Ceramics molds artist faces and minds: Photo of the Day 10/11/19


Mary Sherwood

Emily Cole applies wet plaster strips to Jacob Blue’s face.

by Jacob Blue, Managing editor

On October 10, during Christian Madenspacher’s Ceramics 2 class, students made molds of faces using plaster strips. The plaster masks will be used for a future project. 

Students who were the models, said it was one of the weirdest experiences to see  physical representation of what they look like. During the process, “it felt like I was drowning, yet I could still breathe.” 

The process of face casting dates back to Ancient Egypt when gauze would be dipped in plaster to cover the dead Egyptian pharaohs. They did this to provide the perfect fit for their sarcophagi that would transport them into the afterlife.

The process starts by cutting dry plaster into different sized strips. The person who is being cast applies Vaseline to their eyebrows and any other facial hair, and then puts a trash bag over top of their bodies to avoid getting plaster on their clothes. After that, a student wets the plaster strips and puts them on the face, covering everything except the nostrils. 

The applicator applies the strips while the smoother smooths out the texture of the gauze. 

After the plaster is applied, it has to dry in place for 10 minutes. The whole process takes about half an hour.

During the whole process the person being molded must remain “deadly” still to avoid any wrinkles in the mold. 

After the mold has dried, the person in the cast must blow up their cheeks like a blowfish to remove the mold from their face. Once the cast is off, someone must wipe off the plaster from the person’s eyes before they can open them. After their eyes are clean, the person wipes their own face with baby wipes.

Applicator Emily Cole said, “The process of face casting is something that I have never heard of before taking Ceramics 2,  and now that I have done it I definitely love doing it. You get to see all the details and texture of someone’s face and then create something out of it.” 

Check out this gallery of my experience getting my face plastered.