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.

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