The Art of Life Casting Explained

Getting into the nitty-gritties of life casting will show that it is complicated for sure, but doable with some practice and a lot of care. The artist has to always consider that he/she is working on a live model!

Life casting is a specialized art of making a three dimensional copy of the human form with a high level of realism and detail. Highly skilled molding and casting techniques are used to capture the finest of features of the human body; it can be any part from the face, hands and feet to the torso or the entire body.

Going way beyond a painting or photograph, the sculpture will recreate each and every fingerprint, dimple, fold and other lines on the body to imitate the physical presence and essence of the person. Life casts can be made with or without clothing.

How does it go?

The model is first prepped for what lies ahead. The pose is discussed and practiced while keeping comfort and safety in mind. Petroleum jelly or other release agent is applied first to prevent the body mold from snagging in the body hair.

Alginate, which is safe for the skin, is commonly used to make the body cast. It should be mixed with soft water in the specified ratio to form a creamy mixture of a workable consistency. The hand or foot has to be merely dipped into the alginate container and allowed to set. This works quickly and the body part can be slowly wriggled out to leave a negative mold behind.

A more complicated but proficient method is to apply the alginate on the body. It has to be carefully spread and smoothed into all the contours while taking care of the eyes, nose, ears, hair and so on. The artist has to work quickly as the alginate tends to set quickly. It is then reinforced with plaster bandages; this shell mold will enable the alginate to retain its shape.

The mold can be demolded pretty soon, all it takes is working the fingers under the edges and wriggling the body a bit. It can be corrected if needed and will be ready for casting. Plaster or other casting material is poured into the mold and allowed to cure. Just remove it and finish as desired. Some people even insert a wire or hook in the casting material itself and it can be hung on the wall later.

Keep in mind that the casting should be done quickly too, as the alginate will tend to shrink as it loses water on contact with air. Moreover, these are one-off molds and cannot be used for making multiple copies.

Making a body casting involves complex procedures, but the going gets easy and straightforward with time. The life casting artist has to be particularly careful about the model as it is a live person that he/she is working on here! Last but not the least; life casting is immensely satisfying and rewarding…..make the most of it!


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