Working in Plaster

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by TRASH, Jan 16, 2003.

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  1. TRASH Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 3, 2002
    star 1
    I'm going to be creating some armor soon and was wondering if anyone knew any good resources/tutorials on using plaster and such to create such pieces. I've already found the site on the guyver armor and studiocreations sites but I'm looking for a little more info as well. Thanks.
  2. JediToren Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2000
    star 4
    Monster Makers
    FX Supply

    I am in the process of making a Chewbacca costume and I am going to make my own mask based on a lifecast of my own head and neck.

    According to the professionals I have talked to and everything I have read, you NEVER use plaster when making a cast of someone's body parts. You use alginate (the stuff they stick in your mouth to make dental casts) and reinforce it with plaster bandages. You then cast the positive in something like hydrocal. It is a common misconception that you just dump plaster on someone to make a lifecast. Plaster heats up as it sets and you could give a model second degree burns. It is also hard and rigid and difficult to remove from the model (alginate is flexible so it comes off without damaging the model or the cast) plus it locks into the bone structure (not sure what that means) and it can stick like glue.

    I'm not sure if you are planning on doing any lifecasting but I always say this whenever someone posts something about plaster because it is a common misconception that you just dump plaster on someone's head for a lifecast, and I don't want anyone getting hurt. There is allot of ignorance on the web and people will try to be helpful and suggest dangerous techniques without realizing the consequences of those techniques.

    I should note I have never done a lifecast, but am planning to do mine by the end of the month. I have talked to FX industry professionals and read allot of stuff on this and have the necessary supplies and a training video and everything I can find says no plaster when doing lifecasts.
  3. TRASH Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 3, 2002
    star 1
    Thanks for the info. I wasn't planning on doing any lifecasting, but thanks for the warning just the same. I've heard plenty of horror stories myself about people jumping into this stuff which is why I try to research it to death before attempting it myself. Thanks again.
  4. iycis Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 7, 2002
    star 3
    I have worked in plaster various times for sculptures. While I have never gotten burns, its still unwise to use because it shrinks after it dries completely. The last thing you want is to find out that whatever you made is now to small to fit you.
  5. Skaught Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2001
    star 2
    I've used plaster to make molds...not much to say about it. I mixed it with my hand and it sucked all the moisture out of it. After a few mixings my hand got really dry and felt like it was mildly burned. No big deal, but I used gloves after that.

    What exactly do you want to know that the websites didn't tell you?

    Scott
  6. jedimelis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2002
    star 2
    First off, GREAT TOPIC! [face_devil]

    TRASH: I remember from scuplture class that plaster casting is no joke... be careful with following instructions and get the right consistency...

    On a curious note, if you are not life-casting, what are you casting? And what will be your final material?

    On a separate note, I was thinking of creating some hobbit feet... anyone have any views on casting a model foot and eventually casting latex? (I was planning on strategically placing shoe support on the bottom) Any thoughts?

    Thanks again, Trash, for an awesome topic for the costume creators that doesn't involve sewing (not that we don't do that too).... :D

  7. TRASH Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 3, 2002
    star 1
    To answer your questions JediMelis:

    (1) My final material will probably be Styrene plastic.

    (2) As for what I'm casting....I found this little "gladiator" toy type kit that had a chestplate and some gauntlets and I used those for a basis and built up on them with misc stuff (mostly clay) to create the otherworldly armor effect and shape I wanted ,but I need more than the one set so I want to reproduce the 3 pieces somewhow.

    And on a side note: I'm also interested in casting latex, so if anyone cares to elaborate on JediMelis query, please do!

    Thanks to everyone who posted with their help and advice.
  8. jedimelis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2002
    star 2
    Yeah I was checking alleycatscratch.com and just decided to get my feet wet. Guess you should just take the research you have into casting and give it a whirl.... And you can do initial molding of small detailed items with liquid latex for small items.. pretty cool....

    http://www.alleycatscratch.com/lotr/makingem/Tips/CastingPin.htm

    Once I get to casting from plaster into latex I'll give an update....
  9. TRASH Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 3, 2002
    star 1
    Thanks for the link! I'll be on the lookout for you update. Good luck!
  10. jedimelis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2002
    star 2
    The corresponding forum to alleycatscratch.com is the forum:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LOTR_Costume/messages
    I just read the following message: "The helmet was sculpted out of clay, stone mold taken from that and then fiberglassed. The shield we are doing the same way but are sculpting the designs with epoxy resin and then will take a mold of that and do the shields in fiberglass."

    I thought of you immediately, sounds like these people have done this stuff before... Update on my project, I posted on that forum and will be "tutored" on casting feet... I hope to be able to share my experience with ya'll. [face_devil]
  11. studiocreations Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 18, 2000
    star 3
    There are two plaster casting tutorials on the StudioCreations.com DH2 web site. We are in the process of combining the two into one tutorial, but it's slow going.

    http://www.studiocreations.com/stormtrooper/plastermoulds/index.html
    http://www.studiocreations.com/evilash/plastermold.html


    I cannot recommend enough Thurston James book, "The Prop Builder's Molding And Casting Handbook" . It is by far the best single resource out there on the subject of molding and casting. It's about $17.00 in paperback form and can be mail ordered from Amazon.com.

    GO , RUN, BUY THIS BOOK!

    It'll help you in so many areas that it'll make your head spin like a Bio-exorcist.

    -sc
  12. jedimelis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2002
    star 2
    Thanks Studiocreations! I will be looking for that book... Just remembered that I have a book on sculpture that has some information on casting and molding, but a book dedicated to it!?!? Awesome.

    Trash: As to your questions regarding casting in latex, I for one have been instructed to use foam latex for my project with liquid latex on the bottom for its durability.... I just managed to make a super mess of my first casting of my foot... the words of the day are strategic planning, petroleum jelly (Vaseline) and expert help.
    I cannot emphasize these enough... I have scrapped my first cast of my foot and will begin anew and plan out the two pieces that will form the mold. I used plaster cloth pieces ... this may work on non lifecasting projects as well. I just goofed on the halves... if it weren't for the vaseline I'd have a scraped, superdry foot.... I am currently searching for local suppliers for Ultracal30 "plaster" and foam latex before I proceed.. so I am workimg on my test pieces for the dress in the meantime.... But don't despair.... I am not discouraged ... the casting will get done and I will enjoy the process!!
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