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Life Casting Workshop 2021

Date: Sunday, April 11th

Time: Beginning at 2:00 pm

Location: Tangent Gallery. 715 E Milwaukee Ave, Detroit, MI 48202

Tickets Available CLICK HERE

Space is limited

The exploration of the process of lifecasting a live human face.

Your own in fact. You and a partner will take turns molding and casting each other's faces in an ancient process that originated in Egypt, long before the era of modern man.

A likeness of your glorious visage will be taken using an algae-based compound, and from this casting, you will be able to take home a stone version of yourself. This Workshop will take place over several hours and all material needs will be provided for the activity.

Event Details

  • $90 per attendee

  • Includes all materials

  • All participants required to participate

  • Self-selected groups of two suggested, otherwise individuals will be assigned with a partner

  • You will take home with you a copy of your own face

  • The less hair on your face the easier it will be however participants need not be shaved bare. Steps will be taken to release facial hair from molds.

  • Cocktails and refreshments will be available as the Tangent is equipped with a full cash bar.


  • 45 Min History and application. Demonstration.

  • 90 Min Partner 1 Lifecast and Positive casting

  • 30 Min Break

  • 90 Min Partner 2 lifecast and Positive casting

Here is a video of the casting process

More on the history of Life Casting

The Life Casting Process is first documented in Cennino Cennini's manuscript "Il Librio del Arté", written in 1392. Herein, the life casting process is attributed to "the ancients", whether 500 years earlier or 5,000 years is not made clear, for the process of making plaster molds from the human form are now dated back to the 7th or 8th millennium BC.

What is known is that gauze strips dipped in plaster were used to cast the remains of the Pharaohs of Egypt in order to give the perfect fit to the sarcophagus that would transport them into the afterlife.

In the artist Thutmose's studio, in the deserted city of Akhetaton, what appears to be a life casting of Nefertiti was discovered in 1912. Thutmose was the official court sculptor to Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenten, Nefertiti's husband, (circa 1350 BC). In addition to Nefertiti's bust, 22 plaster casts of faces were also discovered. Thus firmly giving the area surrounding the Red Sea the basis to lay claim as the progenitor of 10 millennium of direct casting from the human form, and the beginning of this Art of Life Casting.

This process of portraiture is first found practiced in Ain Mallaha, present day Israel, 10,000 to 8,000 BC. Thought to be some form of ancestor worship, these skulls were modeled with plaster then painted in a red-brown colorant. The masks of Tell Aswan are shown to the upper left. Whereas, the masks dug from the city of Jericho show a higher degree of artistic interpretation, with the addition of semiprecious stones embedded within the plaster.

In the 1300's that castings make a reappearance in Europe. At this time a renaissance in the arts is taking hold of the continent. Rediscovering the casting process allows for Nobility to reach beyond the veil of death and touch the future with their presence. Cennino Cennini's aforementioned treatise "The Craftsman's Handbook" is published in 1392 and Edward the Second's death mask is cast in 1327.

Life and death castings now become more common place. The life casting is used by artists to study the human form, helping to improve the arts of sculpture and painting. An accusation of life casting is made against Michelangelo, yet this goes unproved and well for him as using the human body to create art is now considered heresy by the Holy See.

The art of Life Casting as documented by Cennini is an arduous process, requiring the use of a double stemmed tube for breathing, a sleeve to encompass the face, and the removal of all facial hair. This was a cumbersome plaster mold requiring 45 minutes of time. Is it then any wonder that those deemed important enough to have a casting made of their visage,

In the twentieth century, castings have mostly been made as a means of creating prosthetics for the motion picture industry. Early silent film stars like Buster Keaton to later masters of horror: Karlof, Lagosi, and Price were cast during their employment in the movie industry.

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