What You Need To Know About Silicone

KrisC The Dainty Loft

I am SO VERY THRILLED to have so many people benefit from this information. I absolutely encourage everyone to use this for the selling or buying of their on dolls but please if you copy and duplicate my research, please make sure to include my name and blog in my own words.

I think it’s very important for buyers to know ahead of time what silicone really is, what to expect and how to maintain.
First is the Type. There are two types of silicone in the doll world. Tin and Platinum.
Tin was the first silicone to be used in the doll industry. It was cheaper than platinum and easy to work with. Most earlier dolls were poured in tin.
There wasn’t a lot of education on the lifespan of tin and those that were poured in tin today are breaking down. They become sort of like an eraser… over time they leech oil and lose their elasticity. The joints of dolls tear and the silicone can crumble. Some resemble pieces of cheese where mice or bugs have eaten through. If you one day pick up your doll and a finger/ toe/ head falls off, most likely it’s tin. The easiest way to know if your doll is tin is to paint it with some platinum silicone paint. If after 4-8 hours the paint just wipes away, it is tin.
Unfortunately, there is no saving tin. Some deteriorate at a faster rate than others but eventually, all tin dolls will fall apart.
* many ask what they can use to repair their tin silicone for a temporary solution or fix. Best silicone is SilPoxy by Smooth-On. It’s expensive but does the trick for gluing rips or tears on tin. Sometimes fish tank silicone caulk at Walmart works great too. Should smell like vinegar.

Learning from these troubles, doll castors changed to Platinum silicone. Currently, experts say Platinum will last a lifetime. And so far that is true. There has been no breaking down. All dolls today (with the exception of silicone dolls made in China) are poured in Platinum. It is now a given.

EcoFlex, Dragon Skin, Plat-sil, Rebound are all types of Platinum Silicone and are used for many molding, casting and pouring purposes. Most dolls today are poured in EcoFlex.

Second is Shore. Different silicone softness is called Shore. The higher the shore, the harder the silicone.
Older silicone was made of a harder silicone…. first in Dragon skin, 50 shore.
Then it became Eco 50 (very similar to Dragon Skin) and next was Eco 30 and then Eco 20 and then 10.
Now some are doing Eco 10 plus an additive called Slacker, which makes it feel like marshmallow. AMAZING feeling silicone! However, any additives to a solid silicone can weaken its original state. Things like pulling at a silicone arm would be more harmful to a doll with slacker in it.
(There is also a higher chance of the surface of the silicone giving off more oils (its called leeching, where the additives used to soften the silicone is trying to escape thru the surface causing it to be oily), therefore, altering the surface paint or matte, possibly causing it to come off over time.  We are all still new to Slacker and the results over time and at this moment in history cannot guarantee its original a state/shape/paint.)
* I wrote the above paragraph/information a while ago and now that I am a little more familiar with slacker and painting it, I can say for myself, that I have not experienced any of my paint coming off a doll with slacker in it. As well as none of the dolls I’ve worked with have changed state or shape or paint over time.  If anyone has additional information I would be happy to include it in my research!!!
The interesting part about silicone is…. the harder the silicone, the more detail is retained… 50 is the closest to the original clay sculpt you can get in silicone. Once you hit shore 30 your detail started to soften.

Someone asked me to write a piece on the feel of the different shore or what is termed Durometer Shore Hardness scale
50 shore ~ like a hard bendable eraser
30 shore ~  like squishing the palm of your hand or a gel insert for your shoes
20 shore ~ like squishing the fat pad between your thumb and forefinger
10 shore ~ like squishing your ear lobe or a gummy bear
Marshmellow ~ like a memory foam pillow or mattress

Third, is Paint. The only thing that sticks to silicone is silicone. So painting a silicone doll must be done in a platinum silicone base. Silicone is VERY temperamental and if anything touches your silicone that it does not like, your paint won’t stick.
Latex, nope
Tin, nope
Oils in hands, nope.
A rainy day with Netflix on but the volume is on low, nope…lol, just joking.. sort of.
Very temperamental with a mind of its own!!!
Here is some knowledge of painting different silicone softness. The softer the silicone, the harder it is to paint… think about paint on a canvas versus a wet noodle… It’s HARD to get detail and retain it.
Also, when you paint a canvas the details stay unaffected. A line is a line.
But when you paint on a noodle.. or better imagined on a balloon… you paint a line and the balloon moves in your hand or deflates a little.. the lines on the balloon change. Sometimes they soften and aren’t so defined.
The same is with soft silicone. Lines aren’t as distinct on softer silicone. And now with the marshmallow silicone, its one step softer and harder to paint and retain that clean line you can get on vinyl or harder silicone.

Additional Info: I’ve had questions about painting and it sticking. Why won’t my paint stick? So there could be a few reasons. Are you painting tin? Cause your platinum silicone won’t stick. End of discussion, lol
Has your piece been properly prepped and washed? Silicone Pieces sometimes have release mold on them and can’t be painted until they are properly prepped.
Do you have oils on your hands? Do you have anything with latex around? Silicone paint won’t stick if there is oil, dirt or latex on the surface.
Is your paint bad? Well, one way to tell is, if you paint is curing in its pot, it’s not. If it’s still wet after even an hour, it’s no good.
Did you mix the right ratio of A and B? Exact amounts of equal proportions.
When you thin down your silicone paint it loses its strength.. maybe, don’t make your paints too thin.
In the end, it could be your silicone piece. It may have touched something on the way to you OR your pourer may have prepped it with something that is reacting to your paint. If nothing else is working, talk to your pourer… it doesn’t mean the piece is bad! and you need a refund… it just may mean they can problem-solve with you.

Matting on silicone,…. ahhhhh a silicone artists nemesis. Matting is the Fourth thing.
Silicone cures (dries) shiny. Matting dulls the paint to a matte. Most silicone mattes come in the form of powder. Matting silicone is done at the last stage of painting a silicone doll and is maybe the most cumbersome, death-defying stage of the whole process. It can make your baby alive or can ruin all your hard work and thousands of dollars worth of silicone baby… just in the matte.

Again, the softer the silicone the harder it is to matte. And the quicker the matte can be rubbed off. Now I’ve been doing this for 14 years and as much as I have perfected my matting skills, I still have a challenge of matting on every doll I create. The biggest problem is that EVENTUALLY, every silicone doll will get a shiny spot. Usually on the spots most touched… knuckles, knees, toes, chin…. All which can be rematted (given nothing has touched it so that the silicone won’t be inhibited).. but it will happen.
Because there has been a HUGE craze with soft, soft marshmallow silicone right now, I am going to forewarn, paint and matte will rub off quicker than a regular 50 or 30 or 20 shore silicone. That SOFT silicone movement just changes the surface every time it jiggles. Again think about dried glue on a solid glass surface compared to a surface like a balloon. It moves and pulls up much quicker on a moving surface. And because the super soft marshmallow silicone is still new, there is still lots to be learned.
 
So the next topic is Maintaining a silicone doll. I include these instructions with all my dolls.
  1. When you pick your baby up support them by the head and a hand on their back, never let the head tip back.  If the silicone is Eco 20-30, the silicone can slip from the rings or joints. 
  2.  DO NOT pick them up by the arms or legs, they will tear or come loose if a cloth body or rip the seam in the armpit of a silicone. IF the baby is 20-10 shore, the joints of the baby will tear easier.  DO NOT pull or tug on arms or legs. IT CAN RIP AT JOINT.
  3. DO NOT force your Silicones arms into a position they will not comfortably go, this can cause tearing under the arms or inside near the elbows.  
  4. DO NOT force the legs into a full sitting position this can also cause tears, do not bend the legs forwards at the knees as it can tear behind the knees.  
  5. Be careful with your silicone’s hair, it is not sealed on the inside so some shedding will occur over time, if you ‘play ‘ with your baby then you will expect some hair loss. Brush gently. 
  6. If your baby becomes a little ‘fluffy’ nearly all silicones will eventually attract dust and fluff, you can use a good quality makeup blush brush to dust off your baby and then brush over a fine layer of baby powder or matting powder) if your baby has any shine or makes dressing them easier. Usually, a little bit of tape over the skin will pick up any lint, as well.
  7. Some say it is all right to bathe your silicone and some do not recommend it. I do not recommend it. If you choose to, do not do it too often. It could wreck your matte or paint (not the sculpts). Rinse well, do not rub hard or you can damage the paint. NEVER RUB YOUR SILICONE.
  8. Dry your baby carefully, pat dry, then leave on the towel and air dry fully, using a cotton bud make sure all the water is out of the ears, behind the ears and around the eyes, for open mouth babies make sure the inside of the mouth is dry.
  9. Do not pick or scratch or rub your babies skin. This will affect the paint.
  10. Continually rubbing, sliding (in and out of a pacifier) or touching  (oily fingers) can cause the silicone to get a shiny spot or a paint rub.  
  11. When dressing you can wrap the limbs with saran wrap first and then dress. It will allow the cloth to slide along the limbs easier and save the life of your paint.
  12. DO NOT use baby lotions on your baby.  
  13. All Silicones have slight imperfections this is normal and is part of the OOAK making, mold making, casting and pouring and putting your baby together.  
  14. When using a pacifier,  do not use a nipple/teat that is too large for your silicones mouth as it will stretch it.  Gently place one pinky in the mouth and lightly pull open. Insert pacifier. 
  15. Do not leave a magnetic dummy/pacifier on for long periods of time as this can dent the silicone.
  16. Make sure all dark and bright dyed clothing has been prewashed to prevent any staining on your silicone.  Sometimes even after washing dark clothes, they will still stain. This also goes for anything they may come in contact with that is dark.
  17. Try not to powder areas of the doll that are meant to be wet or shiny looking. ie. lips, nails, eyelids. It will take away the shine that is meant to be there.
  18. DO NOT use any latex products with your silicones, either sponges to paint, gloves or latex pillows, some baby pillows and mattresses are latex so its best to check as it will react with the silicone.
  19. Do not leave your silicones laying/sitting on a hard surface for too long. It can flatten the silicone.
  20. Do not leave a magnetic pacifier in one spot on the mouth for too long, it can dent the silicone. Softer the silicone, the more risk.
  21. DO NOT jam your finger (or let anyone else) into your baby’s mouth as the corners can quickly be split ~ tip by Laura Tuzio Ross
  22. If you have a drink and wet baby only use water to feed your baby. Otherwise, it could cause mold and mildew in your baby’s insides.
  23.  Even though one can make their paint as permanent as it can be, paint and matting on silicone dolls can be rubbed off if rubbed too hard or too often. They are not vinyl dolls and should not be handled as such. Their paint is still delicate and should be treated and touched with care.

If you are buying a baby to play with, play with them! It’s fun and wonderful and that is why you bought it. If it’s more of a collector’s item and you want to spend more money, then placing them in a glass shelf is fun too. I prefer my dolls looking sweet in their cradles.. not handled much but wearing the CUTEST outfits I can find.
My personal opinions and pet peeves?????
I don’t think silicone babies should be bathed… rubbing on the paint only wears on them.
I cringe every time I see someone squeeze silicone babies cheeks and hands and mouths… I just worry about the paint and matte. That is me.
The in and out of a pacifier could wear on the lips of a silicone baby’s paint… again, I worry about the finish.

So here it is. All of this information is MY opinions, MY research, MY experience. Others may and will have different methods and ideas and thoughts. But this all has worked for me over my 14 years of experience. If you have any questions, write me and I will answer them the best I can and then add them to this list. We need to be informed before our purchases and we need to be informing of the dolls we are creating.

Many hugs, KrisC

15 thoughts on “What You Need To Know About Silicone

  1. Teresa says:

    I am researching about painting silicones. I have read that oil paints can be used. Can you tell me your opinion on this?

    • KrisC says:

      Hi Teresa,
      When I first started painting silicone there was very little information about it. It was the days of tin and there were no painting tutorials to be had. It was an experiment for most of us. In this beginning, I experimented with oil paints mixed with silicone. I also used powdered sugar for matting, lol. Both are not recommended. I have two oil painted babies still in my collection and one of them the paint did not stay. It can be done but I never recommend any pigments except those specifically designed for silicone. IF you decide to use oil, or anything else for that matter, it must be disclosed when selling/reselling your doll. Because there is a high chance it will not be permanent.

  2. Teresa says:

    Thank you! I really appreciate your quick response! I have already purchased Silc-Pig 9 pack of paints and Psycho Paint Base set. as well as some practice faces. Trying to gather information on what all else I need. I use Bob Ross Odorless Thinner for my vinyl kits. Is this ok to use?

    • KrisC says:

      You are very welcome, Teresa. I haven’t used Bob Ross Odorless Thinner but it should be fine. Test a little bit and if it cures in your pot (or the back of the practice face) it should be great. The Silc Pigment are the perfect pigments for silicone. Have fun and don’t forget to show us your work 🙂

  3. Teresa says:

    Thank you! I am now shopping for matting powder. How much powder is needed for one newborn size doll kit? Is there a comprehensive list of all the required supplies and quantities? I am sorry for so many questions. You seem like you want to be super helpful 🙂

  4. Erika says:

    Buenas tardes que pena con usted pero yo quiero una bebé de silicona alguien me puede decir cómo la.compre y yo la quiero ya lista

  5. Angela says:

    Hi!.
    I would like to buy a silicone kit from you but it may be a few months before I have it finished by an artist, how would I store the kit once it arrives and how long can I store it for before having it painted?
    Kind Regards.
    Angela.

    • KrisC says:

      Hi Angela,
      What a great question! It has been said by silicone manufactures that the best time to paint any silicone is within 24-48 hours of it being cured. Reasons being the pores are still open and they solidify in that time and if painted, it bonds better.
      That being said, anytime after that 24-48 hours, the paint still bonds and cures wonderfully and makes a beautifully painted piece. So YES, absolutely you can buy it now and paint it months or even years later with the same stunning results.
      As for storage, I would wrap each piece in tissue paper and store in a plastic container with a lid. The tissue absorbs any excess oils and the plastic container keeps lint off it. Do not wrap in dark-colored fabric or paper in case of staining (rarely happens but better safe than sorry).
      Hope that helps
      KrisC

  6. Tina Cartee says:

    Can you still add layers of paint after the silicone doll has been matted? What the best way to remove silicone paint that has cured on a doll? Can pigmented Silpoxy be used to add a layer or touch up the paint of an already completed silicone doll? Sorry for all the questions but this is an expensive hobby so I want to be sure before I attempt anything. Thanks for any info you can offer!

    • KrisC says:

      Let’s see how we can help… first, yes! you can add paint on a spot that has been previously matted. All you need to do is re-clean the spot so that the paint has the best chance to adhere to. Once repainted, matte as needed.
      Second, the only way you can remove silicone paint is to sand it off. This is something I greatly discourage as it is extremely time-consuming and the chance of scratching or wrecking your silicone is very high. If you do decide to sand the paint off, use the highest grit you can so not to rip into your silicone.
      Third, Silpoxy is a one-part adhesive meant to glue pieces together, not to be used as a surface layer. The reason being it dries as a harder surface and should not be painted/matted on top of. So I don’t suggest you use Silpoxy for touching up.
      Hope this all helps!!!
      Kind Regards,
      KrisC

    • KrisC says:

      I wish I was an expert rooter. From my limited experience of rooting, I find the higher gauge rooting needle the better it is for not leaving imprints in the silicone. However, it’s important to root very deep as you cannot glue in the hair.

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