11. Contriving Baby Face

Dear PrillyCharmin,

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 someday.

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 like "Dolls"!



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

Next Page: 12. Comic Characters Corner

Index Page
Mel's Photo Albums Home