Doll Care and Repairs / Eyes

Fixing a Doll with a Broken Eye Nub

It’s Friday night and I am standing in my kitchen with a doll eye in one hand, and a paper clip in the other.  Are you wondering what I was up to? How did I found myself in this situation? Allow me to share my story.

Michelle and I live in a very small town, and it turns out Michelle managed to find a woman obsessed with American Girl… we thought we were the only ones!  She had just about everything you could want from American Girl from Isabelle’s tutu to Felicity’s carriage.

After viewing our new friend’s amazing collection naturally we got to talking, and were exchanging good and bad Kijiji stories. It was during her bad Kijiji story that she pulled out a TLC Just Like You #21 doll from her closet.  My heart leaped and my fingers tingled at the sight of this doll; she would be so wonderful to work on, I saw so much potential!  She asked if we knew anyone in the area who repaired dolls-Ahem, this was my chance!  I gladly volunteered my services; I was so excited as I rode home with this beauty.


Once I had her home, it was time to get to work.  I placed her stained limbs in my sunniest window and allowed the benzoyl peroxide to do its work. (Remembering that the dolls scare my husband- hahaha!)  Time to take a look at that eye and determine what was causing it to stick.

Eyes are the trickiest parts of the dolls to work on.  You don’t know what the problem is just by looking at the eye, you have to watch it work, and look at it very closely; the slightest disturbance in the eye-cradle can cause it to stick.


Taking a closer look, I noticed that her right eye was looking off to the side ever so slightly.  Are you able to see it in the photo above?  In order to get a better look, I removed her eye from her head.


An American Girl eye has three parts, the eye part that we see when the eye is in, a black cradle that holds the eye and allows it swing as it opens and closes, and a metal casing that holds the eye in place in the cradle.


Everything looked fine in the casing and the cradle.  It was when I checked the eye that I could see the problem.  Can you see the problem in the photo above?  That’s right! The nub was bent, causing the eye to scrape the metal casing and stick.

What is a girl to do?  I turned to my Facebook friends for help on Custom American Girl Doll Market.  One friend suggested that I try to heat the eye and bend the nub back into place, but as I did that I could hear the eye start to crack, so I went with another method that was shared with me.

WARNING:  This tutorial does involve tools and heat. If you are not an adult (or accident prone), make sure you have permission before trying this, or better yet, don’t do it!

Heaven forbid, but if you ever find yourself in this same position, needing a new nub for your doll’s eye, allow me to guide you through step by step.


First I snipped off the bent nub using wire cutters.


Next using a metal file, I filed down the nub so it was flush with the rest of the eye.


Now comes the fun and dangerous part, the part where our story began.


I bent one side of the paperclip straight so I was left with a little handle to hold onto, and I heated the straight end over the element on my stove.  I had the burned set at “8” on my stove, and made sure I kept my hands a safe distance away.  I am a bit of disaster when it comes to hot things (I have the scars to prove it), believe it or not, I did not burn myself doing this!


Once your paperclip is nice and hot, push the paperclip into the place where the nub perviously sat.


I pushed and twisted, pushed and twisted until finally the paperclip went through!


To be on the safe side I put a drop of Krazy Glue at the base of the new paperclip nub to ensure it stays in place.


Next I trimmed the new nub to fit with my wire cutters.


Once I had the eye back together, I popped it back into place in her eye socket.

Check out the final product!  I couldn’t believe that not only did it work, it was so easy!

So that’s the story of me, a Friday night, a paperclip, and a doll eye… now to figure out how to fix those bent eyelashes



13 thoughts on “Fixing a Doll with a Broken Eye Nub

  1. Pingback: How to Fix Your Doll’s Bent Eyelashes

  2. You are amazing. I think you’d think it great fun to go to that “island” in Rudolf, The Red-Nosed Reindeer, where all the broken and rejected toys go. I think you would have a hoot there… just fixing away. Like you wrote, the worse, the better. But in all seriousness, thank you for having provided such a great resource of information on repairs of any kind. This is where I will go first in the future, and I will definitely recommend your site any chance I get.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, you are too sweet! I have been a bit preoccupied with all the back to school stuff, but I should get to back to all the dolls that are needing repair in my basement shortly 🙂


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