Paint problem

Ok I’ve painted the top of a limb in the part where it will be covered for a practice. I’ve used Americana all purpose sealer, acrylic and varnish which is all good except for one thing.

Is it normal for it to scrape off if you dig at it? It’s stuck fine, I can handle it and such but it does come off if I make an effort to scrape or run at it. How permanent is permanent?

I do not know if I can help you at all. So many people use GHSP, and I am an Air Dry girl. :slight_smile: But, I have read a good many times on here that when you finish up a layer or a few layers and for sure at the end of painting and curing, take a cotton swab and rub it on a part that is not visible and see if you get any paint off. If you do then it is not properly cured. If you don’t, it is cured. And you used sealer, varnish, and you mentioned acrylic, but I am guessing that is the kind of products you are using. I don’t know that we need to put both products on at the end. I will be interested to see what the pros here say. I am learning, too. It is a great question, I think. :slight_smile:

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I’m no pro by any means, but I can give my opinion based on my (very limited) experience and what I’ve read (mostly on this forum).
ANY paint can be scraped off of ANY surface if enough force is applied. If one were to take a metal object to a car for example, the paint can and will scratch.
Reborn dolls are considered delicate and should be treated accordingly. However, with high quality paint and proper curing one should be quite durable, although with heavy handling, dressing, etc a doll could be subject to paint rubbing off.
In my personal experience, lesser quality paint is very movable even after a week + of drying time. On the other hand, higher quality paint such as Golden, WILL NOT budge after drying over night.
Hope this helps. Good luck!

When I use Americana soft touch varnish mixture (With the cornstarch and water), it will do that too unless I wait like 2 days for it to completely dry. I thought I did something wrong because mine came off with a scratch of the mail, but after 2 days it wouldn’t scratch off any more. Maybe it needs more time?


Air dry paint takes time to cure to the point that it will not scrape off easily. Especially if you used a lot of layers or a lot of retarder or a lot of water in your mixes. While the baby may be fine to put together and dress in 72 hours, it still needs careful handling for 2-4 weeks. Ever notice that when you paint walls with latex paint that if you bump them when moving the furniture back in that the paint will scrape off easily? Same thing. It takes a good month before the paint is truly stable on the walls.


I didn’t know any of that! So even though the paint is dry to touch within about a half hour it’s not fully dried and needs a couple of days not a couple of hours? Is that the same for the sealer and varnish too? Cos I’ve put each one on as soon as they felt totally dry which seemed to be 30 mins! How do I ‘cure’ it after?

I did not know this, Angie. There is just so much to learn about this hobby. Should keep it interesting for a long time. Especially when we have leaders like yourself who enjoys experimenting and learning even more. Thank you so much!

Just noticed you mentioned water, I haven’t put any water in the paint, used it straight out of the bottle. Is it meant to be thinned down with water?

I use acrylics and as I understand it they have to be thinned by something. Don’t use too much water. You can use some water and some mediums to help thin them. I don’t know if that is of any help or if that is even what you were asking. :slight_smile:

I’m after leaving the first layer of sealer since yesterday morning I’ve noticed it’s gone really smooth and feels just like the vinyl. Infact it’s virtually impossible to tell where I applied it whereas before when I left it only a couple of hours it felt sort of tacky to touch even though it was dry. Does this mean it wasn’t truly dry after all hence it scraping off after painting?

I haven’t gotten any mediums I don’t know anything about them. I will try putting a few drops of water to thin the paint and see if that helps.

Let me clarify a few things. I would also recommend joining my Facebook page, The Reborn Connection, where I have tons of articles, videos and discussions on all this. You can read for hours there and get a good schooling on air dry paints. So this is the basic of air dry paints and reborning.

  1. Always use artist grade paints. Craft grade paints have lots of inert ingredients in them (fillers) to make them cheap and these ingredients can lead to peeling/flaking/fading down the road.

  2. Artist Grade paints contain pigments suspended in an emulsion which contains binders in it to hold it all together as well as bond the paint pigments to the surface on which it was applied.

  3. Air dry paints sold as “Reborn Paints” usually have extra thinning agents and retarders in them to make the paints easier to use. Some of them can be used straight from the bottle or thinned a bit more. Artist Grade paints are usually so rich in pigment strength that they need to be thinned some in order to get the hue and fluidity needed to apply thinly to a vinyl doll.

  4. You can use a little distilled water to thin acrylic paints but it is not recommended to exceed a 30% volume of water to your paint ratio. This is because water will break down the binders in the paints making them less stable and thus less adhesive and more prone to fade. The same holds true of Retarder so it must be kept to a minimum as well. Usually a few drops of that is all that is needed to do its job of slowing down drying time.

When you need your paints thinner then you need to add in a binder to do the rest of your thinning. The most fluid binder would be an air brush Flow Medium such as Golden High Flow Medium or Jo Sonjas Flow Medium. These mediums are like milky water that will thin the paints out very fluid.

Other mediums that can also be used to thin out the paints are Fluid Matte Mediums, Matte Gels and Glazing Liquids. Any one of these or combination of mediums to get the desired effect is fine.

As a side note, do know that Mediums can increase sheen and tack to the surface of the doll. Glazing liquid produces the most sheen followed by Flow Mediums. The Liquitex Ultra Matte Gel is the most matte medium I have found and it is very thick. Next would be Golden Super Matte Medium which is also very matte but not as thick as the Liquitex Ultra Matte Gel. You can use either of these and a little distilled water to thin your paints or you can use either one of them in with the Flow Medium to cut back on some of the sheen and tack of the flow medium. I prefer not to use Flow Medium only to thin with and usually do this.

While the paint layers and mediums are curing the pieces will stick to each other so be sure to have each piece suspended on a peg or something to air dry. Once the pieces are final sealed and varnished this will seal off any tack from the mediums and matte the sheen if you are using a very matte varnish.


  1. Cure time: I am C&P this in from the Golden Paints website as it explains it better than I can.

Blockquote The Two Drying Stages of Acrylics

The drying of acrylic paints occurs in two very different stages, hence drying times must be thought of in two different time frames. The first stage, a relatively short period of time, results in the formation of a skin over the surface of the paint. This is the time that it takes for acrylics to “dry to the touch”. At this point, the flow of water towards the surface is no longer sufficient to keep the paint film wet. Very thin films can feel dry within seconds, while thick films may take a full day or more to skin over.

The second stage of drying is the time for the entire thickness of the film to be thoroughly dry. That is, the time required for all of the water and solvent (used as freeze-thaw stabilizer and coalescent) to evaporate and leave the film. This is a most crucial time frame, as the ultimate physical properties, such as adhesion, hardness and clarity, do not fully develop until the film is near complete dryness. For very thin films, this time may be a few days, while films of 1/4 inch thickness or more will take months and even years to be completely dry.

Many artists are not aware of this more lengthy drying time. This is the reason that one may find that a rather thick layer of paint has not adhered to the surface when tested a day or two after application. This same layer of paint will also seem very soft. The skin may have dried sufficiently, but the paint in the center is still wet. Regarding development of clarity in gels and/or mediums, one can allow a painting to clear, store it away and later notice that it has become cloudy. The film may have only been partly cured, and is soft enough to allow moisture from the air to penetrate, turning it slightly milky again. Given enough time for more complete drying, these properties should improve dramatically.


You can continue to paint over layers that are dry to the touch until you are done. It is best to wait 48-72 hours after the last layer before varnishing. Then wait another 48-72 hours before assembly. However, I do not consider the doll’s paint job “stable” for at least 1-2 weeks. If the weather is high in humidity or very cold it can take up to that 2 weeks. Also, if you used a lot of layers of paint such as on an AA baby, and/or retarder in most of your layers that will take about 2 weeks to be fully cured.

I always keep a hair dryer on hand to quick evaporate paint that has retarder in the mix. I use retarder when painting hair and if I apply any caucasian flesh layers to keep them from drying pasty looking. I always hit those applications with the hair dry to dry them to the touch and evaporate the fluids more rapidly. This does influnce overall drying time.

If you have any more questions do go join my group as that is where you will get the most help.


Thank you for your very detailed reply. I take it the Americana acrylics I bought aren’t up to the job then that’s why they rub off? This is getting way too complicated, all I want is for the paint to stick permanently to the vinyl and I was told that range would do. I have found these by googling:

Would these be better? Has anybody used them? An I understanding right that if I buy the concentrated /detailing paints in the colors I need, their thinner with a bonding medium in it and varnish this will paint straight onto the vinyl, dry in the open air and adhere properly to it? Or would I need the ‘washes’ (though they aren’t in the colours I want)?

Incidentally, are concentrated and detailing paints the same?

Some people use them and like them. I have seen dolls that faded with them.
As I stated earlier, I have a group you can join if you need more information. I do not have time to put it all here and it is all already there.

The Reborn Connection For Reborn Doll Painting With Mixed Media | Facebook

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Angie’s FB page is really good. She shares so much info. I enjoy it when I get over there.

Do you mean the color faded or it faded the vinyl away altogether? I’m not on Facebook and don’t want to be but I’ll see if I can read what you’ve put without joining :smiley:.

At the moment I’m thinking about trying the Americana first, seeing if it holds up to handling, if it does great but if not I’ll try these. That way I won’t have lost anything.

I haven’t put a medium into the paint and now I’ve read you’re supposed to to make it stick. FolkArt Glass and Tile medium is one that keeps coming up. If I get some of this along with some distilled water and mix it with the Americana paint will it work?

I tried the Glass and Tile and did not like it. I found it to go gritty in my paint mix and I’ve heard of people having issues with peeling or cracking.

For priming, I had much better results using Liquitex Fluid Matte Medium (although a bit tacky) or for my current WIP I used Ultra Matte Gel. As for the medium in my paint mix, I’m using Golden Super Matte and really like it.

As the other ladies suggested, Angie’s FB group is one of the best resources for Air Dry paint. Tons of info and videos. If I am not mistaken, you will have to join the group in order to access the wealth of information. I also suggest watching as YouTube videos as you can find. Watching videos will give you a better understanding of the process.

It is indeed a complicated process in order to do it correctly so that the paint properly adheres to the vinyl and so that all of the hard work you put into it stands up to the test of time and does not fade, peel, or crack.

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Wow this is a minefield! Why hasn’t the sealer stopped the paint coming off? Isn’t that what it’s for? Would this one work as it’s the same make:

I’m reluctant to buy the Liquitex as it’s expensive if it doesn’t work.

Glass and Tile medium is no longer recommended for air dry babies. If you go to

and take a look around that site, you will find some very affordable paints formulated specifically for reborning. Also, mediums. Free tutorial on how to use it. This may give you more of an idea. Also, read and watch all the tutorials you can. One great one is
She has an entire tutorial on YouTube for free. It is very valuable, but she is not charging. She is excellent. There is a lot of other free things to help us learn. We never learn it all. I would hate to see you not make the best doll possible because you just don’t know all these things. No one does. And, I don’t know if you have thought of making a baby with the Folk Art paints, or not, but I did use them for my first one. I wish I had purchased the paints that I mentioned above. It would have saved me a ton of money. Not knowing which exact paints to purchase, I spent way, way too much on paints alone. And, people say the dolls paint fades over time when we use the Folk Art craft paints. My doll doesn’t get much sun, but after only 2 years, I have to say I believe she is fading. It is your choice, of course. I just want to make you aware of some of these things.

If you want to get good results you are going to have to purchase quality products. Sealer is only as good as the paints underneath it. If the paint underneath has issues, then the paints will lift off regardless. Sealer and varnishes just form a hard film over the surface to which they are applied. The surface has to be stable and secure before the two can form a good bond that is totally secure. Reborn dolls take time and investment to make a good quality finished doll that is going to hold up to handling and dressing. I have been doing this for 16 years and I spend a LOT of time researching what works.

Liquitex paints are not that expensive when you consider that they are very concentrated and a little goes a very long way. I bought some of the Liquitex Acrylic Gouache paints and the colors I got were about $8 a bottle. They are nice sized bottles as well.

I also have bought Golden Fluid Paints and they last well too. BB sells some of the Golden paints and mediums. You can mix and match brands.

Jo Sonjas has a very affordable line of artist quality paints.
They also have good Flow Medium, Retarder Medium and Glazing Medium all of which I would suggest you get.

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