In the ancient days, life-like, three-dimensional imitations of a deceased person’s body were created to transport him or her to the next world. This venerable art from the land of Egypt is now being practiced all over the world.
However, one no longer has to be dead to get a life cast done! Yes, realistic and perfectly detailed reproductions of the living and breathing human body are possible today. The 3D replica manages to capture every minute detail right down to the hair, skin texture, fingerprints and even the pores.
This cherished reflection can be captured from any part of the body and impressions of baby hands and feet are particular popular. So are pregnant bellies, intertwined hands, individual torsos and so on.
How is it done?
A life cast begins with making a body mold. In fact, this forms a crucial step and success depends on both the skill of the artist and the cooperation of the model. In fact, the model is only involved at this stage and the artist will work on his own during the casting.
The life casting artist will carefully instruct the model and decide on a pose that has to be maintained for a while. The artist will do his best to ensure that the model stays comfortable, secure and stationary.
The artist coats the body part with petroleum jelly or other release agent before slathering it with an alginate mixture. This alginate is a natural product that is derived from seaweed and is completely safe for the skin. Softer set variations are also available that is gentle for infant skin. Alternatively, the artist can opt to make the body mold with skin-safe silicone rubber too.
The mold making material is carefully applied on the body. Extra attention is needed when casting the face as the mold should capture the precise shape and yet the material should not enter the eyes, mouth or nose. Alginate molds are secured with plaster bandages to enable the mold to retain its shape.
The mold will set in a matter of minutes and it can be demolding by wriggling the face a bit. Now alginate molds should be cast quickly as the material tends to shrink and distort quickly. Plaster is generally the material of choice for making life casts. Resin life casts are also popular. It is even possible to make life casts in stone, metal or wood by using cold casting powders.
The casting material is carefully poured into the body mold. Care is needed to avoid air bubbles that can easily mar the perfection of the life cast. Once cured, alginate molds are usually broken away to reveal the life cast inside. The cast is then carefully finished (to correct any imperfections) and can also be painted or buffed as required.