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Painting Silver Eye on American Girl dolls

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

First my very important disclaimer!!!

I am not a professional doll restoration expert!

(Not yet anyway 😜)

The information I'm providing is for entertainment and fun.

I want to show you how I repainted my first eye and show off how in love I am with this dolls update.

I will provide links to the items I used to perform this "medical" procedure to improve how Josefina looks. The products I link will earn me a small commission at no cost to you if you click and purchase because I am an affiliate of a few programs. Please know anything I list are items I use and purchase for my small business.

I want to make sure everyone understands this is my first eye repainting.

Just like any new activity, it needs to be vigorously tested and repeated to make sure the quality is good.

I do not do this for customers because I am just practicing.

I would like to do at least 30 more eyes for practice and test the paint to make sure it adheres over time and temp.

But... if you've ever wondered what silver eye looks like on the inside, how people fix it or why it happens, then your in the right spot.

What is Silver Eye?

The eye is made with a few components. It has plastic back case with cut outs on both sides, metal housing, and front of eye.

Front of eye is hard plastic with 2 prongs on either side,a metal weight glued in back and eyelashes glued to top of this front of eye.

Disassembled eye shows metal case, plastic housing and front eye with lashes
One side of eye components

Back side of eye components shows metal housing plastic case, back of eye color has weight, glued lashes
Other side of eye components

Silver eye happens with an early run of dolls only. I'm the early 90's the paint that was used tended to dry and move away from the front of the eye.

There's actually no silver, what we see is the ridges of plastic without paint on them.

If you look at most doll eyes you will see a swirl around the eye. That is ridged plastic in the iris. Those ridges shine "silver" when the paint isn't on them.

Here's silver eye...

Eye is void of paint and paint has caked into a dry clump
Front of eye and the plug of dry paint

Here's the doll's eye after I removed the plug of paint.

Eye appears silver but is just showing the plastic.

You can see the dry, caked piece of paint from production.

So what, then?

As I said, this only occurred for a few years of production in the early 90's. I would assume heat, humidity, dry conditions would help an eye silver, but apparently American Girl improved their production process because silver eye is no longer a concern for current dolls.

Some people like how these eyes look. They seek out certain dolls with this "defect".

For the rest of us it is a bit too startling and we'd prefer to have the right eye color on our dolls.

I ended up with a beautiful Josefina with one silver eye. I didn't mind, but my kid was very disturbed by her so I decided to give her hectachromia.

I envisioned one green and one brown eye for my custom doll. If you plan to paint a dolls eyes, I suggest mixing enough color to presumably do both eyes the same color.

Without much further ado, here are the steps I took to paint one silver eye green.

How I turned that silver eye green.

I had to remove the eye from the head. Sorry but I have a whole blog post on how right here

One the eye was removed from head it easily came apart into 3 pieces.

I pulled the weight off of eye and set aside.

Then I slowly and carefully scraped a white layer of covered from back of eye. This took forever.

After the white covering was removed, I slowly and carefully scraped at the layer of brown.

The brown finally fell out in a cake like hard disc. This was in the shape of the eye. Looks like the plastic shrunk and pulled away from front of eye. That's why I saw silver instead of beautiful brown coloring.

I meticulously cleaned the old paint from eye. This took a long time to do. Picking with a toothpick and rubbing with a qtip over and over until all the black pupil and brown iris were gone.

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