Before cleaning any doll it is important to identify from what material the doll is made. Bisque dolls are sometimes mistakenly called porcelain dolls. Porcelain and bisque dolls are fragile and damage easily. Both types of dolls are recognized as prized collectibles with doll collectors typically specializing in collecting either porcelain or bisque dolls.
What is Bisque?
Bisque dolls are crafted from unglazed porcelain. The lack of glaze is what gives the bisque doll a more realistic “skin” tone than the porcelain counterpart. Unglazed porcelain is extremely fragile, therefore dolls were made with bisque heads. Bodies were made from materials including cloth, leather with soft stuffing, and composition.
Preparing to Clean Bisque-Quick Hints
Before cleaning the bisque head doll lay several layers of towels on a sturdy surface, such as a table or a countertop. The surface ought to be large enough so the entire doll fits comfortably on the surface. Because oil from the skin can penetrate bisque it is recommended to wear thin rubber gloves. If you find you are not comfortable handling and cleaning the doll with gloves be sure to touch the bisque as little as possible and to keep your hands clean if you must touch the bisque.
Now you are ready to prepare a small bowl of warm water and a gentle detergent. No harsh chemicals that promise to cut through grease. Next gather soft toothbrush, new-not used, several clean cotton-tips, and two soft cloths; one for damping and one for drying.
Cleaning Bisque Dolls
Dampen one of the soft cloths in the warm water. The cloth should not be dripping when you begin to gently go over the surface of the bisque with the cloth. Depending upon the condition of the bisque this process may need to be repeated once or twice. The goal at this stage of cleaning is to remove the surface dirt by using a damp cloth. Use the dry cloth to pat dry the bisque. Repeat the process of damp cleaning and drying as needed.
The more intricate parts of the doll head are best cleaned using the cotton-tip. Dip the cotton tip into the warm water, roll on the dry towel if the cotton tip is dripping. Then use the dampened tip to gently clean the eyes, nose, ears. Using a swirling action with the cotton tip to clean the more intricate parts of the doll head works well. Just remember not to rub. Once you have removed the dirt pat dry.
Sometimes it is necessary to clean a bisque doll in more than one session. If you find yourself becoming impatient with the cleaning process it is best to take a break and return to cleaning when you are refreshed.
Taking your time cleaning your bisque doll will reward you by uncovering her beauty. The time you spend with your doll also allows you to get to know her; to appreciate her unique and historical qualities.
I am a member of a family owned and operated antique and collectible business located in the Northeast. When I am not attending yard sales, auctions, or refinishing furniture, I am helping children and families in my work as a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, which I have enjoyed for more than 25 years. http://auctionmom80.blogspot.ca
Thanks for explaining that cotton tips are important to use when it comes to cleaning every nook and cranny in antique dolls. I’d like to start collecting bisque dolls because I’ve always been fascinated by how they could simultaneously be eerie and elegant. Hopefully, my husband wouldn’t mind them being displayed at home.