Alginate Casting

This is one of a series of 3 posts demonstrating Simple Casting Techniques

In this post, artist Melissa Pierce Murray, introduces teenagers to the process of casting with non-toxic and fast-setting alginate.


By Melissa Pierce Murray

Powdered Alginate makes a fast setting gel when added to water. Derived from seaweed, it is safe and non-toxic, and is used to make dental impressions. The powder we used had a pleasant minty smell!  Because it sets so quickly, alginate is also widely used by sculptors to take casts of the body, making it possible, for example, to take a face cast with a wide mouthed grin.

We used alginate to make two piece holds which we then used to cast three dimensional forms in plaster.   In a previous class, we had made models from a soft brown wax, and we made casts of these, and also of ink bottles.

A plaster cast from at two piece alginate mould. Bubbles in the alginate leave bumps on the surface of the cast. Remove these with a knife.

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