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After keeping their noses to the grindstone in their studies during the day, students in Beacon College’s Summer of Success program need to unwind.  Wednesday night, at the gazebo at the Village Apartments, Beacon’s casting guru — eager to help students blow off steam — decided to give them a hand.

Actually, their hands.  Russell Bellamy, assistant professor of art, led students in an interactive, 3-1/2-hour hands-on experience that channeled their Playdoh days —but with more sophistication — engaging students in reproducing their digits in plaster and their paws in plastic.

Summer For Success - Clay

“This was a fun artistic process that gives a pretty quick intro to casting and gives the students an object to take home,” Bellamy said.

Bellamy, assisted by David Neal, a Beacon art major, introduced Summer of Success students to lifecasting, which Wikipedia describes as “the process of creating a three-dimensional copy of a living human body, through the use of molding and casting techniques.”

Summer for Success - Clay 2 Bellamy used an Alginate-based mold-making material to forge negatives of students’ hands and fingers, which later were cast out of plaster and polyester resin.

This was the process:

Students learned how to position their hands in the material to avoid air bubbles. Next, they mixed the alginate with water and poured it into a bucket. Students then plunged their hands into the bucket for 10 to 15 minutes. Once the material cured, they slowly extracted their hands from the solidified alginate.

Later, students learned to mix both plaster and the resin before pouring the mixture into the molds. The final product takes about an hour to cure.

Working with the cold and slimy alginate molded some interesting reactions on students’ faces.