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Lifecasting: Making a Replica Face

Lifecasting: Making a Face Cast

Alginates are extremely useful. Not only are they pretty much non toxic, after all a dentist uses this in your mouth, they set quickly and capture detail right down to fine hairs and pores in the skin. For this reason they are the choice for bodycasting and replication.

They are restricted somewhat as to what you fill them with however. We have not tested our Fast Cast or other resin systems in this mould type before. There is a good chance it will fail so set properly or leave bubbles. Plaster, Polymer Modified Plaster and Mortars work well however.

First you will need to mix the material. Follow the instructions in the mixing guide section or indeed on the label itself. Generally speaking, its a 2:1 system, 2 parts water to one part powder by volume. This does make a very thick mix and you can dilute with a little extra water. Make sure your water is cold. Warm water will speed up the setting. Alginates are fast enough already! Equally a little extra water will retard the set.

We recommend the use of our slow set for facial moulds as you need to complete the application before the alginate sets. Set alginate will NOT bond to unset alginate!!

Firstly, moisturise the face. A little vaseline on the eyebrows and eyelids will assist when demoulding and help keep the alginate out of the subjects eyes. A bald cap or swimming cap is useful for keeping alginate out of the subjects hair!

Have your assistant mix a good sized batch (full bag at least) of alginate. It should be pretty clingy and thixotropic! NOW Get to work, time is ticking. Spread carefully over the face working from the top down. Extreme care should be taken around the eyes, but yet more care around the nose, you subject needs to breathe!!

By working from top down, if you start to run short of material OR you know potlife is now very short, quickly mix a fresh batch and apply all down the live leading edge of the existing alginate. This is the only way to get a good bond between mixes without nasty glues and adhesives (i wouldnt want them near my face thanks!)

When the whole face is covered you are not done!! The mould will distort the moment its removed. So, make a quick support case for it using either plaster bandages (fast set variety) or a mix of Fine Casting PLaster of Paris (in luke warm water to speed up set) with some Jute Scrim. Either method will work, the video shows bandages however!

When demoulding, remove the supportive case very carefully and put aside, opening up, youll need it shortly!

Then have your subject lean forwards with your hands supporting the mould. Some gentle prising may be needed but not much. Place the alginate in its support case and replicate without delay. This kind of mould dries out fast and alginate falls to pieces when dry! If you need some time, consider covering it to retain the moisture!

We have a Smooth On you tube video that shows the technique well, its embedded below.