Tracy Hill’s Fabulous Animal Show

Snake at Tracy Hill's animal show, photo by Stacey DennickAs a face painter, I see a lot of children’s entertainers, but East Bay-based Tracy Hill’s show was fur and scales above the rest.  He does a hilarious animal show with so many different critters including a hairless mouse, a scorpion, a rabbit, two chicks, a goose, a turtle, a tortoise, a tarantula, a hermit crab, and not one, not two but three snakes.  A former kindergarden teacher, Tracy keeps the children engaged with constant audience participation.  They wiggled, waved, flapped and laughed through the entire show.

Using the natural bossy-pants inclination of the young, Tracy instructs them to yell out “Eat your vegetables!”  or “stay in your cage!”   Each animal is brought out one at a time, displayed, then safely stashed in his or her traveling box.  Braver children can touch a snake.  The birthday girl got to wear him as a crown.  Everyone who wants to has a chance to pet the bunny.

The grand finale involves a huge yellow python.  But don’t call him Banana.


– Auntie Stacey

Snake at Tracy Hill's animal show, photo by Stacey Dennick

Contact Tracy Hill through his website:

How to paint a zombie face by Auntie Stacey

Screw Skull face paint by Auntie Stacey, www.auntiestaceysfacepainting.comHere’s a classic design for Halloween, to turn a perfectly adorable kid into a creepy zombie skull ghoul undead thing.

1) I began with an all over dusting of Starblend white powder. The powder covers quickly and is easier to get even than face paint. You can use any light powder or foundation, or sponge on white face paint instead. Just please don’t use craft paint or anything that is not made specifically for the face. If you have time, add a little green, mustard yellow and purple to the background, for truly decomposed looking skin.

Auntie Stacey's face painting
This zombie’s shading was done with dark eyeshadow.

2) Paint dark grey around the eyes, where the screw will be (if your zombie died of a head bolt like mine did), on the nose in a messy upside down heart shape; and in the hollows of the checks. You can go pretty dark around the eyes. Black or dark brown eye shadow works well for this step and is easier to blend than cake face paint make up. face paint by Auntie Stacey Dennick

3) Load a thinner round brush, size 3 to 6, with black.  I love Wolfe Brother’s black because it covers so well. Paint circles around the eyes, and add eyebrow worry lines. Outline the bolt and add some cracks on the forehead and cheeks. Outline the nose. I used a q-tip to paint black on the mouth. Add teeth lines if you want a skull look. You can use an eyebrow pencil instead of a brush if that’s easier for you. A little red under the eyes adds a nice touch.

Skull face paint by Auntie Stacey, www.auntiestaceysfacepainting.com4) Add fresh “blood” with red face paint. Make your coagulated blood darker by adding some black to red. I’m grossing myself out here! Use stage blood for dimension and more realism. A little goes a long way. I used Mehron brand coagulated blood on both of these zombie’s mouths, very shiny and sticky. Zombies are notoriously messy eaters, so make drips of fake blood all over the lower lip down to the chin. Voila! They’re ready to hunt for fresh brains.

Enjoy!  –  Auntie Stacey

How to make a prosthetic nose using a life cast and cold foam

Mermaid makeup by Auntie Stacey DennickContinuing the advanced makeup class at Santa Rosa Jr. College, I used the life cast I made of the beautiful and patient Grace Kent to make a prosthetic nose out of cold foam for this (admittedly odd) mermaid makeup. Here are the steps for making the nose (or other appliance) of your dreams.

Sculpt: Place the facecast on a tray or work surface, supported underneath by a lump of modeling clay.  Use the life mask to sculpt a nose (or whatever).  We used Plasticine clay as it is oil based and doesn’t dry out and crack like regular clay. Think about how the actor will move, breathe, and speak.  Make thin, uneven edges.  Use oil & alcohol on the Platicine clay to smooth and thin the edges.  But don’t let them extend far past the nose. When you’re happy with the design add texture with a paper towel, grapefruit peel or stipple sponge.  Use Saran wrap over the clay to smooth out any fingerprints or unwanted texture.  Make your design bold enough and details sharp enough that they will read from stage. Keep in mind you’ll lose some detail through the foam process.

Life cast with nose sculpt and flashing by Stacey DennickMake the mold: put Vaseline ¼” to ½” wide around the nose and inside the nostrils.  You might also want to paint the clay with baby or mineral oil to prevent sticking, especially if your design is tricky.

Add clay flashing around your piece. A flat piece of plasticine clay, about ¼” thick. Bevel the outside edge of the flashing.  Use water based (cheaper) clay to build a wall around your piece.  1.5” higher than the highest part.  1” thick by 1” by 1”.  Make sure the edges are sealed so no plaster will leak.clay dam on life cast by Stacey Dennick

Prepare the plaster. Pour into the mold. Bang on the table to encourage air bubbles to escape.  Let it dry.

Removing clay damn from the plaster moldRemove clay damn. Separate the nose mold from top to bottom using a screwdriver to loosen it.  Remove the clay from inside the nose mold.  Clean with warm water. Let dry overnight.

Cold foam: We used Kryolan brand.  Get all supplies ready.  Read through all the scary safety info.  Put on vapor mask and gloves.  Take mold and supplies outside.  Apply 3 layers or so of mold release to the life face cast and the nose cast.  Dry between layers.  Rub off excess release with a soft cotton cloth. Heat the molds in the oven or with a blow dryer.

Mix cold foam in a Dixie cup
½ teaspoon B – base
¼ teaspoon A – catalyst – should be enough for a nose

Mix with wire until one color, which doesn’t take long. Pour into the mold, making sure to get it into the crevasses. Put the mold onto the life cast. Put a heavy weight on top. Check the leftover foam in the cup. When it’s tacky but doesn’t come off on your gloved fingers it’s ready. Pull the mold off from top to bottom. Peel carefully! Powder. Don’t put the cold foam appliance on or near your face for 24 hours-it is toxic! After a day store the appliance in a plastic bag. Pre-paint before application.

Painting the appliance: Add a drop of mineral oil to the make up (I used Ben Nye oil based stage makeup with some water based face paint on top) so it will stick, making a paste with make up, oil and powder. Or use Kryolon rubber make grease paint. Powder and add another layer of paint. Add highlights, shadows and texture.  You’ll need to paint it again once it’s applied, but you want to move quickly as the appliance isn’t fun to wear.

Fitting: Put the nose on the model’s face. Is it too close to the eyes? Too high on the forehead? Does it end near the nose? Unless it’s a hard edge, you want the edges uneven and close to the nose.  Tear off excess (irregular edge for smooth blending). Use scissors around the nose.  Cut breathing holes with the scissors.  Paint the edges with spirit gum. If the model will be wearing the prosthetic to perform (not just for a photo shoot) paint inside the center with spirit gum as well.  Put on face. Use paper towels to press the edges down. Spirit gum is a contact cement, it needs two surfaces covered to adhere. Remove the nose, apply more spirit gum on the wet area of the face.  Re-apply nose. Press with a paper towel. Rotate paper towel.  It will take five minutes. to get tacky.  If the edges come up apply latex. Use a sponge to stipple it on, or a Q-tip. Allow to dry completely before you paint the rest of the face. Use spirit gum remover to take off the nose.

contactHappy creating. – Auntie Stacey

Rhino makeup by Mollye Kestler Tobias

Check out Mollye Kestler Tobias’s amazing rhino makeup   Rainbow fish makeup by Judy Hillendaleand Judy Hallandale’s fantastic rainbow fish

© 201 Stacey A Dennick, all rights reserved

How to Make a Life Face Mask – step by step

This is what I learned in my Santa Rosa Junior College Theater Arts make up class as per instructor Maryanne Scozzari. We’ll use these life castings to design and create prosthetic noses for character make-ups, just like they do on Sci-Fi’s Face Off reality TV show, well, almost.

By reading this post you agree to follow all safety guidelines and that you are responsible for maintaining the safety of yourself and your model. You also agree that you will not proceed unless you are over 18 years of age or have a parent in charge. Thank you for being careful!

1) First step to create a life mask: Prepare the space

Life Casting Supplies , Auntie Stacey's Face Painting, Special effects makeup,
Life Casting Supplies

Cover the work table with paper, it’s going to get messy.  Lay out all supplies.  Coat a plastic mixing bowl with Vaseline and fill one third full of warm water.  Precut a package of plaster bandages into three lengths: about 8” 5” and 3.”  Fill a pitcher with warm water for mixing the alginate and the plaster.  We used Hydracal for the plaster. Plaster of Paris is too soft to make a useful cast. Ultra Cal is favored by most professional special effects makeup artists, but it’s trickier to use and more expensive. Dental Stone is super hard and is used by dentists. Put up signs if necessary to maintain quiet and prevent interruptions.

2) Prepare the model

Pull back long hair into a low ponytail. Apply hair jell. Pull on an inexpensive bald cap and cut off excess if necessary. Rub petroleum jelly around the front and top edge of the bald cap, into the hair around the face, at the nape of the neck, and on the peach fuzz on the sides of the face. Wipe with alcohol to remove excess. Apply KY jelly to the eyebrows (especially if they’re bushy) and maybe to the eyelashes. Do not put oil-based products such as Vaseline near the eyes. Work out a thumbs up or down method of communication with the model so she can signal that she’s okay. People who tend to be claustrophobic find life casting stressful. Other people get so relaxed they almost fall asleep during the casting process. The model must stay upright and relaxed. No talking, eyes closed, breathing through the nose.

Grace ready for life cast

3) Alginate

Put on surgical gloves.  Mix the alginate according to manufacturer’s directions. Work quickly, scooping, mixing and smooshing with a spatula. Apply to model’s head to cover thickly, rubbing down, pressing gently into crevices.  Work quickly but be gentle.  Once the alginate is set it will no longer stick to itself. Work the alginate down the sides of the face and neck and towards the center.  Do not rub up and down.  Make sure to cover the area around the nostrils, while leaving breathing holes.  

Algenate: gooey, messy, harmless.

Never put straws up the nostrils! This is dangerous for the model, and could deform your mold. Keep your eyes on the nose to make sure the airway isn’t blocked. Speed up setting with hairdryers set on cool.  Be careful not to blow air up the nose.

4) Plaster Bandages

plaster applied to nose over algenate , Auntie Stacey's Face Painting, Special effects makeup,
Completed nose, before the rest of the plaster bandages are applied

Once the alginate is set, wet a thin strip of plaster bandage, squeeze out excess water and apply to the nose area to strengthen it. Repeat until the nose area is reinforced with at least 3 bandages. Apply 3 layers of plaster bandages to the rest of the face, alternating horizontal and vertical layers.  End with strips around the perimeter to hold the mold together.  

Dry with a blow dryer on the cool setting, keeping a hand between the blow dryer and the model to make sure it doesn’t become hot.

Never put plaster directly on the skin!

Drying the plaster bandages during live casting process

5) Remove the mask

Feel the plaster to see if it’s damp.  Once it’s dry have the model slide forward out of the chair, put her feet on the ground and begin to gently move her face around inside the mask, leaning forward, supporting the mask in her hands.  Insert your fingers between the mask and the model’s ears to loosen it.  Pull the bald cap up and off the back of the model’s head, letting it slide off with the mold.  Help support the mask as it comes off.  The alginate will hold an amazing amount of detail.  The plaster bandage layer holds it together.

life cast alginate mold

6) Prep the negative mold for plaster

To make the cast leak proof, add several strips of plaster bandage to the nose holes and allow to dry. Place the cast in a cardboard box on top of shredded paper or other padding. Rub Vaseline around the inside of the nose holes. You can plug them up with bits of oil-based clay (such as Plastilina).  Rub Vaseline where the plaster bandages will touch the poured plaster such as inside the bottom neck area and around the edge of the whole head. Otherwise the plaster will stick to the plaster bandages and make it difficult to open the mold. Plaster always sticks to plaster

7) Plaster pour

Put on a particle mask to protect your lungs. Fill the plastic bowl that was coated with petroleum jelly with cool water.  Carefully add plaster until the water no longer absorbs it and it looks like a dried riverbed. Squish the mixture with your gloved hands, squeezing any lumps.  Try not to introduce air into the mix.  Pour into the prepared molds. Tap the mold to release air bubbles as it cures. It will become hot and then cool. Carve your name and the date onto the back side of the mold.

Hydrocal with enough water, ready for mixing. Auntie Stacey's Face Painting, special effects makeup,
Hydrocal with enough added water, ready for mixing
Live cast filled with Hydrocal plaster , Auntie Stacey's Face Painting, Special effects makeup,

Poured plaster and alginate mold in a bed of shredded newspaper, inside a box.

8) Cure the mold

Allow the mold to cure for 4 to 6 hours. The nose on the mold should be cool to the touch.  Spread out newspaper.  Turn the mold over onto a soft surface.  Remove plaster bandages and discard.  If they don’t come right off, cut carefully with a sharp knife.  Remove the clay nose plugs and the alginate.  Discard.  Clean up any bubbles or other flaws on the plaster cast using carving tools, but don’t change the skin texture or other details.

Life Cast before sealing , Auntie Stacey's Face Painting, Special effects makeup,
Emma’s life cast before sealing

Place the mold on the middle rack in a preheated oven, at the lowest possible setting (less than or equal to 200 degrees) and bake for 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.  Do not use a pan, just place it on the rack so air can circulate. Check it frequently!  If your mold turns yellow take it out.  Otherwise, let it cool in the oven, turned off, with the door open.

9) Final prep and seal

Finally, seal with a mixture of alcohol and baby oil, or clear acrylic spray. Use 2-3 coats. 

Your mold is ready to use for making facial prosthetics such as noses, horns or zombie skin. See how to make a prosthetic nose or other cold foam appliance for the face.  How to Make a Prosthetic Appliance on a Life Cast. Enjoy! —Auntie Stacey

© Copyright 2020 Stacey Alysa Dennick, All Rights Reserved.

Zombie Walk a lumbering success

Emily  Zombie face painting by Auntie Stacey

Update: I’ll be painting zombies again this year, Sunday, Oct. 27, 21013. At Copperfield’s Books in Sebastopol, starting around 9:45AM.  Free zombiefication!

I painted zombies today at Copperfield’s Books, sponsor of the annual Zombie Walk, an event so exciting that the Press Democrat sent two reporters.
Turning Emily into a Zombie, by Auntie Stacey's face painting

There were lumbering and moaning contests with cool prizes.

I love Halloween.

See the PD article here.

Emily Heil, 11, gets transformed into a zombie by face painter, Stacey Dennick, before participating in the Zombie Walk organized by Copperfield’s Books on Sunday, October 28, 2012 in Sebastopol, California. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)