Friday, February 10, 2012

How to Make an Alginate Mold of Your Face

 This post is part of a series dealing with making armatures. To see the first part on making a plaster cloth mold click here.

I'm going to make one big disclaimer and warning here. Do not attempt this unless you think you are capable of being completely blind and unable to speak while breathing through a straw for at least 30 minutes!!! You will also need a friend to help you as it is not possible to do this alone.

I honestly didn't think this would be a big deal, but it takes an incredibly long time for your helper to get everything together and on your face. And during that time you are stuck to drool all over yourself while not being able to see or talk. It really sucks. It was a cool experience to have done once, maybe twice at the absolute most, but no more than that! Get your mold and cast your face and make any future molds off of that face and not your own!

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's move along!

Alginate / Stone Method

Step 1: Since you'll want this to lay flat when it's cast, you may have to go into your hair a bit. I used petroleum jelly and it worked ok for my eyebrows, but not my hair. I was able to get it out by pulling it out (with no pain) but there may be better ways to do it. One person suggested hair conditioner with cholesterol in it. Make sure to use something to protect your hair though. Anything is better than nothing!

Greasy Hair!

Step 2: Protect your nostrils by placing tiny amounts of cotton balls in them. Don't push them up; just let them kind of hang loose. Also get a straw and cut to a good size for you to be able to comfortable hold in your lips and breathe through. Bite down on it loosely so that you do not have this huge circle between your lips.

No, it's not a booger.

Step 3: Measure and mix your alginate. To elaborate, alginate is a product you can purchase online or from a dentist. I'm lucky and my godmother works for a dental lab and so she was able to order it directly for me.

Aglinmax alginate, plaster mixing bowl, spatula, and measuring cups.

I'm not sure what the deal was with the alginate I used. It must have been fast setting because I could barely mix it and it was already drying. I'm hoping if I ever use the stuff again that I can get a different brand. My husband had to mix 2 batches separately to do my entire face.

Step 4: Spread the alginate all over the face! I have seen some use alginate that looks almost liquid, but my alginate was lumpy and so it was easily spread with a spatula. You can get one at home depot in the paint section.

Not the type of girl you bring home to meet the parents!

Get the entire face covered! Mine had a little spot left open by the nose mainly because it was freaking me out when my husband went by this spot. I thought alginate was going up my nose, but it was just the cotton that went up a bit too far. It's funny because the cotton is supposed to keep the alginate out and it did, but I didn't know >_<!

Step 5: Support the Mold with Plaster Wrap Cloth. Some say to let the alginate cure for 5 minutes. Mine was almost dry by the time my husband finished applying the last of it, so we only waited a couple minutes. At that point take some pre-cut plaster wrap cloth, and cover the entire mold. We only did one layer because I didn't want to waste cloth, it worked fine for one casting, but not two. If you want to do as many casts as possible off of this mold before it dries out then double layer it.
A face only a mother could love! (No I won't get sick of these lame jokes!)
Step 6: Sit around for the most uncomfortable 10-20 minutes of your life! By this point in the process, you've probably got drool all over your mouth and chin and are completely miserable. You're totally ready for this thing to come off, but you've got to wait for the plaster to fully dry or you've waste a lot of time! I say 10-20 because it depends on how long i took to put them on. By the time you are done for instance, the first layers may already be dry or well close to it. So feel for yourself whether the plaster is stiff enough to be considered dry.

Step 7: After at least 10 minutes, take the damn thing off! Rejoice and appreciate your sight and speech! You can remove it by wiggling your face around and prying all of the edges off. I had trouble getting the top part out of my hair as it stuck a bit.
Don't mind the mascara! I cleaned off my eye make up and this stuff still found some leftovers!
I was actually a bit disappointed. For all the trouble this was, it wasn't a perfect mold. I blame that on the alginate. Don't buy alginmax; it sucks! Anyway, it's good enough to get the job done.

Step 8: Mix a small batch of alginate to fill in the mouth hole and any other crevices. Once that's dry you're mold is ready to go! Make sure to line it with some sort of releaser, like more vasoline. I don't know if you HAVE to line it, but it's better to do it and not wonder why you're cast didn't come out.

Step 9: Prepare the box with newspaper! If you remember from the plaster/plaster method - we used a box with crumpled up newspapers in it. Go get it again, or make a new one to place your mold in, face first.

Step 10: Mix your plaster or stone. I used lab stone this time because I wanted a more sturdy armature. Plaster is alright, but it's so easily dented and nicked because it's softer. Stone is more, well, hard like a rock. Stone is a little tricky because you use a volume to weight ratio to figure out how much you need. I also had this ordered from a Zahn dental supply - it's called Gibraltar White Lab Stone. But really, plaster works just as well if you don't have the lab connections.

Step 11: Pour the plaster/stone into your mold. Pour it slowly, especially if you're using plaster which is prone to air bubbles. Tap the sides to kick them out. Don't worry too much about it though because you can always carve off bubble marks. Pour it until it reaches the top of your mold, or to the highest point where it won't spill out.

Step 12: Let it dry for about 20-60 minutes. It differs depending on what material you're using. My stone has a 15 minute dry rate, while plaster might take way longer.

Step 13: Loosen the cast all around the edges and take the mold off. Now you have an armature!

I have seen WAY better casts made from alginate molds. I wish for the sake of my troubles that the alginate I had wasn't so quick drying. I probably would have gotten a much better mold with it then. Either way, I hope you had fun living vicariously through my alginate mold experience! Try it yourself if you're feeling ballsy!

Next week I'll be showing you how to make a feature for your mask out of aluminum wire and super sculpey!

Thanks for Reading and Happy Creating!

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