Learning how to Life Cast – Moulding a Child’s Hand.
What is Lifecasting?
Life casting refers to the process of creating a mould from the human body.
Originally a material known as moulage was used to make the mould and it stuck to virtually nothing. The problem with this special material was that it needed to be applied hot to the human skin. A range of alginate compounds was subsequently developed to overcome this problem. These alginate compounds achieve the same result but at a safe body temperature.
The most popular parts of the human body to have life castings made are feet, hands and full torsos. It is quite practical and safe to make moulds of babies hands and feet due to the quick setting nature of the material and type of non-toxic alginate used.
Alginate comes as a white, dry powder. All that is needed is water to be added and a creamy paste is obtained with a 3 to 8 minute pot life. The most common mix is 1 part alginate to 1 part water by volume. Adding more water to the mix can extend the working time before the material sets. You can mix 2 parts or even 3 parts water.
Alginate is easy to use, non-toxic and OK for body and face casts. It reproduces extremely fine detail and has high strength as soon as it sets so you can de-mould fairly quickly. Essential when moulding a baby’s hand.
Even though alginate releases very easily from skin, some people choose to apply petroleum jelly to their skin for that added reassurance of an easy release.
A ratio of 1 part alginate to 1 part water is recommended for use when moulding a baby’s hand or foot up to the age of 2 years. This mix reduces the setting time to 30 seconds. Use 2 parts of water to 1 part alginate if you require a longer time frame.
Making a Mould
It is advisable to gain some experience with alginate before going on to do a face mask or a full torso. An ideal subject is to make a reproduction of your own or a child’s hand.
Basically it involves selecting a container which could be a milk carton or something similar, mixing the water and alginate, pouring into the container and just before it sets immersing your hand into the gel.
As much as possible, keep the hand still while the mould is setting up. Once the alginate has set, wriggle the subject gently around to release the suction.
The mould may feel really snug around the hand. This is a good sign. Remove the mould off the hand with a firm action. The mould won’t stick and it will not hurt the baby. Marvel at the detail you can see inside.
Making the Casting
The mould is now ready for casting. Mix the plaster or gypsum according to directions and pour into the mould. When set in about 20 to 30 minutes, remove from the mould, if necessary cutting away the mould from the plaster with a stencil knife or similar.
The mould is usually damaged after one casting. Once the plaster or gypsum has completely dried it can be decorated to taste. A more lasting casting can be obtained by using our StonePlast a hard Gypsum type plaster that resists chipping.
Post time: 03-10-2017