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Davis Journal

Creating mock disasters through the art of moulage

Dec 09, 2022 11:58AM ● By Becky Ginos

Moulage is the art of applying fake injuries. Deby Marshall has learned how to use this technique to create mock disaster scenarios for emergency preparedness.

BOUNTIFUL—In case of an emergency people have to jump into action but knowing what to do isn’t that easy. Moulage artist Deby Marshall uses her talent to create mock disaster scenarios as a tool for teaching not only to help the victim, but for those who are giving aid. 

“A long time ago my husband said ‘we live down at the bottom of 400 North. If something happened we’d be cut off. We need to learn how to take care of ourselves,’” said Marshall. “So I took CERT classes and we did mock disasters with a lot of victims’ moulage (the art of applying fake injuries) with burns and different stuff. So I went through the training and it evolved and I learned more to take care of these things.”

While using moulage to make people bloody, Marshall said she realized it wasn’t just for first responders. “It’s also for citizens to see what it looks like and how they feel or how they would act to take care of it.”

Marshall has developed her skill over time. “I’ve slowly put together a mock disaster with the types of injuries first responders might come upon and that citizens come upon so they don’t get grossed out but can react.”

She creates moulage by using everyday ingredients. “I use red food coloring with Dawn detergent for blood,” said Marshall. “You add baking powder to thicken it. For skins and cuts I use lady’s makeup with Vaseline and baking powder to thicken the mixture. It’s easy to wash off and more Latex free.”

Burns are made from women’s peel off facial masks, she said. “When it’s dry you pull it up, stuff it with cotton and add red food coloring so it looks like skin is coming out of a wound. Crushed up Oreo cookies make it look like there’s gravel or dirt in a wound. It’s all non toxic and tastes good on the side.”

Marshall does all of the CERT mock disasters. “I hope by training everyone it will help if something happens they’ll know what to do.”

At emergency preparedness fairs Marshall works her magic on kids and adults who come to her booth. “Kids like gory things,” she said. “When they come up I ask them if they have any allergies and what they’d like. I explain how I make it and why. Most like to have it on their arms but I do whatever they like.”

One man came up and asked her to create a cut across his nose and give him a black eye. “He wanted to show his grandkids after the fair,” said Marshall. “I also do some moulage for Halloween.”

Marshall has made up a kit with moulage items she takes with her to mock disasters. “I have fake skin with makeup in different skin tones,” she said. “I have a color wheel I use for bruises and powder. There is a lot of blood. I use a Honey Bear squirt bottle for spreading blood.”

She also uses crushed Alka-Seltzer for burns. “You squirt water on it and it bubbles. I have rocks and sticks that I can mold in and pre-made cuts and things that I can quickly put on people.”

Sometimes Marshall uses her skill on her grandkids for fun. “But usually it’s my husband I practice on.”