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Child's Face in a Doll: The New York-based Painter who Made lifelike Dolls, 1938

Dewees Cochran, a painter and sculptress from New York, made portrait dolls that reproduced the same features, hair, and complexion as the original forms. Miss Cochran made amazingly lifelike figures from real life or written descriptions and photographs using conventional sculptor’s tools and dental instruments for detailed work. She created a full face and a profile. The doll head is first sculpted in a clay-like material. The head is cast in an indestructible substance that simulates natural skin texture using a plaster mold.

It takes a skilled seamstress to create miniature replicas of the clothes worn by the actual model. The wig was fashioned from hair closely matching the original, and the skin tone is tinted to match the original. Hands are made of durable rubber, while bodies are made of another unbreakable composition material.

In proportion to the size of the child or adult, the portrait dolls take about five weeks to complete and range from fourteen to twenty-four inches tall. Comparison of a photograph of the child with a similarly lit photo of the portrait doll is almost impossible.

#1 Dewees Cochran painting eyebrows on a doll head modeled from a real child.

Dewees Cochran painting eyebrows on a doll head modeled from a real child.

Reproducing features, expression, complexion, and even freckles, the doll’s face presents a remarkable likeness.

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#2 The young subject and her finished doll are.

The young subject and her finished doll are.

Note how the artist has captured the personality of the child in a tiny figure less than two feet tall.

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#3 Dressing the doll.

Dressing the doll.

Every detail of the sitter’s costume is copied in the diminutive garments, which are specially made for Miss Cochran by a skilled seamstress.

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#4 Working from photographs, the artist first models the head in clay.

Working from photographs, the artist first models the head in clay.

In this process she uses several dental tools, in addition to scalpels and regular sculptors’ aids.

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#5 When the clay model is completed, it is used in making a plaster-of-Paris mold as seen at the right.

When the clay model is completed, it is used in making a plaster-of-Paris mold as seen at the right.

The mold is being filled with the special composition material from which the head is to be cast. This produces a virtually unbreakable head.

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#6 Fresh from the mold, the head is sandpapered to a skinlike texture and painted to match the natural complexion of the subject before hair is added.

Fresh from the mold, the head is sandpapered to a skinlike texture and painted to match the natural complexion of the subject before hair is added.

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#7 The body is formed of unbreakable composition material and the hands of hard rubber.

The body is formed of unbreakable composition material and the hands of hard rubber.

Dolls are from fifteen to twenty-four inches high, depending on the size of the child.

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#8 The finished doll.

The finished doll.

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Written by Jacob Aberto

Sincere, friendly, curious, ambitious, enthusiast. I'm a content crafter and social media expert. I love Classic Movies because their dialogue, scenery and stories are awesome.

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