In the past, making a death mask was a fairly common method to capture the likeness of the famous and infamous — often for use by sculptors, or for the studies of the skull in the “science” of phrenology and even as an early forensic tool.
Life masks, and live casts of the entire head were more difficult because the sitter had to submit to having the face and/or head covered in plaster, which leads to some obvious difficulties and discomfort.
My brother, in a grand act of artistic dedication, once made a plaster-cast of his own head. (See this Instructables Workshop for a modern version of the technique) This wasn’t wholly due to vanity, but because he had plans to create fitted helmets for the cosplay costume-making process that uses EVA foam.
Under the assumption that we had similar sized skulls, he used his plaster-cast head as a base for crafting a representation of a replica of the Sutton Hoo helmet1. He knew of my interest in the middle ages and the Anglo-Saxon period, and he thought this would be a gift I could appreciate. He was not wrong. I can only imagine the time he put into this, but it is by far the most impressive gift I have ever received.
- Just to be clear, that means my brother’s creation was a representation of a replica of the reconstruction of the Sutton Hoo helmet. 🙂