ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Make a Facial Plaster Cast (with and without alginate)

Updated on February 17, 2019
Ulluart profile image

Through trial and error, through my MFA, I have done plaster casts on my partner and I wanted to share my experience.

Let's try and make this as easy as possible...

This is through experience in moments of trial and error. There were times of frustration, wasting of materials and many hours waiting for things to dry, whilst my partner/model had to write on paper with his eyes closed if he wanted to talk to me...But all in all, it's a new experience and I highly suggest you should try this at least once. For all of your curious cats out there...Let's get started.

What you will need

  • Clothes you don't mind getting dirty (you wear these whilst plastering)
  • big plastic bowl x 2
  • jug of lukewarm/almost cold water
  • plaster strips (I used around one/two full ones)
  • scissors
  • vaseline
  • Q-tips
  • plaster of paris
  • alginate (depending on what you want to do)
  • be close to a sink! (will need constant top ups of water)
  • bald cap
  • small amount of latex/spirit gum

I'll put it out there right now, if you want your plaster cast of a face to be quite lifelike, smoother and better looking for a finished product, GO FOR ALGINATE.

If you cannot afford it, or you wish to go cowboy western and super curious as to what happens when you don't, then the plaster strips will be there as a backup. Just be aware that without alginate, the plaster strips will be VERY WEAK. So be patient.

Okay, so you're in your comfy clothes that you don't mind getting dirty. Hopefully you are also in a space where you don't mind about cleaning up after accidentally spilling some watery plaster on the floor. Just pre-warning, as it will happen, no matter how careful you are.

Remember, this is a difficult and touch-go kind of job. You will have to use your own gut feeling to figure out whether the plaster is wet enough and to the right consistency. I've read and researched this to a T, and I'll be straight with you, no matter how easy they explain it, it took a couple of tries to get it right. So make sure you have back-up strips and plaster of paris just in case.

What I would suggest to do is cut the plaster bandage like strip (one super long one) into smaller strips. I would double their consistency by folding them untop of each other, making it stronger in the process. I would suggest smaller and larger strips for the different places of the face.

Plaster bandage used for body casting. Cut these into strips
Plaster bandage used for body casting. Cut these into strips

I would then begin to prepare your model. The vaseline and the Q-tips come into play here. It's for the facial hair on your model, whether that be light stubble, beard, odd hairs and especially eyebrows. You take an Q-tip, place it in the Vaseline and put a huge blob of Vaseline unto the hairy parts of your model's face.

Why am I telling you to do this? So that the Alginate and/or the plaster strips don't stick to the hairs. Like a very strong plaster on your bare skin, ripping it off = pain. Same principle here.

Also, for health and safety purposes, the Q-tips come in play. Because cutting up those plaster strips is already getting messy...

Next up is placing the bald cap unto place over their head hair. This will leave a weird flap on the top of their head; don't worry about this, this is just to cover the hair. Also, you'll notice that it will slightly go over the forehead. This is good. Because to keep the bald cap into place, it's best to use a small amount of latex unto a Q-tip or spirit gum with the additional brush to stroke some unto the skin, so that the bald cap and the forehead will stick together. This will help with the entire process, promise me.

Placing the bald cap unto the model using latex
Placing the bald cap unto the model using latex

With or without?

WITH ALGINATE> A picky whiny substance that gives you the cold shoulder almost immediately in warm water (it solidifies quicker in warmer water). Whatever the colour (some are green), you will need to read the labels and begin to mix the contents with water. The water needs to be almost cold. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. This will give you time to place unto the model's face in a semi slobberish consistency that won't go almost everywhere. Make sure to cover most of their face, leaving holes for their nostrils so they can breathe. When that is finished, then place the plaster strips untop.

WITHOUT ALGINATE> continue unto the next step to plaster strips.

Ready set go.

Q-tip those hairs on thy model, then, because we want to be safe here, make them rub a small layer of Vaseline on their face. Covering everything.

Place the bald cap on your model to hid their hair. Whether male or female, short or long hair, this is the best way.

Then proceed to dip each plaster strip in a bowl of semi warm water and place in your model's face. Taking care for the first layer to touch each-other and cover the face.

From then on, its adding on.

Plastered face

Underneath the plaster strips is the cooling alginate.
Underneath the plaster strips is the cooling alginate.
Model with plaster strips on face.
Model with plaster strips on face.
It's best to do many layers and wait until it hardens before taking it off the model's face.
It's best to do many layers and wait until it hardens before taking it off the model's face.

So the pictures give you a general idea of what I chose to do.

The model had a bald cap to cover his hair and had alginate placed unto his face. Immediately after that, I rushed to the next process of placing plaster strips unto his face, taking care to leave enough room for him to breathe.

It is important to talk to your model, as I can only image it to be a scary experience.

And if it isn't obvious at this stage, their eyes and their mouths much be closed as all times.

I waited for about 20 minutes for the plaster strips to dry completely. It was comical having to check; it was like knocking on a front door. Super tough.

It's best to ask your model to nod or shake their head if they feel the alginate/plaster strips are dry and tough as well; just in case.

If everything is fine, then it's time for the big reveal.

Slowly but surely, it is now time to take it off. Patience is a virtue in this field, and so, being slow but forceful is important here. Your model can help, but I advise that you do it yourself, as you can see what is happening.

What you should get is a weird layer of white/green alginate with a replica of their face, with plaster strips as a comforter OR a fragile hollow strip plaster cast of your model's face. Some characteristics, like the nose and the eyes might not be precise however...

...But that's okay. It's your first time perhaps?

Anyway, your model can then begin to shower themselves and get themselves cleaned up.

However, for you, the next process is this:

You've perhaps mixed alginate. Right? If so, then you can have a go at mixing plaster of paris with semi cold/lukewarm water. Like I said before, the hotter the water, the quicker it hardens.

Use the plaster strip and/or not alginate plaster cast as a base, almost like a bowl itself. Carefully place it somewhere, like a box, with towels etc around it to support the weight.

The plaster cast of my model's face facing downward, filled in with plaster of paris.
The plaster cast of my model's face facing downward, filled in with plaster of paris.

Following the instructions on the Plaster of Paris content, mix water and POP together to an almost thick gravy like consistency. We don't want it to be like water...too runny.

When you have mixed this in the second bowl, you can pour it straight in, taking care to get into every crevice.

Once filled to the top, you let it dry. This could take only a few hours, but I would suggest an overnight of letting it dry, just in case.

Left: Next steps unto my creative journey.  Right: The potential final cast when finished!
Left: Next steps unto my creative journey. Right: The potential final cast when finished!

Look to the right of that picture!

That might be your end result!

Let me tell you, it's difficult to get the plaster of paris cast out, peeling the plaster strips off etc. Also, the plaster strips and/or not alginate are, at this moment until furthermore, now completely useless, so an act of throwing them away can work here.

The final result, after some sanding down and a few layers of varnish, can look like what it did in the picture above.

Sanding it down = more defined features

Varnish = helps stop it rotting away (plaster does rot after a while, much like wood without protection)

Hopefully you and your model had fun in this process.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 L P


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Blonde Blythe profile image

      Blonde Blythe 

      15 months ago from U.S.A.

      Interesting and informative article! Very well written with many helpful tips! When I think of facial plaster casts, I remember the scene in the movie, "The Trouble with Angels," from 1966, Starring Hayley Mills. Unfortunately, the recipient of the facial plaster cast in this movie didn't fare as well as your model!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)