Thursday, February 18, 2016

Have Brain, Will Learn

Research has shown that as people age, staying active will help them stay active. Seems like circular reasoning, but actually, it works with brains, too. However, if you want your aging brain to ‘stay in shape’, you need to be learning new things.
When you learn something new, your brain creates new ‘pathways’ internally. If you do the same job, the same activities and hobbies for 40 or 50 years, your brain’s pathways are practically ‘set in stone’ (figuratively speaking). If you choose not to expand on them, then you will start doing those activities mindlessly. Why think about it? You’ve been doing things this way for decades!
‘Use it or lose it.’ That applies to brains, too. If you don’t exercise your brain, don’t give it new ‘problems’ to solve, it will eventually atrophy. Oh, you may have the same amount of gray matter in your noggin, but it will have forgotten how to wander off those stone pathways. I was particularly struck by the (aging) scientist in one documentary I watched who set aside her science research for a set amount of time each day to... sculpture with clay. Could she get any further away from studying the brain? Well, possibly, but clay sculpture seems pretty removed from research data.
Realizing that I had reached that ‘aging’ part of my life, I took this information to heart. Last year, I took a class on Theatrical Makeup. I had never made beauty makeup a part of my life, so this was definitely something new for me.
The class included methods of making appliances. If you’ve watched Star Trek, think of a Klingon’s forehead, a Ferengi’s ears and head shape, things like that. We had to make up our own character and apply that makeup - including at least one appliance - to ourselves as our final exam. I actually made 3 appliances for my character, and made a wig. Not only did I grossly underestimate how long the wig would take me to make, I had to solve problems, like how to figure out where the appliances would ultimately be attached to the wig, since they extended far into a human’s hairline. It was frustrating at times, but definitely fun!
I’ve recently started making appliances again. Boney foreheads, right now. Yesterday, I pulled my first latex forehead from my first mold. I think it looks pretty good, even if the latex did pool in the ‘boney’ areas. But that’s good, because they dried very thick and will stick up, off the forehead better.
Still, there are better materials that would produce better results. So I’m trying to decide what to try next. Hot foam? I’d have to build and calibrate an oven specifically for that, or make a backing mold that would allow the forehead molds be placed in a toaster oven (which we bought specifically for that purpose.) There’s also this stuff called dragonskin I’ve been meaning to try...

I anticipate lots more fun!

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