Making Body Molds with Alginate

Making Body Molds with Alginate


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Life casting can result in a beautiful piece of art that with the right pose. Usually that take an experienced artist to visual a final casting even before laying out the lifecasting materials. An interesting pose usually means that a model must place his or her body in extreme positions. So that good prior planning by the artist is essential to keep the model comfortable during unusual positions.

Of course, when working on small and easy-to-mold body parts such as the hands and feet, the body mold making process is quite straightforward. The artist simply mixes the mold making material in an appropriately sized container before immersing the hand or foot in the desired pose. The alginate quickly sets around the limb to form the body mold. The model can slowly wiggle out the hand after only a few minutes and the mold is ready for casting.

However, this technique does not work for larger sections of the body. For instance, if an artist is making a life cast of the torso, the mold making material has to be applied directly on the body. The artist has to work quickly as alginate sets fairly quickly. It usually is best to apply two coats of alginate to assure complete coverage. It is advisable to spray an alginate retarder/bonder between coats to allow one coat to stick to the other. Then an addition spray of retarder is added to the final surface to delay the setting to allow cotton to stick to it. This allows the shell mold of plaster bandages which are applied next to bond to the alginate.  

Making a body mold of the torso is still simpler as the artist is working on a relatively large and flat surface. Compare this to the intricacies and details of the facial features that make face casting quite a challenging prospect.

Indeed, the artist has to be doubly careful when making a mold of the face. The hair has to be properly protected, the airways in the nose should be carefully left clear and the mold making material should only cover the eyes without getting inside. The artist has to cautiously work on the delicate areas of the mouth and ears to capture the shape properly. As these thinner areas are prone to easily damage.

The chin can also pose a challenge as the mold making material tends to drip from this area. It may pull away with the artist’s fingers and careful checking and reapplication is necessary.

Most artists leave the nose for the last. The alginate has to be gently applied in the undercuts of the nose. A cotton swab is best used for the purpose. All the while the attention should be on not allowing the material to drip into the nostrils.

While making body molds, the artist also needs to be careful about air bubbles that can easily get trapped in the mold and distort its shape. Gently smoothing out the alginate coats and ensuring a firm bond will release the trapped air and ensure a more perfect mold.

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