On the 26th March we will be hosting our first ever late night opening at Madame Tussauds London, our studio’s team will be on hand to talk to guests about the process of how a wax figure is made. To give you a taster, the studio’s team have been giving us the low down in just 8 steps:
Firstly, the sculptors very carefully take hundreds of accurate measurements of the subject with traditional callipers and measuring tapes, along with a library of reference shots depicting the selected pose.
Each figure is perfectly sculpted in clay and this is used to create a mould from which the wax figure is created. A whopping 150kg of clay is used in the sculpting process!
A ‘piece mould’ of the head is made using fine quality plaster to reproduce the surface of the clay, which is then cast into a beeswax and Japan wax mix. Because they are made up of many separate pieces, the head moulds will last a long time. We have plaster piece moulds which are 200 years old, and fresh wax casts can be taken from these originals many times.
Molten wax, coloured with a dye and heated to a temperature of 165° F. is poured into the mould. The wax is then left to cool for the time it takes for the wax to harden to a 5/8-inch thickness. The surplus liquid wax is then poured away, leaving the hollow wax cast.
5. Removing the mould
After further cooling for 1½ hours the pieces of the mould are carefully pulled away to reveal the wax head. At this stage the wax surface is interrupted by tiny ridges formed by the joints between each mould section. The sculptor carefully removes these seams. The head still retains wax eyes and these are melted away to make room for the acrylic eyes. The teeth, if showing, are treated in a similar way.
6. Hair Insertion
Expert hairstylists replicate our star’s hair right down to the last one. Ethically sourced human hair is inserted strand by strand and then cut to style. It is an incredibly delicate and involved process – taking around 6 weeks to insert a full head of hair!
The figure is then coloured by a team of make-up artists. 20 different colours are used to recreate lifelike skin tones. 10 layers of oil paints are used to build up layers of colour on the face to give a translucency to the skin tones and a realistic texture and colour. Every freckle, mole, wrinkle and dimple is accurately reproduced!
8. The finished figure
Overall, it takes four months of specialist sculpting, moulding and colouring to create a Madame Tussauds wax figure. Each figure costs approximately £150,000.
This blog was written by Emma Greenfield on Monday 17th March 2014