Making a life cast of any part of the live human body is a complex and interesting project. However, a life cast cannot get more intricate, and therefore more enjoyable, as making a portrait cast.
This is a three dimensional cast of the head, shoulders and chest of a person and is also called a bust. It involves an elaborate and multifaceted process that calls for a lot of experience and skills. Life casting artists first try their hand at various life casts and make numerous face casts before even attempting to make a portrait casting!
How to do it?
Portrait casts require special care because the artist is making a mold of both the front and back of the model’s face. They have to carefully capture the exact shape and dimensions of the nose, ears, eyes and chin. Extra caution is required so as not to disturb or harm the model in any manner whatsoever.
Generally, alginate is the mold making material of choice for life casts. It has to be reinforced with a shell mold of cheese cloth and plaster bandages that will make the mold firm and enable it to retain its shape.
Numerous challenges arise on the horizon – from keeping the nostrils open to applying the mold material around the eye areas and more. The artist has to watch out for air pockets, carefully replicate the hair and much more.
The model has to stay calm and relaxed throughout the process because any kind of negative expression or disturbance will be clearly visible in the mold.
Demolding from the model is relatively easy and inserting a finger or simply wiggling the face will do the trick. The face mold has to be corrected, finished and cleaned properly before moving ahead.
The back of the head, neck and shoulders also have to be similarly captured in body molds. It is a multipart mold with the various parts being carefully joined together to form a complete mold of the upper part of the body.
Moving to the casting, it can be done with plaster, polyurethanes or silicone rubber. This has to be done soon as the alginate mold tends to shrink with time. It can even get distorted. Once a thick coat of the casting material is applied properly into all the nooks and crevices of the mold, it should be left to cure properly. The cast will have to be backfilled with foam or other filler to get the desired feel and weight. Then comes the task of sculpting the eyes, hair and finishing the cast. Later on, the finished bust can be cast in stone or even in metal in a foundry.
In sum, making a portrait cast – be it with plaster or polyurethanes – is a challenging and fascinating project. The person (or family) will treasure it forever and then some more!
Post time: 03-07-2017