Friday, January 15, 2016

Wax Dolls

When I stumbled on the term of a wax doll I just had to look it up and find more information on them. Enjoy!

To make a real wax doll or one of papier-mache is quite a long process. First of all the limbs have to be made. The legs, either of pot or cotton, have to be filled out with moss and sawdust, and the same process is gone through with the body and arms, the task being entrusted to a number of young women. The head is more diflicult to make. First comes the moulding, from a kind of whity-brown paste, which when hard is almost indestructible. The head is moulded in two halves, the back and the front, and then the two parts are joined together with the same sort of paste. The heads are made by the thousand, of all shapes and sizes, and left for the moment unpolished and sickly looking. Then these frame pasteboard heads are carried to the wax room, where they are passed through some severe ordeals. The papier-mache model heads are dipped in boiling wax, and thus have the appearance of wax dolls. But the genuine article, the real dolls of wax, are made thus:—The boiling wax is poured into a plaster mould; it adheres to the sides as it becomes cold, and when the mould is taken apart there is the beautiful wax head, but simply a shell, and of course very weak. The head is cast complete, and only a small opening is left in the crown of the head. Then a workman takes the wax shell and very carefully lines it throughout with a kind of soft paste about the thickness of cardboard, which soon hardens and gives the head its strength and durability. After this process the head is placed over a hot furnace, the wax is permitted to melt to a very slight degree, whereupon it is dusted with powder made of potato meal and alabaster, to give it a delicate flesh tint. In another room the head is provided with a pair of eyes, and it is no easy thing for the workman to select two exactly alike.

Sometimes, as the children know, dolls squint, and this proves that the workman who put them in was not very careful in his work. Another very skillful workman then receives the head, and finishes off the front appearance of the eyes, scooping off all the wax and aflixing the lids in a charming manner. Then eyelashes have to be aflixed, and then the little lady has to be provided with teeth, which are put in by a skillful workman one by one. A still more interesting study is in the hair dressing room of a doll manufactory. All the dolls that come into this room are complete as far as their heads. The hair for these heads is first worked on to a mesh, which fits the dolls heads so nicely that one cannot tell but that it is a natural growth. Then the rough head of hair, with the doll, is sent to the female hair dressers, who are armed with combs and brushes and hot curling tongs, have no small amount of good taste, and would make excellent ladies’ maids. The hair is made up in the most beautiful manner, in imitation of the very newest fashions; and then when the doll is thus combed and curled, it is provided with a delicate little chemisette, and placed, with a hundred or more little companions, in a huge basket, and transported either to the great store—rooms or to the doll milliner who provides it with clothing and costumes fitting it to appear in the great world. This will only give a faint idea of how wax dolls are made. There are other interesting parts of the process such as how the baby dolls are made to open and shut their eyes and to cry 'papa' and 'mamma' but nearly all children at one time or another looked into these mysteries of doll life, and a description would be superfluous. NY Tribune.
Source: The People's Condensed Library ©1877

Wax dolls have undoubtedly become the favourites of our little English maidens. They have the disadvantage of being perishable, but that is a mere detail in these days of cheap toys. No doll made of other material can be given such a natural expression or such a rich peach-like complexion as the wax doll which is made by the hundred and thousand in German factories. For, alas! although 125 years ago this business was in the hands of Englishmen, it has long since passed over to foreigners. Our photographs of doll-making were taken in one of the half-dozen surviving manufactories in London, and the various operations portrayed will be manifest to the reader. The most tedious work in the perfecting of a wax doll is the insertion of the eyelashes and eyebrows, and consequently these details are omitted in all but the most expensive varieties. There is a wonderful similarity in the features of wax dolls of one make, which is accounted for by the fact that their faces are cast in a uniform mould. When, however, a doll is to be made for Royalty, a far more elaborate task falls to the duty of the workman. As a rule, Royal dolls' faces have to be made according to certain photographs sent with the orders. This year it is said that most of the dolls made for the use of our little Princes and Princesses bear a wonderful resemblance to Queen Wilhelmina, although whether her youthful Majesty feels flattered by the multiplicity of her effigies is a question open to doubt.
Source: The Royal Magazine ©1899

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