From its historical beginning in funeral masks, lifecasting has been a powerful
source of sculptural imagery. Using the steps described here, artists can make
lifecasts that seem to leap off of the wall. Because faces command such a universal
fascination, Ill show you how to cast a face, but this basic technique can be used
for any part of the body.
- I use a swim cap to protect the models hair, and then generously
cover any exposed hair at the hairline and sideburns with Vaseline. Gently, Vaseline is
also applied to the eyebrows and eyelashes.
- Alginate is a completely safe, non-toxic molding material that takes about
four minutes to set into a thin rubbery layer and will take detailed impressions. The
alginate is scooped up and smoothed over the models forehead, then slowly circling
the face to allow the model time to adjust and relax. Its important that the model remain
relaxed and that they breathe steadily through their nose.
- The alginate continues over the eyes and the mouth, leaving the nose till
last. A gentle fingertip then applies the alginate around the nostrils. To support this
flexible layer, cotton is embedded into its surface and allowed to dry. Now the entire layer is covered with wet plaster
- Once the plaster gauze feels hard, its ready to remove. I free the
edges of the mold around the skin with a fingertip, lean the model forward and it pops
right off. Plaster is poured into the mold
(the negative) to make the cast (the positive).The models experience of having her
mask made can range from quietly meditative to deeply spiritual. Its safe, simple,
and fun. Full figure casts become more complicated, but use the same technique.
|The following page contains a few photos to
show this process.
photos contain nudity. Click here to continue.