Lifecasting my hands and feet

Our feet have many stories to tell. Every new story begins with a prodding, a yes, a step — but who tells us where to go? And who tells us when to stop?

“Go, go over there, then stop.”
Lifecasts using two-piece molds
Material used: Plaster
Date completed: January 30, 2014

Meditation piece on repetition, variety, and rhythm. Still part of the sculpture series on flow.

Flow is a theme I keep coming back to, as a reminder both for myself and others.  For this plate, I chose to do a piece on feet — our body part most associated with movement.  Walking, next to breathing, is one bodily function we do everyday that we can be more mindful about.  The way we walk says so much about our inner state.  How aware (or not) we are about the rhythm of our physical step translates to how aware (or not) we are about our inner rhythm.    I also decided to add in elements of direction — the next step after awareness — shown through the hands, in the positions of go and stop.  More than being in constant motion, to flow is really to vacillate between moments of movement and rest.  We stop and we go.  Everyday.

Class instructions for the plate were as follows:

PLATE #2: Repetition, Variety, Rhythm

After acquiring beginning skills in three dimensional art making through the various basic materials available, this plate aims to illustrate the application of the principles of design through three dimensional art making, specifically, the principles of repetition, variety, and rhythm…This plate is also a venue to continue skills building in the substitution process of three dimensional art, i.e. molding and casting.


  • At least three objects in a series (you can do more):
    • three identical objects
    • three similar objects in the similar orientation
    • or three objects in a theme
  • The subject/theme is body part/s, hence, body casting or life casting
    • you can submit casts of your extremities and/or your bust
  • Composition is significant. Using the principles of design is all about composition, so before you cast, plan how you will present/exhibit hour pieces first and execute accordingly.

Process documentation:

All in all I made 6 lifecasting attempts for this plate:

  • Right foot  — successful on first try
  • Left foot —  successful on first try
  • Left foot #2 — lower mold survived the first cast so tried to make a new upper mold, but failed; mold cracked
  • Hand with palm open — four fingers broke off; tried to reattach them with PVA glue, but needs a more lasting solution
  • Hand with pointed fingers — parts of nails broke off; repaired them with PVA glue
  • Hand in a cupping position — complete fail; the two molds didn’t fit together properly during casting

Bulk of the process was experimenting and figuring out what works by just jumping in and doing it.

Below are day-by-day glimpses:

Attempt#1 at casting my foot using a two-piece mold. Excited to find out if it worked! #plaster #wastemold #foot #cast #wip

Voila, my first foot sculpture. Could be better but with a little more cleaning and sanding will be happy with it. Will try to do my hand next. #plaster #sculpture #foot #body #twopiecemold

Foot casting the left.  Better outcome than the right foot– details of nails preserved. Cracks on sole were filled in with second batch of plaster before the mold was removed.

Trying to salvage the left foot mold with cast#2. Didn’t work– lower mold cracked from weight of my foot and upper mold just altogether crumbled.

Hand casting fail. I still don’t understand what an undercut is 🙁 Wide open to suggestions. #sculpture #plaster #twopiecemold #wastemold

Hand casting attempt#2. Was quite ambitious and wanted to do a pointed finger…so played around with hand positions with the least undercuts (tried to keep the fingers as leveled as possible).

Hand casting attempt #3. Teacher suggested keeping hand in a cupping position for easier casting. Lower mold crumbled. Tried to salvage it with clay to keep it together. Would’ve worked if only we got to lock the two molds properly when we put them together.

Repairing broken fingers using white PVA glue and tissue. Soaked the castings in water, then primed with diluted glue before applying thick glue. Worked for repairing thin parts that got chipped off, but not for whole fingers. Need to redo with wire and plaster.

Textual documentation and lessons learned:

  • Don’t be scared to just jump in.  You learn more from doing the work than from reading about it.
  • Try and try until you are happy with your work.  Lifecasting is not easy but it’s also not an impossible task.
  • Clean as you go.  Working with plaster is a messy business and the dust piles up.  Best to wipe away asap to avoid waste build up and allergies.