Sculptors have been making life-size models of people for hundreds of years. This process is called life casting, and creates a life-size model of any part of the body. You can use life casting to make models for art study, dress forms identical to your body, Halloween props and even statues. The process is simple, but it does require some patience and the help of at least one assistant.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- 2.27kg. alginate
- 4 2-gallon buckets
- Swim cap
- Petroleum jelly
- Hand cream
- Plastic sheeting
- 4-inch wide quickset plaster bandages
- Bandage scissors
- Casting plaster (optional)
Mix the alginate with water in two buckets according to package instructions. Use warm, but not hot water to keep the alginate from setting too quickly. Unroll the plaster bandages and set them aside. Lay out a piece of plastic sheeting.
Get a friend to help you prepare your body for casting. Protect your hair with a swim cap. Trim all body hair to 1/4 inch or less, and coat hairy areas with petroleum jelly. Coat less hairy areas with hand cream.
Stand on the plastic sheeting. Have your assistant rub alginate over your body in a layer at least 1/4-inch thick. Have your friend coat your entire body, including the head, but make sure to leave a space for the nostrils. Allow the alginate to set up. It will become rubbery.
Have your friend fill a bucket with hot water and dunk a plaster bandage into the water. Your friend should lay overlapping strips of plaster over the alginate to create a mummy look.
Wait for the bandages to set. They should heat up, then cool down and become firm. This can take up to a half hour. Have your assistant cut the mould off carefully using blunt-tipped bandage scissors. Repair any damage with plaster bandages and casting plaster.
Tips and warnings
- You can use this model of yourself as is, or use it as a mould to make more detailed plaster or urethane casts.
- You can cast your body one part at a time, then join them together into a full model.
- Avoid moving for the best results.
- Alginate is easy to tear.
- The casting process may be uncomfortable.
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