The Uncanny - Madame Tussauds

I have been thinking in great depth about what i will write my essay about and how i will give my images that feeling of the uncanny. After having the lecture from Phil which explained what the uncanny actually means, also using the 'Uncanny valley' to help us understand how it all works.

When seeing the prosthetic limbs and the mannequins, i thought further into it and what reactions people get from these things. Looking at the wax works at Madame Tussauds, mannequins and how they have adapted over time, sex dolls and other such things.

Madame Tussauds

When designing the stars sculptures, the team from Tussauds go to the stars themselves so that they can obtain all of the measurements so that models are perfect, there are over 200 measurements that they take. The base layer that they first use around the wire core is just normal modeling clay, it takes around 14 to 15 bags of clay to model a whole figure. However this isn't that peculiar, when it comes to the hands is when it starts to become a little creepy. They have to cast the actual stars hand and then cast them because they are so detailed. I think this is a little strange because when you do go to Madame Tussauds, you know that they aren't actually real, but it is basically their hands on an idea of what they look like.

Once the hands are fitted to the rest of the clay body, the model is then ready for molding. They mold plaster around the clay figure in different sections, so for example they mold the ears, eyes, mouth, forehead and chin in separate ways and then once they have smashed the clay, they fill the gaps in with more plasters.

Once the plaster is set, they tie all the pieces together with rope and dip it into hot water to keep the moisture in so that the wax doesnt stick to the plaster. They then pour the beeswax into the mold and wait for it to set. They then remove al of the plaster to reveal a complete wax head.

It then comes to the detail of model, their colour, hair, teeth, eyes and texture. This is when they turn something that is just the shape of a human, into a spitting image of one.

As technology has moved forward over time, the models have started to become more and more life-like. Even though the older models are freaky, with there clearly fake hair, and plastic looking faces. I find the newer models a lot more unnerving due to the expressions and character the sculptors can know give them.

The two images below show how the modelling has changed. In retrospect the models of the spice girls aren't the greatest, especially as they are shinny. Whereas the one of Kate Moss is more life like and gives me a feeling of unease, almost as if it could come to life.


  1. 2 things I found funny in those 2 wax models, both, Posh spice and Kate Moss models look better than the originals lol :)