Making Body Molds with Plaster Bandages

Who says plaster bandages can only be used to make a mother mold? The plaster infused gauze can also be applied directly on some parts of the body to make form molds that are later used for life casting.

Plaster bandages are normally used to make a shell mold to reinforce the flexible alginate or silicone body molds. The plaster in the bandages sets to form a rigid structure that encases the flexible mold and helps it retain its shape.

However, the plaster bandages can directly be applied on the skin to make form molds as well. This is used on areas like the stomach, back, thighs and arms which do not have much contours or undercuts. The bandages are most common for making pregnancy molds of the abdomen to capture the shape of an expecting mother for posterity.

Following is a look at what goes into making a body mold with plaster bandages:

  • The model has to be prepped for the session – the artist should inform him or her about the process, like what to expect and how much time it will take. Discuss the pose and ensure that the model can stay in the position for half an hour or so. Props or support may be required.
  • Prepare the area for the session by lining the floor with a waterproof covering as the dried plaster can prove difficult to remove. The artist should also wear a protective apron or old clothing that can be discarded later.
  • An appropriate mold release – like petroleum jelly or olive oil – should be applied on the body as this will make it easy to remove the mold without pulling on the body hair.
  • The bandages have to be rolled out and wet before applying. Here it is better to use warm water as the wet bandage can chill the skin and become uncomfortable for the model.
  • Lay the strips on the body one at a time starting from the top and moving towards the bottom. Make sure to overlap them to form a strong mold. It is better to keep changing the direction of the bandages when building the layers and make them thicker at the edges. This will serve as a good grip when it comes to demolding.
  • Work out the air bubbles when applying the bandages. However, do not press down too hard as this will form dents and can even deform the mold.
  • Once done, let the mold set and dry before demolding. Carefully run a finger under the edges to break the seal from the skin. The mold can then be lifted off easily from the body.
  • Place it on a soft surface with the hollow side down and let it cure properly. It can then be varnished for some extra protection.

Plaster gauze bandages and other materials and supplies needed for making a life cast can be easily sourced at EnvironMolds. The art supplier manufactures and stocks top quality products and tools and is more than willing to assist with tips and instructions as well.


How to Paint on Silicone Rubber?

Silicone molds and casts always throw up the problem of proper finishing as regular paints cannot be used on this rubber surface. Specially-formulated silicone paints are the best solution.

Silicone rubber proves to be a wonderful material for making both molds and casts. It is easy to use, captures details well and cures quickly too. The best part is that as silicone does not stick to anything, it is easy to demold as well, even without using a release agent.

However, this very property becomes self-defeating when it comes to painting a silicone surface. Regular oil and acrylic paints fail to adhere properly to silicone molds and casts; they will start peeling and cracking soon. This proves to be very frustrating for artists; some even resort to roughing the silicone surface so that the paint can stick on it.

Bringing an answer to the fore

There is silicone paint that has been specially formulated to work on silicone surfaces. Available in a dye form, it should be mixed with a suitable silicone paint medium – just like oil paints are mixed with linseed oil for thinning. This medium is actually a silicone catalyst which works to transform the paint so that it can permanently bond with the silicone surface that has to be painted. As the paint is also flexible, it will easily stretch and bend along with the rubber without causing any cracks or breaks. In fact, the paint can even work to protect and preserve the surface from regular wear and tear.

Silicone paint is usually used extrinsically to paint the silicone surface after it has set. The dried surface is cleaned with acetone before painting by hand. Alternatively, the color can be airbrushed on silicone (do clean the airbrush immediately to prevent clogging). For intrinsic coloring, a few drops of the pigment can be added to the silicone base before adding the catalyst.

However, bear in mind that silicone pigments can be added to tin-based silicone rubbers only. If mixed with silicone that has a platinum catalyst, it can interfere with the setting of the rubber.

EnvironMolds offers top quality silicone pigments in a broad range of color options – from black and white to red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple and more. There is also the 'Quinn Blush' shade which is used by renown doll rebirthing artist, Terry Quinn to add the lovely skin blush to her silicone dolls.

The best part is that this silicone paint can be used on both tin-based and platinum-based silicone rubber surfaces as they have been formulated to adhere to both types of surfaces. Medium for making the paint is also available.

Therefore, artists can easily paint their silicone casts in the desired colors to get the effect they wish. They are especially favored by special effects and prosthetic artisans, doll makers, etc. to give the painted-on color effects to their silicone rubber creations. However, they can be used on regular silicone molds and casts too.

Tips for Working with Plaster for Making Castings

Fine art casting plaster is the material of choice for making casts. This is high-definition and yet easy to use as long as the proper mixing and pouring directions are followed. Find some more tricks here.

Plaster is considered the most common medium for making casts. It creates a rigid form with a lovely white finish that will stand the test of time. Plaster casting is often favored by artists over and above silicone or polyurethane rubber, and for good reason at that. In fact, it is the material of choice for making life castings as well.

However, the plaster used for castings is not the regular plaster of Paris as it tends to get chalky and flaky and will not be able to hold details well. Special plaster powders are available that have distinct additives and have been heat treated which alters these natural properties of plaster. In this way, it becomes suitable for fine art casting as the plaster cast can hold details without chipping or cracking.

This material is quite easy to use. Just mix the plaster powder in the specified quantity of water and it will be ready to use. Keep in mind that the water should be at room temperature and it is better to add the plaster powder to the water and not vice versa. The mixing can be done by hand (with gloves) or an electric mixer while taking care to avoid air from entering the mix as it can lead to air bubbles in the cast.

The plaster mixture is quite workable. One of the secret tricks is to apply a thin coating all over the surface of the mold and allow it to set a little. Then pour the mixed plaster slowly and in a thin stream to avoid air pockets.

It will set and cure naturally to a fairly hard structure. In fact, the cast should be demolded when it has set hard, but still feels a little on the wet side. There is no need to worry as the plaster can still be carved or tooled even after it has cured. Just sprinkle some water to wet the surface and it will be ready to use.

Another tip is that working with plaster can get quite messy. Therefore, artists prefer to clean as they go to keep the dust and waste from piling up. Also, keep in mind that plaster should never be applied directly on the body as the material releases heat as it cures which can cause burns at times. However, plaster bandages are sometimes used to make form body molds.

Best option

CastRite Art Casting Stone is a fine plaster powder that gives a natural, bright white finish to the castings. It can be used for making figurines, statuary, picture frames, life castings and even restoration works. All castings will turn out detailed, strong and durable. Enjoy the smooth plaster surface finish in the casts and life casts!