DIY Agar-Moulage for Life Casting
Moulage is the French word for molding . But it is also the name for a popular reusable mold making product. It is made in part from agar agar, which is extracted from seaweed. Moulage brand mold making material is an old-timey formula evolved from a reversible hydrocolloid impression material. More importantly it is a reusable and skin-safe in which the solid material is heated until it melts and then applied to the skin or poured into a mold box. Agar agar formulas have been popular dental mold making materials for almost a century. It was developed in Austria in 1925, and has been used in dentistry until dental alginate impression materials became widespread.
These older formulas are gelatins analogous to Jell-O desert gelatins which start as liquids and then cure to a solid. Because agar agar formulas must be heated to use, they have lost favor in its use in dentistry. But in the mold making studio they have several advantages over more expensive mold materials. Its greatest advantage, of course being that the material is reusable. For budget conscious users, this is an attractive consideration. Once finished with a mold or a life casting, the material can be stored in an air tight container and then brought out again for reuse simply by heating and re-melting it. The more times the material is reused, the less expensive the per-application use becomes.
The other advantages are that since the product is a vegetable derivation, it is completely safe for use on skin and body parts. Unless someone has an allergy to seaweed, it can be considered hypoallergenic. A third advantage is that unlike other mold making products, it does not require a mold release. In fact, the use of mold releases are discouraged when using Moulage as it reduces friction which is required to hold the material in place on the skin.
The manufacturer of Moulage describes it as a rubber-like material used for taking impressions from life. It is applied warm with a brush or palette knife to capture minute details for a negative mold. It may be re-melted and used over and over. No expensive equipment is necessary; just heat Moulage slowly in a double boiler to 115°F (46°C). Do not use an aluminum pan or utensils as it will cause a negative chemical reaction that will ruin the Moulage. Once finished the mold may be cut up, re-melted, and reused 50 to 100 times. The material must be stored in airtight containers to prevent drying out.
A note of explanation is required here. The term moulage, is more often used in the art of applying mock injuries for the purpose of training Emergency Response Teams. So that if you enter that term into a search engine you are apt to get pages of listings of emergency special affects materials rather than Moulage, the reusable mold making material. For a more exacting search, insert the two-word term “agar Moulage" when you searching for more information about it. For an even less expensive skin safe mold material why not mix up a batch yourself? Here are the ingredients of a tradition reusable dental agar agar formula and how to make it. What follows is a formula for an easily made reusable mold material. Its advantage is that it does not shrink or dry out like ordinary casting gelatins. If made according to directions it will retain all its original qualities indefinitely, and can be re-melted when necessary.
As an alternate recipe, put the agar agar a suitable mixing container. Pour the distilled water over the material. Mix the agar agar and water thoroughly with the hands. Then to prevent evaporation, cover the container. Continue alternating the mixing and covering every ten minutes. This will prevent the water at the bottom of the container absorbing too much water while the top dries out. Once the agar agar is thoroughly softened, squeeze out all surplus water. Place the mixture in a double boiler and allow it to melt. Begin stirring as it melts and continue until the mixture is smooth and lump-free.
Heat the glycerin during the mixing process so the glycerin is warmed up prior to adding it to the mixture.
When the mixture is lump-free add the glycerin and stir until blended. When all the ingredients have been blended together, remove it from the heat. When all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated and remove from fire. Now add the alcohol and stir until thoroughly blended with the rest of the mixture. The compound is now ready for use.
You now have skin safe mold making material that can be used over and over again. Do not add water when re-melting as diluting may prevent the mold material from gelling.