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soiree society: the perfect cast | 1 2 3 4
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Now hair, apparently, has the potential to cause much grievance if improperly attended to at this crucial stage of preparation, so the first step was to grease up. ‘Round went the jar of vaseline, and each of the participants dutifully massaged the petroleum onto their eyebrows, eyelashes, and any other bits of facial hair that they had any desire to keep firmly attached to their skin. To deal with head hair, plastic bags were wrapped carefully around each head, then secured tightly by wrapping tape around the perimeter. One lucky life-caster managed to snag the bald cap, which provided the ultimate in swanky, snug-fitting hair protection – along with a somewhat hilarious visual for us, the viewing audience. 

After donning some oh-so-stylin’ trash-bag-fashioned ponchos, the subjects were nearly ready for molding. One last prep essential remained, however. Remember how when you were a kid your parents had to tell you not to stick things up your nose? Well this night, the normal rules of social propriety were apparently going to be broken. Handing two bend-y straws to each of our plastic-encased friends, Barrett instructed everyone to go ahead and stuff those straws up their nostrils. During the 45-minute plus time period that they would have to lie still, waiting for the mold to set, the straws would allow them to breathe comfortably. Or so the theory went.

Wrapped-up, nose-plugged, and raring to go ...

Stage two: Everybody gets plastered
The slathering could now begin. First to go on the face: alginate, an algae-based substance that’s apparently used by orthodontists to make molds of teeth. Throughout the course of the night, it was referred to as algae, algicene, algi-something, algi-stuff -- and this was a largely science-y crowd, mind you. At any rate, the alginate came in a white powdered form that looked almost identical to the plaster of Paris powder (it would have been a true disaster to confuse the two: plaster, placed directly on the face, can burn as it hardens, and has an unpleasant tendency to cling stubbornly to hair). The powder was mixed with water in a big plastic tub, until a paste – similar to the consistency of pudding – had been achieved. Because the alginate would "cure" (i.e. set in shape) in less than five minutes, the layer would have to be applied quite quickly. Making final adjustments to their straws, the life-casting pioneers closed their eyes, and on went the gloppy white alginate.

the party gets stranger

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