Face Casting Page-2
If this is the model's first time it is important to discuss safety issues. You need to arrange hand signals so that the model feels confident you will immediately pull off the mold should she feel the need. Next you must tell her about how you will keep her airways clear. We do not use straws as there is a chance that one can be accidentally driven up the nose and cause harm. Instead we tell our models that we will cover the nose area last. We explain that if any material drips into her nose she simply blows her nose to clear it. We further explain that we will use cotton swabs to keep the nostrils free. It is important to make certain your mold material covers the sides of the inside of the nostril opening otherwise the nose mold will be imperfect. So make certain you explain this to the model so he/she can anticipate your actions and will be reassured that this is normal.
Once the model has been briefed the artist prepares the hair. Lifecasting purists often like to mold the hair and it can be done with good results. It takes practice though. Special effect artists are taught to ignore the hair and cover the head with bald cap. Since we are only doing a face not a head, in this instance we cover most the the hair with a shower cap to minimize splashing. We have left some hair exposed to demonstrate how to prepare hair. MoldEZ is thoroughly worked into the hair to the roots and a second coat applied to the surface. If you do not do this well hair will entangle in the alginate mold and will rip it on removal not to mention a bit of pain on the part of your model. MoldEZ is a water soluble hair release which washes right out. Then a very light coat of petroleum jelly is applied to the eyebrows and eye lashes. MoldEZ can sting if it get in the eye so petroleum jelly is used instead.
Figure 4. The hair is protected with a shower cap, and exposed hair is liberally coated with MoldEZ Hair Release. A very light coat of petroleum jelly is applied to the eyebrows and eye lashes.
Creating the Mold
For a face 8-oz of FiberGel E F/X is mixed with 20-oz amount of water. This is a major technique difference. FiberGel E F/X contains fibers which provide extra tear strength. Because of the fibers a number of differences manifest. FiberGel is mixed thicker - to the consistency of peanut butter. The benefit is that it seldom drips or pulls away. But to achieve this thickness the mixture must be mechanically mixed. You can't get the correct consistency mixing by hand as many artist are used to doing. You will need a Jiffy Mixer and an electric drill. However, because the material doesn't readily drip there is little waste so when so most alginate materials require 3/4 pounds to 1-pound for a face you only need a 1/2-lb with FiberGel. Another major benefit is that the fibers make the mold highly rip resistant assuring that the mold can be removed tear free.
Once the FiberGel is mixed it is applied beginning at the top of the head and worked downward avoiding the nose. The nose will be covered last. Notice the lack of drips even as the FiberGel is completely covering the forehead and eyes. There are no drips on the plastic bag.
Figure 5. FiberGel algnate is applied beginning at the top of the head and worked downward avoiding the nose. The nose will be covered last.
The artist continues applying FiberGel all the way under the chin. Again note how plastic-like the material is. No drips are apparent on the face. This material which gives the artist much better control, conserves material and minimizes the material running into the airways while the artist is concentrating elsewhere on the face. Note the nose airway is still clean of material.
We mentioned earlier that the chin area needs special attention. Even FiberGel's thicker consistency will not prevent it from trying to pull away from under the chin. So the artist must check the area frequently before the FiberGel sets up. In this picture, some material under the artist's hand pulled away from the chin and the artist is reapplying it.
Besides the chin, the eye area where it meets the bridge of the nose needs special attention. Take your index finger and wipe the eye as if wiping a tear away. Recover with your molding material. If you forget to do this an air pocket will surely result which will have to be fixed on the cast itself.
Figure 6. In this picture, some material under the artist's hand pulled away from the chin and the artist is reapplying it.
A final area of special concern for the artist is the nose. Because of the thickness of FiberGel the material will not readily run into the nose. But the artist must always be alert to make certain the airway is kept clear.
With other alginates material running into the nose is a constant hazard. If you are using a thinly mixed (runny) material you must be extra vigilant. Not because the material can plug the nostril - the model can always blow it out - but because of the effect it has on the well being on the model.
A beautiful face cast results from a serene model. But, a first-time model will often unconsciously squeeze their eyes shut in anticipation of having their face covered with a foreign material. This results in a pose of discomfort in the final cast. If the model is keep uncomfortable because you cannot keep her airway clear, then he/she will show it in distortion through a twisted nose.
Figure 7. Here the artist gently applies FiberGel inside the nostril surface of the model to get complete coverage.