To create the bodies of our Wizard of Oz characters we dipped our toe into the exciting new technology which is now available. We worked with a company to design the 'Maya' files for an idealized male figure. These are 3-dimensional renderings showing the figure from all directions. (When used in animation there are separate files for clothing, texture, and lighting.) It's a fascinating process but I have only a vague idea of how they do it! You may have seen images showing an overall grid on the surface of a 3-D character. The intersections of the lines provide an identifying location point-of-reference for the contours of the object.
When we began our work on this we requested a nude male figure in a straightforward standing pose with no hair and with the arms held out from the body. The objective was to obtain a model which we could use as a basis for our jointed doll.
At one point in the process we asked for one of the hands to be in a semi-closed fist. The operator tried manipulating the file to create the effect but he kept missing what we were looking for. So I photographed my hand in the desired pose and emailed the image to him. It was a simple but effective way of letting him know the exact pose we were seeking.
Once the figure looked like we wanted, we sent the complete file to a company which specializes in doing 3-dimensional printouts. With the Maya files and size instructions from us, the 3-D print of the character was created out of polyethylene-resin. This is the figure shown in the photos.
At this point we leave the world of computers and begin applying classic techniques we are familiar with! The figure is cut apart and molds are made of the torso, head and limbs. Each of the parts is cast in hard modeler's wax. Round balls are added to each of the limbs and sockets are added to the torso to facilitate moveable joints on the figure. After ultra-hand-finishing, the refined wax parts are then sent to the foundry for the creation of metal molds. Whew!
The metal molds are used here in a heated hydraulic press to mold the felt parts into shape thereby providing sculptural details and consistency in production.
These parts are being used for our current Wizard of Oz characters.