How to Get a Wax Figure of Yourself

August 19, 2023
David Sunnyside

The most famous wax figures are the ones at Madame Tussauds, which was founded over 200 years ago by Marie Tussaud. Despite advances in technology, the process for creating such lifelike figures hasn’t changed much since then. This article explores the grueling process of making and maintaining these figures.

To make a life-size figure of a person, first a model is chosen who reflects the features and expression the artist wishes to immortalize in the final sculpture. Hundreds of reference photos are then collected and enlarged, and meticulously measured so that every detail can be accurately represented.

Next, a plaster cast of the body is made. A rubbery seaweed-based paste called alginate is applied to the model, and it captures all of the tiniest body and skin details. The model then assumes the pose, and bandages covered with plaster are wrapped around the body, leaving a cast of what is to become the fiberglass body of the figure.

Once the wax head is sculpted, hair is inserted using long strands of real human hair that are carefully tinted to match the correct color and tone. This step alone can take up to four weeks. Then, oil-based paint is built up in thin washes to replicate the skin color.

Keeping these wax celebrities looking their best is a full-time job for Neil Linssen, who oversees the upkeep of all of the figures at Madame Tussauds in Hollywood. Every morning, he spends two to three hours checking over the figures to see if any scratches or dings have occurred overnight.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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