|This was one of the first projects
I had learned when I joined the NJ/PA Haunter's Make and Take. I am only
an apprentice. Vlad from Terror on Beechwood is the Master. This will show
a step by step process from creating a mold using mold rubber and
cheese cloth, making the plaster skull and showing assorted painting
Creating the Mold
The materials needed for the mold will be a skull, mold builder latex, non drying clay, brush and cheese cloth. Prepare an area out of the way to give time for the latex to dry. This process takes about 3 or 4 days. Drying times can be sped up if done outside or using a hair dryer. Most any kind of skull can be used (Bucky, plastic, resin) as a mold.
For this how to I will be using a Bucky. First remove all the hardware, screws, springs and latches. Glue the cranium cut back onto the skull using Liquid Nails. Reattach the jaw using 2 screws and hot glue. If creating a half skull the jawbone is not needed.
Next I use a non drying clay that I found in the children's section at an art supply store or I have seen it even at dollar stores. Its better to use a different color other than white. Use the clay to fill in the undercuts and any holes. Eye sockets, nose gaps in teeth. This will prevent the plaster from breaking when removing the mold from the plaster skull. Smooth on around the cranium cut so it looks even. Really work the clay and use your thumb to smooth the clay. Any dents or finger prints will show up in the plaster.
Fill in underneath and duct tape the hole.
Using an one inch cheap brush apply a thin coat of latex. Make sure there are no bubbles or hair. This is the layer that defines all the details in the skull. Let it completely dry. You can tell because latex turns yellow when dry and white when wet. Apply 2 more layers letting each layer dry. Make sure that there is an overlap under the skull. You do not have to coat the bottom completely.
I have used two kinds of latex. Mold Builder from Castin Craft and #80 molding compound from Cementex. You'll need about three 16oz containers of Mold Builder to complete this project which can be found at Michaels or AC Moore.
While the latex is drying begin cutting medium size squares of cheese cloth. Work in small areas. Apply latex then cheese cloth then latex. Fill in all nooks. The cheese cloth should conform to the skull especially in the eye socket and nose area. Cover the skull with latex and cheese cloth squares leaving an area open on the bottom to pour the plaster in. Let that layer dry. Apply a coat of latex. Let that dry. Repeat the process 8 to 10 times alternating cheese cloth and latex. Be careful not to do too many layers. In the end, the mold should be flexible to release the plaster skull.
Once the latex is completely dry its time to remove the skull from the mold. Using a sharp razor carefully cut a seam in the back from the top of the skull to the bottom. Gently curl the flaps back and release the skull. This is what your mold should look like.
Now its time to pump out some skulls...
Making a Plaster Skull
The materials needed are plaster, flexible plastic container, water, 8oz cups, duct tape and mixer or paint stirrer. You can find 25lb bag of plaster at Home Depot anywhere from $8 to $13. There are also smaller containers available at any art supply store.
Cut a piece of duct tape and tape the seam back on your new mold. I usually do two pours. Using your flexible plastic container, mix two 8oz cups of plaster to one 8oz cup of cold water. The package does say 2:1 ratio. It should not be too thick but more like pancake batter. Work quickly. While adding water use your mixer/stirrer to remove lumps and scrape the sides of the container.
Quickly pour the mixture into the empty mold. With two hands rotate the skull covering the inside with the plaster mixture. I usually tap around the teeth area popping any bubbles. Make sure all of the inside is covered. The plaster will begin to harden. Keep rotating until the mixture is completely too thick to move. Let that set for 30 minutes to an hour. I usually have a piece of bubble wrap to set it on so it does not lean to one side.
Once it is set it is time to make another pour. You will see that the plaster had hardened in the container. Gently squeeze the sides and bottom of the flexible container. The plaster will crack . Dump out the plaster and your container will be ready for the next pour.
I usually wait about 2 hours before I remove the plaster skull from the mold. Remove the duct tape from the seam. Gentle peel the mold away from the skull. The skull should be upside down with the back towards you. Peel the flaps back like a banana. Flip the skull upright onto a table and gentle roll the mold back until the skull pops out.
Its a boy!
When it first comes out it feels cold and damp. Has a dull grey color to it and has some weight. After about 3 days it turns white and much lighter. A 25lb bag can produce about 14 skulls.
I usually Dremel all the excess plaster from the bottom. Do this outdoors because it creates alot of dust. With a very fine sand paper the back seam can be sanded down or any other defect that might appear. I have even Dremeled some of the teeth out.
I have been playing around with different mediums and techniques to achieve the look I need for the area in my haunt. Here are some of the materials that I have used. Ivory colored house paint, dark grey house paint, golden oak stain, medium oak oil based stain, gel stain, latex, brushes, old rags, and polyurethane. If the skull is outside it must be weatherproofed.