Mask casting

Casting a death mask is a desperate trial to save as a relic at least the print of the face of the person to decay. All sculptors must know the secrets of this job to be able to do this gruesome task, too. At least, this is what Master Somogyi believed when he came to school one morning and said: “We are not going to model today, I'd rather show you how to cast a death mask. Who would want to take on the role of the dead?”

Our ever active and chatty colleague, Éva was all up to it and eager to try thus showing her unconditional trust towards her beloved master. Our master was hiding a smile knowing what was to come.

He covered and tied Éva's hair with a foil, put a massive amount of cream on her face and also put liquid clay mash on her precious eye lashes which were Éva's pride. “Here comes the plaster! Évi, don't ever fret but from now on you mustn't move. If you're worried just put up your hand, okay?”

We were to remain silent while he put the plaster on her face with a spoon. “When you're doing this, put paper cones into the nostrils, I'll leave this now. Éva, be calm, I'll take good care of you!” All had been going smoothly up to this point but what happened next was a real nightmare for our “victim”. You know, the plaster gets so hot that it practically burns the skin!

Éva was showing all signs of this not just with her hand as it had been advised her but she was even kicking about desperately with her legs! Things were far from being over, though. When the negative was peeled off her face causing great pain, even some of the precious eye lashes were torn! Her first question right after this was how many were actually missing. “Not many, dear, but don't worry, you'll get them back.” And truly, the missing eye lashes were in the positive just where they had to be...

We were all laughter while listening to Éva's story of what she was suffering when our master told us that we all were to undergo the same procedure with each of our colleagues so that everyone should learn how to cast a death mask.
(I'll let you imagine the following events...) So this is how we learnt casting a death mask- strictly speaking through our own skin.