Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pro-Fx Makeup Tips - Introduction to Lifecasting - Part 4

Introduction to Lifecasting – Part 4

- The magic of Silicone.

Way back in April’s Fx Tips, we began to outline the wonders of Alginate. Now although Alginate is a great product, as old as the hills, cheap, fast & safe it does have its down sides.

The first is that it’s not very strong, it can tear easily. The second is that being water based, we are limited to what we can cast into it, basically Plaster is the main material here. Most resins don’t like moisture much, or will certainly reproduce copies from Alginate with a less than perfect finish. And the third problem is that Alginate shrinks very quickly once set. This means that wherever you are on a job, a plaster positive has to be cast into the mould as soon as it is removed from the client, which is more work, more time, more materials to carry, more hassle !

So what we need is a synthetic alginate substitute, and that material is now Silicone. There are of course a great many types of silicone out on the market, most are utterly inappropriate for lifecasting with, only one is really and truly safe and viable as a lifecasting material, it’s called ‘Lifeform’. It has been specifically developed for the market, and although it is somewhat more expensive than Alginate, the advantages are tremendous.

Not much sticks to silicone, making it great to cast almost all materials into it. It is dimensionally stable, strong and tear resistant. Also, from a good silicone mould we can make multiple copies of a lifecast. It is lighter than alginate as it can be applied much more thinly, and as such has less tendency to alter the facial features as it does not pull on the skin under it’s own weight and the action of gravity.

Mixing is quite easy too. Because it will stick to itself easily, you don’t need to worry about covering a large area in one go, or having to bond layers together etc. You can mix in small manageable batches and build up exactly the layer you want quickly and easily.

There are two parts to the product, each is a different colour and is mixed equally until an even colour is achieved.

One other really great thing about ‘Lifeform’ is that unlike other silicones which have been made for lifecasting in the past, this material does not grip to hair, so again in that it is much like Alginate, making this a truly versatile product.

Once applied the material will set in a few minutes and will peel away cleanly, capturing really fine detail. There are fast setting and slow setting versions too.
No Hessian reinforcement is needed, and a plaster bandage support case can be applied to the Silicone in just the same way as we outlined in June’s Fx Tips.

Want to learn more…

Book onto our ‘One day Intensive Facial Lifecasting’ Course, or
The ‘6 Week Intensive Prosthetic Makeup’ Course

Next month…

Protect yourself - Working safely with materials in the workshop (and on-set).