Rivendell Studios

The Making of Ian Bland

A musician friend, Ian Bland, had often asked me to sculpt a caricature doll of him to use on a future album cover and his website. At first I thought it would be too hard but decided to take on the challenge.

I photographed Ian from all angles with closeups, including his thinning hair. From these photos I drew his portrait, to get a feel for the wrinkles, hollows and rounded areas. Sculpting was difficult because I couldn’t allow the clay to take on another character and kept pulling and pushing it to replicate Ian’s features and proportions.

Sculpting Process

After painting the face with light washes of acrylic paint, shading his blue eyes and applying many fine, tiny brush strokes for his greying stubble of a beard I was truly amazed at the outcome. There was Ian looking back at me with his mischievous grin!

Applying the Wig

The doll stands 55cm tall and needed very long hair to create Ian’s long, medium brown, slightly curly, ponytail. I used Lady Jayne 30cm synthetic hair extensions which were made up of 2 shades of brown. After taking them apart to reduce the bulk, I sewed smaller sections of hair into wefts.
Using tacky glue, I attached the hair wefts onto the doll’s scalp.
The lower lengths of hair were curled by wrapping around different sized paint brushes before pouring boiling water over and leaving it to dry.
I swept the hair back into a ponytail and pressed it down with a curling iron. At first there was too much bulk in the body of the ponytail but I needed the coverage on the scalp to hide the wefts. To thin the length, I used my haircutting scissors and razor cut it which also created an uneven natural edge. I tried brushing a section of the ponytail but it turned the hair frizzy. I found using my fingers to smooth it was the best alternative to recreate Ian’s slightly dishevelled hairstyle.


I wanted to dress Ian in his usual attire of a Hawaiian shirt, jeans, boots and holding a guitar. It was impossible to find a Hawaiian fabric print in a small scale. So using a photograph of the shirt, my husband used a graphics program to make a 1:6 scale image required for this doll. The image was printed on five A4 sheets of cotton fabric backed with freezer paper and used to sew a smaller version of Ian’s shirt. For the buttons I used a hole punch and hammer to cut them out of template plastic. To form the button holes, I heated a pin to pierce them and added a touch of paint

I made his baggy jeans from an old pair of children’s jeans which were the right thickness and had a worn appearance. The fine detailed stitching, studs punched from medium weight copper foil and leather belt with a buckle, all added to the realism of Ian’s character.

Ian also has an alias known as “Jack Rabbit” and wears a cow skin hat and vest while performing. I purchased a white plastic flock covered cowboy hat from Spotlight and painted it with black and white acrylic paints which transformed it into a realistic looking cow skin hat. To make the vest, I used white fleecy and painted the black cow spots on to it. I made the vest removable with Velcro on the side seam. It didn’t have the soft texture of fur but its appearance was sufficient for photographing.

The guitar was also a challenge to recreate but after researching guitars on the internet, I found a site with a paper craft guitar model. I scaled this proportionally to create a template for the body shape and details before glueing it to three layers of foam core. To achieve a smooth edge to the guitar, I applied polyfilla with a spatula. When it was dry, I sanded it smooth before painting, staining and varnishing the guitar. For the strings I used stretchy beading cord, wire and squashed crimp beads for the tuning pegs and ear ring head pins on the bridge.

Lots of work but I am very pleased with the outcome and so is Ian!

Doreen Backway