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4 Simple Steps To Life Casting

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  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, I’ll show you how to cast a face, but this basic technique can be used for any part of the body.

  1. I use a swim cap to protect the model’s 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.
  2. 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 model’s 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.
  3. 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 gauze strips.
  4. Once the plaster gauze feels hard, it’s 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 model’s experience of having her mask made can range from quietly meditative to deeply spiritual. It’s 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.
    Warning: These photos contain nudity.   Click here to continue.
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