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More blood!

Zombie face painting at the library
Joshua Christain, organizer of the Iowa City Zombie March, applies some fake blood to Abby Gregory’s face during a Zombie Face Painting workshop at the Solon Public Library Oct. 10. (photos by Doug Lindner)

SOLON– It isn’t often you hear teenagers asking for head wounds.
But such calls were frequent at the Solon Public Library Oct. 10 as the organizer of the Iowa City Zombie March visited for a workshop on appearing undead.
Joshua Christain taught about a dozen Solon teenagers how to make their face paler and to darken their cheekbones and under their eyes as part of the library’s weekly Creative, Amazing Teens (C.A.T.S.) program for fifth through 12th graders.
“It was a blast!” Christain said. “I enjoyed myself and the kids were super enthusiastic about the zombie makeup. I enjoyed the whole experience and I hope we can do this again next year!”
Christain noted it was his first foray into demonstrating makeup techniques.
Youth Services Librarian Cassi Elton operates the Antelope Lending Library, a mobile library which is also a member of the James Gang (a non-profit incubator of which the Zombie March is also a part), he said. Elton asked if he'd be willing to do a make-up tutorial, “and I said yes.”
Christain has been involved organizing the Iowa City Zombie March for the last two years. The event raises money for local charities with an annual group lurch through Iowa City.
“I've been doing my own and a few others’ makeup for the last decade or more,” he said. “That combined with the fact that I developed workflows and write policies for a living made me think this was worth a shot.”
The kids at the library workshop ate it up like it was brains.
“Joshua did a wonderful job with the instruction, helping the teens build on basic face paint techniques until they were able to create their own fake bruises and gashes,” Elton said. “I hope to see some zombie faces at Halloween this year!”
After explaining some basic techniques with greasepaint, Christain demonstrated more advances special effects like bruising and head wounds.
His students used hand mirrors and cell phones to check their progress as they applied their own makeup at tables in the library meeting room.
“Does anyone need any more bloody scab?” asked Elton, holding up a bottle of aptly-named fake blood.
While bruising was created with a mix of colors and some speckling, making a wound took some doing.
Latex is a messy, naturally occurring substance, Christain said, which stays liquid when mixed with ammonia.
“When it dries, it’s basically rubber,” he said. “So, if you get it in your hair, just be aware.”
He dabbed foreheads with the liquid latex and moved around the room to help individuals with their bruises as it dried.
“Greasepaint is very forgiving,” he said. “You can scratch your face a little bit and it won’t really go anywhere.”
To achieve the desired mottled appearance for discolored skin, Christain recommended starting with a little black in the center of the fake injury and then spreading out with a little red before taking a simple sponge and lightly adding some touches of yellow.
The same technique applies for gashes, he said.
“It gets weirder,” he promised.
Christain took a little bit of toilet paper and attached it to the sticky latex on one of his volunteer’s forehead.
The toilet paper becomes a kind of fake skin that can be used to create different wound shapes, he said, making the skin uneven or cratered.
“You can see the toilet paper take on a fleshy appearance,” he noted.
In addition, as the latex dries, it can be peeled back a bit to look like dangling flesh.
“You try it because I don’t really want to pinch you,” he told one of his subjects. “Just kind of grab a hold of it and just pull.”
As she did so, moans went up from other participants.
“That looks so gross.”
“That looks really weird.”
After dabbing a little fake blood at the end, the special effect was complete.
“Anyone else want some liquid latex rubbed on their face?” Christain asked and was immediately flooded with volunteers.
“Nobody should ever say that sentence– I want a big head wound,” he added.
With some water, he said, the rubberized injuries would come loose.
“I think I have too much blood,” one of the students said.
“There’s no such thing as too much blood,” Christain responded.
Elton was happy with the results.
“I thought the event was great!” she said. “It was so fun to see the teens transform themselves from unassuming teenagers to brain-hungry zombies.”
C.A.T.S. took two weeks off for the library’s annual, all-ages Family Halloween Party on Oct. 24 and for Halloween, but will return in November. The group meets each Thursday school is in session for crafts, movies, DIY snacks, games and events. Monthly activity schedules are posted at the library and available on our website.
Teens who volunteered at the Family Halloween Party qualified to participate in a special, after-hours Zombie Nerf War in the library that night.