How to Cast the Human Figure in Plaster

Written by nora zavalczki
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How to Cast the Human Figure in Plaster
A hand-shaped sculpture obtained by pressing clay into a plaster mould. (John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

The human figure can be cast in plaster to obtain human body shaped moulds, which you can use in your sculpture projects. Life-casting, also known as body-casting, is a complex procedure that requires a human model and large amounts of plaster. The technique may be used on the front, back or only certain parts of the body such as the hand or torso.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Life model
  • Vaseline or oil
  • Modelling plaster
  • Medical gauze
  • Plastic straw

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  1. 1

    Prepare your model. Typically, it's best if the plaster is cast directly on flesh. To make the process less painful for the model, the body hair should be shaved off.

  2. 2

    Create a cast after the frontal part, the back of the model or only certain body parts. Cover the area you intend to cast into a mould with vaseline or oil. This prevents the plaster from sticking to the flesh and makes the cast easier to remove.

  3. 3

    Cut small squares of medical gauze. You need numerous pieces of gauze as a base for the mould.

  4. 4

    Prepare the plaster. Use two parts plaster for one part water. Fill a bucket with water and add the plaster, mixing slowly. The plaster needs to have the consistency of a paste.

  5. 5

    Dip one square of gauze into plaster and apply it on the body of the model. Do the same with the other pieces of gauze and place the pieces close together. Cover the entire body or area you want to cast into a mould.

  6. 6

    Allow the plaster to dry. The plaster heats up before it dries.

  7. 7

    Remove the cast and clean the remaining plaster particles from the body of the model.

  8. 8

    Allow the cast to dry for 24 to 48 hours before you use it in your projects.

Tips and warnings

  • Ask the model to shave off the body hair the day before you cast the mould, to allow the skin to heal and prevent major irritation. If there are any open wounds on the model's body, cover these with sterile adhesive bandages.
  • Plaster dries quickly, so prepare several smaller amounts of plaster rather than a larger bucket, which is more likely to dry before you finish your project.
  • Ask your model not to move while you prepare the cast.
  • This procedure describes how to create a half human figure mould. If you want to obtain a full body, cast the back of the model following Steps 1 to7.
  • If casting a mould after the face, place two plastic straws in the model's nose to allow her to breathe while you make the cast.

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