Blood, gore, blackberry jam: Moulage artist mars victims
summit daily news
FARMERS KORNER – The bloody mess Wednesday at Summit High School occurred at the hands of a seasoned professional. And no one got hurt.
“OK, I’m going to completely rip off your face,” Verleen Hanes, moulage technician from Falcon, said to volunteer mock-shooting victim Erik Miller.
Hanes, a former Colorado Springs police officer, has created realistic wounds of all sorts for emergency-response drills over the past 24 years. She prepared about 20 victims behind the SHS auditorium stage Wednesday for Summit County’s emergency simulation.
Her toolbox – complete with yellow, blood-spattered smiley-face stickers – includes a revolting homemade collection of latex impalements and partial dismemberments to be affixed to willing victims.
“I can completely sever arms and fingers,” Hanes said, adding that sleeves can be used to mimic an arm hanging off a body.
Most of the makeup ingredients are her original recipes, which include denture powders, cotton, syrups, melted lipstick and blackberry jam.
Only certain types of blood may be used on faces, so Hanes orders hers from Ben Nye of Los Angeles – the same place that supplied the set for John Rambo in “First Blood.”
To create Erik Miller’s face wound, she applied denture powder concoction as a gel. As the mixture dries, it is ripped away to appear like a bullet graze. Cotton is stuffed in it to hold up the fake skin.
Latex and red food coloring are applied to enhance the effect.
“I do not like seams,” Hanes said. “I want it to look as real as possible.”
Miller, a student at Colorado Mountain College’s emergency medical technician program, emerged from the makeup chair to an onslaught of photos from fellow victims intrigued by his brutal looks.
“Third week into (CMC classes) and I got my face blown off,” he said.
Hanes gave him a final, cheeky word of advice: “Don’t eat, because it’ll all come out your cheek.”
Her record for gore creation is 350 victims in two hours for a plane crash simulation at Colorado Springs Airport. Some of those injuries were prepared with clothing in advance.
The moulage technician’s clients range from Summit to Lubbock, Texas and even the U.S. military. Paramedics, American Medical Response, Federal Emergency Management Agency and several law enforcement agencies have used Hanes’ services.
Shelby Newley, Megan Watson and Alan Whitlock are CMC nursing students who volunteered for Wednesday’s simulation.
“This kind of puts us on the other side: being the victim,” Whitlock said as two fresh bullet wounds on his left arm began to dry.
Newley took a bullet to the spleen, though she assessed the wound as nonlethal.
“It’s cool to be part of this,” she said.
Though much of Hanes’ moulage work is with law enforcement organizations, she says she’s also worked in theater and television – such as the TV program “911.”
“I’m pretty much the only one in the state,” she said of her profession.
Hanes was one of the first female officers to patrol for the Colorado Springs Police Department. She served 5 years and transferred to El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, where she continues to offer services – but as an artist rather than an officer.
She quit the patrol work after flimsy makeup at the department’s emergency drills inspired a creative career change.
Hanes is self-trained and has trained others. She’s even made weapons and wounds for simulated events at the El Paso County jail.
“Ink pens, bobby pins, tooth brushes, soap … They make knives out of soap,” Hanes said.
Halloween at the Hanes household can be a grisly experience.
“I’ve got arms and fingers on the fan, drying,” she said.
A few weeks ago, Hanes was at Fort Carson Army Base for simulation of a terrorists’ bombing at a park.
In Summit County Wednesday, after the last victim was sufficiently marred, Hanes emerged from the high school reaching for the sky: The emergency exercise had just begun, and security was high.
Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or
Moulage (French: casting/moulding) is the art of applying mock injuries for the purpose of training emergency response teams and other medical and military personnel. Moulage may be as simple as applying premade rubber or latex ‘wounds’ to healthy limbs, chest, head, etc., or as complex as using makeup and theater techniques to provide elements of realism (such as blood, vomitus, open fractures, etc.) to the training simulation. The practice dates to at least the Renaissance, when wax figures were utilized for this purpose.
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