A Wax Modelling Workshop with Sculptor Richard Neave.
It’s an honour for me to be able to attend one to one workshops with the sculptor and facial reconstruction expert Richard Neave at his studio and to learn the techniques of building a model head in wax. Richard is now 80 years old so I regard myself very fortunate indeed to be able to have this opportunity and to be taught by the wonderful man himself. Richard Neave has had a very high profile career and he has worked as a sculptor and as a facial reconstruction expert and tutored in facial reconstruction at Manchester University.
Working with Wax
The purpose of my learning to work with wax is to learn in depth the muscle and associated anatomy of the face and head and to do it through a hands-on method. The aim will be to also learn the techniques of sculpting in wax. The overall result will be to give me a broader understanding of the anatomy through the actual building of it by using my hands to build and work the wax.
Working in wax allows you to work at such a level of detail through touch and feel that you get to understand the actual shape and even the size of each muscle, that you literally can feel in your hands. Its also proving brilliant for learning their exact insertion and attachment position onto the skull, which will really help when I come to draw this same anatomy. The expected time to complete the head is going to be about 5 to 6 days. The end goal will be to build a whole anatomical head and modelling individual anatomy onto a skull and to build each layer until its complete as a fully accurate anatomical piece.
The Wax Modelling Process
Using the wax and heating it up by the warmth of the hands so its soft and pliable, the process starts with moulding the wax it into an appropriate shape ready to add onto the skull. Starting from the ground up the process starts with the eyes and placing the ready- made glass eyes into their orbits. Next steps are shaping tiny pieces of anatomy around the eye such as fixing into place the lacrimal gland and the delicate tarsal plates. The nose is added and is so far proving the trickiest area with many attempts to correctly build the cartilage, the external nose, apex of nose and to complete it so that the nose looks like as real a nose as possible!
The process will involve further developing the individual muscles by adding those used to convey facial expression and all the muscles will be built up over the skull, their shapes and contours determined by the bone to which they are attached or over which they lie. The finished model is going to be painted to give it that final element of realism. Once finished I shall use the head ongoing as part of my anatomy training and something I can always refer to.