Teen accepted into special effects institute

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Kaci Mansfield, 18, a 2015 Prairie du Chien High School graduate, is pictured in some gory glycerin- and gelatin-based makeup she created on herself for her Instagram page.

Kaci can apply special effects makeup to herself in a way that looks pretty real. (Submitted photos)

Kaci also enjoys applying beauty makeup and has a modern eye for fashion and hair styling.

Her own “zombie” hand

By Correne Martin

Since she was a little girl, Kaci Mansfield has had an eye for color and creativity. She’s always loved art and painting and her talents seem to come naturally.

The 2015 Prairie du Chien High School graduate has also been watching horror movies since she was 8 years old.

“I used to watch them with my dad, and we liked to watch the special features afterward where they showed how they make everything happen,” she recalled. “I definitely think the gore looks awesome.”

Fast forward about eight years—Kaci started watching YouTube tutorials and practicing special effects makeup on herself in high school. She fell in love with using cosmetics and appliances to create the appearance of bruises, cuts, blood and other deformities on her face and her arms and hands. She began experimenting by making herself into a zombie by using gelatin, glycerin and food coloring. She also started using latex for some of her ghastly looks.

“You put the glycerin and gelatin in a bowl, mix it together, and microwave it ‘til it starts smelling really bad. Then, you just let it cool and you put it on the face,” Kaci explained of her eerie makeovers.

Kaci has only transformed herself into the undead in addition to a few family members; she has yet to work on other people. It takes between one and two hours to complete some of her most extreme effects. She said she loves beauty make up and fashion as well and can create some stunning looks of glamour in that realm too.

Now, at the age of 18, Kaci has become pretty popular on Instagram. In fact, she has 34,000 followers on the mobile photo- and video-sharing social networking website.

“I started following a girl (on Instagram) who went to John Casablancas Institute (in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada). We’d share each other’s work. She told me I should check out the school’s website,” Kaci said.

After she told her mom, Michelle Nierling, about the private, career-training institute, they started researching it more. Michelle wanted to make sure it was an accredited school, which it was, and she also learned that it has 90 to 95 percent job placement internationally for its graduates.

So once they determined Kaci would apply, she submitted a cover letter and resume and then was selected by John Casablancas Institute for a phone interview.

“I think my Instagram page had a big part in that,” Kaci stated.

Following her phone interview, she sent the school her official application and letter of intent.

Not long after, Kaci and her family learned she was one of 16 students from around the world to be accepted for the upcoming term at the institute.

“They wanted her to start right away, but because of the lengthy Student Visa process, they allowed her to wait until this May (2016),” Michelle explained. “Also, in order for her to get a certified letter from the school (officially confirming her enrollment), we need to have 50 percent of her tuition paid up front.”

Half of her tuition for the 18-month program is $8,500 in U.S. currency.

Kaci’s parents, Michelle and dad Chuck Mansfield, looked into private bank funding, but they were unable to obtain a loan. So, thanks to donations the family has received and money Kaci and her family have earned, they’ve collected about $4,000 to date. They held a bake sale, grab bag activity and Kaci did face painting in Lansing last weekend.

To raise additional money, they are planning a fundraiser for Friday, March 4, at the Lakeview Marina Bar in Prairie du Chien. The public is invited to participate in a raffle auction and enjoy two bands and a comedian. The fun begins at 6 p.m.

“I want to do makeup for horror films and social media,” Kaci said, dreaming of her future, possibly working on horror films like her favorites: “Saw,” “Halloween,” the Rob Zombie movies and the “Child’s Play” series.

She’s sincerely hoping John Casablancas Institute will be the introduction she needs to follow that path. She said her first six months of training will involve learning beauty makeup and digital photo enhancement techniques. Then, she’ll get into fashion and some hair styling skills so she can set up photo shoots. The last part of the program will be “the good stuff,” as Kaci refers to it: the special effects makeup and prosthetics.

“She has to maintain 80 percent in grades and hold down a job for 20 hours per week,” Michelle said of the school’s requirements.

If she gets the opportunity to go to the institute, Kaci will live in an apartment with her cat, 31 hours away from home, attending school three days a week.

“My lifelong dream is to do this,” Kaci said. “I feel like I was born to do it.”

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