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Friday, September 2, 2011

The superglue incident, or, what not to do with superglue

My fingers, about to become stuck together with superglue.
I may look and sound like a ball-jointed doll expert, but I am prone to making mistakes with my expensive dolls just like anybody else. Did I ever mention why I don't do face-ups? It's because I shake, I'm clumsy, and I drop things. Additionally, I don't pay close attention to what I'm doing. In this post, I intend to teach you some very important things about that BJD collector's necessity, superglue, that we all should know in times of emergencies.

First, it's very important to know that superglue is an essential supply to have on hand. I'm not sure why, but head cap magnets often fall out of my dolls. They are tiny, strong magnets, and hot glue just doesn't keep them in place. You must use a strong glue, like Zap-a-Gap or some other superglue instead. 

Second, when you're replacing the magnet, it's important to know that you only need one drop of glue. If you use more than a drop, you'll overfill the cavity designed for the magnet, and the glue may, for instance, spill over the side of your doll's head and down the back of your doll's neck or, worse, onto your doll's face. Or, if you happen to be replacing the doll's head cap magnet, all over your poor doll's head, through no fault of her own. Sure, you might try wiping it off quickly with your fingers, but then your fingers will be stuck together.

Third, it's essential to know that some people are paranoid about having their fingers stuck together. They have a real phobia about this. In fact, even the thought (or memory, perhaps) about having their fingers stuck together even for a few seconds makes their heart pound and causes the onset of a panic attack. In fact, writing a blog post about this experience might even necessitate the ingestion of a prescribed Xanax, for example. Not that I'm speaking from experience, of course. 

There might be a hypothetical doll collector who, as a child, learned to use a spoon at nine months because she'd scream every time she got her hands dirty with food. She may have been a bit high maintenance, perhaps. As she grew older, and her father made her work on cars, she'd get grease under her fingernails. It would be the worst thing about working on cars and might have caused hysterics now and then (though it's possible it's because she'd just spent four hours replacing the radiator on an 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass, and coolant was still leaking, so that meant it must be the water pump that needed replacement instead). And perhaps this trait was hereditary, and one of her own dexterous daughters learned to use a spoon at seven months as well.

Fourth, it's important that, when you have such panic attacks, you take nice deep breaths to get yourself back under control.

Fifth, when you are replacing the head magnet, and you accidentally flip it upside down on top of the superglue, it can be a real mess. Not only do you end up with glue on your hands and on the doll, you might also end up not only with a messy magnet, but one that actually repels the head cap. (Ugh!) Getting freshly set superglue out of the head is nearly impossible.

Sixth, it's possible to look up superglue on the series of tubes which is the internets and find out that acetone actually dissolves superglue. However, it will also dissolve a beautiful face-up. So my advice is to flip over the head cap magnet instead. Here's how:
  1. Be sure you're removing the right magnet on the head cap, or you'll have to do this process twice (ask me how I know!).
  2. Working in a well-ventilated area, apply acetone (which you can find at the drugstore in the nail polish aisle--make sure you use the colorless kind) to the head cap magnet with a cotton pad. You'll really want to soak the area. You'll also want the acetone to soak for a few minutes to do its work--about five minutes or so.
  3. Be aware that this process will remove any moleskin suede from the head cap as you work. It dissolves the glue on moleskin as well.
  4. Using a slim stylus or another narrow object, gently wiggle the magnet out of place, applying more acetone if necessary. Keep in mind that acetone softens resin, and that even a toothpick will dent resin soaked with acetone. So keep the poking to the inside of the head cap.
  5. Eventually, the magnet will loosen and come out. When it does, dry it off well, and place it on its partner magnet on the head.
  6. Dry off the head cap completely. Rinse if desired, or wash with soap and water, after the acetone has completely evaporated and dried.
  7. Leaving the magnet on its partner magnet in the head, place a single drop of superglue into the hole on the head cap.
  8. Flip the magnet into the hole, being careful to place it upside down. Press into place and let it dry.
  9. Use a cotton pad damp with acetone to remove any glue from your fingers, and from the outside of the doll, being careful not to get acetone on the face or body blushing.
Take a deep breath and go have a glass of wine, if you're old enough.


  1. Did you know that Superglue and Crazy Glue were originally developed by the military to treat field wounds?

    It certainly explains why I have ALWAYS had my fingers stick together much better than this stuff has ever worked on anything I was actually attempting to glue!

    I don't have pictures, sadly, but there was more than one incident where I had the wings of dragon models stuck to my fingers, when they were SUPPOSED to be secure in the sockets of the dragons I was assembling.

  2. Sometimes I wonder if alington & miladyblue are actually the same both have such similar experiences. ;)

    I'd like to say that reading this post will keep me from getting into the same predicaments, but more likely it will just equip me for how to get out of these predicaments WHEN I get into them. I thank you in advance.

    Also, this sounds like it was inspired by my recent afternoon at a certain, unnamed, doll collector friend's I right? ;)

  3. Nope! We are DEFINITELY different people. Alison is a sweetheart of a happily married mom of four who also happens to collect dolls.

    Miladyblue... is NOT.

  4. We are different people, Jen, but I think Blue has it a little wrong. I'm a psycho hose beast with four kids and a paranoid phobia about getting my fingers dirty or stuck together!

    Miladyblue... is NOT. ;)

  5. This made me laugh very hard!
    I've helped replace the radiator in my own car, as well as the water pump. In fact, if you replace the water pump, one ought to also replace the radiator ANYWAY, because an old radiator plus a new water pump usually equals holes in the old radiator.

    Many years of bonding with my Papa over car repairs later, I figured out that vinyl gloves are very cheap. I, too, get a bit... um... anxious about certain kinds of dirt on my hands. We were working on a car together and I busted out the blue gloves. He gave me a weird look, but when I had to drive to the parts store to get a part, he got out the hand cleaner and I laughed and peeled off my gloves. I do all auto work in gloves now.

    Recently, I called AAA to change my tire. The gentleman who did the work? Wore blue gloves!!!

  6. I can sure relate.My finished products come out good, whether they be food, doll or dress. But folks have no clue from them that my process is a wreck! I spill and break things, burn and cut myself on a regular basis. I can't tell you how many times I've opened the superglue with my teeth ( hey- when you are working with only one hand it seems like the right thing to do) only to have it squirt into my mouth encasing tongue and teeth until it wears away. UGH!

    1. OMG! I'm shocked that's never happened to me, LOL! Well--I'm only L-ing-OL because I haven't actually done that myself (yet). :) I can totally see it happening, though. Thanks for the warning! :)


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