During a recent conversation with my sister, she mentioned that I really needed a DIY project to write about. I agreed with her, and it just so happened that I had the perfect project waiting patiently in a garbage bag in the garage. That’s right, folks – It’s time to bring out the babies!
Like many girls, my sisters and I played with dolls while we were growing up. As we got older, things became a little more dangerous for our dolls. Hair got dyed funny colors, then it got chopped off. And eventually, a few even started on fire (mom beat our asses for that one). During the baby doll project, I found that I still enjoy dolls. At least, taking their heads off.
Some items you’ll need: a few baby dolls, fishing line, an upholstery needle, buttons (I recommend the two-hole variety of medium size), a pliers, a needle-nosed pliers, leather gloves, some type of lighting.
The dolls I used were out in the weather for some time so they already had a nice icky dead look to them. This was especially true for the dolls with hair. So start with the baby doll and take the head off. It sounds easy, but depending on the age and condition, this can take some effort. I will also caution those who find babies out on the side of the road like we did – beware of the peeing babies! You will end up with all sorts of foul fluid on you if you brace the baby against your leg and squeeze too hard while pulling the head off!
Once you’ve removed the head, you can either install the fishing line for hanging the head or remove the eyes. I swapped these steps with different heads and found it really didn’t make a difference. We’ll start with stringing the head…
I found that a heavy duty upholstery needle worked well to string the fishing line through the top of the head. I used the needle to go from the outside first, threaded the needle, and then went from the inside using the the needle nosed pliers. I then went through the top of the head another time so that I’d have a loop with the line and both ends of the line inside the head. (As you can see from the picture, I did wear a leather glove for this part of the process, which made pushing the needle through much easier.) I tied my ends on a two-hole button to keep the knot from slipping through the head.
All of the baby dolls we collected have eyes. The scary blinky eyes that get stuck all of the time and look extra creepy. While I appreciate the creepiness, I wanted to have light coming out of the eyes, which meant removing them. In the picture showing the button up inside the head, you can also see two bulging pinkish things just inside the head. They look like hamster cheeks that got packed a little too tightly. Those are actually the eyes. The best way I found to remove them was to take the pliers and just pull gently at the rubber/plastic that’s coating them. Again, our dolls are quite weathered so the material was a little brittle and sort of baked onto the eye. Once I got enough peeled away I pressed on the eye from the outside until it popped out into the head or at least came out enough that I could pry it out the rest of the way. I did press too hard on one of the eyes and it ended up ‘popping’, which was a little disturbing, even though it was a doll. As an added bonus, not only do you get a nice soulless look to the doll, but you get a bunch of eyeballs to use later!
Once the eyes are out of the way, and you have the head on a string, you can start playing with your lighting options. I’m happiest with the little flickering candles. They give the head a good, eerie flickering glow, they’re easy to install, and I think I paid about $2 for six of them. Another option is a string of battery operated lights. I bought several strings at the the dollar store and one longer string for about $5. The longer variety has 11 feet of wiring and a bigger battery box so you do need a larger head if you use that version of lights.
I got lucky with the first head – the flickering candle was a perfect fit. The second head was too small for the candle, and the third head was too big for the candle.
I liked the strings of lights because they put a lot of light into the head, and you have color options. What I didn’t love was the glow spots that were created inside of the head. But, they ultimately did the job. The strings do take a bit of arranging so that all of the light isn’t stuck in the top of the head, away from the eyes and mouth. The smaller set has the on and off switch at the bottom end of the box, making it easily accessible when the head is hanging up. The bigger set of lights has the switch on the side of the box, but still pretty easy once you get used to it.
The top head has the flickering candle in it, the second has the smaller string of lights, and the third has the 11 feet of lights. I do like how the second head looks like it’s combusting from inside…
I hung our baby heads in the front of the house from a very craggy looking tree that was practically screaming for baby heads. They make quite a statement, even during the day.
And as you can see, they’re quite delightful at night!
So there you have it! Flashy, fashionable, and a real piece of art! Or at least, pretty kick-ass Halloween decorations…