What we had to do
We were approached by a medical marketing company who deal directly with some of the larger pharmaceutical companies. The contacted us because they were hoping to develop medical dolls which were to be used as training tools for nurses dealing with psoriasis. As aids to enable NHS nurses to understand and identify the different levels of the skin disease, the dolls had to have patches of differing severity of psoriasis, and had to be able to stand, sit and have moveable joints in the arms and legs. As well as patches on the dolls’ skin, our client wanted silicone swatches of the same to be used as guides in the identification of the different severities.
How did we do it?
To make the skin look and feel moderately life like, enough for the purposes of education, we used a soft silicone rubber with a foam core. We took a mould from a junior mannequin and set about making a silicone mould of it. To make the finished doll move at the joints, and be able to bend at the waist, we fitted an internal armature in to the mould. We first poured a silicone layer to represent the skin, pigmented with a flesh tone and the placed the armature in to position taking care to place it in exactly the correct position prior to pouring the 2-part polyurethane foam which would give the structure its internal strength. Once the two halves of the mould had a layer of silicone we put them together and, through a hole at the top of the head we poured in the expanding foam and then placed a plug in to this hole to prevent the foam escaping as it quadrupled in volume. This was a very tricky process as we had to measure exactly the right amount of the 2-part foam to ensure that it would expand enough to fill all the voids but also not too much that the expansion would distort the outer layer of silicone within the mould and become too dense under the build up of pressure inside the closed off mould; we created air holes in the plug that capped off the top of the head to allow any excess foam to escape and, with the accurate mix of the 2 parts, this was enough to make sur that the foam did what we wanted it to do.
We had sculpted some psoriasis patches on to the junior mannequins so that we could paint these areas once out of the mould and bond additional patches on to the finished dolls. Using a mixture of silicone and oats, we made the patches look very convincing and once painted with a silicone paint, the finished dolls were ready to have the final touches. We placed realistic eyes in to the sockets, air brushed flesh toned paint on to the skin and added hair.
Once dressed, the dolls were ready to be introduced to the nurses involved in the project. We painted the company logo on the base of one of the feet and named the doll Beverley, after the nurse whose idea it was to commission the dolls.