Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Music & How-To Guides : Custom Doll Head Theremins

Some time ago I came across these fantastic doll head theremins by XLPC and got 2, which I subsequently named Samedi and Dead Boy. I also painted them and added some little details, using epoxy putty, so that they looked more to my taste. When it arrives, each theremin comes looking something like the photos below (though the face shapes and expressions vary) and has red LED lights in its eyes, which you can turn on and off via the red button.
Photo from XLPC Theremin, LEDs off
My two theremins, unpainted, in the dark with LEDs on
The theremin's extra large photo cell reacts to any type of light - light bulb, natural light, flashlight, laserpointer, TV etc. - and then you can control the volume and pitch by moving your hands over the cell. You will need to use it with an amplifier though and distortion units are recommended to get the most interesting sound out of the instruments. There are also no jack leads included, so you'll need to get one yourself. However, the uniqueness of XLPC's products far outweighs those minor details and I highly recommend them!

After customising them, using epoxy putty and model paint, this is what mine looked like:

Samedi and Dead Boy
   Theremin Specs
The XLPC Theremin:
  • 8 ohm speaker (very small, low volume, hence the need for an amp)
  • Red On/Off Switch (for the LEDs)
  • Silver pitch/volume knob 
  • Extra large photo cell 
  • 1/4" Output jack (amp. cable not included)
  • 1 C Battery
  • Doll head and heavy duty plastic case


 1. After lightly going over each theremin with fine sandpaper and making sure the surface was free of dust, I then added lips and fang details to Dead Boy, using epoxy modelling putty (from Games Workshop)

 2. I left the putty to dry completely and become hard (I used Green Stuff rather than polymer clay as it air sets and I didn't want to put the theremin in the oven!) and painted Dead Boy. I used model paint from Games Workshop, since there's a store in my town and their paint goes on very smoothly and evenly, but any good-quality acrylic paint will do and it can be found at most craft/art supply stores.

3. I painted Samedi. When painting, be really careful not to get paint on the photo cell on top of the head as it needs light and won't function correctly if covered

4. Using matte, clear varnish (also from Games Workshop), I then covered the whole of both heads (excluding the photo cells) with two coats, leaving them to dry between the first and second

Obviously you can customise the theremins however you like. I chose to make Dead Boy a vampire baby and Samedi has symbols, which are loosely based on his namesake Baron Samedi's veves, on his face.


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...