Feb 092016

wearable lizard skinI’ve been working at an artist’s print studio for a couple years now and getting acquainted with all the forms of printing–linoprinting, woodcut, lithography, monoprinting, etching, etc. I have not had much hands on in the studio. Mainly, what I’ve gained has been from observation. But I know that “what goes in” to this weird brain of mine, must at some point “come out.”
If you’ve followed this blog, you will know that for the last couple of years I’ve also been perfecting my recipe for a cheap, homemade substitute for latex–or “homemade alternative to latex“–using tapioca flour and gelatin.
It was inevitable that the two ideas would meet in my brain lounge, marry, and have babies. And so, indeed, they have.
Please meet:

DIY Printable Skin

Easy, economical, functional, and fun–as all my other brain babies are. Basically, printable skin is fauxtex poured onto a printed inkjet transparency sheet, allowed to set, then used as another layer of skin over your own skin. Great for costume ideas. But as I’ve been discovering, great also for cosmetic and possibly medical uses.

Before I discuss the “other uses” of printable skin, here is the video tutorial. Mind you, this is a quick prototype:

As you can see from the video, I’ve been experimenting quite a lot with this printable skin. Originally, I thought only to use this as a Halloween costume idea: dragon skin body, steampunk face mask, etc. But I’ve made two more discoveries along the way that I’d like to share. One is that this second layer of skin can be very conditioning to your own skin, and another is that sometimes–depending on the recipe–this second skin is very cold!

3D printable skinOne of the first things I wanted to test was how long this printable skin would last on my face. I used a recipe with both coconut oil and a bit of vegetable glycerin, and I poured it fairly thickly onto waxed paper. I let it set for a good hour, then put it on my face. The mask stayed on my face a couple hours and I only took it off because I was bored with the experiment.
When the mask was removed, I discovered that my skin felt incredibly baby-like. The pores were clean and smooth, like no other skin conditioner I have ever used.
Because of the coconut oil and vegetable glycerin–both of which are used as skin conditioners–this simple recipe can double as fun mask and cosmetic conditioner.

The other discovery I made is that, with a recipe that used 1 packet of gelatin per cup of water, the resulting “skin” got very cold and stayed cold for at least a day. I wanted to test whether this was just my imagination or real, so I took two glasses of water, allowed them to reach room temperature, then wrapped one glass with a thin layer of printed “skin.” In one hour, the wrapped water glass was five degrees cooler than the unwrapped glass. I left the glasses overnight on the counter, and the following morning, the wrapped glass was still five degrees cooler than the unwrapped glass.
This made me wonder if this “skin” could be used medically. Say, to lower fever or bring relief to a burn victim or someone suffering from heat exhaustion. The ingredients in these recipes are available almost anywhere. And they may be an alternative where no ice is available for relieving heat discomfort. One could possibly also incorporate medicated ointments or essential oils, though this kind of research should be left to professionals.

snake skin costumeOther than medically, you can experiment with this printable skin by making variations in the amount of gelatin, glycerin, coconut oil and skin thickness (the longer you let the cooked mixture cool, the thicker it will pour). You can also experiment with added technologies such as fiber optics or even computer chips.
The recipe variations I have used are as follows:

Printed Skin Recipes

Best for costumes: 1 cup water, a splash of milk, two packets of gelatin, 3 or 4 tablespoons of vegetable glycerin, two tablespoons of tapioca flour, one teaspoon of solid coconut oil (optional). After this mixture is poured into a thin sheet, allow it to set for at least 30 minutes before applying it to your skin.

Best for cooling skin: 1 cup water, one packet of gelatin, two tablespoons of tapioca flour, one teaspoon of coconut oil (no glycerin). Once this is poured into a thin sheet, allow it to set an hour before applying.

Best for facial mask: 1 cup water, one packet of gelatin, 3 to 4 tablespoons of glycerin, two tablespoons of flour, one tablespoon of coconut oil.

Lastly, if you are printing a pattern on your second skin, there are different qualities of transparency sheets. The smoother the grit, the better the results. The first transparency sheets I used were almost smooth. The images stayed sticky for a couple hours, but then soaked into the “skin” and dried to the touch.
Then I bought the cheapest inkjet (they have to be inkjet) transparencies I could find, and the image side of the skin stayed sticky for a day. I had to soak up some of the surface tackiness with a paper towel to speed up the drying time.

And that’s what I have to give you so far.

I hope you enjoy this tutorial and come back to give us all feedback on your own experiments.

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Feb 132014

Frog Face with Fauxtex

Frog Face Makeup

This frog face makeup is yet another in a series of fauxtex makeup ideas for Halloween or costume parties. It is ideal for people who are allergic to real latex.
Fauxtex is a homemade substitute for latex made with tapioca flour, water, gelatin and solid coconut oil (though the oil is optional). It is easy and inexpensive to make, and is worth learning how to apply in different ways. It can be applied directly to the skin and built up; it can be used as a glue for fur, hair, feathers and even tree bark (as shown below); and it can be formed into shapes that are then applied to the skin and painted.
Camouflage Makeup

Tree Camouflage

The video below shows how I made this frog face makeup, but I will explain it as best I can in writing.
First, I made a batch of fauxtex using 1 cup water, 1/4 cup of tapioca flour, 2 packets of plain gelatin, and 1 tablespoon of solid coconut oil. I colored the batch of fauxtex with green and yellow food coloring while cooking it.
Then I used a Styrofoam head and added playdough (using this homemade playdough recipe)to make a shape that resembled my face. For the eye, I cut a ping pong ball in half and painted it with permanent markers and clear nail polish. I then spread a little oil over the playdough, placed the eye in the eye socket and spooned warm fauxtex on top of the playdough to form the frog face. After the fauxtex set for about half an hour, I put dots of warmed-up fauxtex on top to resemble warty frog skin.
The frog skin was allowed to set for two more hours before I peeled it off and applied it directly to my skin. Since fauxtex is a bit sticky, I used hand sanitizer on my fingers so it wouldn’t stick to my hands.
I used a little bit of warmed fauxtex as “glue”, placed the frog eye over my eye (notice it has a hole so I can see through it), and applied the frog skin over the eyeball and onto my skin. I used more warmed up fauxtex to fill in gaps around the frog eye and to smooth out the outer edges.

The video shows all of the above better than I can explain it. Here it is:

Oct 042012

Halloween fake blood

Realistic Fake Blood

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I work a lot with tapioca flour. Well, last week as I was doing my Zombie BaitHalloween makeup, I realized I was out of store-bought fake blood, so I tried doing a tapioca version instead. It turned out better than the store-bought version.
Just had to share this DIY blood recipe!

Fake Blood Recipe

1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp tapioca flour
5 drops of red food coloring Continue reading »

Oct 032012
FX nose

DIY Fauxtex Nose

This post will show you how to use homemade fauxtex (latex substitute) for some simple prosthetic makeup pieces (ideal for Halloween or homemade movies). The hardest part about using fauxtex is timing. You have to allow the substance to cool enough to handle but not enough that it sets before you’re finished with your FX makeup.
First we’ll make a simple nose. This will be a solid nose that you can place directly on your skin. If you want a prosthetic nose to put over your real nose, you can scoop out the center with a warm spoon to make room for your nose inside the prosthetic. Continue reading »

Oct 012012

DIY zombie makeup

DIY Alternative to Latex

As promised, here is the new and greatly improved recipe for homemade latex substitute for use in FX makeup. After posting last year’s recipe, I received numerous questions about the uses of the latex substitute. Most of you wanted to know if you could make molds out of the recipe and if it could be saved for use another day. The answer to both questions was no. This new recipe approximates the behavior of commercial latex a lot more. It is still non-toxic and inexpensive to make. And though it can be used for several days, it is still biodegradable and disposable. Here is Continue reading »

Dec 082011

Bat Christmas ornament

Angry Bat Ornament

Here is an easy ornament craft you can do with your kids. I call it the Angry Bat ornament (they’re angry because they’ve been left out of the angry birds hype, and they’re swarming the Christmas trees!).
Here’s a free PDF pattern. Feel free to use it any way you want. You can make it as simple or as fancy as you want with paint, feathers, etc.

How to make a felt bat ornament:

Continue reading »

Oct 042011

DIY zombie makeup

DIY Alternative to Latex

Before you start special effects makeup school, practice with Fauxtex!
This is my third year working to perfect a recipe for a homemade alternative to latex, and the results are better than ever!
After much tweaking, I found something that is easy to work with, very cheap, extremely non-toxic, fairly quick to set up, and made from ingredients you can get at a grocery store. No, it does not behave exactly like the more expensive synthetic latex, but it is a good “starter fx makeup” that you can use to practice before going to film school, for creating wound simulation, or to use for fun anytime.
Since tapioca flour has always intrigued me for its rubbery consistency when mixed with a hot liquid, I wanted to use it to give my product a suppleness that not even latex has. Unfortunately, tapioca alone has no “hold.” For structure, I added gelatin (which you will see as the basis for most homemade FX makeups). This combination had both hold and suppleness, but was too tacky, making it a bit tricky to handle with your hands. The addition of coconut oil (which cools to a solid state) gave what I now call FAUXTEX a little bit more manageability without affecting the structure of the FX makeup.
It takes about 5 minutes to make a batch of fauxtex, then about 15 minutes until you can begin to use it either directly on your skin or on a sheet of plastic for later use. After 30-40 minutes, fauxtex can be squeezed out of a decorating funel (or sandwich bag) to make shapes such as bumps on skin, scales, or brains. It can also be shaped further after it congeals by using a hot knife as a carving or smoothing tool. Fauxtex is very flexible and comfortable to “wear” and feels more like flesh than latex. Its flexibility allows you to shape it on a flat surface for later use on a 3-dimensional surface. And, again, it is safe to use for anyone who is allergic to latex.

How to Make and Use Fauxtex

Put cold water in a sauce pan and mix in the tapioca flour, gelatin and coconut oil. Stir until the tapioca flour is dissolved (you can add liquid foundation makeup to add the desired skin color if you want). Turn on the heat and stir continuously until the mixture thickens to a pudding consistency. Cook for an additional minute, turn off the heat and let cool. This video shows how to make and use fauxtex (you can switch between English and Portuguese narration).

I now make fauxtex with three different structures: one for soft skin; one for moldable, but still soft matter; and the third for somewhat rigid structures such as ears. Here are the three recipes:

Latex Substitute Recipe

Recipe for Soft Skin: 1 cup cold water, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 1 packet plain gelatin, 1 tablespoon solid coconut oil.
Recipe for Moldable Brains: 1 cup cold water, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 1 1/2 packets plain gelatin, 1 tablespoon solid coconut oil.
Recipe for Ears: 1 cup cold water, 1/4 cup tapioca flour (or corn starch), 2 packets plain gelatin, 1 tablespoon solid coconut oil.

The first thing you are probably going to ask is “can I use corn starch instead of tapioca flour for all the recipes?” and I will answer “yes, but you won’t get the same skin-like results.” A recipe with corn starch will set up rigid rather than soft. You may actually want this result sometimes–say, for exposed tendons and ligaments–but I think you will like the tapioca version of fauxtex for most FX makeup jobs.

How to Apply Fauxtex

fake breastFauxtex can be applied directly to the skin while it’s still warm, or you can spoon it onto a piece of plastic film, let it set at least 30 minutes, then apply it to your skin. If you are applying a congealed form to your skin, use a bit of left-over fauxtex as adhesive: warm it up for a few seconds in the microwave and rub it on your skin like glue, then apply the fauxtex form onto it. To make shapes, you can either build up the fauxtex a bit at a time, or let cool 20-30 minutes after cooking, put it in a cake decorating funnel and squirt onto a piece of plastic to set. You can also shape it after it’s set with a heated butter knife (for carving or smoothing the surface). One thing that makes fauxtex easier to use than latex is that you can form it onto a flat surface and, after it congeals, it will still conform to a 3D surface such as your face.
Variations: You can make a couple variations on the fauxtex recipes above for scars or fake breasts. Use the first recipe without the coconut oil for fake scars, and (depending on how perky you want your breasts) use any of the recipes above without the gelatin for false breasts (click on the image for instructions).

This research was fun, and I hope you have fun with Fauxtex and save a ton of money with this simple recipe.
PLease “like” and share with friends!

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Video: Fautex Tips and Tricks (learn to make ears, noses, etc)

Oct 032011

paint Halloween skeleton hands

Paint Halloween Skeleton Hands

This tutorial is for my great nephew who is dressing as a skeleton this Halloween. He has a black t-shirt and black pants that we are going to paint with white paint to look like a skeleton, but what will he do with his hands and face? Paint them skeleton-like too.
This tutorial is for the hands. You will need a dark makeup pencil or Halloween paint and a white makeup or paint. Then, wherever you feel bones sticking out (such as your knuckles) paint them white. Connect the knuckles with skinny white “bones.”
To make Continue reading »

Sep 292011

flesh-colored slime

Make skin-colored slime

It’s almost October, and you know what that means. Halloween costumes, Halloween treats, Halloween makeup, spooky anything and everything!
In my weeks-long hunt to discover the recipe for latex, I came across a very simple recipe for slime. This video shows how I took the recipe for green slime and turned it into flesh-colored slime.
I invited some kids over for the experiment, and one of them kept hunting for a way I could possibly be related to her. She decided she needed an aunt with whom Continue reading »

Mar 042011

Zombie effects makeup

Make Zombie FX Makeup

This zombie makeup uses a variation on my Homemade Latex Substitute recipe. The same ingredients but a different method so the end result is much more “gummy” than the standard fauxtex.
In the regular recipe, you will add all the ingredients into the pan and cook. In this recipe the GELATIN is added AFTER REMOVING THE PAN FROM HEAT. You will then have to stir in the gelatin for a good five minutes to completely dissolve it in the gummy tapioca mix. Once you don’t see any more granules, let the mixture sit TWO HOURS to cool and set. Apply with a plastic knife as I did in the video below.
You may also try adding stuff to this makeup, such as toilet paper for a different texture, or peas stuck right into the makeup for a different kind of bulk. Experiment. Come back and show us your stuff.

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