Life casting is an extraordinary sculpting technique that has the ability to capture the most minute details of the artist's subject. In her book "Life Cast: Behind The Mask," life casting expert Willa Shallit calls her sculptures "slices of time," allowing the viewer to see people as they really are. The technique requires some specialised materials that are available in art supply stores, catalogues and on the Internet, and some common materials found in the home.
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To prepare your subject for a life cast of the face, you will need a band or wig cap to hold the hair back from the face. Apply petroleum jelly to the face, taking care to ensure coverage of eyebrows and eyelashes. Some life cast artists also like to place 2 to 3-inch sections of plastic drinking straw lightly in the nostrils, while others simply take care applying the casting compounds to the face to leave breathing holes. Cover the subject's shoulders and chest with a large towel, cape or piece of plastic sheeting.
Alginate comes in powder form, and when mixed with water turns into a rubbery material. It is also known as prosthetic grade cream and is used in the medical field to fashion prosthetic devices. The product sets in one to ten minutes and must be applied to the subject quickly.
The last casting step requires the application of plaster bandages, which are made of fabric that has been infused with plaster. The bandages are activated by dipping them in water then applied on top of the rubber alginate. When the plaster is dry, the mould is gently lifted from the subject's face and it is complete.
Creating the Life Cast
To create the life cast, plaster is poured into the inside of the mould and allowed to set. The plaster sculpture is then removed from the mould. A mould may be used many times over.
To create a life cast, you will need:
A headband or wig cap Petroleum jelly Drinking straws Cape or covering for the subject Rubber alginate Water Plaster bandages Powdered plaster
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