Jenna Ledger, studio class

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Rob with prosthetic as Mordecai
On location at Finns Slough

Moulding, Sculpting, Casting, Breaking, Gelatining

another for a backup
third attempt, has more of a solid form
second try, looks a little closer to the intended form
spraying mould with pam so it won't stick
first try, not so good
first press
pouring the gelatine into the first mould
final result of clay mould
casting actor's face
rob again
attempting to s sculpt an impression

Having only one cast to work from made this a delicate process. I first made a mesh imprint of Rob's cast to insure another print of it in case an accident occurred. The mesh imprint was not exactly to scale of his facial features but it allowed me to get a sense of his bone structure. From there I tested out the clay, it was not the tradition sculpting clay you would traditionally purchase from a props store, rather a soft form self drying clay from Opus. Holly North, the prop house, was out of their soft form supply.

As the clay began to dry, cracks began to form. I realized I needed another base under the wire mesh if I was going to construct a substantial form. Fail number 1. From this position I took a wire imprint of the top side of the cast, from here I re-shaped the wire to approximate his bone structure, I then cast the wire with bandages; the bandages provided a stronger base from which to sculpt on.

Sculpting the deformity was the fun part, I really began to get a sense of how his deformity would age with the character, which lines would have heavier creases and the weight that would be carried in the cheek of the character.

Once I had completed my clay sculpture I cast it with plaster bandages to create a negative mould to pour the gelatin. This was an almost fail as part of the clay was beginning to crack. I managed to control the amount of breakage by keeping the sculpture moist and spraying a layer of lacre over top. When I was ready to add the gelatin to the mould I placed a few drops of foundation in the mix to give it more of a skin tone. The first mask was a fail I set the mould face up opposed to face down which didn't collect the gelatin in the dense parts as it should have.

The second attempt was better, however the bandages of the cast were beginning to fall apart and the clay was getting stuck in the gelatin. This reminded me I needed to spray ample amounts of Pam. The Pam definitely helped in the separation of materials, the third cast was completely successful. I prepared one more as a back up as I'm using two days of shooting.

Hoping the piece comes together as I continue to work the gelatin cast into character. I was suggested that I watch a program called Face Off which is about the world of Hollywood prosthetic industry. I looked at a few You Tube clips and realized that even pros have issues and fails throughout this process, it's always experimental and can produce various results every time you try. The total time for this process was about 12 hours.

Casting Results

perspective of mask, body & mould
application of gelatin to positive mould

This was an interesting and messy process. My first obstacle was the melting (not boiling) of the gelatin, it took a few tries of gentle microwave settings to achieve the desired consistency. Next was probably the trickiest part of the process - pouring the hot gelatin mix into the negative mould and applying back to the positive side of the mannequin. Luckily I had a friend help me with this process, otherwise I don't think I would have been able to do it without burning myself and possibly dumping hot gelatin all over my kitchen - it's sticky and messy!

After we applied the two moulds together we taped the entire mask around her face. I left the mask attached to the face for a week. When I returned from my trip to New York I attempted to take the plastic surgery prosthetic off my mannequin's face. The first try nearly ripped right off of her, but with a few gentle tugs, the mask came off.

Peeling the mask out of the mould was my next daunting task. The plaster stuck to some of the gelatin giving it a grainy texture. However, the majority of it peeled off quite well. I tore a small rip near the nose, but otherwise it looks good. I'm happy with the product so far.

Where I stand with production of my film is currently at the casting stage. I help auditions on Tuesday eve and will be doing call backs next week. I believe I found the perfect character to play my lead with the prosthetics.

I'm really not sure how to apply the gelatin mould to an actual subject. That's my next step I'll need to brainstorm.

Second Step - Casting

materials and subject
casting my first mould
first mould
plastering the mould

This step has been fun but involves a lot of waiting. First I had to cover my mannequins face with vaseline. Next I placed a mesh plaster over the face, ensuring to make emphasis on its prominent features such as the nose. I waited 20 mins for it to try on the face, peeling it off was easy.

I waiting two hours for that mould to dry then mix a batch of plaster together. My fix mix was unsuccessful and I made a watery mess of plaster all over my kitchen (i'm hoping a don't damage my plumping). The second batch was a success as I added less water and more plaster to the mix (about a 3 to 1 ratio). I then used a paint brush to apply the plaster, the coating is about 3/4" thick. I need to wait for this to dry over night before i can add the gelatin solution to the cast.

This stage has been a fun and messy.

First Step of the Process

gelatin puck

I'm beginning my first preparation of the Gelatin mixture to see how it performs. Finding gelatin was more challenging than expected as it only comes in pouches and not in large quantities as I had assumed. The mixture seems to have produced a substantial amount of material for the area of a face.

I have now placed the mixture in the freezer and will wait five hours for it to chill. My next step in the process will be to construct a mould. I still need to purchase plaster to do so.

My biggest concern right now is that the mixture was not liquid as the tutorial suggested. I'll find out in five hours if this is going to cause issues.

At this point I need to be refining my drawings and perhaps working with paint in the next few weeks to assist with the transformation of his deformity. Finding suitable colors and textures that will enhance and adhere to the identity of the of the actor as the character.

(comment da eun Jeong) Your process seems extremely time-consuming, but very interesting. Looking forward to see more progress!! (comment re- de eun Jeong) Thank you de eun Jeong, I think I did take on a rather large process, however if it works out successfully it will be a kind reward. I'm curious to see how yours and others are coming along after the break. Good luck :) (comment Jenna).


After removing the gelatin from the freezer the consistency seems to be fine. It's interesting to touch the left over portions around the edges. It has an elasticity to it as well as a skin-like color and texture. I can keep the product in the freezer until I'm prepared to construct a mould out of the materials.

This process was fairly simple to prepare with slight complicating involving water temperature and consistency. I'm satisfied with the results so far, hoping when i heat the mixture again it will remain consistent.

step one
step two
mix ingredients



My research has lead me to a number of possibilities, the two I'm most interested in working with are liquid latex and gelatin prosthetics. Latex appears to be more durable however, gelatin is less costly less subject to irritation and can be remolded into another prosthetic after you've finished. Both materials provide a similar result as far as aesthetic, and both respond well to makeup application. I suppose some more research involving other cases will be my next mission.

For anyone who reads this and does not know about the website Instructables [1] I highly recommend checking it out. It provides step by step tutorials on how to do basically anything you can think of. You can also join and create your own tutorials if you choose. Pretty handy for do-it-yourself projects.

I'm still working on sketches for my character, still in the developing process, I'll scan an image when my I have access to my scanner. The character I have written has a deformed nose which has grown into the right side of his face and an eye that sag slightly lower than the other. He has facial hair but only long strands on the right side of his face. I was looking at this as an inspiration video [2] as it contains a similar effect to the one I would like to work with involving gelatin.

Here is another great tutorial using latex [3].

At this point in the process I will most likely experiment with gelatin first as it is less costly.

first sketch

My Proposal

I'm writing a short film for my film production class and wanted to work with something that would contribute to the project. The film is about a disfigured man who is socially outcast for his harsh facial features. I have always been curious about experimenting with prosthetics and would like to use my class time forming this character. I have roughly researched the process of how to construct a facial prosthetic at home, the process seems time consuming a tricky but simple enough to perfect (hopefully) within a few tries.

My objective is to construct the character first through sketches; drawing and re-working the character until I have a desired aesthetic. I'm hoping to paint the character as well on canvas to assist with its formation. When I have cast my actor for the film I will begin a plaster process of his face. From this point it will all be experimental, see what works best, how many cast I may need to construct, what time of hair and disfigured features work best with different lighting situations. Makeup and constructing this within the least amount of time for on set purposes will also become key factors.

For me the experiment will be constructing an image from my mind and somehow bringing it to life, first through the 2D elements of drawing and painting, then through the movement and form of an actor. My final presentation anticipating this project will be a screening of my film with my prosthetic creation brought to life. I suppose this is more an experiment on my personal abilities than it is on constructing a new concept or idea based on social/political/scientific factors, but who's to say what will happen in the process.

Hi Jenna, I recently read a play by Jez Butterworth called 'Jerusalem,' which is about a man who live in the woods, who is sort of mythical, or spiritual but is also a junkie. I thought about it during our mid term presentation but didnt have the chance to tell you about it. Even if it doesn't help for this project I got the impression that you may dig it anyway.Rose

Assignment 1

1. what's your individual perspective on experimentation?

My general approach to projects seems to be directed through writing. I find articulating my concepts first through words somehow creates a stronger picture of how I want a project to form. For me, experimental practice is not solely based on venturing into the unexplored field of the imagination, however, it is directed from a place of influence and intrigue that is held back by a necessity to conform or feel secure within ones practice. I believe a willingness to be spontaneous and allowing ones self to venture outside of their comfort zone has the potential of leading you through to a direction that you may actually have a natural ability for. Curiosity, Hypothesis, Observation, Impermanence, Creation, Exploration, Spontaneity.

2. experimental practice (is this term an oxymoron?)

If you look at the term practice and try to derive a concise meaning for the word it would involve a sense of carrying out an idea from one point to another; the A to B method of process. When you place the term 'experimental' before it, it opens up another realm of possibility on how to achieve a result. This can be explored through many variations and therefore does not suggest the term to be an oxymoron but more a turn of phrase. To come to many results through use of various exploratory outcomes in conclusion becomes a series of practice achieved through experimentation of knowledge.

3. What is the significance of experimental work at this particular point in time (considering our global general social/ political/ environmental milieu: social interactions, art practices, art business, politics, social movements, social networking etc.)

The greatest significance I can think of is the desire to construct new hypothesis for already successful structures, whether it be political or scientific. To agree that one system is the only way to find a result, seems in this point in time, a ridiculous claim. I feel the human desire to progress forward and constantly improve and create new inventive methods is a clear signifier as the result of experimentation. This can involve looking at an old concept and re-working its function or constructing new policies and programs otherwise foreign to a culture. I think technology and art involving technology is a prime example of this progress. If we observe basic forms of photography and experimental film we will discover that many of the techniques and trials that were explored in the early inventions of these mediums have now merged into our technologically simplified (yet complex) world, (eg. phone apps & visual effects made available through photoshop etc.).

What I find most intriguing is when 'basement experiments' such as game rooms on the internet constructed in the mid 90's were possibly viewed as a subculture for extreme nerds or those who spent far too much time staring at a computer screen. Jump ahead not even ten years and the entire concept of communicating to someone else around the world has now become an everyday reality for basically an global population. I know the internet may seem like a cliche example but there is a very intriguing insight as to how far an idea or the thought of pushing the boundaries on things that exist in our reality can become something greater than ever anticipated. 

4. when experimental process(es) become canons:

A) Norman McLaren & Evelyn Lambart - Lines:Vertical [4]A simple and beautiful use of color, music and animation. The concept of music visually expressed through color and movement show early signs of McLaren's connection to synesthesia. I find this experimental video still holds transfixing powers despite the over saturation of images I experience everyday, or perhaps this is why I'm attracted to its simplicity. (comment da eun Jeong) I love this video because of its hypnotism. The music is extremely soothing as well.

B) Stan Vanderbeek -Breathdeath [5] displays his early experiments with painting on film as well as animation. He was a pioneer of interdisciplinary arts incorporating dance, projection and animation into a single composition. Much of his work was used as a basis for compositing programs and interactive art.

"Decades before the mass public use of the Internet, he proposed plans for a networked international picture-language called the “culture: intercom,” designed to inspire an “emotional-sociological comprehension” of technology through feedback mechanisms. It’s a fitting title for the artist’s first museum retrospective." - Wendy Vogel (Comment Fiona Bowie) Jenna, a thorough discussion of experimental practice. The way you proceed with your own work will hinge on your willingness to engage openly in the process while not relying on precedence and also being curious about the implications of this subject himself (your creation of this storyline, his predicament and how the outcome of your work on this countenance and overall characterization will shape, define and comment on his social milieu). So I think that there is more than structural experimentation involved here, there might also be a potential to experiment with the ideas contained within your diegesis. What finally might it say or what insights might it unfurl that may be different from what's been said before? Look forward to seeing the work progress.(end comment)