Hello dears. Let me introduce to you the guest star for today’s What I Made post–Honoria (pronounced: ah-Nore-ee-uh) Julia Tuesday.
Over the last few years Brigi has been collecting hats. Anyone knows that when you have a hat collection, they need to be shown off, however Brigid was missing this one key element–a beautiful mannequin on which to display them! Having realized this fact she began looking over the (what I would call meager) selection of mannequin heads available on eBay and Etsy. She found some promising ones, but she was always turned off by the going rate of vintage mannequin heads; a price that starts after the triple digit mark. I certainly wasn’t going to let her hat collection suffer from want of a display, nor was I about to spend a pretty penny just for a vintage mannequin. So I made her this fine lady instead.
Honoria was crafted out of four ingredients:
- La Doll air-drying paper clay
- Acrylic paints
- Paint sealant
- Wooden base
I wanted Honoria to be able to be handled, thus a styrofoam core was needed to make this so. I also wanted her to be light, not too heavy, so that if she ever fell (let’s hope its on a carpeted floor) she wouldn’t break. Also, I wasn’t going to try to fire any kind of porcelain because 1) the stuff is expensive, and 2) I don’t own a kiln. La Doll paper clay air dries, so I don’t need to fire it, and it dries in such a way that the finished product is remarkably lightweight.
Once I bought the styrofoam core (a cheap, pre-shaped mannequin head at Joann Fabrics), I went to work filing down the lopsided facial markings. After that I began to cover the styrofoam in the paper clay, using grape tomato sized chunks at a time. As I worked with the paper clay, I had a little cup of water handy to keep it in a sticky-putty like consistency. Having the clay be more putty-like allowed me to smooth the new additions of clay to the ones already applied to the head, if that makes any sense. I began with the face and worked my way to the back of the head, and on down to the neck.
Sculpting the facial features onto the base was probably one of the more enjoyable, and tricky parts of the process. It takes a lot of time, patience and skill to get the features just right. Oh yes, and working with an air drying clay only made this all the more challenging; you’re trying to beat the clock before the clay becomes too dry, always reapplying water to keep everything supple.
The very last touch was the addition of her curls. That really made her look vintage, if you ask me!
Well, at last the sculpting was over, and I could get on with the best part–painting! I began with Honoria’s hair line, working my way back down to her curls, and finished it up with an application of several more coats. I wanted to save her face for last, as this is the most exciting point in any mannequin’s construction. You get to bring life into the still features, working in depth and character as you go. And to me, the best way to capture all of this is through the eyes. I worked long and hard on Honoria’s eyes, even using a closeup picture of human eyes to give me the best perspective. In the end I think I succeeded.
Besides depth, I wanted very much to capture a few of Brigi’s lovely facial elements in Honoria, giving her very pronounced eyebrows, sad but peaceful drooping eyelids, and setting off the whole look with a pair of iconic 1920’s cupid’s-bow lips and blush just along the tops of her cheekbones. A couple coats of the paint sealant and Honoria was finished.
The styrofoam core had a hole in the bottom of the neck which fitted quite nicely over the wooden nob in the center of the OOAK wooden base (I have no idea what that wooden base was before I bought it, but it was something weird…). There is an obvious one inch gap between Honoria’s neck and the rim of the base, which makes for a good excuse to wrap something around her neck. A bunch of beads, lace collar, or a scarf do very nicely.
Dears, I enjoyed the process of creating Honoria so much that I have already purchased more supplies to make her a sister. No, these ladies are not really going to be our new “dolls”, instead I hope to sell them. This is still an idea, and Honoria is part prototype, part gift to Brigi. All I know is that for years I have been wanting to use my artistic skills–sculpting and painting, using my ingenuity to make something besides dolls that I would enjoy creating and would be useful. I hope, oh how much I hope, that there is a market out there for all the ladies I plan to make! The Lord knows.
What do you think of Honoria?
Do you have a vintage mannequin head for your hats?
What skin tone and hair combination should I do for Honoria’s sister?
Happily in Christ,
Jessica, the Eldest Sister & Singer