Tag Archives: mould making

Misadventures in Mouldmaking

Hi all,  I thought I would just post a bit of a primer for newer readers, and all the lurkers with perhaps a little less experience.

We are incredibly privileged to have as Members of ‘Neill Gorton’s Makeup FX 911’ Group on Facebook many of the worlds most talented Makeup FX Artists. We also have several sensational sculptors, magnificent mouldmakers, terrifyingly talented technicians and fantastic finishers.

Each of these areas is a speciality all on its own, and you could easily devote a lifetime to learning and developing your skills in just one particular area and still not know everything about it!!

Most early career artists don’t start out with the intention of becoming, say, a great fibreglass mould maker, or a particularly expert seamer and patcher of foam latex and silicone. These skills are viewed as ‘less glamorous’ than something like sculpting or painting, or on-set application of prosthetics, although most people don’t even consider that by making a career out of honing a particular skill that it is possible to be more in demand as a specialist and get more regular work than a Jack-of-all-trades!

When we start out, it is natural to want to do EVERYTHING!

And, in our naiveté we often assume that if we are pretty good at one thing, we will be pretty good at all of it.

There’s your first problem… 😉

There is a lot of resource material on here and elsewhere in books and online, to tell you what you need to know to get started.

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The How and Why of Silicone, (Part 3)


So you are now fully equipped to choose exactly the right silicone product for your purpose, and you are champing at the bit to get started. So lets look at how to do that.

I’m not going to go into the entire multifaceted sculpting and mould-making process here, it would take me six months, and there are already a lot of fabulous resources out there…. (see post on My Makeup Books) what we ARE going to look at now  is the actual silicone itself and what you need to do to end up with a usable product at the end.

There are several things to do before you even open the product.

FIRST, make sure your workroom, tools and materials are neither too cold, nor too hot   This, I understand, can be tricky…. but especially in your first few attempts with silicone, it will make the process much smoother and increase your chances of success.  (All Technical Data sheets list the estimated geltime and total curing time of your product, at an ideal working temp of around 24C (about 75F).)
Wait a minute- chances?  You mean this isnt a guaranteed, easy peasy, smooth as pie process?  Weeeelllll…. technically, yes, it could be, as long as you follow the instructions perfectly and work in optimum conditions. But Im not going to lie to you- there are many things that can go amiss if you aren’t careful, and sometimes, even if you are…

SECOND, assemble your tools and materials.  You will need to make sure your materials and workspace are clean, and all components are compatible with the silicone of your choice- remember your list of inhibitors.  You really need to have an accurate electric scale measuring by the gram for working with silicones, plus a pocket scale that measures by 0.1 grams, especially if you are making prosthetics and the likes that use only small amounts… (see The How and Why of Silicone (Part 2) for some good pocket scales).  Dont forget the calculator and a notebook to write things down- NEVER assume you will remember it all.  Also, you will need to make sure you have CLEAN CONTAINERS. Never try and skimp on this… as my 16 yr old observed, recycling isnt a large part of Special Effects, and although we can re-use some things, it pays to be scrupulous when working with something as fussy and expensive as silicone.  You can save a container you have used for the same silicone before and remove the old cured mix, but if there are uncured parts you are best to dispose of them and start again. Some cardboard cups contain wax that can inhibit some silicones. Clean paper cups, plastic containers or foodgrade plastic buckets are best.
THIRD, it goes without saying that you should ALWAYS test your materials before starting your project.  It also goes without saying that most people simply don’t bother….

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