A neat 3-page article from the 1951 issue of See #5 about ballet star, Gisella Svetlik, being chosen as the perfect model for NY mannequin manufacturer, Mary Brosnan Inc., and further highlighted by photos showing the posing, sculpting, painting, and assembly process.
Wow, that's a great photo shoot. I would love to see the original images with their native clarity--before they were half-toned and printed. I had no idea that early mannequins had metal armatures. Tres Harryhausen!
I still have a few questions about the process here. Obviously they are making some kind of master in the photograph in which Gisella is posing for a sculptor. But then what? They aren't making a mold I guess (or why not just make a mold of the woman?), and anyway, I can't see how a mold would work for papier-mache. Are other sculptors coming in and using that master as a model to hand sculpt each new mannequin? If so, that's pretty labor intensive.
This is interesting because I was also chosen as a model for dummies, said I was perfect for it!
This might just be my favourite article/story you've ever posted here, Mr. Karswell! This entire process is intriguing, but I also get a kick out of how our perception of sizes has changed -- it says that mannequins at the time were on average a size 12. But I have never seen a vintage mannequin that looks anything like a 2021 size 12!!
> I had no idea that early mannequins had metal armatures. Tres Harryhausen!
This was also news to me!
>I was also chosen as a model for dummies, said I was perfect for it!
You'd also make a good model for a halloween blow mold
>I have never seen a vintage mannequin that looks anything like a 2021 size 12!
Good point now that you mention it-- me either!
Thanks for the comments-- up next: MORE MANNEQUIN!
@Mr.Calvin the armature is just for the original sculpture, which is created like any other life size figure sculpture. Afterwards they do indeed make a mold of the finalized clay sculpture, traditionally making a plaster cast of it which is then sanded and refined, before cutting it up into parts to create production molds which include the connectors and fittings for the final product.
At the time of this article, mannequins might have been made in either plaster or papier mache, or a combination of both. Modern ones are still made from molds, but produced in high density plastics or fiber glass, which are lighter and more durable.
I used to design and produce mannequins back in the early 90s, and from what I know, the creation process is mostly unchanged. Production, however, should be more advanced.
That's great information, and it all makes perfect sense now. Thanks George.
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