align correctly. With inset eyes, the eye needs to pop in “close” to being aligned already. If the eye goes in completely misaligned and wonky, or the eye digs into the putty and the putty is now on the front side of the eye, you’ll need to remove the eye, reposition the putty, and try again. Keep in mind you may need more or less putty, or may need it positioned differently. You’ll have to find a technique that works for you. This may take several attempts or more until you get the hang of it! Technique and practice is very important here. Please, be patient. Reheat the head if it takes more than a couple quick attempts. The more pliable the vinyl, the easier this step will be. Fortunately the glass eyes are easily removed by squeezing the head or pressing the back of the eye sockets with the end of a wooden spoon.
STEP FOUR. When you have the eyes inserted properly, it’s time to make minor adjustments to align the eyes so they both look in the same direction. You’ll probably want them to look straight ahead, but keep in mind with inset eyes you have the option of making them both look slightly upwards, downwards, or to either side to add a little character to your doll! To adjust the eyes, use your fingers, or a blunt thin tool around the edges of the eye, and/or press on the back of the eye sockets inside the doll’s head with your fingers or a long utensil. In the video, I use a metal sculpting tool to adjust the eye which worked quite well, but it’s probably safer to use a plastic one so you don’t risk scratching the eye or vinyl.
If you are attaching doll eyelashes, please wait 24 hours before gluing them on to make sure the head has cooled completely and the eyes remain in the position you want them in.
Will the eyes move around after insertion? Mine have stayed pretty well set with only using the silicone putty. On a couple occasions I’ve noticed only very minor changes in their position–upon close examination–and easily moved the eye over a smidgen with my thumb to reposition. If you want to get a really strong hold to their position, for dolls you might sell for example, I would suggest adding a very small amount of strong clear glue to the upper and lower sides of the inner eye socket before inserting the eyes. Please, make sure you have your technique down before doing so. This will adhere the vinyl to the glass eye permanently. I would recommend a glue like E600 or something similar. You want it to be easily wiped off the glass and vinyl skin during the installation process just in case it gets where it isn’t wanted, clear drying, and durable.
Enjoy your doll now made with incredibly realistic and gorgeous eyes!!!