I'm using 16oz pickle jars and I placed measurements on them with a sharpie. In the photo above I'm just trying to determine the least amount of liquid I need to adequately cover a large doll head. I put 1 cup of water in each jar and it seems sufficient.
I'll be conducting two sets of experiments using 1 quart of Klean Strip Acetone from Walmart ($6.88 - you'll find it near the paint section). Note that you have to be an adult and show photo ID as proof of age to purchase pure acetone. However, you can buy an 8 oz bottle of Onyx 100% Pure Acetone nail polish remover at the same store for $2.96 and no ID is required. That seems ridiculous to me, but I don't make the rules. If you are a young person, ask your parent's permission anyway.
Since I have no familiarity with pure acetone my experiments are going to be more about its strengths and testing water to acetone ratios. Any shrinking that may occur is secondary. First I want to see 1) what 100% does to vinyl in 3 hours, 2) what 50% in 6 hours does to Liv eyes and 3) what 25% in 9 hours does to Moxie Teenz eyes.
As soon as I put the Liv head into jar No.1 all the paint melted away. I was so busy being in awe that I forgot to take photos of it happening. Therefore all you get to see is a jar filled with yellow liquid.
I checked the jars every hour to see if any changes were occurring. After the 1st hour everything was the same. Fifty minutes later I just happened to glance over and saw this huge hump poking out of the 100% jar. Man, did I freak out, lol. It was almost too big to fit through the opening of the jar and once removed I saw that it had absorbed almost 3/16 of the liquid.
Holy crap, look how big it got. This one only made it to 1 hour and 50 minutes instead of the 3 hours planned, but it sure was interesting! I actually would have liked to have it remain this big but it shrunk in due time.
The other jars made it their allotted times:
6 hours at 50%. Her left eye became cloudy but there was no "melting." She's a little bit bigger but didn't absorb much of the liquid, perhaps 1/16 if even that.
9 hours at 25%. She also didn't absorb much of the liquid and there was absolutely no change to her eyes. I let her dry for 16 hours and there was no difference in size at all so I later redipped her in a previously used 75% solution for 6 hours.
My second experiment will test 1) what 100% in 2 hours does to a Bratz's much harder vinyl head, 2) what 75% in 6 hours does to Jake eyes and 3) what 75% in 6 hours does to playline Barbies and the effect it has on every one's hair.
Here you can see the face paint sliding off the 100% Bratz soon as I put her in the jar and how she progressively expanded on the hour.
So yeah, when I pulled her out of the jar I was having a hard time flipping her over so in the end I grabbed her by the hair and pulled upward. Her face fell off, lol! Her hair holes created a perfect seam that allowed her much weightier face to separate from her scalp. The tip with a Bratz is to pour out the liquid first and let the head remain in the jar until it dissipates enough acetone to allow you to turn the jar over and gently let the head fall out.
Jake did not make it to 6 hours at 75%. At the 2 hour mark I could see his eyes were getting mushy so I pulled him out. I only have one of him so I don't have a comparison head to place next to him. He also didn't absorb much of the liquid.
The Barbies completed their 6 hours at 75%. Their eye paint was fine but I could see that their lip paint was weakened. They are only slightly larger in size.
The Moxie Teenz completed her redip in the Barbie solution at 75% for 6 hours with a noticeable change. Her head is quite bigger and her eyes have clouded over. Additionally, bubbles of liquid that formed over her eyes while in the solution have eaten away at them leaving pock marks in the acrylic.
Without rinsing off the heads or washing or conditioning any one's hair, I left the dolls alone and let them dry for 14 days. These are the shrinkage results:
100% Liv reduced 1/4". Although the head has hardened some, it's still actually softer than an original head. However, a double dip in Walgreen's nail solution at 36 hours each, yielded better reduction.
50% Liv reduced 0". No change in size and her left eye even lost the cloudiness I saw when first removed from the jar. Her lip paint isn't as glossy as it was, but it's not bad. Her head is also softer than original.
25% Moxie reduced 0". 75% Moxie reduced 1/8". Her eyes got jacked up! I did remove one to see why her lashes never melted or fell out so that's why one looks super wonky. The lashes are not glued to the eye socket. They are attached to the eye itself and seem to be made from nylon. Not that I'm a materials expert, but they are very well done. Until you yank one out and make the lashes go all weird.
Her ears got smaller than anything. Look at the difference in the ear piercing. That's curious because it's not like her ears are made from a different vinyl but perhaps they were less dense. The sides of her head are softer than the top.
100% Bratz reduced 1/8". Since the back of her head is gone I'm measuring from ear to ear instead of circumference. Her face is very hard. I feel like if I dropped it, it would shatter. I always thought it was the way their lips were painted that made them lose their philtrums, but the mouths are actually molded that way.
75% Jake reduced 1/8". His head still has some give to it. I remember when I did this using nail remover it took 6 hours for the eyes to start to melt. Jake's eyes are much smaller than the girls so if you ever reduced a Liv girl really small you could give her Jake's eyes.
75% Nikkie reduced 1/8". 75% Barbie reduced 1/2". Again, I'm measuring from ear to ear since one of the dolls doesn't have hair. That Barbie reduction cant be right. Her head must have been smaller to begin with and I didn't measure her before. Her original head was exceptionally hard, completely unlike any Barbie I've come across. I found out she had an excessive amount of glue inside of her. The head's a little bit softer but not by much. Nikkie's is just as pliable as when I put it in. Both Barbie and Nikkie were $5 door busters so I'm not sure why one would reduce so much more than the other.
Comparing only Nikkie's, I had better playline reduction with nail remover than with the acetone. The lip paint was better too. Here's a closeup:
The eye paint is similar (one face looks blurry because I'm using a macro lens) but the lip paint is remarkably different. The acetone turns gloss into powder but doesn't affect matte finishes. Good to know.
- 100% yielded some interesting results but I don't recommend it at all. Even if you intended to repaint it anyway the chemical change to the vinyl doesn't seem worth it to me.
- 75% is just too strong. It makes the "skin" of the vinyl feel dry and does the same to hair. Barbie's hair was silky smooth but now it has a rough consistency. I left conditioner in it for 2 hours and it combs fine but still feels very harsh.
- 50% might be the way to go but double (12h) or triple (18h) the soak time and remove the eyes, of course. 25% at 36 hours could also be good but might not give you the "dramatic" reduction you want. I'll have to test these two out and I have jars upon jars of heads at the ready, lol.
- Because the acetone dissipates slower than nail remover it gives you a much longer drying time so you can fiddle with eye inserts, rooting and the like. It also, for a time being, gives you a much softer head than you started out with.
Keep in mind that it has only been two weeks, so these heads may reduce even further. However, with the conclusions I've reached thus far, my preference is the Walgreen's brand nail polish remover and here's why:
- I don't want anything to take more than two weeks to cure. I mean, seriously, just get on with it. I want to do what I want to do to the doll now, not weeks from now.
- There is little to no change in paint or hair quality when using remover.
- I don't have to measure jack or write fractions on stuff to pour a whole bottle of remover into a jar. It's 10 ounces and ready to go.
These reasons aren't overly valid and to be fair I need to try 50-25% acetone at longer soak times as it may yield the same results -- but frankly, I'm still leaning toward remover.