Houchen brought it out anyway, and her persistence paid off.
“She said, ‘I must have it,’” Houchen recalled.
Marilyn’s tiny models began appearing in Cartier displays, and it would only be a matter of time before the Huntington Beach resident made her first model of Hollywood royalty.
It was Marilyn Monroe in her iconic white dress from “The Seven Year Itch.” Houchen had found her calling.
Since she first laboriously sculpted Monroe’s celebrated visage, Houchen has produced more than 500 remarkably accurate celebrity dolls.
Houchen works with her cousin Angela Wolfe to produce the models. The tandem has crafted the likenesses of a laundry list of notable personalities.
They’ve made classic silver screen heartthrobs like Mae West, Jean Harlow and Audrey Hepburn, and Hollywood heroes like Elvis Presley, Jack Nicholson and Brad Pitt. Houchen and Wolfe have immortalized the likes of Lucille Ball, Cher, John Travolta and Liza Minnelli in plaster.
“It just snowballed,” Houchen said.
The detail that goes into each doll is astonishing.
The walls of their Huntington Beach studios are lined with books about celebrities and celebrity fashion. Wolfe and Houchen pore over volumes of pictures of each celebrity and watch their movies.
The goal is to replicate the celebrities as closely as possible — down to the tattoos.
Houchen has no formal instruction, instead relying on self-taught ceramics and sculpting techniques. She meticulously shapes the faces and bodies, ensuring the shapes are accurate. She also cuts and sews the outfits, even the underwear.