Long time readers, (hello how are you?) already know by the title what I’m doing. To be fair it isn’t exactly a mystery because I’ve been doing it for over thirty years.
Yes I am making moulds. After just one day of it, I am knackered. My old tee-shirt is soaked and filthy and I’m damp through to the skin. My fingernails are clogged with plaster fragments and Plasticene, the kitchen floor has gone all crunchy and every available surface is covered with stuff.
The mould boxes are made out of Lego. Which is great for getting nice neat moulds that stand well to pour, but less lovely if you pour the plaster too soon when it is a bit too liquid and it seeps out under the bricks and into the bricks and between every little bump. Then you have to take everything apart and stand patiently at the sink, picking the plaster out of the hollow backs of the bricks. If you neglect to do so the next attempt at building mould walls will be unsuccessful, so you might as well grit your teeth and get on with the cleaning. Three times so far, with over fifty bricks all to be cleaned individually each time. This of course is why my tee-shirt is wet and my trousers under them. If I were taller I might just have wet legs. If I keep on shrinking, I’ll eventually have a wet chest, then a wet neck. If mould making starts giving me wet hair it might be time to quit, and do something cleaner. And closer to the ground.
The doll I am making moulds for is twenty-fourth scale Marie Antionette, for an order. I spent several weeks researching her through assorted books. I feel very sorry for her, she was a picked-on high-born virgin sent to marry someone she had never met, in a totally foreign country, the language of which she did not speak, with not one iota of choice in the matter. When she got there, still a teenager, her husband, who was called Louis (because he didn’t have much choice either) was wonderfully ignorant, despite living in the French court, which was chock-full of intrigue, unbridled passion and assorted dalliances. As a result she failed to produce an heir as the marriage was not consummated for another seven years. In the end a friend of Louis decided that some nice long walks and a little instruction would be helpful.
Imagine it: So, your ‘Ighness, shall we take zis path? In ze chambre, your Grace, you need to remove ze britches.
Mais je will be un peu chilly.
Neverzeless, Your Grace. Zen you remove ze lower clozing from ze Queen.
Zen she will be chilly aussi!
Patience, Your Grace, if you let moi elucidate you will see ‘ow you will soon be warm.
Zis ‘ad better be good.
Oh, it is. Zen you get into le lit avec the Queen and you (whispers.)
Yes you do. And also (whispers) (more whispers) and, no come back (whispers.)
Mon Dieu! Est vous absolutely certain?
Does she need to take her wig off?
Well, shall we take this path?……….
The instruction was successful and the second pregnancy, it being the French court, produced a Dolphin. Really. This is history and I’m not making it up.
I knew that Mme. Tussaud had begun her waxwork modelling in the French revolution, but I didn’t know, until I read it in a book, that the first head she modelled was that of poor Marie Antoinette, which she found in a field lying fairly close, but not joined to, her body.
And I thought it was just me modelling heads from history to turn them into decorative figures.
Did Mme Tussaud model the head in wax from sympathy? When she found it did she just happen to have a bucket of wax at home? (In the same way I have buckets of plaster in the garage?) Did she rush home looking for a modelling material and grab a handful of candles and head back to the field? We shall never know. Marie Antoinette did not go on display but she is the reason Tussauds began. The lifelike waxworks she started are in numerous exhibitions round the world and always worth seeing. I think Mme Tussaud was really a doll maker, she just did hers life size. I wonder what she would think of my Marie Antoinette who is going to be under three inches?
More mouldy moulds and crunching underfoot tomorrow. Stay tuned later this week for news about dolls houses that you will find very illuminating.