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!