6 Tips for Planning Your Special Event

524384551-56a2b3625f9b58b7d0cd876bWhether you’re planning a wedding or an office party, it’s important to know how to make the most of your time and resources. Follow these tips to make the planning process less of a hassle as you get ready for the big day.

Know Your Budget

Your budget is the first thing to consider when planning your event. Draw up a detailed budget for food, transportation, entertainment, reservations, and anything else you plan to include. You can look online to get an idea of approximate prices or call ahead to ask for detailed estimates from companies in your area. Remember to set a little aside for last-minute emergencies in case something doesn’t go exactly as planned.

Hire an Event Planner

If it fits into your budget, hiring an event planner is one of the best ways to make sure your event goes smoothly. Your event planner should know the ins and outs of your location and work with you (and your budget) to make sure you have everything you need. He or she will coordinate with the other people involved in planning your event, such as a chef for Boston private dining, and make sure that everyone is on the same page. This lets you stay involved in the planning process but saves you the headache of arranging all the details yourself. An event planner also lets you spend more time enjoying the event once the big day arrives.

Book as Early as Possible

The best venues are often booked months (or more) in advance, so act quickly to make sure you don’t miss out! As soon as you know what you need, start making arrangements as soon as possible. This goes for your venue, your caterer, and anyone else you need to make your event a success. Scheduling your event ahead of time also cuts down on stress when you don’t have to worry about making last-minute arrangements.

Explore Lodging Possibilities

If you’re planning an out-of-town trip or a multi-day event, make sure your guests have somewhere to stay overnight. You don’t want to suddenly find out that another event is in town and all the hotel rooms are already booked. By booking ahead for your whole group, you can also take advantage of group discounts to help cut down on costs.

For out-of-town trips, you will also want to look into transportation arrangements. Hire a private bus to shuttle your guests for the event or contact car rental companies to make sure they can accommodate you and your guests.

Choose the Right Venue

Choosing the venue for your event can seem like a chore, but it can also be very fun if you find the right place! The right location can determine the success or failure of your whole event, so choose wisely. Keep in mind that the “best” location doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Find a venue that has special meaning to you or is a good fit for your company. Many groups take advantage of outdoor venues for their events. While these can be tricky to handle if the weather doesn’t cooperate, they can also make for extremely unique and memorable events.

Plan Your Schedule

Once you know the basics of your event, plan a detailed schedule to help you manage your time effectively during the event itself.

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Using the Einstein Technique to Boost Your Artistic Creativity

downloadAlbert Einstein was once asked how many feet are in a mile. Einstein’s reply was “I don’t know. Why should I fill my brain with facts I can find in two minutes in any standard reference book? In fact in today’s Google era, answers are far faster than that. Type in the question and the answer is delivered at the speed of light; a concept that would have tickled Einstein in an ironic way. Einstein certainly had a unique way of looking at the world, by removing extraneous matters and then to reduce complicated concepts into their component parts making them easier to understand.

Think about his formula, E=MC2. Many can recite it, but few know its significance. This simple formula distilled from a highly diverse, and seemingly unrelated systems proves that mass and energy are related. But more importantly it also answers the question of how much energy is created when mass is converted into it. The elegance by which the formula ties together three seemingly disparate parts of nature, energy, the speed of light and mass, is profound in its simplicity. Yet Einstein never knew how long a mile was.

A small, brown notebook, known as the Zurich notebook, was found among his papers after Einstein’s death in 1955. It was filled with all of his private calculations from 1907-1915. That was the time during which Einstein was working on this theory of relativity, resulting in his formula, E=MC2. The entire notebook can be viewed on Internet for all to see his genius.

How does all this relate to your artistic creativity? It does so with the understanding of several key observations of Einstein’s work processes. First, Einstein disliked trivial and ancillary information, the kind that was easy to look up. It cluttered his mind, he stated. He wished to keep his mind clear for his creative thought experiments. Secondly, he also kept a notebook whereby he documented his creative ideas. The documenting allowed him to build on his creative concepts and then clear his mind for more artistic creativity. So if we artists wish to build on our creativity, what better mentor to follow than Einstein himself, now that we know his secret to his creativity? Who are we to argue with his genius?

That is, if you the model maker, artist or sculptor want to improve your creativity in your art don’t dwell over remembering such details as mold material set times, pot life, cure times, mix ratios and so on. This information is clearly marked on the material packaging. If you are using a special or new technique, then write it down in your studio notebook. As you brain storm ideas for art pieces, also write them down in your notebook. Then from time to time review your notebook and your ideas, as with Einstein, the results will often lead you to a much greater serendipitous ideas that would not have been produced had you not written out your thoughts in your own Zurich notebook, for future reference. By clearing your head of non-essential information and writing down your creative ideas as you go along, over time you will discipline your creativity to out produce itself in ways that will surprise you and provide you with greater artistic rewards.

Though Albert Einstein may not have been a painter, sculptor or mold maker, no one can argue about his superior creative successes. His work habits helped him accomplish his extraordinary revelations that changed the world. Who are we as artists to argue with his methods that resulted in such great creativity? Get a notebook, write down your art ideas and forget the mundane details that are readily available on the Internet. You will increase your creativity in ways you never imagined, thanks to Albert.

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Various Timelines in Mold Making and Casting

b097cc38ab56401d463029e2069f56afThere are a lot of basic things that beginners need to know about working with mold making and casting materials like alginate, clay, plaster, polyurethane resin, silicone rubber, liquid latex rubber and thermoset mold rubber.

Pot time (or Pot Life) and cure time are routinely mentioned by mold makers and this determines everything from the quantity of a mold making or casting material that mold maker will mix in one go, to the amount of time it will take for the mold or cast to be complete and ready.

Let’s look at some of these terms:

Pot time – Also known as pot life, gel time or working time, this is the amount of time you have to work with the product after it is mixed until it starts to set. After this, the material will start getting viscous and cannot be applied properly. The working time varies widely for different materials – some may need to be used within minutes, whereas some may give you a window of even up to an hour. Therefore, you should only mix as much quantity of the base material with the catalyst or hardener as you can comfortably use within the given period. For instance, life casters mix small quantities of alginate,perhaps a pound at a time as it tends to set very quickly.

Cure time – This is the time that a material will take to completely set. It can range from a few hours to as long as a few days. It is generally measured at normal room temperature and can vary depending on the atmospheric and climatic conditions. At times, a hot air dryer or dehumidifier is used to hasten the cure time, like for plaster casting.

De-mold time – At times, the de-mold time may be different from the cure time. It means that the mold or cast has cured to the point that it can be removed from the object or mold without distortion. You are now free to use the object or mold again. However, keep in mind that the mold or cast is only partially cured at this time. The cure time is longer and you will have to wait for it to be properly cured to avoid getting smudges or fingerprints.

Shelf life – This defines the length of time that a product can be stored before it becomes unusable. It is like an expiry date beyond which the product starts deteriorating in quality and will not function as expected. It may start to set in the container or may not mix/cure properly when used. In simple terms, shelf life is an indication of how long you can expect a product to last on the shelf. It tends to vary depending on whether the container has been opened or not and also whether it is being stored properly as directed.

Pot time, cure time and shelf life are generally mentioned on the product containers and should be strictly adhered to at all times, irrespective of whether you are making alginate molds, silicone casts or plaster casting.

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The Art of the Life Casting

Life casting or body casting as some like to call it continues to be a controversial topic within most art circles. Many in the art world feel that it is far from an art form since it is just someone copying the body requiring no artistic skill whatsoever. So what is body casting to those artists and sculptors who engage in it? Is it just a substitute for artistic talent? That is what this brief article will attempt to answer.

To begin, one might as well ask what photography is as it is somewhat analogous. A short answer is that it is a method of reproducing an exact likeness of a three-dimensional object in two dimensions. That definitely is a technical answer, but far from an adequate one. When photography first emerged in the 1800’s, there were just as many critics deriding this new art over the great talents of traditional painters and sculptors. Yet today, few would doubt the artistic skills of such renowned photographers as Ansell Adams, Annie Liebovitz and Robert Cappa to name just a few greats. They have taken the mechanical craft of photography, added their own style and perspective, and created high art forms that are admired the world over.

The same can also be said for life casting – an art form often denigrated by artistic purists as nothing more than copying – but think photography. In the hands of amateurs, one cannot disagree with these critics. However all one has to do is to view the works of John DeAndrea, Duane Hanson and George Segal the holy trinity of body casting artists and it most certainly would dispel that criticism. More recently the work of another talented life casting artist, Jason deCaires Taylor, comes to mind with his crowds of underwater sculptures creating artificial coral reefs throughout the world.

What these talented body casting artists would tell us if they were asked is that life casting is more than simply taking a mold from the human body. For it is what the artist does to create the initial mold (analogous to a photographic plate) – how he/she poses the model, the medium used to create the casting, the finishes applied and the resulting story the finished piece tells. In fact when properly executed, life casting, like painting, dancing, playing an instrument or sculpting it is an art form all to itself.

Life casting is about craftsmanship – as much as it is with a cabinetmaker or a fine furniture designer. It is about technique – just as is with an accomplished painter. It is about dimensional visualization – just as in sculpting and in photography. For great body casting is a blend of all these skill, the sculptor, the painter, the craftsman and the photographer.

In recent years, life casting artists have found themselves competing with each other to create artistic and beautiful front torso life casts. Most are without limbs and head simply a study of the torso. Such artistic pieces can be found in galleries throughout the world in a variety of poses, materials and finishes. For those interested in trying their hand at this unique art form, a torso casting is a great place to start as there are kits available with all the materials you need that can be found online.

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How to Shrink or Enlarge a Casting – Part 1 of 3


This is a three-part article on how to enlarge (also called pointing up) and alternatively, how to shrink the size of castings without the use of laser scanning, CAD/CAM and computer operated CNC machinery. The procedures for both are much simpler than one would imagine and avoids the cost and the complexity of high-tech equipment. This knowledge comes in handy for many mold making and casting projects and artistic commissions, saving the time and aggravation of re-sculpting a model to a needed size.

Two Ways to Enlarge a Casting

There are two ways to enlarge a casting. The first is to enlarge the mold before the casting in created. While the second method is to enlarge the casting after the mold has been made. Both methods of enlargement, if properly done will yield a finished casting in correct proportion and detail as its original. Each method depends on a different material. To enlarge the mold, the material used is known as addition-cured silicone. To enlarge the casting the material used is a specially formulated polyurethane rubber.

Method One – Enlarge the Mold

We begin with instructions on how to enlarge the mold in order to enlarge the casting. The first method to create an enlargement of a casting, is approached the same as for making a duplicate size casting, which is to create a normal silicone mold. In this case the silicone material of choice is an addition cure (platinum catalyzed) silicone as condensation cure silicone will not work. Once the mold is created, the next step is to enlarge it. The mold is targeted rather than the casting because the enlargement process involves the solvent saturation of the rubber. Saturating the casting would make it awkward to work with and difficult to re-mold. So it is more efficient to enlarge the mold instead.

Before beginning, follow the usual mold making protocol. You should first de-gas the rubber using a vacuum chamber, lacking that, a pressure pot will do. If you don’t have either of those basic mold making tools, make certain you vibrate your mold while it is curing to drive air bubbles to the surface. A power tool such as a hand-sander placed against the mold is very effective. Once created, place the mold in a container that can be sealed, such as a 5-gallon bucket. Then add solvent to the container such as toluene, xylene or naphtha.

When handling volatile solvents, we recommend extreme caution as all of the recommended solvents are flammable. So you do not want to expose to open flame or a heat source such as an electric heater. In addition, the fumes are extremely toxic so that when pouring any of these solvents, you must have good ventilation and you should wear an approved NIOS mask.

Once the mold is fully immersed, the silicone rubber will begin to absorb it. Over time (weeks), you can expect an almost doubling in size could be reached with all its details in proportion to the original model. That is, providing that the mold is completely covered in solvent, if not the mold will distort. Patience is required when resizing the mold, as an example, a mold soaked in toluene takes seven days to expand to approximately 130% of the original size. Larger sizes require more time in the solvent. Molds that have been expanded using solvent are very fragile and must be handled more carefully than usual to prevent tearing or damage.

When you are satisfied with the size, or after three weeks the mold has ceased to expand it should be removed from the solvent bath, and the surface should be thoroughly dried. These are volatile liquids which immediately begin to evaporate when exposed to air. As evaporation continues the mold will begin to shrink. So you must be quick to create your casting. Once the surface is dried, a good casting choice is a two-part polyurethane casting resin. Though silicone doesn’t ordinarily need a mold release, we do suggest using a silicone-based release as it will be de-molding much easier.

Now that the new casting has been created, you can repeat the entire process of silicone mold enlargement using solvent immersion to further increase the size of the final casting.

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Versatility of Plaster in Mold Making and Casting

Plaster is one of the most commonly used casting materials as it is quite cheap, versatile, readily available, and user-friendly.. Once you start working with plaster, you will realize that it is easy to mix, sets quickly to a pleasant white color, can be sculpted and with proper pouring and application can yields few air bubbles in the cast. In fact, it suits almost all kinds of casting applications.

Little wonder then that plaster casting is especially popular among artists and life casters alike.

Plaster is manufactured as a dry powder and is mixed with water to form a paste or slurry The reaction with water creates heat through crystallization and the hydratedplaster then hardens. Let’s take a look at the role of plaster in regular mold making and casting works:

Life casting

While plaster cannot be used directly on the skin for making body molds, due to excessive heat during curing, the heat from the chemical reaction does not affect the casts in any way. In fact, you will find that most life casting artists favor plaster as the material of choice when making the final cast from the body molds. Plaster is also favored for casting using alginate, resin and silicone molds.

Latex casts

Due to the naturally porous characteristics of plaster, plaster molds are widely used in latex casting – such as making latex masks. This is because plaster will absorb the water from the latex and let it cure like a thin skin.

Shell molds

Alginate and rubber molds need rigidity to support their form during the mold making process. This is done by added a mother mold or shell mold. Plaster bandages are regularly used to reinforce alginate body molds and other rubber molds for this purpose, thus forming the shell or mother mold.

These plaster bandages come in long rolls and are formulated to become creamy with plaster consistency when wet. All you have to do is roll out the dry bandage, cut it to length, dip in warm water, squeeze lightly, and then apply over the original mold. Keep smoothing it down to prevent bubbles in the mold later. You should keep overlapping about half or one-third of the previous bandage so as to create a strong shell mold. The bandages will set quickly enough in 15-20 minutes.

Rough molds

Plaster bandages are sometimes even placed directly on the body to make molds. They have to be rolled out, wetted and applied carefully. Finally, fold the bandage in quarters to make rope-like lengths. Use it to reinforce the edges of the mold and make a secure mold.

Keep in mind that while plaster is renowned for capturing intricate details well, the plaster bandages will only capture the form and not the detail. However, they are skin-safe and will not cause any kind of discomfort to the model. It is often used for belly casting or pregnancy molds.

Above all, do not be mistaken that regular plaster or Plaster of Paris can be used for plaster casting. That is because plaster of Paris is formuled for application to wallsit is naturally soft and chalky and does not hold detail well. You need to purchase specially-treated and high definition plaster powder that will not chalk, chip or crack. Only then can you get durable molds and casts that hold finishes well and set hard on drying.

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How to Shrink or Enlarge a Casting – Part 2 of 3

This is the second part of a three-part article on how to enlarge (also called pointing up) and alternatively, how to shrink the size of a casting without the use of laser scanning, CAD/CAM and computer operated CNC machinery. The procedures for both are much simpler than one would imagine and avoids the cost and the complexity of high-tech equipment. The first part of this article described the steps on enlarging a casting by enlarging the mold. Part two provides an alternate method of casting enlargement by actually enlarging the casting, rather than the mold as previously described, in the first part in the enlargement process.

This second method of casting enlargement employs the use of a specially formulated flexible polyurethane rubber that when immersed in water expands proportionally over time to create the enlargement. Polyurethane formulations and water usually don’t mix. For example, in high humidity environments, cure times are adversely effected. If these formulations come in contact with moisture during curing, the surfaces that are in contact, will foam leaving an imperfect casting or mold. However, once cured polyurethane is then impervious to water.

But with this particular enlargement formulation, something different takes place. The polyurethane is actually attracting water to and through it. When water comes in contact with its surface, water molecules are attracted to the atomic charge of the polymer molecules. The polymer molecules actually pull water away from the adjacent molecules of the surrounding water and absorb the water internally. As water is absorbed, the casting stretches to accommodate the incoming water. The water is so tightly held in the casting that it feels dry to the touch. Even cutting or crushing the polyurethane casting will not easily release liquid water. Migrating water molecules uniformly surround each polymer molecule, evenly stretching the polymer matrix in all directions. Through this process, this specialty polyurethane formulation produces a proportional expansion of molded shapes by soaking in ordinary tap water.

To create the enlarged casting, the expanding polyurethane rubber is mixed together at a one-to-one mix ratio. For best results it should be de-gassed as described above. After degassing it is poured into a mold that has been treated with a mold release. Silicone is the best candidate for the mold material, as polyurethane sticks fast to polyurethane, so a polyurethane mold should be avoided. The polyurethane rubber cures overnight. Cured rubber should not be tacky to the touch.

Be careful in de-molding so as not to tear the cured rubber. Fill a container with tap water and submerge the cured casting in the water. Make certain that it is completely covered with water. As any part of the casting that is left out of the water will not expand properly. Cover the container and leave it undisturbed for three weeks to allow the water to be absorbed.

After three weeks the casting should enlarge to approximately 160%. Remove it from the container and pat dry. A mold must quickly be made of the enlargement as just as with enlargement of the silicone mold process, evaporation will shrink the casting. Usually a silicone mold is recommended of the enlargement so when a finished casting is created it will be now be 160% the size of the original and in proper proportion. The enlargement process can be repeated many times, limited only to the size of container.

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Casting Under Pressure With Injection Molding

Mold making and casting is a fascinating activity which can take varied forms. From clay modeling to making simple one-part molds or the more complicated approach of two-part molds. In fact, mold makers even make multi-part molds at times to capture all facets and other details of the model. The procedure of making molds also varies from pouring the mold making material to spraying it or even brushing it on the model.

Apart from the regular blanket, glove and even shell type, another making and casting technique is injection molding. It is actually a simple procedure in which the casting material is forced into this under pressure!

Injection molding can be done in single or multi-part molds. Since it is favored for capturing minute details, generally complicated two-part molds feature in injection molding. Tiny holes (called sprues) are bored into the mold all along its surface. This is where the casting material will be injected into this.

The casting material like polyurethane resin is filled in a syringe and the large hypodermic needle is inserted into the mold sprues. Pressure is applied to ensure all cavities are filled. The procedure continues until the casting material spews out of all the sprues. This shows that the casting material has displaced the air inside the mold and adequately filled all the nooks and crannies in the mold.

It is allowed to cure before being demolded carefully. You will find a thin-bodied cast that is an exact replica of the original model, down to every tiny nook and crevice. Other casting methods fail to achieve such a high level of precision. The demolded piece does not need to be cleaned or finished much either. However, models with large undercuts cannot be replicated with injection molding.

Injection molding is a commonly-used manufacturing process for producing thin-walled parts with great accuracy. It is generally used to make small plastic, metal and even glass items. Model parts for miniature cars, trains and complicated superhero figures are made with the injection molding process. It will yield accurate copies very quickly and in large numbers too.

The manufacturing process involves feeding the casting material into a machine which crushed it to a liquid state before injecting the same into the mold under high pressure. This mechanical process is repeated again and again to make multiple copies. The plastic in the mold is allowed to cool before being ejected from the mold.

While injection molding is a simple process that proves cost-effective, making the molds can turn out very expensive. It has to be made with steel or aluminum and precision machined to capture all the details properly. However, when artists use injection molding technique in their studios, they make use of clay modeling techniques and silicone rubber to make a precise block mold. This serves well for injection molding!

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Types of Resins For Casting

Different types of resins are regularly used for making casts. Polyester, epoxy and polyurethanes may all be resins, but their properties vary greatly. Many people just end up getting confused about which resin is suitable for a particular purpose.

A detailed look at each class of resin can help clear the uncertainty:

Polyester resin – This is a viscous liquid that is well-resistant to heat, fire and chemicals. It is flexible, cheap and comes in a variety of colors. The excellent features of polyester resin are commonly used to make any porous material rigid and weather resistant – such as fiber glass, bottles, surfboards, skis, fishing rods, laminates and so on. It enjoys great usage in fabricating various parts of ships, aircraft and so on.

While it is quite easy to use, there are numerous other issues associated with polyester resin. It needs to be reinforced with fiber glass to make it mechanically strong. It tends to shrink unpredictably, turns yellow with age, can break easily and lets off a noxious odor. In fact, the user has to use safety gloves, goggles and a respirator to protect himself from the carcinogenic fumes. Proper ventilation is required even during curing to safely air out the fumes.

Epoxy resin – This is the highest performing resin but works out the most expensive too. It has a brownish color and clearer ones tend to cost even more. Epoxy resin boasts of excellent mechanical, chemical, electrical and weather resistant properties, making it a favorite in ship, boat and aircraft components. This resin has low shrinkage and strong adhesive properties. Additionally, there are no toxic odors either.

However, it may take several hours or even days to cure completely. This can still be hastened by changing the curing agent. It is used for multiple purposes – as an adhesive, sealant, paint, varnish and for casting purposes.

Polyurethane resin – This is a versatile, tough and durable material. It has good physical, chemical and electrical properties and can be effectively combined with other resins to increase its usefulness. Polyurethanes come in various viscosities, tend to cure quickly and have a low odor that does not require a respirator either. The only drawback is the moisture sensitivity – they fail to cure properly in humid conditions or in molds containing water.

Polyurethane resin is used as an adhesive, insulation, foam liner in clothing and quick casting of prototypes. Polyurethane casting resins come in opaque and water clear varieties. The former set within a few minutes itself to an ivory color while the latter take a little longer and also need to be de-aired prior to use. Polyurethane casting resins are suitable for making cold castings and expandable ones are also available in the market.

In sum, there are various casting resins and each comes with its own set of benefits and downsides. While polyester resin will cost low, it can be dangerous to use and polyurethane resin may be heavier on the pocket but trumps in versatility and tenacity.

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Kits Available to Learn the Popular Art of Molding Making and Casting

Mold making and casting is an interesting and highly useful art with rewarding results. Indeed, the satisfaction of duplicating something from nothing with your own hands by producing an identical replica of a specimen is does not have to be difficult if use a mold making and casting kit.

Learning the skill of mold making takes practice as with any endeavor. Often the challenge to a beginner is a bit daunting. Since the art form offers such a wide variety of material, a newcomer is faced with multiple selection decisions. There is also the use of special tools and techniques to understand. So that the thought of assembling scores of materials, tools and supplies will often prevent any beginner from getting started.

The many material choices to consider include clays, plaster, polyurethane resin, silicone rubber, liquid latex rubber, alginate, cold casting powder, fibers, fillers, release agent, plaster bandages, paints, solvents, sealants and more. Accessories such as cups, mixing containers, mixers, brushes, knives, gloves and drop cloths all are required.

Getting started is not just about assembling all the required items in the art studio. The mold maker will also have the dilemma of how much material to purchase. For instance, will a pint of polyurethane rubber suffice for making a mold of a sculpture, or is more likely to be a gallon? The mold maker doesn’t want to risk running short of the material in the middle of mold making. On the other hand, storing the surplus material can become a problem in itself as most mold making materials have a shelf life.

What to do?

Top art suppliers are coming to the rescue of beginning mold makers by assembling a variety of useful kits for mold making, casting and even life casting. These kits contain everything needed for a specific project – right from the materials to the tools and accessories. The exact quantity is provided so that there is no waste either.

Therefore, a new mold maker will find silicone mold making rubber, polyurethane resin, mold release, measuring cups and mixers in a certain molding and casting kits. Whereas, a face casting kit is likely to contain alginate powder, casting plaster, plaster bandages, clay, cotton swabs, special cotton fiber, containers, mixing sticks and drop cloths.

Additionally, the kits also come with excellent instructions as well. All one has to do is refer to the simple step-by-step directives as he or she works their way through the kit to create a beautiful work of art.

There are a variety of kits now available online or in art stores designed for specific projects, not only assembled for the beginner, but kits made for experienced and advanced levels, too. One can easily work up to the complicated life casts with ease and practice.

So that if the mold maker wishes to make more of the same artwork, they will be aware of the materials and supplies needed as well as the precise amounts they should buy. No waste of material or money anymore!

So, if you want to try your hand making a professional quality latex mask, all you need to do is to pick up a latex mask kit.

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