Gypsum vs Plaster – Know the Difference

 Gypsum is usually considered to be the same as plaster. However, it should be noted that gypsum occurs naturally and plaster is derived from the gypsum by treating it with heat to eliminate the water.

There are very many materials used for making molds and casts. Plaster and gypsum are one of the common casting materials as plaster casting is quite a popular medium with casting artists.

The terms gypsum and plaster and used interchangeably and most people consider them the same thing. The confusion abounds as both of them basically contain the same calcium sulfate compound. However, there are intrinsic differences between the two materials.

Gypsum is a naturally-occurring material containing calcium sulfate dihydrate. It is formed in the seas at the right temperature. It is considered a rock-forming material and can grow up to large sizes. Gypsum has a crystal structure but contains water. The crystals are either transparent or translucent – they can be colorless or white, though other shades like grey, red or yellow are also found on occasion. Gypsum is soft, flexible and slightly soluble in water.

When gypsum is heated at temperature between 150°C to 180℃, it loses water and takes the form of calcium sulfate hemihydrates. Certain additives are added during the heating process and it is then ground to powder form which is called plaster of Paris.

Therefore, plaster is a man-made material – the white powder is basically derived from gypsum. It is mixed with sand and water – and some fibers at times – to form a smooth solid. The moist plaster is used to mold different items and will turn hard as it dries to retain the desired shape. Therefore, plaster of Paris is commonly used as a protective coating on walls and ceilings as well as for making decorative castings. It is also used to make orthopedic casts for setting broken bones and the like. At times, the same plaster is used to make toys, statuettes, chalk and even cosmetics.

However, it should be kept in mind that plaster of Paris in its original form is not actually suitable for casting purposes. This is because it cannot hold details well and also tends to turn chalky and flaky over time. The plaster powder is again treated with heat to make it suitable for fine art casting. Only then will it be able to create hard casts that can hold detail, not turn chalky and also resist chipping and cracking. The cast will have a natural white finish and will turn out to be extremely durable. This plaster cannot be used directly on the skin as it tends to emit heat during the curing process.

EnvironMolds offers a range of plaster options for making plaster casting along with plaster bandages. The latter can be used to make shell molds that support flexible molds like silicone rubber, latex rubber and alginate. They can also be used directly on the body to make form molds, like of the abdomen for belly casting.

Painting on Silicone Casts

 Finishing silicone casts with paint is a challenging task as regular paints tend to crack or chip off very soon. EnvironMolds brings a special dye and paint system that will easily incorporate into the silicone.

Silicone rubber is a versatile material that is used to make both molds and casts to suit different applications. It is easy to use – just mix in the required quantity of base and catalyst in the prescribed ratios and you are ready to go. Moreover, as silicone does not stick to anything but itself, the mold making and casting process is relatively straightforward and effortless. The rubber can be specially formulated to be food or even skin safe, thus lending itself well for making food and body molds.

However, the problem arises when the artist tries to paint on a silicone cast. Indeed, you may feel like finishing the cast with a beautiful color of choice, however, regular paints will start cracking, chipping and wear away with time.

Alas, the smooth finish and waterproof qualities of the silicone weighs against it in this regard. Even if you use oil-based paints for their better adherence, the inherently flexible nature of the rubber will cause the paint to wear off easily.

At times, people try making the silicone surface rough by soaking it in denatured alcohol or rubbing it with sandpaper. While this can work for regular silicone caulking, the coarse facade will end up marring the silicone cast and render it unpleasant to the eye.

It is only special silicone paint and dye that can adhere to the silicone rubber and yield the desired finish. EnvironMolds ( offers the special Cirius silicone formulation for painting and dyeing silicone creations. The silicone base of the dye comes to the rescue here as silicone will definitely stick to itself! Try bending and twisting the silicone rubber cast as much as you wish – but the color will not crack, peel or even rub off as it has become chemically incorporated into the silicone!

How to use?

You can mix a few drops of the silicone dye with the base before adding the catalyst to give an intrinsic uniform hue during the casting process itself. Swirling one or two drops of dye in the mix can also create a lovely marbled effect in the silicone cast.

On the other hand, there is also the option of diluting the dye with a silicone medium for coloring after the cast is ready. It can then be painted, sprayed or air brushed on the silicone surface to get the desired finish. However, it is important that the cast should be cleaned and prepped properly prior to painting. The brushes should also be cleaned quickly after use.

This silicone paint is considered compatible with both tin and platinum cure silicone variants. However, the dye can interfere with the setting of platinum silicones.

Twelve different hues are available, including the famous ‘Quinn Blush' used by renowned doll rebirthing artist Terry Quinn to add skin blush to her silicone dolls.

How Many Plaster Bandages Will You Need?

 Use too few plaster of Paris bandages for making a shell mold and you will be left with a distorted mold on your hands. Tips on how to calculate the requisite amount of rolls will prove helpful.

Plaster of Paris bandages are a versatile accessory when making molds, and especially body molds. The most common use of plaster bandages is for making shell molds. Also known as mother molds, they provide rigid support so that flexible molds made of alginate, latex rubber and silicone rubber can retain their shape. The shell mold is made over the original mold so that it can house the mold and ease the casting process.


Apart from this, the bandages are also directly used to make form molds like the torso, belly and legs in body casting. They are also useful in mask making.

This brings us to the question – how many plaster bandages will an artist need for making a shell mold or even a form mold? Keeping sufficient rolls of bandages handy is imperative. In case you fall short during the mold making process, the mold is most likely to distort and collapse into a useless mess.

This is especially important as the bandages are built up in overlapping layers to ensure that the mold become sturdy enough after drying. Therefore, eyeball estimates by newbies can easily go haywire.

A simple rule of thumb is that the bigger the mold, the thicker should be the shell mold to ensure that it does not distort during the casting. Following is an estimate of the number of layers of plaster bandages required during life casting:

  • Face mold - 4 layers
  • Head mold - 5 layers
  • Half torso - 5 layers
  • Full torso – 6 to 8 layers

Now, a standard 5-inch roll of 5 yards plaster bandage yields around 900 square inches of bandage therefore, a single roll of plaster bandage will easily suffice for a typical face mold. A head mold will require 4 to 5 rolls and half torsos can be covered with 4 rolls. Full torso will take about 5 to 6 rolls for proper and thick coverage.

Environmolds ( offers a broad range of top quality plaster of Paris bandages. The creamy and smooth PopArt Plaster Bandages are available in 5 inches, 8 inches and 12 inches by 5 yards length. These are superior quality quick-setting bandages that are formulated to wet out creamy with a thick plaster consistency. They set quickly within 5-minutes itself.

Then there is the ArtBands Plaster Of Paris gauze bandages (5 inches * 5 yards) with a modern formulation that produces a consistent fast-setting plaster coat that adheres to the gauze cloth uniformly. It yields a smooth, creamy surface, is fast setting, resists delamination and gives excellent strength. The Gypsona Plaster Bandage is another premium bandage (6 inches * 5 yards) that has been the first choice of mold makers and life casting artists for over a decade.

The Different Faces of Clay

 Clay is a multipurpose material that lends itself well for different uses. From sculpting and special effects to mold making, pottery and even other rudimentary applications – clay has a lot going for it.

Clay is a soft and malleable material that can be easily molded as needed. Kneading, squashing and shaping the clay into different forms is very easy and fun as well.

This humble clay is ready to use and very versatile - it can be used for different purposes in artworks. The most popular application is obviously for clay modeling – from making sculptures, masks and even prototype models to special effects and animation too. Moreover, the clay can be used as it is for making basic molds for casting resins, rubbers or even metals. It does not require any weighing or mixing before use.

Ceramic clay is commonly used to make pottery. The earthenware is fired in a kiln and glazed to make it hard and durable.

Apart from this, clay also proves to be handy for other minor jobs. For instance, if a model has holes or spaces, it can interfere with the mold making process. Clay can be used to plug these gaps or even tunnels that run through the model. Then the mold can be made as usual, but with a different mold making material other than clay.

In fact, clay is often the material of choice for making a containment field around the model when making the mold. The clay can be built to the height and thickness as required. Even when using other materials to make the mold box, clay is commonly used to seal the edges so that the mold making material does not seep out from the gaps. It can also be applied around the edge of the base to fill the gap between the model and the base.

Types of clay

The regular water based clay is suitable for children’s art classes and playrooms only as it tends to dry and shrink quickly. The professional grade oil-based clays are preferred by artists around the world. They have the same flexibility as regular clay, but the oil content keeps it from drying or cracking even after being exposed to air. They are firmer, capture fine details and can hold the form better as well. Heating and cooling allows the artist to control its malleability. In fact, this clay can be remolded and is inherently reusable.

Another variant of non drying and oil based modeling clays ballistic clay. This is primarily used by government agencies to test body armor as it is considered to be of similar density and elasticity as live animal muscle tissue.

EnvironMolds offers a range of oil-based clay options like Chavant Plasteline clay, Del Milano Plastilina clay and Roma Plastilina clay along with regular earthenware pottery and ballistic clays. Sulfur-free alternatives are also available as the sulfur content of regular clay can interfere with the curing of silicone and polyurethane rubbers. In addition, it also has a variety of tools for carving and sculpting during clay modeling.

Release Agent for Life Casting

 Mold making and casting requires the use of a release agent for proper demolding. MoldEZ Hair and Mold Release is used for the demolding of body molds and it proves handy for other functions too.

A mold maker or casting artist needs a lot of supplies and tools to make their art come alive. Apart from the regular items, there are a few tricks up their sleeve which ensure that the mold or cast turns out perfect.


For instance, the mold maker will deair the resins and rubbers in a pressure pot or vacuum chamber to ensure that the mold is bubble-free. Similarly, a casting artist will use specialized paints and dyes to color the resins and rubbers to eliminate the chances of cracking or chipping later on.

Another system that these artists follow is using a release agent before making the mold or cast. This is basically a lubricant which creates a slip effect and prevents the possibility of the material fusing to the model or mold. This in turn ensures easy demolding without any unnecessary stretching or tearing. It is basically akin to greasing a pan prior to baking so as to allow easy removal of the food without any sticking. This also fulfills a dual purpose as the release agent can seal the surface of porous materials.

Likewise, even life casting artists apply a mold release on the human body so that the body mold will come off easily without snagging in the fine body hair.

It follows that the type of release agent will have to vary depending on the usage. After all, a release that is suitable for metal may create an adverse reaction when applied on plastic and vice versa. This is why release agents are specially formulated for different materials so that they don’t impact the model or mold in any manner.

The life casting artist has to be particularly careful when working on the human body – specialized release agents like MoldEZ Hair and Mold Release or simple petroleum jelly works best!

Applying the release agent

Most release agents come in cans and can be sprayed or brushed on the surface to be molded or cast. Spraying is considered better as it will create a smooth finish. Brush marks can end up reproduced on the mold or cast and look quite unbecoming. Ensuring an even coat in the specified thickness is also essential.

MoldEZ Hair and Mold Release comes as a cream formulation that can be applied on the skin. It is usually preferred for the hair as the cream can be worked in easily and then combed to create a uniform effect. It will also wash out easily the first time itself. On the other hand, petroleum jelly can make the hair greasy and will not wash off easily either.

The same material also works well for filling in any pin holes in the body mold before proceeding to the casting stage. Some artists also apply this release agent on the edges of the alginate mold to bond it with the plaster shell mold.

What Makes MoldRite 25 The Best Silicone Mold Rubber

MoldRite 25 is a popular silicone rubber formulation suitable for general mold making. The molds are easy to make and turn out to be high quality and long-lasting. They reproduce perfect details too.

Silicone rubber is a versatile material that lends itself well for making different types of molds. Moreover, the rubber is also formulated in diverse forms to suit varied purposes – there are separate formulations for general molds, food molds, body molds, mask making and doll reborning and even for making quick molds.

MoldRite 25 Silicone is a standard silicone mold rubber for making traditional molds from the house of EnvironMolds. It is favored by mold makers, sculptors, prototype artists, craft artists and other artists for making molds of candles, soaps, toys, picture frames, figurines, statuary, jewelry, plaster moldings, architectural pieces, prototyping and more. In fact, it is suitable for reproducing any item which requires high quality molds.

This is a two-component tin-based silicone formulation with a 10 to 1 mix ratio by weight. It is mixed with cat-blue catalyst in the prescribed ratio which imparts a lovely blue tint to the mold. Both the rubber and catalyst should be weighed carefully and mixed in a clean container with a flat-ended spatula till a uniform color is achieved. The silicone mix needs to be deaired in a vacuum chamber prior to use. This will eliminate air bubbles that can otherwise tarnish the appearance of the mold.

MoldRite 25 is easy to pour and has a pot life of 2 hours and working time of 40 minutes. The common procedure is to first pour a print coat over the model before continuing with the mold making. It will capture perfect details right down to the smallest undercut or indentation on the model. A release agent is not needed as silicone does not stick to anything except itself. In fact, the tendency to stick to itself comes handy as multiple coats of the rubber can be applied where needed.

The rubber cures quickly to form a flexible and reusable mold. It should be allowed to cure for 16 to 24 hours before demolding and an additional 24 hours air curing before casting. Heat acceleration is not recommended. Full cure takes 3 to 7 days.

It is advisable to maintain normal temperature and humidity as higher temperature and humidity will decrease the work life and pot life with faster cure that in turn decreases the flow time too.

The finished mold has high tear strength, is durable and reusable as well. It can be used to cast different materials like clay, wax, gypsum, polyester resin, epoxy or polyurethane resin. Actually, any material can be used for making the cast except silicone rubber.

The molds can be used to reproduce any number of casts for years to come. Proper cleaning, drying and storage after dusting with talcum powder will extend the life of the rubber mold.

MoldRite 25 Silicone can easily be sourced online from the EnvironMolds website, It is available in 1 pint, 1 gallon and 5 gallon kits.

Using Liquid Latex Casting Rubber

EnvironMolds Premium Latex Casting Rubber is a consummate liquid latex formulation that serves well for varied applications. It can be used to make masks and other hollow items with different methods.

Liquid latex rubber is a popular material in the world of mold making and casting. It is tough, durable and tear resistant, apart from being an economical product. It is commonly used to make different types of molds for casting plaster, resin and other materials. The same material can also double up as a casting product, albeit in a less viscous form.

In fact, latex casting rubber is a popular theatrical product to create special effects like wrinkles, scars and gashes. It is also used to make all kinds of masks and other thin skin products.

EnvironMolds Premium Latex Casting Rubber is an exceptional casting rubber specifically formulated for making hollow molded rubber articles, toys and flexible props. It lends itself well for making masks, puppet heads, imitation pottery and display articles. It is especially useful for creating general special effects for film, television and stage work. Furthermore, the same product is considered appropriate for coating and texturing foams such as polystyrene, especially for special effects applications.

The liquid nature of latex casting rubbers makes it very easy to use. Pouring or painting are the common methods of making latex casts. All it takes is successive coats of the latex over or inside the mold to make the hollow or thin skinned rubber items. It is useful for making gloves, fake food and other such items.

On the other hand, artists usually pour the latex casting rubber directly into the mold. The mold is filled till the brim and the latex is allowed to sit for some time post which the rubber is poured back into its original container. A thin layer of latex clings to the sides and base of the mold. This sets like a skin overnight and can be demolded easily. This method is commonly used for making masks.

Apart from this, you can also simply dip the mold into the latex to form a coating. Each coat has to be allowed to dry before dipping again to build up the required thickness. In fact, EnvironMolds Premium Latex Casting Rubber serves well for dip casting and can be used to form a protective coating on tools.

These latex casts cannot be finished with regular paints as it will tend to chip, crack or peel away. Special latex paints and dyes are available. These can be added to the rubber before starting the casting process or painted on the cured surface later on.

Moreover, you can also use a filler and extender like RubRfil to control the level of flexibility of the latex rubber cast. In case the liquid latex is too viscous for a particular application, mixing the requisite quantity of RubRfil will thicken the rubber and render it less flexible, hard or even very hard. This also serves to extend the quantity of the material.

EnvironMolds Premium Latex Casting Rubber, RubRfil, latex pigments and other materials can be easily sourced from

How To Make A Front Torso Cast

 Making a front torso cast can seem intimidating at first. However, it is the easiest life casting that can be tackled by beginner life casting artists as well. Let’s find out what lies in store….

A front torso casting can seem like a tall order because of the bigger dimensions involved. However, this is one of the easiest life castings as the body surface from neck to mid-section will be broad and mostly even, with hardly any undercuts. In fact, novice life casting artists often prefer to begin with torso casting before moving on to more complicated life casts like face and full body.

Yet, care is required when working on a living, breathing person. The model should be carefully briefed about what lies in store and warned about the issues like staying stationary, application of mold material, mold getting entangled in the body hair, waiting for the mold to set and so on.

The key to making a good torso cast lies in the posing. The model has to pose in a standing position, preferably propped up against a board or the wall for support. The pose can be a slightly leaning one to reveal the muscle tone, arms spread-eagled or on the sides of the waist. Women usually prefer to pose with hands on their breasts or encircling the belly in case of a pregnancy casting.

Once the model has been prepped, the body mold making process begins with applying petroleum jelly or other release agent all over the torso. Then apply a couple of layers of the alginate mix to form a thick and even coat. This alginate is skin safe and will not harm the model or the artist. It sets quickly and will capture all the fine details as well.

Once the alginate mold has set, it is covered with plaster bandages. The bandages are soaked in water and squeezed before applying on the alginate mold in a crisscross fashion. This will form a shell mold that supports the alginate and helps it retain the shape.

Allow the plaster mold to dry properly. Once it has set, the body mold can be easily demolded by loosening the edges with the fingertips. It will lift away easily and can then be cast with plaster or other choice of casting material. The casting should be done quickly as the alginate is likely to shrink on exposure to air.

There is a choice of making faux metal or stone life casting also by using the appropriate cold casting powder along with the casting material.

In sum, it is pretty easy to make a front torso life casting. It will take time and patience, but the artist will get better with practice. For further ease, EnvironMolds offers the comprehensive Front Torso Casting Kit. This contains the appropriate quantities of alginate, plaster powder and plaster bandages along with mold release, gloves, sandpaper and a handy instruction booklet as well.

The website, also throws up a helpful ‘How To Create A Front Torso Casting’ book. This how-to manual provides necessary instructions about the materials, preparations and techniques as well as tips for preparing the model, demolding and finishing the life cast. A model release form is also included.

Eliminating Estimation in Material Calculations

Why should artists rely on guesswork about the quantity or volume of materials required for making a mold or cast? EnvironMolds provides a Volume Calculator that throws up the exact amount needed.

There’s a lot of planning and coordination that goes into making a mold or cast. The artist has to not only choose the most suitable technique and material for making the mold/cast, but also assemble the requisite mold making or casting materials, supplies, tools and equipment.


For instance, making a block mold with silicone rubber will require plastic cups, gram scale, mixing sticks, electric mixer, mold box, release agent, glue gun, vacuum chamber and pump, gloves, knife, silicone rubber, etc.

While the artists pay careful attention to the requirements and collect the items before commencing the project, they rely on eyeball estimations for the amount of material they need to purchase or mix. For instance, if the artist mixes much more silicone rubber than actually required, the extra rubber will have to be thrown away – a sheer waste of money and resources. And if the rubber falls short, it will entail extra work of mixing more material or even rushing to the store to buy some more. The delay can even cause the artist to leave the project midway or if continued, mar the quality of the mold.

Newbie mold makers and casting artists are especially flummoxed about the amount of material they should use.

EnvironMolds comes to the rescue with a handy volume calculator on its website All the artist has to do is measure the dimensions of the mold box and model before feeding them in the calculator. A square or rectangular box requires the height, width and depth while cylindrical ones need the radius and height. The same rule applies for rectangular and cylindrical models respectively. Undercuts in the model can be ignored and the maximum outside dimensions will do.

This will throw up the net volume of the box, the model and finally the material needed. The calculator goes a step further and converts the net volume into the exact amount of rubber, plaster or resin required in grams or fluid ounces, as applicable.

For those who are looking for more detailed information on how to make molds and casts, EnvironMolds provides instructional books, videos, website links and blog posts as well.


Making Body Molds With Silicone

Silicone rubber can be formulated to be applied on the skin for making body molds. And LifeRite is leading the pack as the most-favored skin safe silicone rubber. Let’s find out more about the same.

Silicone rubber is a high-quality and durable material that is favored by artists for making molds and casts. Art stores’ aisles feature a range of specially formulated silicones that are suitable for almost any application ranging from general mold making and casting to food molds, baking containers, mask making, special effects and even duplicating skin surfaces.

Apart from this, there is a unique silicone rubber that can be safely used on the skin for life casting! Yes, you heard that right – alginate does not have to be the main staple for making body molds as a silicone formulation can be applied directly on the body to capture the shape of the face, hands, feet and other body parts. And these silicone body molds are long-lasting for multiple castings unlike their single use alginate counterparts!

In fact, LifeRite Skin Safe Silicone Rubber is favored by life casting artists, special effects artists and even for prosthetics due its superior quality and excellent results. This is a two-component, platinum-cured, room temperature cure silicone rubber with excellent physical properties like flexibility, quick curing, forensic detail and long mold life. It can stay put even on horizontal surfaces, allowing for easy full body molds with the model in standing position.

Tips for using LifeRite

  • This silicone rubber features a mix ratio of 10 Parts A to 1 Part B by weight and is easy to mix. The base and catalyst should be mixed thoroughly to get an even lavender hue. Ensure that no catalyst remains on the base or sides of the container.
  • To slow down the working time, the base can be kept in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or even left in the freezer overnight.
  • Silicone rubber does not stick to anything but itself. Therefore, it can be directly applied on clean and dry skin. However, petroleum jelly or mold release is favored for keeping body hair from getting entangled in the silicone.
  • As latex rubber inhibits this platinum-cured silicone, wearing rubber gloves can keep the body mold from curing properly. It is advisable to use vinyl gloves instead.
  • The silicone can be applied with a soft bristle brush, spatula, palette knife or a manual or pneumatic cartridge gun system. Dearing is not required as both the base and catalyst are deaired at the manufacturing stage itself. However, applying a print coat first is preferable to eliminate any tiny air bubbles.
  • Allow the rubber to cure for 5 to 6 minutes before applying the shell mold.
  • After demolding, the body mold should be left to cure for an additional hour or so prior to the casting. Else pin-hole air bubbles may appear in the life cast.
  • Wax, plaster, clay or resin can be cast in the LifeRite mold. If making clay life casts for special effects works, the material should be sulfur-free as the presence of sulfur can again inhibit the curing.

Clear Ballistic Gel Available at EnvironMolds

The clear ballistic gel blocks and dummies replace standard ballistic gelatin as the most effective medium for testing terminal performance of different types of arms, ammunition and even body armor.

Terminal ballistic testing involves verifying the destructive effects of various firearms and ammunition on the real human body. Even body armor like vests need to be tested for the level of efficacy in protecting the human body.

This kind of testing requires dummies or backing material that can mimic human tissue. Clear ballistic gel torso has emerged as a standardized testing medium as the gelatin closely simulates both the density and viscosity of human and animal tissue. This can be used to analyze the effects of different bullet wounds or even as backing material when testing ballistic vests and the like.

EnvironMolds offers the first-ever commercially available and reusable ballistic testing dummy made of industry-leading, 100% synthetic ballistic gelatin without any organic materials. The dummy heads and torsos are suitable for testing any ammunition, weapons, personal armor, shields or any other protection equipment including shrapnel penetrations. What’s more, they can even provide penetrating and non-penetrating ballistic data from the same device at the same time. The clear ballistic gel dummies meet the FBI protocols for providing unmatched terminal ballistics data and are duly calibrated by Clear Ballistics.

The three-dimensional ballistic gel torso is designed to replicate an athletic male in great physical condition. It can be used in sitting position (vertical) or lying down (horizontal) for all types of testing, research or even recreation purposes. What’s more, the torso is reusable as the ballistic gelatin can be remelted and remolded any number of times.

Apart from this, the company website, also stocks clear ballistic gel blocks that can be molded into any shape. The blocks are available in varied sizes and types to suit different types of terminal ballistic testing and can be purchased by the pound as well.

The results are reliable and consistent and the clear ballistic gel torso is also considered the most cost effective ballistic testing medium!

Plaster Bandages in Body Molds

Life casting artists commonly use plaster of Paris bandages to reinforce the body molds. This keeps the otherwise flexible mold from flopping over itself and losing its shape, thus allowing for proper life casts.

Alginate is the most preferred material for making body molds. It is safe for the skin and captures minute details well. These molds have the making for excellent life casts.

However, alginate molds are flexible and cannot retain their shape after being demolded from the body. They tend to flop over themselves making casting difficult.

This is why life casting artists always reinforce the alginate body molds with Plaster of Paris bandages. This is known as a shell mold as it forms a rigid covering that supports the mold and facilitates easy casting.

The plaster bandages are in the form of long rolls of gauze that is infused with plaster powder. The technique is to wet the bandage and apply it over the mold. The plaster in the bandage will dry to form a rigid mold that helps the inner mold to retain its shape.

When making a shell mold, first cut out long strips of the plaster bandage. Take a bowl of warm water and dip one strip until it is saturated. Gently lift it out and squeeze the excess water. Apply on the mold surface while taking care to remove air bubbles by smoothing out the surface with the fingers. Repeat the process with each bandage while ensuring that each successive layer overlaps the earlier one until the entire mold is covered.

It is advisable to change the water once it starts getting milky. This is because some of the plaster is shed while wetting. Continuing to use the same may cause the bandages to delaminate after they have dried.

Once the mold is dry, demold from the body and continue casting as usual.

The same plaster bandages are sometimes used directly on the body as well. This is preferred for making molds of the abdomen, especially for pregnancy molds. It makes form molds of the shape as details are not required.

Backdating Mold Making and Casting

The techniques of mold making and casting are nothing new. In fact, they emerged way back in the Neolithic times and gradually developed as the key for making most of the objects we use and enjoy today.

Mold making and casting procedures are used to make most of the things we use – from household goods and decorative items to industrial equipment and structural components. These techniques are especially popular in the world of art and design and are patronized by artists of various genres. They are commonly used for new artworks, art reproductions, sculpture making, ceramic works, garden statuary, candle making, props, masks and the like. The same are also applied for architectural restoration works, prototype tooling, taxidermy, fossil preservation, etc.

Not to mention the beautiful art of life casting. Indeed, life casts have emerged as a magnificent mode of creating a three-dimensional reproduction of the live human body. The regular techniques of making molds and casts are used with appropriate skin-safe materials to make body molds and life casts of the face, hands, feet, belly, torso or even the entire body. These are extremely popular for infants, friends, families, pregnant mothers and more. The same is also used for medical prosthetics, special effects, animatronics, etc.

The synthetic materials like polyurethane resin, latex rubber and silicone rubber may be new additions to the fold, but mold making and casting themselves are not contemporary techniques by a long shot. In fact, they date back to the prehistoric times when settlements were being established and agriculture came into being. The primitives slowly developed these processes to fabricate tools, equipment, jewelry and religious artifacts What’s more, the oldest surviving casting of a copper frog dates back to 3200 BC!

With the passage of time, these techniques were applied for making and reproducing artworks, especially sculptures. The introduction of hollow wax casting was the precursor to the highly prized Greek statues and Roman copies made later.

Clay and plaster continued to be the popular medium of making molds and casts down the ages. Gradually, art schools started teaching mold making and casting and used wood or terracotta also to make the molds. This led to the creation of iconic artworks that remain illustrious till date. Simultaneously, they were used for making pottery and ceramics as well.

These age-old processes finally made their way from the homes of royals, aristocrats and art aficionados to the foundries of today. The advent of industrialization witnessed a quick adoption for the mass production of regular objects in a range of styles. Injection molding was introduced in industries and new materials like plastics and polymers also came into being. Everyday items became inexpensive due to lower costs of production.

These techniques were progressively incorporated into the making of complicated automotive parts, equipment, machinery and even structures.

Indeed, from the simple molds and casts of ancient times to two part molds and cold casting for artworks to highly technical and complex processes in industries - mold making and casting have surely come a long way!

Life Casting The Feet

A life cast is always a treasured keepsake. While hands and face are the common body parts favored for a life cast, recreating the feet also makes for a novel souvenir. Making it is a wonderful experience too!

Hands make beautiful life castings. They are very popular for commemorating special occasions, marking the birth of a baby or just celebrating with friends. The possibilities are endless – people try out different ideas - like a couple holding hands together, a rings of hands with friends, parents encircling the hands of a newborn child, a person holding a golf ball, a baseball glove or a trophy and so on.

These life castings can be made in plaster or even cold cast in metal or stone. They are finished with a brass name plate to mark the name, occasion and other details.

However, it’s not just the hands, even the feet have many a story to tell – a step, a movement or even just the position. A life cast of a foot is a complex creation that looks interesting due to the three-dimensional composition. Parents love to get a life cast of their newborn’s feet and even encircle the feet with their own hands to signify the inherent love, care and protection. The casts look beautiful and can be treasured forever.

Making a mold of the foot and then a life cast is also quite a challenge in itself. The leg is usually encased in a batch of alginate mixture. Deciding the pose and angle is important here. The model should feel comfortable while the foot is dipped in alginate. Care is also required as the drying alginate may tend to crack with the body weight itself.

In fact, foot molds are usually made in two parts as it is difficult to extract the leg from the alginate mold once it has set. Even if the life casting artist tries to make a cut to separate the leg from the alginate, the mold may be rendered useless. Making it in two parts is better with proper keys for the registration of the parts and sprue holes for releasing the trapped air.

The foot mold has to capture very many details right from the toes and nails to the folds in the skin, the indentations and even the tiny lines per se. In fact, the mold will also recreate the cracks in the soles of the feet et al. These have to be finished properly prior to the final casting to avoid reproducing them in the cast!

Often artists use trial and error to work out the best method of making the mold from the body. This calls for patience and foresight while making the body molds again and again.

Finally, the life cast of the feet, or any other body part or even the entire body should be finished with name plates engraved with the title, artist name and other details. This will give a professional, gallery finish to the life cast and add to the experience as well!

Getting to Know FiberGel Alginate

FiberGel alginate is a unique patented alginate formula that is quite strong and resistant to tears. Yet, it sets soft and has delayed shrinkage which makes it perfect for special effect works.

The simple alginate powder that was initially used for making dental impressions has slowly evolved over the years into a valuable concoction for making life casts.

The beauty of alginate powder is that being a natural substance, it is completely safe for the skin. However, regular alginate has a quick setting time and is prone to tearing as well.

Various manufacturers try to play around with the formulation to slow the setting time on the one hand and increase the tear resistance on the other. They also try to manipulate other characteristics - like hardness/softness of the alginate once it sets – to suit specific applications.

Accordingly, different groups of alginate are available in art stores today. Apart from the regular life casting formulae that are characterized by a firm set and high strength, there are special formulations with a soft set (suitable for use on babies).

The famed art supplier, EnvironMolds has launched a unique alginate formula called FiberGel E F/X Grade alginate. This is fortified with special fibers that considerably increase the adhesion, strength and tear resistance properties of the alginate. In fact, it is independently tested 40% stronger than the leading brands.

This alginate formulation is thixothropic and will stay in place without dipping or running off like regular alginate mixtures. Moreover, the fiber matrix enables the alginate to retain moisture and reduces the shrinkage rate manifold. Therefore, the alginate mold stays soft and flexible and boasts of delayed casting time as well. Yet, despite the fiber content, the alginate mix still manages to yield the same creamy smoothness that is characteristic of regular alginate formulae.

During studio use, artists find that the mixing and consistency of FiberGel alginate is just like regular alginate. It can easily be applied in a smooth and uniform manner and will continue to stay in place without running. The mold will set within 5 to 6 minutes and does not necessarily require a shell mold either. When demolded, the alginate mold comes off easily in one piece without pulling itself apart. Even bigger body molds will not tear when removed in spite of the larger area or even undercuts. And as the mold will not shrink soon, the cast will turn out closer to the original size without losing any detail.

This is why FiberGel alginate is considered ideal for professional high-production, high-end detailed E F/X work. It can easily be used for creating different kinds of special effects on the sets of movies and television shoots. As the alginate mixture does not run or drip, it can even be applied on vertical structures to capture molds. The comparatively thicker mix of the alginate ensures that it will continue to stay as applied and will recreate all the surface details of the structure as it is!

Making Latex Molds and Casts

Latex rubber is a popular choice for making both molds and casts. Latex has several useful properties and it is also relatively easy to make both latex molds and casts by following the right procedures.

Liquid latex rubber is a versatiles material that is considered tough, durable and economical as well. It lends itself well for various applications in the fields of mold making and casting.

Latex molds capture details well and are usually used to make plaster and resin casts. They are also handy for casting abrasive materials like concrete as the mold will not tear despite the coarseness. The latex can also be applied on architectural details on the walls or even ceilings without the latex running off. This works especially well for making molds for restoration works.

Latex casting is usually used for making hollow molded rubber articles, toys, balls, imitation pottery, display items and flexible props. Liquid latex is popularly used for mask making as well as special effects works like wrinkles, scars and gashes for theatre, television and films. It is even commonly used as an adhesive for bald caps.

Apart from this, latex is useful for slushing casting clays for ceramic works and for coating polystyrene and other fabrics and even tools. This forms a protective and water proof coating on the items. It even allows for better handling and insulation for the tools.

How to do?

It is easy to use latex rubber for making molds and casts. The most common method is dipping for mold making and pouring for casting - No elaborate process or expensive molds are required.

Latex molds are created by dipping the model directly into the latex rubber itself. Simply dip the model into the container to get a uniform coating and then let it dry. Repeat the procedure 10 to 12 times to build up the adequate thickness. Alternatively, the latex can also be painted on the model multiple times, while allowing each subsequent coat to dry properly.

The procedure for making latex casts is also quite similar. Here, the latex rubber is poured into the mold and allowed to sit for some time. Then the rubber is poured out again. A thin film gets deposited on the inner side of the mold and will dry to form a flexible cast. Keeping the latex inside for a longer time or repeating the procedure will increase the thickness of the latex cast.

Usually plaster molds are preferred for making latex castings. This is because the porous plaster will absorb the water in the latex and allow it to cure to form a cast. Therefore, latex and other molds are generally not preferred for latex casts.

Demolding liquid latex molds and casts is also simple as they can be easily peeled off the model or mold. However, it is advisable to dust the latex surface with talcum powder before demolding, else the latex will stick to itself. Latex casts can be painted with special latex paints to get the desired finish.

Sodium Silicate Deflocculates Clay Slips

Slip casting is a common technique used for the mass production of complicated ceramic items. It is made by mixing dry clay with water along with an effective deflocculant like sodium silicate.

Pottery is the common method used to make pots, dishes and other items using clay or other ceramic materials. The potter fashions the piece on the wheel with his hands and it is then fired to give it a hard and durable form. However, there is another technique for making hollow ceramic and porcelain articles in complex shapes that cannot be fashioned on a potter’s wheel. This is known as slip casting of clay, usually along with sodium silicate.

Slip casting is a simple technique of pouring thinned clay into a mold. The mold is filled to the brim and the clay is allowed to settle inside. This allows the slip to build a thin layer inside the mold after which the excess material is drained out. The amount of time the clay slip stays inside the mold will dictate the thickness of the cast.

The clay is allowed to cure and demolded once it starts to separate from the sides of the mold. Usually, slip casting is done in plaster molds as the porous plaster will absorb the water from the slip and allow for quick casting.

When it comes to making the slip for casting, people usually assume that it is done by mixing clay with water. However, this requires a lot of water which in turn will take a long time to shrink and dry. Moreover, the clay may not disperse properly in the slip and will settle at the bottom of the mixture. This is why a deflocculant like water glass (chemical name – sodium silicate) is mixed with the clay before adding water. This will thin the clay or reduce its viscosity by dispersing its particles and thus require much less water. But it should be kept in mind that excess sodium silicate will have an opposite effect and will actually make the clay thicker or flocculate it!

Top quality liquid sodium silicate can be sourced from EnvironMolds at

Getting to Know KastEZ Polyurethane Resin

There are various kinds of resins and each type comes in different formulations. KastEZ is a popular polyurethane resin formula that is commonly preferred by artists for their casting works.

Resins come in different types – polyester, epoxy and polyurethanes are the commonly used ones for making castings.

Of these, polyester resin is considered the most easy to use and the price is also reasonable. It cures to a hard form too. However, it emits noxious fumes which are quite dangerous for the user. Epoxy resin is also considered easy to use and is advised for beginners, primarily because of the longer pot time. It is safe to use, but cures soft which can make it difficult to handle.

It goes without saying that polyurethane resin is the most popular resin, even despite the comparatively higher price.

What works for polyurethane resin is that it is versatile and boasts of excellent strength, durability, elasticity and resistance to oils and other chemicals. It captures details well and generally cures to a hard form. However, varying the formulation of the resin can yield varying properties from a soft pliable rubber to a very hard and rigid plastic. It comes in both opaque and water clear forms to suit different applications. The resin is commonly preferred for general mold making and casting. Some of the polyurethanes may require the use of a respirator due to a mildly noxious odor.

The EnvironMolds MoldQuik is an example of a pliable polyurethane whereas KastEZ Resin cures to form an opaque, hard plastic casting.
The latter is a two-part polyurethane casting resin used in 1 to 1 ratio by volume. It is available in 16 oz, 2 quarts and 2 gallons packaging. Initially, when both the catalyst and base are added together, the resin will look cloudy. It will begin to clear with the mixing. A thorough mixing while properly scraping the sides and bottom will cause the resin to become clear and this is when it is ready to use.

KastEZ resin is easy to use. Simply pour the resin into the mold and allow it to set. It cures at room temperature – within 10 minutes itself. A release agent is required, but demolding is a straightforward process as well.

The cast will be lightweight and will form a hard plastic with an ivory white color. Special resin dyes have to be used to impart a specific color to the resin. The colorant can be easily mixed into the resin to get the desired color. Proper mixing will give a uniform color while a few strokes will create a marbleized effect. The dye will not affect the pot life, demold time or even the inherent properties of the cured plastic in any manner.

This same resin can in fact be cast in both rigid and flexible molds. Some of the most common uses are figurines, displays, rapid prototypes, special effects and sculpture reproductions. In fact, KastEZ polyurethane resin is the right choice for almost any application.

The Many Uses and Forms of Plaster

Plaster is a simple powder that can be made in various forms and used for different purposes. The usage varies from smoothening walls and ceilings to decorating them to make castings of art works.

Plaster is a commonly used material that enjoys varied uses. The most common usage is in construction to give a smooth surface to coarse walls and ceilings. There are various kinds of plaster – like cement, lime and gypsum or even clay. Plaster is basically a dry powder with one of the above materials being used as a binder. It is mixed with water to form a workable paste. It slowly solidifies on exposure to air to form a hard and stiff covering on the external or internal walls.
Apart from this, plaster is also used to make false ceilings and in decorative architecture. Complex shapes and carvings can be created on walls and ceilings using plaster of Paris. This is basically gypsum deposits mined in Paris, and hence the name.

Plaster enjoys great patronage in the art world too. It can be used to replicate art works and make casts using quality products like CastRite Art Casting Stone. Art plaster is a special type of plaster – regular plaster cannot be used for casting as it does not hold details well and will also tend to become chalky and flaky over time. Moreover, it is hydroscopic in nature and will turn into an irreversible solid form on the slightest exposure to moisture.

Casting calls for a hard casting plaster that can capture the fine details from the mold and set fairly quickly. Yet, it will allow carving and tooling as needed. What’s more, this type of plaster can also be used to make molds.

Plaster can be cast into various mold materials like clay, alginate, rubber, cement, wood, etc. However, care should be taken as the chemical reaction of plaster with water tends to release heat. This is why plaster is not usually used directly on the skin. Plaster infused bandages are a good option for making basic body molds and shell molds.

CastRite Art Casting Stone can be easily sourced from the EnvironMolds website,

Capturing Tiny Memories of a Baby with Life Casting

A little one will not be so little for very long. The best way to capture the baby’s moments is to seal them in a life cast. Casts of a baby’s hands, feet or even the bottom will make for a lovely memory.

A child is a baby for hardly any time. The initial months and years may be frenzied, but very soon the time will seem to have flown away. Before the parents realize, the baby has grown into a toddler and will bloom into a young boy or girl. The parents find themselves longing to cling on to these precious moments even as they delight in watching their offspring grow into mature and independent adults.

Photographs and videos can never do justice when a parent wants to really ‘hold on to’ a quickly growing child. How about a life cast of the baby with a brass name plate instead?

Indeed, life casts of a newborn or infant’s hands and feet are very popular keepsakes among the new parents of today. Even the baby’s cute bottom can be captured in a naughty life cast. These make for a wonderful memory of the baby that will be cherished forever. The baby life casts can also be gifted to a grandparent or other close family member as an emotionally powerful keepsake of the little one.

Making the Baby Cast

Capturing a body mold of the baby is a simple and straightforward process. It works easily with newborns as they cannot move or fidget at all. The mold can be made while the baby is asleep itself.

Experienced life casting artists can work with infants and toddlers too. The body mold doesn’t take long to set and all it takes is holding the child in place for some time to keep him or her from squirming.

The parents need not worry about the material affecting the child’s soft and sensitive skin either. Alginate is a natural, organic material that is derived from seaweed and is totally safe for the skin. The artist will still do a patch test first to check for any reaction on the skin.

The alginate paste is first applied over the body part to be cast and then the mold is reinforced with plaster bandages. It sets fairly quickly and can be demolded easily. The artist will first apply petroleum jelly on the skin to ensure an easy removal.

Once the mold is cured, the life cast is usually made with plaster. It is even possible to make a fake metal or stone life cast using cold casting powders. The finished cast can be framed and finished with name plates engraved with the name of the baby, the date and so on.

In fact, it is even possible to go a step up with a parent and child casting. Hands intertwined or overlapping each other or joined together in prayer – there are numerous options and the only limit is your imagination!

CastRite Art Casting Stone For Plaster Casts

A wide variety of plaster powders are available in the market – each with their own functions and properties. Choosing the right option for making a cast becomes difficult for novice artists.

The art world is choc-a-bloc with varied materials for making molds and casts. The choice ranges from simple clay, wax and plaster to more sophisticated options like resins, latex rubbers, silicone rubbers and more. Even when it comes to using plaster, mold makers and casting artists are often flummoxed whether they should use regular plaster of Paris or the more refined casting stone powders available in art stores.

Well, fact of the matter is that generic plaster tends to be chalky and fails to hold details well. Casts made from this powder will be prone to chipping and cracking too. On the other hand, casting stone powders are made with gypsum that is especially heat treated to make it suitable for fine art casting.

CastRite Art Casting Stone is a top quality, high definition casting stone powder offered by EnvironMolds. It is a popular material of choice for making art castings of all types. It is easy to work with, gives a natural bright white finish, holds finishes well and is extremely durable.

The CastRite powder is a highly dense formula that is suitable for making casts from alginate, resin and silicone molds. It can be cast into plaster bandages as well. Apart from casts, it is also commonly used for making shell molds for latex slip castings and backup flexible molds. At times, fiberglass fiber is added to the mold powder for additional strength.

How to use?

Take 2 equal parts of CastRite Art Casting Stone powder and 1 part of water by volume. First pour the water into a mixing container and then add the casting stone powder very slowly. Mix with a stirring stick while scraping the sides and bottom of the container till the mixture becomes thick and creamy. The material is ready for pouring into the mold for making the cast. This formula inherently has minimum air bubbles; even these can be eliminated by rotating the mold slowly in all directions.

Safety Precautions When Working With Resins

Resin is a commonly used material for making different types of casts. It is fun to work with especially when making artistic jewelry and other casts. However, some safety measures are needed.

Resin is a viscous material that slowly hardens and sets solid in the form of a plastic. It comes in various types – like epoxy, polyester and polyurethanes. Resin casting is very popular among professional artists and novices alike.

The uses are varied ranging from artistic jewelry and faux metal casts to small parts in manufacturing industries to 3D printing to even gluing things together.

While resin lends itself well to many a use, the artist has to handle the material carefully and keep the following precautions in mind:

  • Some resins are considered volatile chemicals and should not be allowed to come into contact with the bare skin. Even the catalyst can prove to be risky. Always wear protective gloves when working with resin. Use a plastic apron to avoid ruining the clothes with spilled resin.
  • It is better to wear safety goggles and use a respirator when working with large quantities of resin. This will help shield against the noxious fumes.
  • The work area should be properly ventilated with open windows and an exhaust fan.
  • It is better to spread some wax paper on the work surface before using resin. As resin will not stick to the wax paper, it will be easy to clean. The dried resin can be simply peeled off from some materials; else it can be cleaned with rubbing alcohol.
  • But never use the alcohol or other solvent in case the resin comes in contact with the skin. Try to wipe it off immediately with baby wipes. Sticky resin can be scrubbed off with soap or a pumice stone.
  • Maintaining the ideal environment is crucial when working with resin. 70°F is considered the standard temperature as the resin fails to cure properly if the studio is hotter or cooler. Therefore, an air conditioner or heater may be required.
  • The resin and hardener should be measured accurately using measuring cups. Do not go by ballpark approximations as it can again affect the curing of the resin.
  • The materials should be mixed carefully and thoroughly using stir stix for a couple of minutes to ensure a uniform mix. However, overmixing can also introduce air bubbles into the casting material.
  • Some air is bound to get trapped into the resin and will show up on the surface of the cast. This can be popped with a needle or heat gun. Casting in a pressure pot is ideal for eliminating the air bubbles.
  • The resin is likely to attract dust or animal hair while it cures and will end up ruining the resin casting. Keep the studio clean and cover the cast with a clear dome while it cures.
  • Above all, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions to the T.