Plan Your Day 2014


Prosthetics to Special Effects: Life-Mask Creation

Exhibit Code: GOR-117
Zone: Field House
Location: Gordon Field House and Activities Center (GOR/024) - Main Floor
Time: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Age Group: All Ages

I am currently teaching a Prosthetics course. The field of anaplastology is a branch of medicine dealing with the prosthetic replacement or correction of a missing or damaged part of the anatomy. In this case, we are focusing on facial prosthetics and artificial eyes. Although offered through Medical Illustration, the class has students from many disciplines in CIAS, from Bio-medical Photography to Industrial Design and Film. Students learn to make facial impressions, working on each other, and complete the process of having a 'life-mask' produced. I categorize these as life versus death masks because the impression is taken while sitting upright in a chair so that gravity does not distort the physiognomy as it would if one were laying horizontally. Once their plaster replica is complete, students will sculpt their nose initially, followed by an orbital after making an artificial eye. The final project can be a complex prosthesis for a patient or a special-effects prosthetic. We will have large images in the background that trace the various processes (like the TV show Face-Off) and display actual examples of artificial eyes and facial pieces. With an outlet available, a powerpoint of prosthetic environments will run in a loop. During the event the plan is to demonstrate taking an impression of someone's face, which will then be cast in plaster. Unlike the procedure for artificial eyes, which was the initial thought for an Imagine project, creating a life mask can be done in a reasonable period of time so that visitors can leave with a replica of their face. Students are very excited about being able to do this at Imagine and there are 8 students currently on the list who can work on the Saturday of the festival. We would need two tables covered in plastic, one on which to mix and apply materials and one to place the cast faces as they are drying. The visitor would sit in a comfortable chair and wear a smock to protect their clothing. One team of students would work with the alginate and plaster bandage to take the initial impression. When the cast is removed from the face, it will be passed to the next group of students that will cast the impression in plaster, creating the life mask. Visitors can enjoy the festival while their cast is drying and pick up their completed mask before leaving the event. If we could have a second casting station, we would be able to efficiently create masks for more visitors. Though safe (we use medical grade alginate) and reasonably efficient in terms of time, a full face cast should be for adults. To provide a take-away for younger guests to the festival, we can easily cast fingers or hands.

Joyce Hertzson, Lindsey Kasper, Veronica Brown, David Ozug, Cheryl Smith, Christopher Smith

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