Correcting Mistakes in Plaster Life Casts

Errors are bound to happen at different stages of the body casting and life casting process. Here we take a look at the problems that can surface in a plaster life cast and how to correct some of them.

Life casting begins with capturing a mold of the human body and ends with a finished cast that is an exact reproduction of the model. The body mold is usually made using alginate or skin-safe silicone rubber while plaster is preferred for the life cast. The final piece is usually mounted and finished with a brass name plate.

Now there is a lot that can go wrong during the body casting and life casting process. While a lot has been written about working with alginate, let us take a look at the possible complications that can arise during the plaster casting:

Air bubbles – Like any other mold making or casting material, plaster also has a propensity to trap air that can show up as unsightly bubbles on the surface of the cast. Life casting artists are always advised to pour the plaster slowly and carefully in a thin stream from a corner of the mold. Tilting the plaster-filled body mold a bit or tapping the sides will also cause the trapped air to rise to the top and can be burst easily. However, if some bubbles still happen to appear on the life cast, they can be smoothed out with the thumb, back of a spoon or by applying some water. Some artists pop them gently with a knife and then fill the hole with more plaster. Rubbing with sandpaper will help level out the final cast.

Broken fingers – Features like nose and fingers are small and delicate when compared to the entire life cast. They are very likely to break during the demolding process – it could be that the plaster has not set enough or the artist has applied too much pressure or is working in a hasty manner. The broken part can be refastened by wetting both the edges and applying some plaster. Reposition the piece and hold it in place till it sets properly. The joint can be smoothed with a wet finger or some thin plaster.

Similarly, other distortions or squashed features can also be corrected with some careful resculpting. However, it is always better to make the corrections in the body mold itself as far as possible rather than risk disfiguring the life cast.

Rough surface of the casting – At times, the plaster surface of the casting may seem coarse and bumpy in places. This can happen due to various reasons like skewed ratio or improper mixing of the plaster. Either way, the best recourse it to smooth out the surface with sandpaper.

These techniques will work for minor errors and corrections. In case of a major blunder, it is better to redo the life cast rather than keep trying to correct an inherently flawed or inadequate piece.

And when the perfect piece is ready, it can be mounted on a marble or wooden base and finished with customized brass name plates engraved for that wonderful gallery finish!

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