Crime labs use ballistic gel when they need to create very realistic replicas of human body parts to test ballistic physics. Ballistic gel is perfect for this because its density and texture is very similar to that of human flesh. It's such a great substitute, in fact, that special effects artists also use ballistic gel to make fake body parts for horror films. Ballistic gel is easy to use and can capture intricate details such as veining and scars. You can make your own moulds at home without any special artistic skills or equipment.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Plaster of Paris
- Petroleum jelly
- Duct tape
- Latex caulk
- Ballistic gel
Cut out a U-shaped hole at one of the short ends of your shoebox. This hole needs to be large enough for a model to fit his or her forearm into, but still at least 3 to 4 inches higher than the bottom of the box.
Line the bottom and edges of the box with duct tape so that it becomes water resistant.
Prepare your plaster of Paris as per the directions on the package. Thoroughly coat your model's arm in petroleum jelly. Fill the bottom 2 inches of the box with plaster of Paris and have the model rest her hand, palm-side down, halfway into the plaster. The hand should be nestled in the plaster, with the top half of the hand still exposed to the air. The model's forearm can rest in the U-shape as you allow the plaster to set. Remove the hand when the plaster is firm, but not hot to the touch. You now have the bottom half of your mould.
Allow the plaster to dry. Completely cover the bottom half of the mould and the model's arm with petroleum jelly. Place the hand back into the same position in the mould and pour plaster over the top of the hand, covering it thoroughly. Allow the plaster to set until firm but not hot and flip the box over, releasing the top half of your mould. Remove the hand and allow the plaster to dry.
Outline the hand indentation in the bottom of the mould with latex caulk and replace the top of the mould. Make sure that you get a tight seal. Wrap duct tape around the two halves of the mould to get a tight fit and allow the caulk to dry. You now have your ballistic gel mould.
Pour your ballistic gel in the mould through the hole where the model's arm was. Allow the gel to dry completely. Break the mould to reveal your fake hand.
Tips and warnings
- This same type of mould works for whatever object you want to create with ballistic gel. You might just need a bigger box for bigger things.
- If you allow the plaster to dry until it gets hot, you could risk pulling your model's arm hairs out.
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