Moulage for Life Casting Molds
Alginate has mostly captured the scene for making molds from a live human body before making life casts. Life casting artists regularly use the user-friendly and safe alginate to make stunning and lifelike artworks that are then displayed on mounts with a brass name plate.
However, it's quite unfortunate that the age-old moulage seems to be losing its popularity as a mold making material. In the early 20th century, moulage was regularly used in both the medical and law enforcement fields. It served well to take impressions of internal organs as well as capture footprints, tire tracks and so on. These properties serve well in mold making too as moulage can capture fine details and is safe for the skin too.
Moulage is actually similar to alginate as it is also derived from a seaweed called kelp. It comes as a globby gelatin that is moist to the touch. It should be stored in an airtight box and not allowed to dry up.
How to use?
Where moulage varies from alginate is that it needs to be heated prior to use. It should be melted completely in a double boiler or microwave oven (about 150°F) to form a creamy and flowing paste. Use a spatula to break the lumps and add water if needed to get a batter like consistency.
Caution: Never allow moulage to come into contact with aluminum as this will cause a chemical reaction that renders the moulage useless.
Apply the heated moulage on the object that has to be molded. If applying on the skin, allow it to cool to a little above the body temperature (around 100 - 110°F). Use it quickly before it cools down again.
The heated moulage can be applied with a brush, spatula or by hand itself. Cover all parts and corners and brush the first coat vigorously to remove air bubbles. Apply subsequent layers quickly without allowing the previous coat to cool down. This moulage mold also needs to be reinforced with a shell mold made of plaster bandages or wire screening at least.
After the mold has cooled and set, demold it carefully. An advantage here is that moulage does not stick to anything and therefore, no release agent is needed during the mold making or casting stages. It can be directly applied on the skin and hair too (though life casters do prefer to matt down hair with petroleum jelly).
The moulage mold is flexible and yet captures fine details very accurately. It should be cast immediately as moulage tends to shrink when its moisture evaporates. Only wax, plaster, casting stone and posmoulage can be cast in a moulage mold.
The leading benefit of moulage as a mold making material is that it is heat reversible. The molds can be broken into pieces, remelted and reused innumerable times to make negative molds again and again! All you have to do is store the moulage in airtight containers or wrap the moulage mold in a damp cloth to keep it from drying out between uses.
Surely the most economical art supply by far!