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Plastercast hands

Following on from our first animation diary last week, in this entry we cover creating the plastercast replicas of our lead human character for use in the stop-motion animation scenes.

For the first scene of the film we needed to replicate Doll’s arms and hands, which are placed on the arm rest of the chair she’s sitting on whilst the teddies are sitting on Doll’s lap.

We decided not to use real arms and hands by pixilation as we like the creepy feel of replicated ones. We tried wrapping modroc (gauze bandages soaked in Plaster of Paris) around our model Sam to create a cast and then pushing clay into it, but it wouldn’t pick up enough detail. We realised the way to pick up all the detail would be to make proper casts by casting alginate moulds and then pouring Plaster of Paris into the moulds, which we thought would be a fairly straightforward process… but it wasn’t.

Plan A

We were advised to slop the alginate over Sam’s limbs. We had to work extremely fast as the alginate dries so quickly. It was fun but very, very messy!

Next, we had to very carefully cut it off into two parts, as it would have been impossible to take Sam’s arm out of it. I think she was feeling quite scared as we cut into the alginate in case we sliced her skin!

Once the moulds were dried, we had to carefully take it off Sam’s arm and lay it ready to put the plaster in.

Plan A arm casts

Plan A arm cast 2

This is one of the halves which didn’t really turn out too well :( The mould was too thin on the hand area, which meant the plaster set too thin over the fingers and they broke off.

Plan B

We decided to try dipping the arms into a box filled with alginate.

We’re not quite sure what went wrong with Plan B, but whilst mixing the alginate with water we realised that we didn’t have enough alginate mixture to make a complete set of arms. There was only enough to dip in Sam’s hands. Either we needed more packs of alginate or we didn’t add enough water.

Plan B hand cast

Plan B hand cast 2

Again, we had to make incisions to free Sam’s hands, and then we poured plaster into the moulds and wrapped it in clingfilm so the plaster wouldn’t run out.

Opening the cast the next day once it had dried, we found the finished hands:

Plan B hand cast 3

Final hand cast 1

We were really pleased with how much detail it picked up: the lumps and bumps are normal and can be easily sanded off and the holes can be filled in. Dipping the limbs into a container is definitely the way forward when making the final limbs, so the next challenge is getting the consistency of the mixture correct so we have enough.

Oh, and the pink colour from the alginate disappears fully once it has completely dried!

Final hand cast 2

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