Decorative Mask in Resin: How To!

Posted in Design, General, Halloween, Masks, sculpting, Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 12, 2017 by Jim St Ruth

I’m really proud of this.

It’s been a work in progress for a couple of months, but I finished the paint job today!

Note: As when using all powders or chemicals that might get onto the skin, in the eyes or lungs, please use adequate precautions! Look at product data safety sheets (easily found on the net) for anything that you use, familiarising yourself with any risks!

Step One – Sculpting

The piece was moulded in Monster Clay on a full-face life cast of my own noggin. The details were then smoothed out with small amounts of white spirit/ mineral spirits using two small, cheap paint brushes; one very course, and the other a fine sable brush, both bought from the 85p paint brush bin at Fred Aldous in Manchester. I made sure not to make the surface too smooth, so that there’s some variation in the fine detail; I wanted it to look a little rough when it was done.

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Partially-sculpted Monster Clay on Plaster of Paris face cast

Note: if you want to get Monster Clay really smooth, then using the end of a dish cloth that’s been dabbed in white spirit can help a great deal, but you might need to make the sculpt pretty smooth first with a sculpting tool, to save you time later on.

Note: If you do this, you’ll need to make sure that the white spirit evaporates before taking the next step. White spirit can, if you use it in any volume, turn Monster Clay to complete mush, and you don’t want the moulding process to ruin any forms or detail. I’ve also no idea if, since the moulding is done in silicone rubber, whether this will prevent curing of the mould. I’ve never had a problem if I leave the white spirit to evaporate.

Note: You’ll need to use white spirit in a well-ventilated area. For me, this is just working with the window open and a fan on. Be cautious. Make sure that you can breathe fresh air!

Step Two – Moulding

I used Tinsil 80-15 to mould the piece, applying a relatively thin detail-capturing layer first. The ’15’ in Tinsil 80-15 relates to its shore hardness, with ‘0’ being the most soft and therefore the most flexible.

Tinsil is very runny, and pretty viscous. Applying in thin layers and letting it cure in between applications means that the rubber won’t just run off all over your work surface (and onto the floor). This method gives you a dome-like mould, which saves rubber too.

Note: You can create a box mould, which means you can just pour the rubber over the piece in one go. This does use more rubber, however, and you can quickly find yourself using a full £35 tin up in one go.

The ‘dome’ method used less than half of that, built up into an overall thickness of around 1.5cm. I left it a full 24 hours to cure, then built up a support jacket make of modroc, to keep the rubber relatively well-held when the final casting took place. This only took around half an hour to be dry.

Step Three- Casting

First, I shook some sintered copper powder into the silicone mould, brushing it around with a cheap make up brush from Poundland. I made sure every bit of the mould’s interior surface was covered, then shaking the rest off back into its bag.

Note: You’ll want to use a decorator’s dust mask for this step, so that you don’t end up breathing in the copper powder.

I used Quickcast resin from Trylon, with a black casting pigment, applied in several layers. The working time was around five minutes on a warm summer’s day in north-west England, and this may vary depending on the temperature and humidity where you live.

Only a small amount of pigment was used, well-stirred into the resin after parts A & B had been mixed. I then just slush cast it into the mould, trying to make sure there were no air bubbles, and that every part of the mould’s interior surface was covered.

This step was then repeated, building up the layers of resin. The final piece is only about 2.5mm thick around the edges, but much thicker around the details of the eyes, chin and nose. This stops it cracking when pulling the piece from the mould. I stopped slushing the resin around when it began to cure, turning into a tar-like substance.

The resin doesn’t take long to cure. It’s a heat-accelerated reaction, so the thickest areas of resin will cure first. It’s strong, but you might find the edges can be brittle. Just de-mould with caution, and you should be fine. I let the piece rest for half an hour after my final layer, just to be sure it ha cured before de-moulding.

Step Four: De-Moulding

Just do this with caution, after removing the plaster support jacket from the silicone. You should be able to just peel the mould off, but be cautious around any sharp or fine edges on the resin; using a low shore hardness rubber for the mould really helps.

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De-moulded resin cast piece. The sintered copper powder is dull, and looks almost the same as the Monster Clay

Step Five: Buffing

The sintered copper powder is only a thin surface coat to the resin, and looks very dull and non-metallic after de-moulding. I polished the piece with some very fine grade steel wool, being careful not to scratch any of the sintered copper away. This leaves it looking pretty good. Using the back of a metal teaspoon on highlight areas can really help.

I then attempted to polish with Brasso… and this was not a good move. The fine pits and streaks in the mask allowed for the Brasso residue to build up, and no amount of research could give me a good solution for completely removing it. More Brasso just made it worst. With hindsight, I should have just then buffed with the buffing pads of my Dremel and an old sock, but I didn’t…

This did, however, make me go off and think… and that produced the final step: painting!

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Buffed-up piece, with an second cast with sintered aluminium for reference. You can clearly see the unwanted Brasso residue.

Step Six: Painting

I bought some metal, Humbrol enamel paints, and some more cheap, wide paint brushes. After mixing the paint in their small tins, I dipped a brush in, wiping off most of the paint onto a clean sheet of paper.

This left a very small amount of paint on the brush, which I then used to paint highlights.

Et voila!

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Final, Painted Piece

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Reptoid Sculpt

Posted in 3D, Design, Fantasy, General, sculpting, zbrush with tags , , , , , on September 20, 2017 by Jim St Ruth

Part of a series of Zbrush concept sculpts that I might turn into a silicone mask.

The upload quality of the turntable video is pretty awful. It was recorded at 720P and the file on my PC is absolutely fine. Something I need to look at in more detail for the future, I think.

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Fishy Sculpt: ZBrush Turntable

Posted in 3D, Design, General, Masks, scifi, Uncategorized, zbrush with tags , on August 29, 2017 by Jim St Ruth

This might be a long-term project to sculpt and mould into a silicone mask. I guess that the accessories would be made in resin, perhaps with a sintered mental finish that I can polish up. I’ve got another project to finish first, however, and I want to pull more of my focus back to writing.

So, I might never actually make it… but as a mask, I think it would be awesome!

Monster Sculpt!

Posted in Design, General, Halloween, Horror, Masks, Pictures, science fiction, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 26, 2017 by Jim St Ruth

My latest monster mask sculpt!

As usual, this was sculpted in Monster Clay on a Plaster of Paris life cast of my head.

The ring of clar around the edges of the sculpt is flashing and a wall, behind which I’ll build another wall made of water-based clay, before making the mould with plaster.

The cuts with the short slashes across them will be stitched with string once the mask is cast and painted; they’ll be wound stitches.

I’ve got a little more refining to do, mostly clean up… but I’m happy with this for now.

Note On Final Detail:

To create a subtly bumpy surface, I took a makeup sponge and applied a little white spirit (mineral spirits in the US, I think). Then, dabbing all over the sculpt where I wanted this detail, the clay begins to soften, and I just kept going until the texture was right… and stopped before the clay got outright mushy.

If you try this for the first time, be aware that a makeup sponge can hold a lot of white spirit. It’ll easily run down the model, which might not be a problem… but slight glances with the back of your hand can smear previously-created detail. Caution is the watchword.

Painted!

Posted in Design, General, Halloween, Horror, Masks, sculpting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on February 25, 2017 by Jim St Ruth

So the finished mask came out well, though it was a little rough in places. My basic process is down now, and I know I just need to be a little more cautious when I’m filling the mould with foam. The mask was baked for 4.5 hrs in the end, and I left it to cool well before removing it.

Some pics of the airbrushing and a little stippling, though please note that this isn’t actually affixed to my face, and that there isn’t any makeup on my skin; so it hasn’t been blended in, and the opening around my eyes and mouth are clearly lose.

Oven Temperatures for Foam Latex

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23, 2017 by Jim St Ruth

So, my mask didn’t cure on the outside of the mould. I left it in the oven for five hours in total, and only the very limits of the mask inside the plaster and the foam that splooged out of the mould had cured.

Today I’m doing my next run, but I wondered if the foam latex inside the mould was even getting up to temperature. The oven that I’m using is our kitchen; an old Tricity Bendix that’s about thirty years old. It’s not a fan oven… and this over is never used to cook food in. We only use the hob above. Never use an oven that you’re going to cook in, as the released chemicals mean the oven is no longer food safe!

I decided to run a test.

A glass ramikin dish containing about 2cm-worth of olive oil. This is then covered over with a single layer of aluminium foil; not so much that the heat can’t get in.

I set my oven to 130C and left the oil in for twenty minutes to let it warm up.

The resulting temperature of the oil in my oven was 79C, just 6C off the 85C limit that I’ve read foam latex shouldn’t be baked over.

Now, I think the important two things are that it’s an old oven, so the thermostat might be unreliable, especially at low temperatures. Also, it’s not a fan oven, so the heat isn’t being circulated beyond simple heat convection. The parts of the foam latex that cured on my last run were both on or near the exposed areas, and they were also near the top of the oven.  The total height of my life cast and mould is ~ 35cm; that’s pretty big.

If you think about cooking several things in an oven on different shelves in a non-fan oven, you know that there’s a big difference between the cooking times for the different shelves.

So… I’m going to try baking at an oven temp of 110C today.

Tip: Do an oil test in your oven, like the one I’ve done. See what temperature the oil gets to at 71C on the thermostat. It might not be anywhere near the required temperatures for baking foam latex. 75C on my oven gave an oil temperature of 62C. That’s very low and, whilst I’ve read about people baking foam latex at this level of temperature, the baking times can exceed even 6 hours.

Cracked Mould… and Repair

Posted in Design, Fantasy, General, Halloween, Horror, Masks, sculpting, Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 18, 2017 by Jim St Ruth

Things went far better than my nightmares predicted!

Yet when I tried to pry the mould from the sculpt and its underlying life cast, the damned thing split into four pieces; three large pieces and one sliver along one of the main splits, right between the three pry points that I’d put into my flashing.

The solution was easy, and it’s worked really well:

  • I repositioned all of the four pieces together, which thankfully slotted together with mostly only hairline cracks visible on the inside of the mould. There were some larger chunks missing, creating some small, ragged-edged holes… Also, I realised that one of the nostril cavities had broken off.
  • Using Modroc bandages, I patched across the seam lines, then ran a ring of bandage around the whole of circumference of the mould’s outside, to add further strength. I then let this dry for a good half hour.
  • Mixing small batches of dense plaster, I then filled in the holes and the hairline cracks, only doing an inch or two’s work at a time. Moistening the surrounding plaster first, I applied the new mix, dipping my index finger in some clean water, and using this finger to remove excess plaster. Keeping that finger clean is important:
    • I didn’t want to spread the excess plaster.
    • The mould’s existing plaster soaks up water like a sponge, and this dense plaster is only in small patches, so it dries out  very quickly. A wet finger keeps it damp just long enough to smooth it out and remove any excess.
  • To restore lost wrinkles I used a pen-shaped sculpting tool with a firm, rubberised tip. Repeatedly dipping this in water as I worked on each small section, I was able to ‘sketch in’ in the wrinkles. It’s worth noting that usually I’d have to be aware that I’d be trying to created the inverse of wrinkles; as this is the mould, I’d need to texture in raised lines that would turn into the groves on the final mask. However, the ‘sketching’ I did was only shallow, and it matched the surrounding texture. I was very lucky here; the fine detail I was recreating was already faint lines and groves around where I was patching.
  • I then mixed a small batch of plaster and applied it in a relatively thin layer, around 3-4mm thick, on the whole of the outside of the mould. This covered the Modroc gauze completely, preventing me from snagging it in the future, and giving a little more strength to the patched seams.
  • Once this was dried, I found the broken nostril piece, and used a *tiny amount of superglue to stick it back on. Be careful if you need to do this; you don’t want glue seeping out of the join and into the mould itself. This can retard curing with liquid latex, at least, and leave thin spots in your creations… With foam latex, I’m not sure, but I didn’t want to take the risk. I then smoothed over the hairline joins with plaster, and used plaster to smooth over some ragged parts of the nostril, to reduce the risk of tearing when it comes to taking foam latex from the mould.

So here are pics of the outside and the inside of the mould.

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This is now being left to dry for another day or two before I try and do my second ever run with foam latex… but this time, I’m confident I can reuse the mould for multiple runs, that the mould isn’t going to have to spend an hour in the over getting up to temperature to allow the foam latex to actually bake, and to be damned careful when I’m opening up the mould.

I was too eager. I’ll be more patient in the future. This *is a learning experience, and it’s fun… so don’t panic if this happens to you. Take a step back. Consider your plan of action. Make sure you have everything you need ready for use before you start… and maybe a glass of wine waiting for when you’re finished!