I first saw this makeup when it was entered in the character makeup contest run by Makeup Artist Magazine on its Message Board; I emailed Steinunn and asked if I could include it in themakeupgallery – I’m pleased she’s agreed and let me use images both of the completed makeup and of the makeup application.
The Mursi are a Sub-Saharan African nomadic cattle-herding tribe from an isolated region of southwestern Ethiopia close to the Sudanese border. The Mursi women are famous of wearing plates in their lower lips – though photographs indicate that, in fact, either lip may be pierced. This practice is supposed to have originated as a means of detering slave-traders; as the lips are not pierced until girls are aged fifteen or sixteen this seems unlikely. The lip discs are made of clay and, yes, they are removed for eating.
For her final prosthetic makeup project at the Nordic Institute of Stage and Studio (NISS), Steinuum Bachmann Josteinsdottir transformed fellow-student Nina, a blue-eyed blonde, into a Musi tribeswoman. The transformation is astounding and, as you can see from the two reference photos of Mursi women, is based on careful research.
My character is made in nine pieces: the ears are split in two pieces each, then the forehead is one, the nose, cheek and chin is one piece, and the lip is one. I made the lip plate in poly foam, and air brushed it with skin illustrator. The mask itself is made in foam latex. I painted it with PAX, RGP, and skin illustrator. I had many references to make her look as real as possible the model is wearing contacts! Her name is Nina, and she was a student as well … this was my final project at NISS in Norway … I had this great teacher. His name is Jim Undenberg.