How to Repair a Mannequin – Part 2 of a 2 part series
This is a continuation of a blog post we wrote yesterday about how to repair a mannequin. That post went into more detail about the painting process.
Since we sell new, used and vintage mannequins at Mannequin Madness we get lots of emails about mannequin repairs. We send our repairs to professional mannequin refurbishing companies you can find on the blog post we wrote here:
We highly recommend that use those companies if you have a mannequin that you feel is collector level or if your mannequin has extensive damage.
But for your everyday mannequin with relatively minor repairs or painting you can probably do it yourself, if you are handy.
We’ve culled the internet to find the best information on this topic. This is the second (see yesterday’s post) in a two part series from a vendor we found on Ebay, called lucitebox. who has written various mannequin repair guides.
This guide they call Plastic Surgery for you Mannequin
Let’s learn how to do this repair. Before you begin, you must read and follow these rules.
Rule #1: Patience, patience, patience. It may take several applications to cover all of the blemishes and cracks — especially if they are deep and dramatic.
Rule #2: APPLY THE BONDO IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA!!! Notice how that’s in all caps, bolded, and has three exclamation points. There’s a reason for that. This stuff gives off a powerful chemical stink and the vapors are toxic.
If possible, work outdoors, or in a garage with the door open. If you have no other option but to do it indoors, open your windows, and run a fan in the room.
Face the fan out a window to help carry the vapors out of the room. If you have a gas mask, use it.
Rule #3: Mix the Bondo in very small batches (about the size of a ping pong ball). This stuff dries incredibly fast.
After mixing the hardener in with the Bondo mixture, you have about two to three minutes before it hardens to the point that you can’t use it anymore. To help with this, inspect the area and devise a plan of attack before you mix even begin to mix your small batch of Bondo.
How To Bondo Your Manni:
First, inspect the mannequin to asses areas need the most attention. If it’s your mannequin, you’re probably intimately familiar with the problem spots, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to look again anyway.
On a close inspection you might notice something that you’ve overlooked before.
If you’re dealing with broken fingers, superglue works pretty well for reattaching them. As with the Bondo, the superglue dries pretty quickly, so you might want to practice fitting the fingers back where they belong without applying the glue.
There will probably be subtle little things you can feel when things snap into place where they should be. Give yourself some time to become acquainted with how that feels.
Then glue the edges of the break and put them together. The superglue doesn’t always stick very well on the first try. If that’s the case, place a little rubbing alcohol on one of those flat, round cotton facial wipes.
Then, go around the edges of the breaks first before applying the glue. This really helps the glue to adhere to the surface and also to dry quickly.
Before heading on to Bondo, there’s some pre-prep. After identifying the areas you want to work on (and gluing on broken parts), sand the areas where you plan to apply the bondo with coarse sandpaper (use 60 or 80 grit).
This will help rough up the area and will give the Bondo something to adhere to.
Next, as mentioned above, carefully examine the small area where you plan to apply the Bondo.
You should be all ready to start mixing the Bondo now.
REMEMBER TO DO THIS IN A WELL-VENTILATED AREA!
Follow the directions on the back of the Bondo can and mix a small batch. Have the part you want to work on handy so you can start application as soon as the Bondo mixture is ready.
For mixing, you can use the cap provided with the Bondo and an old butter knife or something metal that you’re not worried about ruining.
Put the Bondo mixture in the cap, then squeeze in a little of the red hardener and stir until the mixture is a uniform pinkish/grey hue.
Then, using the butter knife, quickly apply the mixture to the area. When applying the Bondo, remember that coverage, not neatness, is what you’re shooting for here.
You want to make sure you’ve got the area covered. Any bumps, lumps, and irregularities can be corrected in the sanding. But if you don’t get good coverage, you’re going to have to sand first, then apply another coat.
Apply as much as you can before it starts to harden, but once it starts to get dry and flaky in the cap, stop applying. It’s not going to do any good at that point. Just set the cap aside and use the fact that the Bondo is pretty hard, but not quite set to your advantage.
If you have any unwanted drips on your mannequin, you can scrape them off now with your fingernail.
Now, you’ve got about a thirty minute wait for the Bondo to dry. It’s a good time to take the cap out to the dumpster and scrape out the dregs you didn’t use.
After that, get yourself some fresh air for a while. You’ll probably find that you need it.
Ok, now it’s thirty minutes later.
Tear off a fresh square of coarse sandpaper and start sculpting the bondo you applied. It sands down pretty easily, but it also clogs the sandpaper quickly, so you’ll probably want to have a few sheets handy.
When you notice that you’re doing a lot of sanding, but nothing is happening, throw out that square of sandpaper and tear off another.
Another reason to do this outdoors is that sanding generates quite a lot of nasty pinkish-grey dust. If you have a dust mask, you really should wear it.
Every so often, wipe the surface with a cloth and inspect your work to see how it’s progressing.
Once you’ve gotten it to a point where you’re happy with it (or to the point that you need to apply a second coat) rinse that part off or wipe it down with a clean, damp rag, then dry it off with a paper towel.
Repeat that process as necessary until you’ve got it right.
Once you’re pleased with the results, you can softly “feather” the edges of the Bondo with fine (150 or 220 grit) sandpaper.
Wash and dry it again, and you’re ready to paint.