HOW BABY FACE WAS BORN...
13. The First Baby Face

Dear PrillyCharmin,

I had a very old pair of glass eyes here that I acquired, when I was in Paris. I used those to visualize the doll in the clay stage, I can't remember if I actually imbedded them in the clay or used balls to represent them, But now that I was about to do the final model, I needed to find the proper eyes. Thus I traveled to Long Island City to visit the "Standard Doll Supply".

What an Experience. Everything was in total disarray. Their catalogue shows several sizes, of several types, of eyes, in a full range of colors. In person they had a hand-full of assorted and miss matched odds and ends of eyes, scattered about. They were all very nice and let me rummage around, and I left with as many sets of eyes as I could dig up, but hardly the range of choices I had hoped for. I had also hoped to find wigs there, and I did buy one sad little one, that was the only one they had that looked at all like it might be a baby's hair. I seem to remember that I might have actually used it, on the first of the three dolls I made.

And the first Baby Face WAS: The So Called.... So Sweet Sandi!

 

Better known to me as "the one in the middle of the three stacked photos Of my original Sculpy dolls in Bernie's article". Look at these photos very carefully, if you want to really see "the Real Baby Face"! The first and Master BF was that one With her mouth closed and her expression neutral and almost "doll like". That is the Basic Head from which all the other ones began. Now I'm going to tell you something that I'm sure will surprise you! Recalling It right now I realize that I never thought of it before, so it surprises me a little too.

The Idea of Baby Face having different facial expressions was NEVER PLANNED or DISCUSSED! I never gave it any thought I JUST DID IT! As I was working on one doll it would be "no big deal" to do three, and it would make a lot more impressive presentation. And there would be no point in making three if they were exactly the same. so I would change their hair color and style and why not their expressions?

 

 

 

I pressed out and "refined" the bodies in a few days, The Sculpy hardens when it is baked in the oven and then it can be sanded and refined even more. All three bodies were the same. Then I did the heads. I found hard plastic beads the same size as the eyes I had chosen, The beads were bake-o-lite or something, that wouldn't melt in the oven. I pressed a shell of Sculpy into the inside of the molds of the front and back of the heads, setting the beads in place and packing the Sculpy around them. Then I filled the remaining cup-like cavities with crumbled bits of dried up Sculpy and joined the fronts and backs with a seam of crazy glue along the edge where the soft Sculpy shells met, Crazy Glue works quite well on Sculpy either before or after it is baked.

Then I carefully removed the mold trying not to mess up the soft Sculpy and with my trusty tool I nuanced and perfected the face. Then I baked it for about a half hour.When it had cooled, I cut out the neck hole and removed the crumbs of Sculpy, leaving a hollow head, I then knocked the beads into the head by tapping on them from the front, thus leaving a perfect cavity into which I could set the eyes from inside. Then I would work some more, finishing the hardened head by carving and sanding and often taking several trips back and forth to the oven to bake whatever soft Sculpy I added in the process.

Sounds kinda easy doesn't it! Sometimes it was! other times I could fool around for days on one head! That's how I did the first head. All the others began the same way, By filling and placing the beads in that same master plaster mold of the basic head.

The difference took place once the soft head was removed from the mold. I would cradle it in the back half of the plaster mold to help it retain it's shape, and sculpt the expressions. On the first half dozen or so heads I used no reference material, I'm getting ahead of my self here, but all the heads were eventually begun almost the same way as the first three! I would open the mouth, widen the smile, puff up the cheeks, add more Sculpy, or take some away, and poke and prod, and sometimes everything got completely out of control, and other times all it took was a touch, But sooner or later a fleeting expression would emerge, and most of the time, I would stop in time!


 

A few times, alas, I played around too long and lost great expressions, never to capture them again!

Then to the oven! And then more and more sanding and carving and fooling around with and patching up, those strange little bumps, I'll call them "ears", that were always a mess because they were right on the parting line. They required a lot of cleaning up and they bored me immensely! Later on I tried to make the Baby Baby Face's ears more interesting, They had more form, as I cast them as separate pieces and added them on, so they weren't messed up by the seam.

To be continued... Best, Mel


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