Procedure for Creating a 15th Century Face Casting Part 1


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15th Century Face Casting Method

 15th Century Face Casting Apparatus

Procedure for Preparing Make a Face Cast

The following procedures documents a method of face casting in the 15th century as detailed by Cennino d’Andrea Cennini in his book "Il Libro dell' Arte".

Materials needed:

  • Rose scented perfumed oil
  • Minever brush – to apply the oil
  • Bandage 9” x 3”
  • Cap – to protect the hair
  • Small Iron hoop with teeth on one side – to hold bandage above the face
  • Breathing tubes made of silver or brass
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Tepid water
  • Scissors
  • Swaddling Cloth
  • Powder of pounded brick – for color
  • Porringer – shallow bowl
  • Little Hammer
  • Small saw


Cennini writes:

If you wish to have a face of a man or woman, of any rank, adopt this method. Get the young man or woman: or an old man, though you can hardly do the beard or hair; but have the beard shaved off. Take rose-scented, perfumed oil; anoint the face with a good-sized minever brush. Put a cap or hood over the head; and have a bandage, about nine inches-wide, and as long as from the shoulder to the other, wound around the top of the head over the cap; and stitch the edge around the cap from one ear to the other. Put a little cotton into each ear, that is, into the hole; drawing tight the edge of the bandage or cloth, stich it into the beginning of the collar; and it gives a half turn in the middle of the shoulder, and comes back to the buttons in the front. And arrange and stich it in this way on the other shoulder too; and in that way you get the head shaped up with the bandage,

When that is done, stretch the man or woman out on a carpet, on top of a bench or table. Get an iron hoop, one or two fingers longer than the face. Get one of your helpers to keep it hanging away from the face, so that it does not touch the waiting person. Take this bandage, and draw it up, around and around, hooking the edge of it which has not been stitched on to the teeth of this hoop, and then fastening it in the middle of the space between the flesh and the hoop so that the hoop stands away from (the edge of) the bandage as from the (center of the) bandage to the face all around.Let there be two fingers, or a little less, all around, according to how thick you want the mold of plaster to come out; for it is right there that you have to cast it.

The instructions for constructing breathing tubes and casting will follow on further postings.

These instructions came from: “The Craftsman’s Handbook  “Il Libro dell’ Arte” by Cennino d’Andrea Cennini and translated from the Latin by Daviel V. Thompson, Jr., Published by Dover Craft Books.

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