- Alginate, plaster and plaster bandages are being used more and more in a variety of applications. For instance:
- • A face and head cast are the foundations for foam latex makeup
- • Plaster casts of hands are now sold regularly in art shows
- • Plaster bandage "sculpts" have been crafted by artists for more than 30 years
When combined as a process, these three basic materials can be used to make casts of exceptional quality. (What 3 basic materials?) Please review the following notes before using any of the materials featured on this page.
It is a common belief that plaster is used to make lifecasts of actors' faces for use in special effects. This is a dangerous misconception because the plaster becomes rigid and is difficult to handle and remove (especially from body hair). Another problem is the face may deform due to the weight of the plaster. We recommend artists use a prosthetic grade alginate. Alginate is a rubbery material derived from seaweed. Dental alginate can be used, but you will only have 50 seconds of working time. You must also use cold water which is uncomfortable. We recommend a "Warm-water, slow-setting alginate" which has been buffered to set in about 5 minutes. This gives you plenty of working time and because warm water can be used, it is much more comfortable to wear. Use plaster bandages as a "back-up" to the alginate, and use the plaster only for the positive cast. If you are doing a full body cast you can use a high-quality plaster bandage to pick up detail on the arms, legs, and body. Use silicone or alginate in detail areas such as the hands, feet and face.
The head cast pictured here was used for a melting vampire in the movie "Nightfall", produced by Spinning Reel Films.
Want more information? Check out our Article on Pregnancy Casting and other Life Casting