- HOW BABY FACE WAS BORN...
- 11. Contriving Baby Face
I don't mean to convey the impression that Poor Little Inexperienced, Me just stepped up to the table and didn't
know what I was doing, but some unknown force took over. I was born with the ability to sculpt, built in,
preprogrammed, sort of like an animal is born "knowing" how to do certain things.
After once discovering that, although, I had
spent most of my life trying to learn how to
draw and paint, etc., ( and I had a lot more
yet to learn), I already knew how to sculpt, I
was not particularly impressed. At least not
any more impressed than I was by my ability
to walk. I'll use it if I want to go somewhere,
like across the room, but otherwise, I'd
rather sit. It was just a tool, Like getting a
brand new hammer. That didn't mean I had
to run around hitting everything in sight. I
put it in my tool box, in case I needed it
What I did learn, perhaps from emulating
hundreds of different licensed properties in
my years at Colorforms, or perhaps, from
collecting thousands of Icons and Images,
and living intimately with them, and restoring many of them, ... was the ability to work in any style. I could Knowingly
Juggle the elements and Consciously Contrive Anything in any Style, from hideous monsters to cute fuzzy little
animals, and all stops in between.
I know it sounds horribly Egotistical, but I firmly Believed, and often stated, and still do believe, That If something is
"Made by Hand", "My hands are as good as anyone's! and I Can Do It Too!" Maybe, I just choose what I attempt,
carefully, But I've yet to be proven wrong! It may take me a long time and I may have to teach myself a lot, in the
process, but in the end I can Fake anything. The flip side of this is that I have NO IDEA What "My Own Work"
would even, Look Like! I've always tried to let the Challenge, or the Object Set The Style.
So now I set out to Juggle all the Elements and CONTRIVE Baby Face!
At Pratt we had sculpted on "turntables", So I borrowed Eunice's rotating 'cutting
board - lazy Susan', and set a circle of Formica covered plywood, that had been cut
out of our bathroom counter, to install a sink. I drilled a hole in the center of the
circle and inserted a length of 3/16" dowel. That was her armature. I used wood
balls to form the rounded joints and worked in Roma Plastilina.
I knew enough about the manufacturing process to anticipate that some shrinkage
would occur, from prototype to final product. I thought "If we sell this, I don't want
to have to sculpt it again" So, while I didn't know the exact amount of shrinkage
that would take place, I would play it safe and sculpt her 14" tall which in the end, I
guessed, would give us something close to the 11" height, we were aiming for. And
if she was a little too big, it's easy to shrink her some more, but "impossible" to
make her larger.
I sculpted her without any reference material, no photos of babies, and No (heaven
forbid) photos of dolls. Aided by the indelible and idealized memories of my own
daughters, when they were small, I just pulled her out of my head and out of the air!
The biggest "Strength" I had going for me was "What I Didn't Know"! The fact that I had never sculpted a doll
before, was my greatest asset. Many doll artists have spent a lifetime sculpting the same "doll mouths" the same
"doll eyes" The Same Dolls, all their lives! Looking at their dolls and each others dolls, developing and repeating the
same stereotypes and conventions, time and time again! That's why most dolls, particularly in the toy industry look
Of course I had been "noticing" Dolls too, The
beautiful antique dolls at the hundreds of antique
shows and flea markets I had attended. And I Admire
Enormously the work of Joseph Kallus, The Kewpies
are nothing short of Fabulous (Baby Faces hands,
Pay Homage to him and Rose O'Neil.) and his classic
composition and wood jointed dolls are Works of
Art! Popeye, Betty Boop, Jeep, Bimbo, Etc. When it
comes to Comic Character Icons, "This Is, truly, As
Good as It Gets"!
So it was second nature to me to simply assume that
Baby Face, would be Fully JOINTED! When I had
carried the first Plastilina sculpt as far as I was able,
I took it apart and made plaster molds of each of the
pieces. Then I pressed Super Sculpy into the molds to
produce pieces I could refine further. At that time Super Sculpy was The Most Perfect and Amazing material. I
would describe it as being to sculpture what a pencil is to drawing. So Responsive, So Delicate, and Flesh colored too!
Unfortunately They RUINED it, In an attempt to remove any toxic ingredients, and thus, avoid any potential law
suits and also capture the Kiddy trade, they changed the formula! Now it comes in Pretty colors and works like S...!
Alas I have to stop here, More tomorrow! Best Regards Mel
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