Opening The Eyes In A Life Cast

It is customary to make a head cast with closed eyes. But it will look real only when you can ‘open’ the eyes during the casting process. Expert sculpting skills will stand you in good stead here.

Life casting is an artistic process of making a beautiful likeness of a person. The three-dimensional creation surpasses the images produced in photographs and paintings and gives it an incredibly realistic impression, right down to the natural creases, the usual pores and even the real texture of your skin.

Once the body mold is done and the cast is ready, the finished life cast can be mounted on a suitable base. Adding a brass name plate engraved with your name and other details will be the final touch that gives a professional and gallery-like finish to the artwork.

The results look amazing, but getting there is replete with intricate complications. One of the most challenging aspects of making a life cast is getting the eyes right in the body mold.

The life casting artist will obviously apply the skin safe alginate or silicone rubber all over the eyes. The gooey substance is carefully worked over the lids and into the corners of the eye sockets to capture the contours in detail. This will create a life cast head with closed eyes. After all, it is virtually impossible for a model to keep the eyes open during the life casting process!

However, the closed eyes will make the head cast look akin to a death mask. Opening the eyes is what will add ‘life’ and make it look natural.

Experienced life casting artists have persevered to work out effective ways to sculpt the eyes open.

It is after a lot of trial and error that an artist will be able to make accurate incisions to remove the ‘eyes’ from the face mold. Exceptional sculpting skills are required to carve new eyes as if they are open. It involves shaping fully open or half closed eyelids with clay or plaster. The cavities and the lower lids also have to be sculpted and chiseled with infinite care and patience. Painting and other finishing techniques are used to create realistic eyes in the final life cast.

Alternatively, some artists also use prosthetic eyes to give their life cast a realistic effect. They carve out the sockets in the body mold and fit glass or acrylic eyes into the head portrait. This may seem easy at the outset, but it still requires proficient sculpting to fashion the eyelids and shape the corners in the mold.

Ready eye forms are available in art stores that look natural and add a lifelike appearance to the life cast. They should be chosen with care to suit the shape and color of the model’s original eyes. Some artists even prefer to make their own eye forms with resin and add detailing to the same.

Whatever ‘eye-opening’ method you use, do not forget to add brass name plates engraved once the life cast is ready for display.

Making Perfect Casts From Molds

Mold making is deeply entwined with casting. In fact, it is impossible to make a cast without making a negative impression of the model in the form of a mold. Learning both the arts becomes essential.

The casting process always begins with how to make a mold. The artist can choose the mold making material and the technique depending on the nature of the model, the preferred casting material, personal dexterity and so on. While the mold can be made using clay, wax, plaster, resin or rubber, the method can vary from simple block molds to more complicated blanket molds using the brushed, poured or glove mold making system.

Here, the artist also has to decide whether they will be making a mold in its entirety at one go or in parts. The latter is quite an intricate and time-consuming process. But it becomes essential if the model has deep indentations, protrusions or undercuts. This calls for making keys and sprue holes in the parts of the mold as well.

Once the mold parts are ready, the artist can move to the casting process. First timers often wonder if the cast will also be made in parts and need to be fused together later.

This is not actually the case in reality. In fact, making a cast in multi-part molds is similar to casting in a single piece mold save for a few extra steps.

The casting process

The mold parts are thoroughly cleaned and dried before coating with a release agent. Then the parts will be lined up using the keys so that they align properly. Mold straps or heavy duty rubber bands are needed to bind the mold parts together and keep the casting material from leaking out. In case the mold is flexible, backing boards are placed on either end of the mold to keep the mold from bending or collapsing on itself. The bands go over the boards and hold the entire arrangement in place.

Now all that is required is pouring the casting material into the mold through the sprues. This should be done slowly to avoid air bubbles. The mold is tapped a few times to allow the plaster, rubber or resin to fill the indentations and settle everywhere properly. It is advisable to continue pouring till a bit of the material starts flowing out from the holes.

The mold should be allowed to sit for a couple of hours or even overnight to ensure proper curing. Once set, the bands can be removed and the mold parts separated with a gentle hand. This will reveal the cast in its entirety!

The cast is then removed and finished with sandpaper and paints as needed.

Therefore, newbies need to know how to make molds and casts of different types before attempting any project. Perfection comes with practice and they can learn the tricks through trial and error. Very soon they will also be able to create flawless casts from impeccable molds.