I am not that vain really but I have always had an interest in death masks. Yes I am one of those creepy people who lurks on Ebay looking for Lincoln’s face preserved for all time. Now I don’t want to say our 16th President was ugly but honestly, a mold of the Grand Canyon would have taken less plaster to fill in than all of his nooks and crannies.
Now obviously someone such as myself cannot be obsessed with the preservation of other people’s faces without wanting a chance to mold a mask of my own mug as well. Since I am currently not dead, and for the time being I would like to stay that way, I had to recruit the assistance of my family to encase my face. Obviously there are certain precautions involved here since by definition if you pour a bunch of cement into your nose and mouth and let it harden, you will die. So unlike the cliché, “DO” try this at home but don’t be a 'hard-head' and die attempting it.
To ensure I had access to air, I basically fashioned some cut straws with a built-up taped end large enough to plug up my nostrils. Also for a little extra safety, I put some cotton in the ears and gauze disks over the eyes. Most people spend hours with astringents and acne remedies trying to get rid of oily skin but for this project you need to lube up your face with a little petroleum jelly. I keep my hair fairly short, but if you have bangs, you will need to pull them back and secure your hair so it won’t get coated in goo.
Now out of cardboard I made a tray with a oblong hole in the middle to shove over my face. Oddly this will not feel too unfamiliar for those of you who eat bad fish regularly or over-indulge in alcoholic beverages. The cardboard toilet seat should be fairly snug but you can fill in mistakes with masking tape on your skin along the perimeter of your face. The idea is to make a catch basin for any plaster that doesn’t set-up and harden on your face.
Now the fun begins. Lay back on a pillow keeping your face and the tray horizontal. Have your helper soak some plaster wrap (plaster infused gauze) and apply over your face to help strengthen the mold. You will lose a little definition in your facial features but it will make things a bit easier. Next mix up a batch of plaster of paris until it starts to have the consistency of creamy pudding and then goop it on liberally all over the face. Make sure your helper is mindful to not get plaster in the breathing straws or purposely drop sand or rice down them for fun.
The process hardens faster than you might imagine but you will have to lay there patiently and vulnerable for about 15 minutes so this activity is best not attempted in frat houses or while prone on railroad tracks. There are latex molding compounds you can buy to make a ‘positive’ image from your plaster ‘negative’ mold you've just made, but I simply used a sheet of foil. I guess if I would have smiled more my mold might have had a better attitude. I did try this project one time before with an expensive granular molding compound, but mixing is critical and the product has to be fresh for excellent detailed results. For just some goofy family fun with easy and inexpensive materials, try casting your own mold of your kids’ entire bodies. Don’t worry they WON’T talk back, and anyway, everyone trusts that - MUMMY knows best!