Face Casting Instructions

A completed head portrait will be a lifetime treasure, and though challenging, it is a highly rewarding project. As we suggested, some life casting practice is necessary before you take on this advanced project, nonetheless, with care and patience, satisfactory results can be achieved, even for a first timer.

A completed head portrait will be a lifetime treasure, and though challenging, it is a highly rewarding project. As we suggested, some life casting practice is necessary before you take on this advanced project, nonetheless, with care and patience, satisfactory results can be achieved, even for a first timer.

As you can see in the example of Figure 1, a bronze head portrait was created, suitable for any boardroom, using the identical methods provided here. However, the actual bronze portrait is a multi-step process, with the final steps executed at a metal foundry. Our instructions will take you through the creation of the initial casting, which is typically poured either in wax, plaster or clay. Once that casting is created, the artist then must to work to clean up the flashing, correct the casting flaws, which are bound to happen, sculpt open the eyes and then re-sculpt hair, if desired. These tasks often take practice before they are correctly executed. Thus, making a face casting in order to practice sculpting open eyes is highly recommended, for it is better to learn from mistakes on an easy-to-make, face casting than the more time-consuming and complicated head portrait.

To begin the process, you must gather your materials, tools and equipment and organize them so that they are readily available to you as you need them during the mold making process. You of course need a willing subject, and equally important, we recommend an assistant. Unless you are highly experienced, you will need help to accomplish this project. The materials are listed below:

Molding Materials:

  • (6) cotton ear swabs
  • (1) 9'x12' plastic drop cloth; use some to cover the floor and some to cover your model
  • Clay stick, used to plug nostril holes before pouring plaster
  • Cloth towels, for cleanup and model comfort
  • Thin kitchen spatula
  • Duct Tape to secure the drop cloth and to cover model and hold the plaster bandage mold together
  • Binder clips or MoldEZ to secure the alginate in the shell before pouring the plaster
  • Hairband to pull back the hair 
  • Duct Tape to secure the drop cloth and to cover model and hold the plaster bandage mold together
  • 2 lb. alginate.
  • 16-lb. plaster art stone
  • (2 )2.5 gallon mixing buckets
  • (1) 5-gallon bucket
  • (2) rolls of plaster bandage
  • MoldEZTM - a release agent for eyebrows and eyelashes used to slick down the hair before applying the alginate
  • (1) bottle of AlgisloTM
  • (2-3) 2” disposable paintbrushes
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Small plastic dish pan to hold water to dip your plaster bandages
  • Paper towels
  • Apron
  • Scissors
  • Binder clips or MoldEZ to secure the alginate in the shell before pouring the plaster
  • Hairband to pull back the hair

Preparation and Setup Suggestions:
Protrect your work area and model before beginning by cutting about four feet off the long end of the drop cloth, and cover the model; then secure the remaining portion to the floor if needed. Use two small tables to hold the materials: use a DRY TABLE for precut plaster bandages, the measured-out alginate and any other things you don't want to become contaminated with water. Use the WET TABLE for buckets and water for plaster and a place to dip plaster bandages. Fill a 5-gallon bucket 3/4 of the way full with warm water and place it at the foot of the WET TABLE in an accessible area. Use this bucket for a water source and clean up.

The model is readied by covering her
in a trash bag with holes for her head and arms.
Duct tape is used to seal around the neck hole.

The hair is protected with a shower cap, and exposed hair is liberally coated with the MoldEZ Hair Release.

A very light coat of petroleum
jelly is applied to the eyebrows and eyelashes.

Straws are never used in face casting. As an unintended elbow and easily cause a internal nose bleed. Instead we explain to the model if any alginate accidently gets in a nostril, blow it out as you would if you had a cold.

For a face 8-Oz of FiberGel E F/X is mixed with 20-Oz amount of water. This is a major differencein technique. FiberGel E F/X contains fibers which provide extra tear strength. Because of the fibers a number of differences manifest.

Using a wire kitchen whisk, begin mixing the FiberGel. FiberGel is mixed thicker - to the consistency of peanut butter.

FiberGel alginate is applied beginning at the top of the head and worked downward avoiding the nose. The nose will be covered last.

Take a piece of cheesecloth and apply it perpendicular to one side of the face and coat that with plaster

Continue applying cheesecloth and plaster until the face is filled in with plaster-coated cheesecloth

Take a ¼ strip of cheesecloth and apply between the nostrils.

When the bandages are set, fingers are inserted between the model’s skin and under the alginate to break the suction. Once the suction is broken, the mold can be easily removed.

Make certain the mold is clean and free of any debris before you proceed with casting it.

Mix the casting plaster such as CastRite according to the directions on the package. Use your hand for mixing. With a 2-inch chip brush, paint the surface of the mold with the plaster. This is called the face coat and is the most important part of the casting process as this is what is seen.

After the CastRite is mixed, a ‘face coat’ is painted in covering the entire surface of the mold. This coat assures that there will be no air bubble visible on the surface of the finished casting.

Place the mold into a mold cradle (box filled with packing peanuts). Allow the face coat to set up, but not completely dry, and slowing fill the mold with the casting material. You can bury a picture wire in the wet plaster to use as a hanger when the plaster dries.

De-molding may require that you first pull apart the plaster shell to remove the casting. But often you get lucky by slipping your fingers between the plaster cast and the alginate and with a steady pull, removing the cast while leaving the entire mold in tact as this image shows

VIOLA! A beautiful face cast.