Essay On Pictorial History Of Prosthetics

794 words - 4 pages

In the early years of film, make-up artists were not recognised for their artistic skills and ingenuity of making prosthetics or their imagination of bringing others creations to life. Many of the artists were also actors or stunt men who learnt the craft by applying their own make up for film and theatre. Compared to today’s materials used to make prosthetics, many of the materials they used were very basic as they used spirit gum, fish skin, cotton, gelatin, greasepaints, collodion, cheesecloth, clay, Fullers Earth, various putties, pastes and wax and latex. The first documented prosthetic was in the 1909 book “The Art of Theater Make up” by Cavendish Morton, who when transforming himself into the character Falstaff used silk attached to a wig, nose paste, spirit gum, crepe hair and greasepaints.

By the 1920’s Lon Chaney was recognised for his ingenuity of make-up and was known as “The Man of a Thousand Faces” as he had the ability to change his appearance into any character he was portraying. For example when in the film The Phantom of the Opera he used wire to widen his nostrils and pull his nose back and completed the horrifying character by wearing jagged false teeth and clever use of shading to give the impression of a skull like face. He also changed his complete face when playing the role of Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, as he created the twisted face by using false teeth, nose putty on his cheeks and a false eye.

In 1932, Jack Pierce turned actor Boris Karloff into Frankenstein’s monster and was said to be an enduring prosthetic make up creations. To create Frankenstein’s Monster it was said that he used layers of cotton coated in gum and collodion where as others say that plaster could have been applied to the skin coated in Vaseline or that it was several pieces and assembled into the full head. To create the skin for Frankenstein’s monster it was believed that Jack Pierce glued fine cheesecloth to Boris Karloff’s face and stippled on latex to fill in any gaps and create edges for the pieces, electrodes were spirit gummed to the neck and green/grey greasepaint completed the look, which overall took four hours to complete. Even though these products and methods seem...

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