How do I model with wax? What do I do when I pick up a doll part to work on?
Parts are built up rough on the armature with warm wax and a knife, spread like butter or cream cheese. In this very rough state, the parts have many slack surfaces.
When I refine a rough form, I hold it in my left hand, and hold my modelling tool (usually a paring knife) in my right hand. I'll also have a snake, or coil of wax about 2-3 inches long in my left hand, where the fingers meet the palm. That snake of wax is warmed by my hand. I use my right hand to pinch off small pieces of wax, which I press directly onto the form where they are needed. Then I carve and shave the wax with my knife.
I am constantly moving the form around, so it catches the light, looking at the profiles and the surfaces, so I can spot slack areas that need filling out. Slack areas make the piece dead. They don't have the curve of life filling them out. I also rely on touch to know where to add or subtract wax.
For defining a form, I usually outline it with a thin snake of wax, then fill in, and scrape/carve until it is smooth and looks good in the light. I take off very small amounts when I scrape or carve the wax with the knife - usually paper-thin or thinner.
If the wax gets too warm in my hands, I set it aside and work on another piece, or I put the warm piece in the refrigerator for awhile to cool down.
Thus, I work additively and subtractively at more or less the same time. I usually add more than I subtract. Each part is slowly refined, using this method of modelling.
Sometimes I make a major change that requires that I cut the cereal box cardboard armature. I use an X-Acto razor knife to slice through the cardboard I need to remove, usually making the slice under the surface of the wax, next to the cardboard, with the razor knife held at an angle. Then I remove the cardboard with a pair of hemostats, and fill in the thin void left by the cardboard with some wax. Excess wax is carved off with my modelling tool.
As I model the parts, I'm always checking both sides of the piece for symmetry, especially if it is a part that is supposed to be symetrical. Adding the same amount of wax to both sides is one way to keep the form symetrical.
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