Monthly Archives: August 2013

Misadventures in Mouldmaking. Pt 2….

Ok, so you made a mould.

 

Cool.

 

Now what?

 

Time to make the cast and see how good that mould actually is!

STAGE 1: Making a Silicone Hand from your Life Cast Mould

 

Step 1. Buy your silicone.
First, go to local suppliers. Stand dumbfounded for twenty minutes looking intently at all the available choices. Remember (vaguely) what you read about different types of silicones in “The How and Why of Silicone”. Decide that only the best is good enough for your piece! Choose a Platinum 1:1 mix silicone. Gulp at the price, but buy it anyway.
Proudly take your new purchase home and re-read basic silicone casting instructions.
Make a mad dash back to local suppliers, arrive three minutes before closing.
Head home again, wallet considerably lighter, but now armed with a can of release wax spray, plastic measuring cups, wooden mixing sticks, flocking and silicone pigments.
Finally arrive home after wrestling with peak hour traffic, having realised halfway home that you forgot to buy disposable gloves. Remember you have a packet in the laundry cupboard somewhere. They’ll do….

Step 2. Calculate the amount of silicone you are going to need.
You do this, of course, by weighing the clay from the sculpt (which you carefully saved when you cleaned it from the mould). You then calculate 70% of the weight of the clay, and add 10% for safety, to get the total required weight of silicone.

Or, alternatively, as you removed the clay, you stuffed it all into a container that you know the volume of, and if you know the total volume of clay, you know you will need the same total volume of silicone… (Plus 10% for safety, of course.)

Yeah…. right……

Since you totally forgot to measure, weigh, or even save any of the clay in your enthusiasm to clean your lovely new mould, you decide you will attempt to guess the volume by filling the mould with water. Look carefully at mould for a few minutes, notice the multi-piece nature of your mould, and its irregular shape. Dismiss this idea.

Have a rough guess instead.

Step 3. Measure and colour the Silicone.
Dig around in the laundry till you find that pack of disposable gloves. Find the kitchen scales and sneak them into the work area while nobody’s looking. Make a small attempt to protect them by covering them with plastic wrap. Realise you wrapped it too tight and the scales don’t work. Try again by loosely laying a sheet of plastic over them.
Take two measuring containers, open containers excitedly, have a sudden fit of anxiety and spend fifteen minutes trying to remember if you are supposed to mix a 1:1 silicone by weight or by volume. Decide on weight.
Weigh out equal parts of your silicone.
Carefully mix a tiny bit of pigment into Part B, as per the instructions. It looks too pale. Add more. Still too translucent.
Add flocking.
Scoop out excess flocking. Resolve to use a spoon next time instead of just shaking it in.
Remember trick of putting a marker pen dot onto a wooden stick and using that to see if silicone is correctly coloured. Decide it is.

Step 4. Mix the Silicone.
With a little bit of nervous trepidation, prepare to mix the silicone. Carefully scrape Part A into mixing bucket, pick up Part B and begin to tilt bucket.
Stop suddenly, remembering that you haven’t released your mould yet. Spill silicone on benchtop in the process.
Scrape silicone back into measuring cup.

Step 4. Release Mould.
Shake can thoroughly and spray interior surfaces of mould with a thorough but even coat.
Allow to dry.
Go make a cuppa.

Come back to workspace, sit and contemplate mould for a few minutes while sipping your restorative beverage. Admire how the pieces lock together, front, back, and that funny little piece around the thumb…..
Put down mug. Pick up mould, hold it together…. suddenly realise the single most important thing you totally failed to consider when you were making it, was how the heck you were going to clamp it together and stop it leaking when you fill it….
Dash off to Facebook for a quick look at some photos of Mould Porn on 911, leaving cup to go cold…
Forty five minutes later return with the only thing resembling a clamp you could find in the shed, and look at mould critically. Go back to laundry and find a roll of gaffa tape. Thank your lucky stars you have some left!
Ten minutes later, proudly admire your handiwork. Your three part plaster mould now looks like something from the return of the mummy, encased in layers and layers of grey duct tape. Ain’t nothing getting out of there no how!!

Prop mould, open end up, into a bucket.

Step 5. Mix Silicone.
Return to workbench.
Suddenly discover a bit of silicone that dripped off the bench and onto the floor earlier.
Do a neat impression of Tom Cruise in Risky Business.
Pick yourself up off the floor, cursing and rubbing bruised hip. So this is how old people feel….
Carefully examine rest of floor for unseen booby traps. Lay a trail of newspaper over spilt silicone to absorb it.

Mix silicone. Pour both components into mixing bucket. Using a wooden paint stirring stick, combine Part A and B thoroughly. Keep stirring for a couple of minutes till your arm is getting tired. Use hand.

Step 6. Pour Silicone.
Stand on chair, positioned above bucket containing mould so as to remove air bubbles whilst pouring.
Carefully and with great precision, overbalance and pour a thin stream of silicone and manage to get it all over the bucket and the mould sides, in fact everywhere but IN the mould. Swear. Balance more carefully and get the rest of the silicone onto the mould. Scrape out the last of the mix carefully. A little bit short but what the hey.

Check your your watch for the gel time. Do a rough cleanup and go and get a well deserved beer.

After gel time has elapsed, come back and check mould. Spilt silicone has oozed out over the mould surface and appears wet.

That’s odd.

Poke silicone remaining in bucket. It’s not set. Well, its kind of like a loose jelly, but definitely hasn’t set yet.

Go off and get dinner and another beer.

Come back an hour later. Realise with some trepidation that silicone still hasn’t gelled properly.
Dammit, must have been a dodgy batch! Curse the stupid suppliers. Have another beer and go to bed, hoping problem will have disappeared by morning.

It hasn’t.

Next morning:
Call suppliers and explain, politely but firmly, that they have sold you a dud batch and that you will be coming back in to return it and get a product that works.
Have animated discussion with irritating salesperson on the other end of phone about possible causes of silicone obviously being faulty.
Agree with the persistent gentleman that this is your first time but insist that you did everything properly. Outline in great detail the technique and materials you used, so he can see how it is obviously a fault in the materials he has sold you.
Listen patiently, then to humour him, since you will need to shop there again, go off to laundry on pointless mission, to hunt for disposable gloves box.
Slink back to phone, agree with the nice man that yes, they were latex gloves and no you weren’t really totally aware of the inhibition issue in using Platinum Silicones, and yes perhaps next time you should be more careful.

Spend two hours attempting to clean half-set silicone out of mould.

Drive to suppliers during the middle of the day, hoping the guy you spoke to will have gone to lunch.
No such luck. He is having a late lunch today. Sheepishly walk in and smile weakly in greeting.
Buy more silicone and a packet of non-latex gloves.

Return home and repeat process.

Take a moment to consider that it was probably a blessing in disguise, albeit a rather expensive one, as you realised when cleaning the silicone out of the mould, in the daylight, that your pigmentation was a bit off, way too translucent. Sure, when you looked at the coloured Part B the little dot was barely visible through the silicone, but you failed to account for adding Part A to the mix diluting the strength. Congratulate yourself on not making the same mistake twice.

This time, after the allotted time, the silicone has quite clearly gelled correctly. Give yourself a little congratulations and wander off to do something else for a bit.

Step 7. After the total cure time has elapsed, open the mould.

Learn quite a bit about the importance of pour angles and air bubbles in the process.
Resign yourself to the fact that monster hands don’t necessarily need ALL of their fingers intact.

Show the finished piece off to a couple of your non-makeup artist friends and family. Be quietly pleased by their enthusiastic reactions to how lifelike and fleshlike it is. Dismiss their congratulations and reply to their admiration by saying
“oh, it’s easy when you know how”.

Next step: Painting and Finishing!


The How and Why of Silicone. Part 5

Alright, its been a while coming, but here as promised is the section on Painting Silicone. And yes, I know this says Part 5, and Part 4 isnt up yet, so you may think I’m jumping the gun, but Part 4 is going to deal with seaming and finishing techniques, as well as some interesting manufacturing tips, so bear with me and I’ll get there eventually!!

There is a lot of information here, so read carefully.

Each section has a “WHAT” describing which products we use for each purpose, followed by a “WHY” we use that and not something else, and then finally the all-important “HOW” to do it.

The products available to you will vary according to your location, and you may not have access to a particular thing, but you should be able to find the information here to help you make the most of what you CAN get.

Materials are expensive, so to avoid costly mistakes it is best to research your materials well and talk with your local distributor as well. They are there to help, and have a vested interest in getting you to come back and spend more money with them, so they will (usually) try to be helpful!

 

IMPORTANT NOTE ON THE INTRINSIC COLOURING OF SILICONE:

The best paint job should complement the colour of your silicone, not completely hide it. Painting silicone isn’t like painting foam latex or latex, where you are starting with a very unnatural flat dead appearance and trying to bring it to life. In fact there isn’t a lot of point using silicone for pieces if you aren’t going to take advantage of the very flesh-like translucency it inherently possesses. So the crucially important step is to tint your piece intrinsically before you cast it, to give your piece the best and most lifelike tones onto which you can then paint your ‘skin’ surface.

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