Sunday, June 10, 2012

Life/Body Casting Modeling

Today I had the joy to experience being made into a mold for a potential garden sculpture. This was the most different kind of modeling I've done yet, and I can't wait to see photos of the process and to see the finished piece.

I drove in the heat of the early afternoon to Morgan Hill, cursing at my car's broken fan knob...I for some dumb reason turned it down but once it's turned down it's very difficult to turn back up without a pair of pliers. I got some blisters on my fingers from trying to turn it...eventually I gave up and just drove with the windows cracked. I made it to Greg's home and he greeted me outside. We chatted and he gave me a small tour of the place and introduced me to his wife and his (adorable!) three year old German Shepard, Haley.

We sat in his studio, a small hand-built shack covered in globs of silicate material - the kind he was going to cover my body with for the mold. He explained the whole process to me, and then I disrobed and got into position so he could place the appropriate rests for me on the pillar I was leaning on. The idea: I am a garden nymph peering from behind a column. So I was leaning on the pillar (a large industrial cardboard tube) and Greg drilled in some pieces of wood with bits of the silicate stuff on them so I could rest my chin, heel, and knee. Then I just did my best to stay still while he began to lay on the goop.

First he covered my hair in cholesterol. No, I don't know if it actually was cholesterol, but it felt and looked a lot like butter, or Vaseline. Then he covered the front of my body, and then worked from my feet up (though he said he was going to start with my face, but, oh well). He then got up to my face...I closed my eyes and relaxed my face as best I could. Unfortunately, I got a bloody nose when we tried putting tubes up my nose so I could breathe (stupid nose) so he had to go without and just get the stuff as close to my nostrils as possible.

Thankfully, Greg had warned me before this point that I may start feeling lightheaded or dizzy during this process. "Bodies are weird," he explained. "When you stand really still for a length of time the blood will just kind of stop getting up into your head. If this happens, just breathe, long, deep breaths." Apparently one of his previous models actually fainted in the middle of being cast as a mold. So I hoped this wouldn't happen to me - the whole dizzy feeling - but, it did. I felt uncomfortable and awkward covered in this shell of goop and tried to keep myself calm and breathed, just as he said. But it didn't seem to help. Because my mouth was covered, I couldn't speak - but he had planned for this. One grunt was "yes" and two grunts was "no". He asked, "Are you feeling all right?" :grunt grunt:"Dizzy?" :grunt: "Just keep breathing."

After a few more minutes my head was spinning as if I were drunk. I also associate dizziness with nausea, so I began to panic, slightly, and tried not to think about what it would be like to have to vomit while my mouth was covered in silica goop. Finally Greg asked, "Do you want me to put the fan on in front of you?" :GRUNT!: He did. And eventually, the feeling ceased, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the process.

The whole sensation of laying the goop on my skin and feeling it dry over time was fascinating. Since my eyes were closed and covered, I just felt like a caterpillar in a cocoon, gripping onto the side of a tree. Then Greg put another layer of this weird, hard foam stuff put on over the silica stuff. When he put that on, it felt very warm and it spread out all over. It was not uncomfortably hot, though. I kind of enjoyed it. Then I could feel the stuff drying around my face, and I imagined that this is what it feels like to be a snake about to shed its old skin. I could tell it was time for the thing to come off...I could feel a gap forming between the silica shell I was in and my skin, though to be honest I worried that that gap formed not because the material was hardening but because I was moving.

Greg took surgical scissors and began to free me from my second skin. It was a relief to get out of there, but also a little sad. I kind of regretted having pubic hair just then, though. Pulling that stuff off that region of my body was incredibly painful, but also funny...we had a good laugh over that. After I was completely free from the mold, we looked at the mold in a giant tub of water he built for his sculpture making. I really hope it turns out well. I put my robe back on and went to take a shower...a very much needed shower. Overall it was a cool experience; I'd definitely do it again. And I'd be more prepared, and probably more relaxed about the lightheaded bit :]

Greg promised me the photos he took when I was completely covered, so, stay tuned :]

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