Art Taking Shape Using Plaster Bandages for Life Casting

Art Taking Shape Using Plaster Bandages for Life Casting

With an Idea steaming from George Segal’s “Walk, Don’t Walk”, 1976, Lehigh University Professor Lucy Gans was inspired, wanting to recreate something similar with one of her classes. Lehigh has a sculpture (casted in bronze for preservation) that was a great reference for the students. It was a tedious process, as the students worked 3 hours a day, 3+ days a week for several weeks. But the hard work most definitely paid off.

Plaster Life Casting

The project began with her sculpture 1 students picking where they would want the exhibit to be placed. It needed to be one that was easily accessible to the studio, thus deciding on a fountain located in the courtyard of the building in which this class was working. With a location set, their next task was to conjure up different ideas for the poses of these sculptures. It is difficult for one to stand for an extended period of time and be sculpted, so they needed to think of poses which included them with and without props. Gans gave the students a good starting point stating, “I also asked that they situate the figures in ways that extended into our viewing space, so that the viewer could feel part of the installation, also that there be some concept behind the grouping, besides just copying a George Segal Sculpture.”

Plaster bandage molds

This was a new and challenging project for the students, they weren’t only novices when it came to sculpting, but they all came from different backgrounds, one art major, one architecture major, one fifth year presidential scholar who had taken no other art classes in her entire academic career at Lehigh, as well as a design and mechanical engineering student. The students worked in teams, with the help of Gans’ direction, casting each member of the class in a pose of their choosing. Once the casts were cut off, the students reassembled them and completed the sculptures by painting them with an exterior latex paint, and were then placed outside for the campus to see.

Life casting plaster bandages

The Sculptures were left up for a few weeks, until Mother Nature took its course. Bringing in a big snow storm. “Using the plaster bandages was a way of remaining true to Segal’s original intention and to make light weight yet sturdy figures using nontoxic materials” Gans tells us.

Plaster Bandage life casting sculptures

Photography done by Lehigh University’s staff photographer, Christa Neu.

Plaster Bandages