From Figure to Costume, The Secret of Making Wax Figures
15 artists of different fields including sculptor, prosthesis expert, hair implanter,
make-up specialist, and coordinator work together to produce
the wax figures of Grévin Museum. Each wax figure
takes at least six months to complete
For the posture and facial expression of the celebrity’s wax figure, a variety of postures and facial expressions are examined and finally selected through mutual consultation, and body measurements are taken directly from the head to toe of the celebrity in the final selected posture and facial expression. Photographs are taken in various angles and three dimensionally scanned images and a 360° video are also shot.
To make a mold, a stand is constructed by placing plaster and synthetic rubber on the sculpture. The sculptor refers to the photograph and measurements to sculpt the face piece, pours and hardens the beeswax heated up to 70°C in the mold, and removes the mold to take out the face piece made of beeswax. The body piece is made of resin which is stronger than the beeswax used for the face piece. A total of 100kg of wax is used each year to produce the face and body pieces.
Eyes and teeth are produced by the professionals of respective fields. The artist for artificial eye takes measurements of the eyes and checks the colors of the pupil and the white of the eye to reproduce them precisely. For the face with a wide-open smile showing the teeth, the artist for the teeth produce a teeth model with edible silicon to perfectly reproduce the teeth of celebrities in any form. For hair, the artist finds the color that matches the celebrity’s hair among a number of hair samples and cuts a hole and implants hair using a chuck with a hook- like needle at the end. As many as 500,000 strands of human hair can be used, and each strand is implanted with great workmanship.
The wax figure is transferred to the professional make-up shop for detailed make-up. Oil paint is used instead of cosmetics for the make-up of wax figures and approximately 70 tubes of oil paint are used. Details such as freckles, scars, and spots are also depicted to make figures look real. Make-up alone takes more than 190 hours.
A wax figure is completed at last when it is dressed with the clothes that celebrities actually wore and donated. To increase realism, most costumes are donated. However, if it is difficult to find the costume as in the case of historical figures, a professional designer creates a new costume or designs clothes that the celebrity wants. Especially, for historical figures such as the great people that represent their times, the costumes are ascertained through meticulous historical research and reproduced by professionals.
Once the wax figure is completed, professional artists maintain the figure continuously by correcting the make-up every day, repairing costume, and touching up hairstyle. As much as we have the workshop for these professional works inside the museum, we make full efforts to keep the quality of wax figures.