Prosthetics – Week 5 (Semester 2) of Year 2 Makeup Artistry & Special Makeup Effects

Today’s lesson featured casting and sculpting to prepare students for constructing their creature design. For my chosen area of this task (fantasy creature design with body painting), I will make prosthetic pieces; therefore my tutor thought it would be a good idea to show everyone how to cast an ear. This will fit in perfectly with the image I have in mind as I wanted to specifically use prosthetics ears such as the pointy Avatar type.

After watching the tutor’s demonstration, I then applied the same principles on a model. Firstly my model had to lie on top of the desk (on her side) so that I had easy access to her ear. I placed a cushion under her head for comfort before I began. The hair/head had to be covered in cling film like a head band so that only the ear was visible (it would become a nightmare if products were to get into the model’s hair). I then placed a little cotton wool in her ear drum so that it was both blocked and protected. Having cut a large plastic cup in half, I used the top end to place around the ear (leaving a small gap all the way around) which created a funnel and a barrier to hold the products. After surrounding the cup with tissue to prevent any leakage, I could then create my first mixture.

Using a mixing bowl to make alginate, I poured in 1 cup of water (at room temperature) and sprinkled in alginate powder until I achieved a porridge consistency. Once ready, I poured the alginate into the cup until it reached the top. I had to wiggle my finger around in the mixture to make sure it had got in each place of/around the ear ensuring air bubbles were released. Then I held the cup firmly until it set like jelly which took between 5-10 minutes. Once set I removed the tissue and slowly pulled the cup upwards and away from the top of the ear, which revealed a perfect ear mould inside the cup.

The next step involved cutting another cup and again using the top end to place directly on top of my first cup. I rolled a sausage shape of clay to place around the middle of the two cups so that they were firmly held together. Two strips of plaster bandages had to be cut and dipped into a bowl of water. After removing excess water I then placed the strips all the way around the clay so that it set and kept the two cups securely fixed. To make plaster, I used 1 cup of water and enough plaster powder to create a double cream texture. Once ready, the plaster had to be dribbled in slowly to the cup, shaking it in between each dribble so that the plaster fell into all gaps of the ear and to release air bubbles. This was left to set before I could de-mould (images below show the full step by step process).

Cast of an earThis was a thoroughly enjoyable, informative and instructive lesson. In particular I loved getting straight into practical work, knowing that it will enhance both my practical skills and knowledge. I have a great idea in mind for my creature design and I cannot wait to practice experimenting with painting in next week’s class! Everything I learned in this lesson has been noted for future reference as I may well  be asked to assist/create something in my future career.

The skills and techniques used in this lesson would be suitable for somebody wishing to go into the industry of creature design or  sculpting.

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