Vintage and antique dolls have inner cord or rubber band mechanisms that enable a the eyes to blink, or the mouth to make a kissing or puckering sound. The mechanisms are controlled by a switch on the doll’s back, which activates the cord or rubber band inside the doll to perform these functions. Some people make their own dolls. Doll makers of both professional and amateur status can enable the doll’s eyes to blink and the mouth to pucker by attaching a cord or rubber band to a hook or system of pulley’s that allow this eye and mouth movement.
Check the cord on antique or newer dolls to make sure it is functioning, and attached to the pulley or hook devices inside that make the mouth and eyes blink. Build a blinking and kissing doll from scratch, or look for a doll that is antique, preferably one that already comes with these functions. Look for plastic dolls’ mouths that actually move, but may be in need of repair. Antique or new bisque dolls are activated by the cords to a noise box within the doll.
Gently pull on an antique doll’s ball jointed leg and look inside to check if the rubber band mechanism is intact and not frayed. Place a small flashlight over the separated leg joint and aim the light to the interior of the doll, to see how the mechanisms inside are designed as well.
Carefully move the head on an antique doll to see if there is a cord attached to the middle part of the doll. Look for a box, or hook mechanism that rubber bands or other cords controlling the legs are attached to. Examine the doll parts to see how they work together to control the mouth and eye functions.
Take extra strength rubber bands, and put them in place of old or frayed rubber bands. Attach the tighter rubber bands to the mechanisms that control the eye and mouth movement, to the center device within the doll. Make sure the rubber band is just tight enough to allow the eyes to move, but doesn’t restrict the movement.
Make your own automata doll from wood. Use a tenon, wood or fret saw to cut wood in the shapes needed to make a wood doll. Use the tenon or wood saw for thicker pieces of wood, like a base. Use a fret or band saw for fine detail, such as the shape of the doll body. Follow instructions on how to make automaton toys and dolls at doll websites listed below. References:
Dollmaking.org: The Dollmakers’ Internet Community http://www.dollmaking.org/