Sculpting the Head
We begin by sorting through all of the reference photographs and arranging them in a way that gives us a whole and complete version of the head. Starting, for example, with the left hand side of the face, we slowly rotate through the slightly different angled photographs all the way round to the right hand side of the face. It’s a bit like those ‘flick story books’ that give you the impression though short frames, of a moving picture. In the same way we use the Sittings photographs to see the whole face. We surround ourselves with photographs of the celebrity to become as familiar as possible with their dimensions.
Even when we have been unable to have a Sitting we still search to find photographs from as many different angles as we possible can. It’s really important to know how the celebrity looks from all angles; left and right, above and below! It is also important to have at least one life size photograph. All of the photographs are used alongside the measurements we take at the Sitting.
Before we begin sculpting, we build a wire frame to support the clay, and when that’s ready, we can begin! The clay we use is just normal modelling clay, the type used in ceramics for example. Blob by blob we build up the clay, mapping out the shapes of the features, and little by little adding in detail. As the face comes together we constantly check measurements with our callipers - eye corner to ear lobe and tip of nose to chin. Each head takes approximately 18kg of clay (that’s the weight of your holiday suitcase!).
We’ve had to sculpt some really interesting expressions in the past. One of my favourites has to be a screaming footballer we made for our Madame Tussauds in Berlin. He really was full of life, a real character! However, I really enjoy sculpting older women. I find their faces much more interesting and very elegant.
When sculpting the head I don’t think I can remember a time when we haven’t been asked to change something! It seems to be more men that ask us for changes (which I really didn’t expect). One of the weirdest moments I can remember is having difficulty sculpting the hair of the celebrity as during the Sitting he wouldn’t take off his hat as he hadn’t styled his hair!
All in all sculpting one head takes 5 weeks to complete!!
Check back next week to find out about ‘Sculpting the Body’.