My aim is to carve a veiled female head as part of a group of “difficult to carve” faces.   I have wandered through the Google jungle, and initially only found a few pictures and no You Tubes on the subject.   I worked out how to start making a plasticine model, but was starting to loose my way.     Yesterday, I must have put the question to Google in a slightly different way, and found two You Tubes that helped.     There is “How to make a clay model of a Veiled Head” which is good but with a commentary in Italian!!  The other “Giovanni Strazza – The Veiled Virgin” shows details of the carving in Carrara marble statue carved in Rome by Italian sculptor Giovanni Strazza (1818–1875) now in Newfoundland.    The technique is similar to Giuseppe Sanmartino’s 1753 statue Veiled Christ in the Cappella Sansevero in Naples.   There is no commentary but very close views of all sides of the carving.

Before I found the You Tubes, I worked out that only the folds of the veil are carved and the stretched bits between are left to the viewers imagination.    I needed a plasticine model of a female head  before I could start to add hair and veil.   I used cardboard templates to get the profiles correct.

Plasticine head with cardboard template


Plasticine head with cardboard template
























I then had a Eureka moment.   I had observed that in all the photos of the heads, the face was darker than the veil.  I had wondered how to achieve this – stain the face? or bleach the veil? or both?    My subconscious was vaguely aware that the heads were also bowed down.   I thought that was to indicate piety or modesty.   No – they are bowed so that the face is in shadow and the veil is not!!!      With some difficulty, I bowed the head.   This changed all the position of the head in the area of the square of the wood, and the diagonals as well.   

Head bowed and face in shadow









Head bowed






















This is as far as I have got on 11 Sept 2022.   I can see the way ahead!!  But it may be bumpy.

I found an off-cut of suitable material for making a veil for the plasticine head at Word of Mouth in Hebden Bridge.  I was advised to use PVA glue to stiffen the fabric by the staff who had experience of this sort of process having worked on the Handmade Parade in Hebden Bridge.    I had seen a video of the putting on of a veil like headdress as it would be worn in medieval times, which showed that the cloth was folded across the top of the head like :-

Profile of folds on the veil for the top of the head

Back then, as now, the ladies of the day would want to show that they could afford to follow the latest fashion, have more cloth in the veil, and have as many folds as possible. More folds on top, mean more folds on the side of the head than if the veil was just pulled straight from the back to the front. I tried this approach and feel that I got too many folds too near together, although the folds down the side of the head could be made into something interesting.

Cloth veil on plasticine head

With the plasticine final model has I have taken this into account and added some swirling action to make the whole thing interesting. I have not quite got my head around what happens to the veil over the face, but hope that in time I will find an answer.

Plasticine head – Sides probably ok but veil over face still a question to be answered