Working with Plaster Paper
Toughlittlelady sent in a awesome submission just in time for Tip Tuesday. She’s wants to share her experience using plaster cloth.
"Okay, time for a cosplay rant.
I feel like every single person who makes oddly shaped things for fun or for a living needs to know about pre-done plaster…
Have you tried paper mache with liquid corn starch over stuff (Corn Starch feels way better on the hands than using the old All-Purpose Flour way or eeuck, Wallpaper Paste)? And if you can’t find liquid corn starch (Smart & Final tends to sell it), you can make it yourself with water and a box of corn starch you can pick up at any grocery store (1 c. boiled Water, 2 tsp. cornstarch, 3 tsp. water).
Another avenue is cloth mache (Monster Man Dan is quite famous for it). It’s the process where you use watered down white glue with torn cloth strips (Either cloth wipes from a hardware store or old bedsheets). You can find big jugs of white glue at school supply stores like Lakeshore Learning.
Sure, plaster is nice/great if you are going for a hard surface, but keep in mind: It does add a lot of weight to any object if you keep piling it on. I’ve done a two-part mask plaster molds before in my old sculpture class and those can be quite heavy and cause back pain (See the show, Face-Off when they carry big molds around).
I have a plaster copy of my face thanks to buying some alginate (The Linked page I found explains how you do it) when I was down in Burbank one time. And you can use water-based clay on it to add features to it. You can then easily make paper mache items/masks on top of the clay that will fit to your face. Or cast the clay features in plaster to make latex pieces. You can also make a copy of your face with the plaster strips as well, but it’s not a total exact copy since you are piling the strips on top of your face. I guess you could flip the finished plaster mask around, coat the whole thing with p. jelly or liquid soap, then pour plaster on to it for a closer copy.
But remember, any exposed plaster must be coated with petroleum jelly if you are using paper mache on it or else the paper will be permanently glued to the plaster and won’t come off. If you are casting plaster on top of another plaster piece, cheap liquid soap works, and coat any exposed plaster with soap so they don’t stick together.
If you can find it, The Prop Builder’s Molding and Casting book by Thurston James is great. The other books in that series also deal with mask making and theater props.