Homemade Phantom Prosthetics
Me wearing my homemade Phantom deformity prosthetics in Las Vegas in 2012. Details on their creation are below.
In November of 2011, I decided to step my game up a notch and create a full set of Phantom of the Opera prosthetics. I had been using a homemade forehead prosthetic for several years, but failed to accurately sculpt the cheek/lip deformity. I based my designs off the original London deformity created by makeup artist Christopher Tucker (for Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage musical, in case anyone got lost). I have seen numerous interpretations from various productions around the world, but throughout the years I still consider Tucker's work (as featured in the George Perry book, The Complete Phantom of the Opera) to be the simplest, yet most effective design.
I decided to make the disfiguring prosthetics using a process known as slush casting. This uses liquid latex, which is poured into the mold, sloshed around, then the excess poured out. It can also be painted in using layers. Once the latex in the mold dries, the appliance is powdered, removed, and is ready for makeup. This process is relatively straightforward and much more suitable to my needs than foam latex, foam gelatin, or silicone.
Lacking a lifecast of my actual face, I resorted to using a styrofoam wig block as my face, and sculpted the deformities off that. The prosthetics are done in three pieces: the forehead, cheek/upper lip, and lower lip. The main difficulty with using a base that is not your own face is that there is no guarantee the prosthetics will fit you once they are ready for application. I sculpted carefully and tried not to get overly ambitious about building up on the nose (as Tucker did in the photo above), as I knew it was not likely to fit. I made sure to use sponges to help texture the sculpt, so that the prosthetics had a more life-like skin texture, rather than being completely smooth.
After the sculpting was complete, I built a wall around the edge using clay and aluminum foil so that I could pour in the UltraCal 30 plaster. I let the plaster sit at least an hour, removed it from the mold and cleaned out any clay, then left the mold to sit for several days in order to fully cure. Once the curing process was done, I could then pour the first set of latex prosthetics.
Setting up the sculpt and the barrier for the plaster
The plaster negative mold, with latex/cotton prosthetic drying in it
A latex/cotton prosthetic! Note the thin and irregular edges for blending
The pieces painted and ready for application, Nov 2011
Final Thoughts and Advice
This is a great project for anyone interested in making the next step up from using cotton and latex to build a deformity on their face. Prosthetic appliances greatly cut down on application time, and the sculpting process allows you to come up with your own design. Molding that sculpt allows you to pull prosthetics that give you your desired look on a consistent basis. Well worth the time!
- Keep the layers of latex thin (thinner latex moves more naturally like skin; thick liquid latex dries to be less realistic)
- If you sculpt deep grooves, paint a layer of latex down, then place loose cotton (pieces of cotton balls) in the deepest grooves. Cover with another layer of latex. This cuts down on weight, and gives you lots of substances with a more realistic response
- Keep your edges thin! Paper thin, irregular edges are great for seamless blends into the skin
- Use Pros-Aide or medical adhesive, not spirit gum. Glue from the middle outward, working on the edges last all the way around the prosthetic. Cover your edge by dabbing pros-aide over the edge, then powder
Do-It-Yourself Phantom Prosthetics Video:
Casting Gelatin and Liquid Latex Phantom of the Opera Prosthetics:
Painting/Applying Do-It-Yourself Phantom of the Opera Prosthetics: