The Golden Stag Gets Plastered
written by Tim Converse (known in the SCA as Juan Santiago -- references throughout this document are to Juan and Rose and perhaps some others, these are their persona names in the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.)

Part 1 -- the first mold
Part 2 -- the plaster positive
Part 3 -- clay positive of mask
Part 4 -- second negative
Part 5 -- the cement positive
Part 6 -- working the leather
Part 7 -- shaping the leather
Part 8 -- tool users
Part 9 -- two masks
Part 10 -- fixing things, lineup ...
Part 11 -- hair and other finishing touches
Part 12 -- some more finishing touches

We knew it had to happen sooner or later didn't we?  That's right, The Golden Stag actually went even futher into period Commedia by working on character masks.  Well, now here is photographic evidence of the process, with discussion and comments to go along with it all.  For further information, see the footnotes in the Director's Diary for 'The Twin Captains' on the Golden Stag Players main website.

I also want to state that we wouldn't be here if it weren't for the research which Laurie Hupman (known in the SCA as Rose de Le Mans) has been doing.  This is no easy feat.<G>

Juan Under "Dental Alginate" - We start here.  The first step in the process of making a mask is to get a negative image of  the person you're going to make a mask for.  Since Rose and I were planning this process out, I became the first victim as a test several weeks before we tried this on anyone else.

'Dental alginate' is a sort of rubber that dentists use to take impressions of teeth.  Of course this is not period, but as near as we have been able to tell, it's the only non-period step in the process that we are using.  (Check on the 'Director's Diary for 'The Twin Captains' page for further discussion on period techniques.)

Once the alginate is set, then it's backed with guaze strips soaked in plaster to strengthen the mold.

Juan Free of the Mold - As you can see it's not exactly a clean process.  I first had to put a layer of Vaseline on my face in order to make sure the alginate didn't stick, but once the stuff had set, and the plaster strips were dry, we just popped me right out of the stuff.  All told, I spent about twenty-five minutes under the mold.  Fortunately there was music playing and I was able to meditate a bit in order to keep from freaking out.  I'm a bit claustrophobic, so this was a challenge for me.

But then we do suffer for our art, don't we?<G>

The First Negative - This is what we ended up with once I was pulled out from under the mold.  Strangly enough, if you look at it just right, the picture looks like a positive of my face rather then a negative.  A simple trick of the light, but very cool.

The interesting thing about the alginate is that it's extremely sensitive to the texture of what it is poured onto.  You can't see it here in the picture, but the texture of my skin is worked into the mold itself and shows up extremely well when you look closely at the plaster life mask that we made.

Next Step in the Mask Making Process
Back to 'Director's Diary of 'The Twin Captains'