Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Death Mask

A few days ago, I had a cast made of my head. I have costumes I want to make, and they all require a mask, partial mask, or prosthetics, so I needed a copy of my head to make such things and be sure they would fit.
The procedure took about 2 hours to get the cast of my head, and was done by a friend who has done this procedure many times, and two assistants. I was afraid I would experience claustrophobia as they layered items onto me.
We’d had a discussion beforehand on how to ‘deal’ with my long hair. I gathered it at the nape of my neck, and it trailed down my spine. They put a bald cap over my head, trimmed it, and glued it down. They left the back of the bald cap as long as possible, to cover as much hair as it could.
They applied plastic wrap to my shoulders and upper back, because the procedure is messy, and there was still hair to protect. Tiny ear plugs would let them get as much ear detail as possible. I could still hear, but not as well. Now they put mold release on my face and neck. I had to close my eyes for that, and keep them closed until the procedure was done. I was beginning to lose some contact with the world.
Silicon liquid had to be mixed and applied to my head before it solidified. That is a matter of a few minutes for each small batch. If they tried to mix it all up at once, a large portion of it would set before it could be applied. As they covered my ears, their voices became more muffled. When they covered my eyes, my little world became darker. A 10 or 15 minute wait let the silicon ‘cure’ enough to go on.
The final layer was plaster bandages. Again, I lost some ability to hear, and my world definitely went black. And another wait for the plaster to set. Have you ever worked with plaster? It warms as it dries. It was hard to stay awake. However, since I still had some hearing, and the workers frequently touched my arms to get my attention before they asked me a question (“How are you doing?”), and I had an arranged method of responding (thumbs up for okay), I didn’t experience any claustrophobia.
They pulled the plaster outer mold off, and then the inner silicon mold. We had started at 10 am, it was now noon, and we had a ‘negative’ mold and a support case for it.
After the materials had cured some more, our friend showed us how to make the positive casting. By 2 pm, we had a one duplicate head. It looked just like me.
It was ugly.
After a good night’s sleep, I figured out why I had such a strong negative reaction to it. Looking at it was like looking at myself, dead. There is no life in this resin head. It cannot smile, move its eyebrows, or open its eyes. It’s the same reaction I have when viewing a body at a funeral. I had heard of death masks; now I own a Death Head. I can deal with it.

How about you, would you like to have your very own Death Head? What would you do with it?

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