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In December 1997 I got the assignment to do a wax doll of King Gustaf III (1746-1792) for the new Bellman museum on Aspa Herrgård. I gladly accepted and immediately started . My first problem was how to get the likeness to the king. I remembered that I once saw a picture of a death mask of the old king in a book. I started calling around and after a while I got in contact with KonstAkademien in Stockholm who have that mask in their collection. When I had explained my problem they kindly let me borrow the Kings death mask.

When I had received the mask and I had thought about all the history I now had in my hands I dared to make a cast of it in silicone. In this mold
I pressed down hot Roma plastelina to make a clay press. After cooling it I could pull out a copy of the death mask in clay. I attached this to a plaster bust I already had. Now I just had to sculpt the rest of the head and fix some things with the face such as opening the eyes.
If I would have done this today I would have used Chavant clay instead as this is better for the silicone mold
.

Skulptur av Gustaf III

Now it was time to make the big mold
that I was going to make the wax head in. For this project my choice was silicone, because of the softness, the flexibility and possibility to make a mold
without seams. When the sculpture was all done I coated it with a thin layer of plastic spray to protect the silicone from the oil and sulphur in the clay. Then we started adding silicone in a thin layer of thickened silicone.

After an hour or so the first layer has hardened so much that you can add another layer and build it to about an inch in thickness. After 24 hours it is all dry and you can cut it open with a scalpel.

Here you can see the two piece mold
I made on the silicone mold
to hold its shape when not supported from within. When making this kind of mold
it is very important to not get any undercuts (An undercut is when the mold
grips the other mold
and can't be separated).

Time for wax. You melt the wax in a pot that you put in the oven. When it's all melted and transparent you pour the wax into your mold
and let's it flow around. If you don't cover all the mold
at once you may have problems with cracks or with the shrinking that occurs when the wax cools.

You can see the one of the eyes is lower than the other. This is not me being a bad sculptor.
He had a birth defect that distorted his face.

Now I have put the eyes in. The eyes are real prosthetic eyes and I bought them from an eye doctor. When they was in place I poured in a little wax to keep them in place. I have here started to paint my doll with an air brush using liquid acrylic colors. I always paint in layers and I start with veins and deep shadows like beard shadows. Then I put on the skin tones and different kinds of red tones to make him come alive. 

Now Gustaf needed to get some hair and this is solved by using a sawing needle with it's eye cut off, so that it looks like a small fork. With this you grab one straw at a time a punch it into the wax. You do the eyebrow and lashes the same way.

Now he is almost finished. I have made some color corrections on the skin using standard grease paints from my makeup case.

The body I made from a mannequin that originally was standing, but I sawed it apart and put him back together again but now sitting down. I used fibreglass with polyester resin, tape, some steel wire and a LOT of patience. It was not fun! Fibreglass itches, smells terrible and it a drag to work with in this kind of scale. Don't do it! I won't do it again.

The hands were also made in wax the same way as the head.

 

       




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