I thought I’d share a little of the history of prosthetics with you, I hope you find it interesting. 🙂
Before the 1930’s make up artists or make up men (as they were known) were not recognised for their artistry and ingenuity for bringing the imagination of others to life. Many of these early pioneers of the craft were also actors, or stunt men and learnt the craft by applying their own make up for film and theatre.
The products they used were basic in comparison to today’s silicones and included spirit gum, fish skin, cotton, gelatine, greasepaints, Collodion, cheesecloth, clay, Fullers Earth, various putties, pastes and wax’, Gutta Percha, crepe hair and FX artist’s friend – latex.
Some early prosthetics are detailed in the 1909 book The Art of Theatre Make Up by Cavendish Morton. Morton reveals how he transformed himself into Falstaff using silk attached to a wig, nose paste, spirit gum, crepe hair and greasepaints. The description of the transformation reads
“the wig is shown with the silk joined to it from which the cheeks and double chin are to be formed. With spirit gum the edges of the silk are joined round the eyes, mouth and nose. Next the cheeks and chin are padded, and the drawstring at the lower edge of the silk is tightened. A large nose of nose-paste is formed. Pouches of nose paste are placed beneath the eyes and these are blended with the false cheeks, effectually covering the joins. A groundwork of No. 3 grease paint made deeper with yellow, carmine, and a little lake is applied evenly all over the face, or perhaps it would be better to call it a mask. This will bring its various elements into accord. Blotches of carmine mixed with a little yellow are dabbed on the nose and cheeks. High lights of white mixed with a little yellow are placed on the forehead, on the pouches under the eyes, and on the cheeks. Blend these with the groundwork carefully. The beard and moustache are so placed that the actual outlines of the cheeks are lost. The beard is blended into the cheeks with crepe hair. The eyelashes are coloured with reddish yellow making them seem smaller.”
So that’s part one, part two coming soon…
Morton.C, (1909) The Art of Theatrical Make Up, p47, 50-51, Adam and Charles Black, London