Japan -- world famous for its production of complex, highly-sophisticated goods -- is opening a new museum in its capital, Tokyo, in late April.
GV Wax work-shop. Woman enters and works on head of Ford (2 shots)
SV Woman works on other head
SV & CU Woman sewing hair into head
CU Finished heads. Kissinger in centre
SV & CU Wax hand removed from cast
CU Bust removed from cast
GV & CU Dressed models adorned
Initials BB/1725 ES/JB/BB/1735
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Background: Japan -- world famous for its production of complex, highly-sophisticated goods -- is opening a new museum in its capital, Tokyo, in late April. All the exhibits are to be provided by a British firm ... for Japan has not yet developed techniques to equal those of traditional British wax-workers.
The Myajima Museum is only one of sixteen such wax museums opened since 1949 and stocked by figures carefully produced in the Gems family workshops in London. The firm has produced finely-detailed wax models for Victorian museums, home dressmaking and mannequin displays since the late nineteenth century. The revival of interest in wax figures in North America in the past twenty -five years has re-established Gems (Wax Models) Ltd.'s world-wide reputation.
Each wax figure takes about three months to complete. The fully-jointed and articulated bodies are constructed of fibre-glass, but the head and hands are moulded from beeswax and a special ingredient which is a Gems family secret. The plaster moulds are taken from clay casts, sculpted after months of historical research, and every strand of human hair is individually implanted to heighten the realism of the wax figures.
Great attention to detail is also involved in the production of costumes. Each fabric and design is carefully researched, whether the appropriate figure is modern or period. Many of the figures being produced for the new Tokyo museum are -- quite naturally - of famous Japanese heroes, heroines, divinities, and folk-figures. But the exhibits also included retired politicians, religious figures -- such as Buddha and Jesus Christ -- and international personalities like Henry Kissinger, Gerald Ford, and Leonid Brezhnev.