Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bottom Mask - Part 1

Yesterday, Patrick (ADK Shakes's Exec. Director) and I began work on the Ass Head Mask (or Bottom Mask) for this summer's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Over the last week, we purchased a whole bunch of materials: a giant block of clay, alginate, plaster of paris, plaster strips, wooden popsicle sticks, straws, raffia. Pretty hot grab-bag. The first step of the process was to take a mold of actor Tom Morin's face, who is playing Bottom this summer. Once the mold is set, we will fill it up with plaster of paris to make a positive plaster cast of Tom's face on which to build a clay version of the mask perfectly fitted for Tom. There are several steps after that as well, but I'll get to those in later posts.

Step One: Set up our living room to look like the operating room in Brazil.

Our garbage bag drop-cloths are economical.

Ready for surgery.
We also used garbage bags as smocks, since all we could find at the local A.C. Moore were child-sized smocks. Tom arrived while I was being fitted in my garbage bag. I felt like we may have frightened him.

Patrick measures the alginate while Bob Dylan plays in the background.
Our first batch of alginate hardened way too quickly. The package called for a 1:1 ratio of room temperature water and alginate powder. With 80-degree water, we should have 8 minutes before the alginate set -- but we had not even two minutes before it was completely hardened into rubber. So that batch went into the waste basket. Next time, more water and coooolder. The second batch turned out much better!

Tom being an incredibly good sport.
After we got the alginate on, Patrick began covering Tom's face with plaster strips. These act as a support structure for the alginate mold, which is pretty rubbery and mobile. We need to work pretty quickly to get all the strips on. The weight of the plaster will also help us get a better mold of Tom's face. Also, (having been through this process once myself) I'm sure Tom wants to escape from the alginate-and-plaster-craziness as soon as possible!



 Here's a look at the completed plastering:

Pretty creepy!
Poor Tom lost one of his breathing straws as the alginate dripped down his face! He had another minute or so to set while Patrick and I washed hands, preparing to remove the entire piece from Tom's face. Of course, I had to capture the moment of truth on camera:



After washing up and pulling pieces of alginate out of his hair, Tom graciously stayed to chat with us for awhile. We had a relaxing evening of Chinese food, Peter Pan, and peeking at the mold after Tom left. Next weekend, we will pour the Plaster of Paris into the mold and have a perfect replica of Tom's face to begin the clay model of the Ass Head!

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