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Mould Making Test Man

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As Im new to making puppets, I wanted to make a little stunt man to try out all of the chemicals for the first time. I sculpted a little test man from Chavant Sulphur-free Clay, it has to be sulphur-free as I will be using silicone for this guy and sulphur causes problems with the chemical balance of silicone when it comes to curing. Chavant is oil based and, it is pliable at room temperature. I put my guy in the freezer once I was finished sculpting him so the clay would be harder with less chance at causing any nicks or scratches while I do the next step.

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I took him out of the freezer and straight away got to work with building up clay around him. He is small, so it doesnt take much time before he warms up again, which increases the likelihood of accidental nicks. Here I am using Gedeo Non-Firing Clay (Water-based air-dry clay) because after a LOT of research and trying to find this or that type of clay I thought Id just try with what I have to hand and see how it turns out. So I placed him on a bed of clay and then built up around him to a half way mark where the seem would be for my two-part mould, making sure the angle was sharp and not blended into the model. As he is made with oil based clay, using a water based clay is good for this process as its easier to separate him later on.

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Once the half layer has been built up, hes bound to be a bit messy, so I used a soft paintbrush with some water and just brushed the lighter clay from him. Its also important to keep the water-based clay moist whilst working with it, I just kept brushing over it with a wet paintbrush. When the ayer is built up and the area around him is flat, I neatened everything up by chopping off the sides and smoothing it all back off ready for the frame. Image 09. shows the pieces of foam-core/foam-board I cut up slightly longer than the length of each side of clay and just over double the hight ready to make the frame.

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With the 4 sides of foam core I used a hot glue gun and started to build the frame. I built 3 sides then decided to come back to the frame and cover the sculpt with petroleum jelly as a mould release agent. I researched a lot into releasing agents, one that was particularly well mentioned was spray wax release but when I was trying to source some found that it was quite a hard product to get hold of. I was originally going to use petroleum jelly but I couldnt find any answers to the question is it ok to use with silicone?, in the end I thought Id just give it a go and find out. Saves quite a lot of funds compared to other releasing agents.

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After brushing a layer of vaseline onto the clays I finished gluing the 4th side of the frame and putting another slice of foam-core on the bottom as a base to keep things nice and fixed together. Next I added a couple of round pieces of plasticise (I should have done this before fixing the frame for ease of access but thats a learning point for my first attempt). The round pieces are great for a guide when making the silicone case these act as good points to make sure the two halves of the mould fit together perfectly without slipping around. Then some angular pieces at the side to be points of access, to separate the two halves. Then I added little pieces of plasticine around the edges and smoothed them in to prevent any leaking of resin.

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With all of the clay and plasticine in place, I covered the inside of the frame in a coat of petroleum jelly to make it all water tight. The jelly texture can actually be picked up in the detail if too much is applied around the sculpt so be sure to brush it off enough so its just a thin layer on the bit you actually want to cast the silicone in. Next I got some jewellery scales so I could measure the chemicals accurately. I cut some plastic cups down so there was less surface area to get covered in the mix. Then I zeroed the scales with the empty cups and weighed out the Polycraft SG2000 Fast Cast Polyurethane Liquid Plastic Casting Resin, 15g of part A and 15g of part B separately. I only needed a little amount as the purpose of this is to try out the technique and materials. Then I just mixed the two parts together and poured it into the frame trying to get as few air bubbles as possible. Then left it to cure for an hour.

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After an hour the resin was set and I could remove the frame and move to the next step. I broke off the foam-core to reveal the results of the first mould half. Then I separated the clay from the plastic and was happy to see that it had worked!

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Image 21. shows how easy it was to separate oil from water after the first half of the mould. He was a bit messy after this though so I held him in a tissue to reduce head from my fingers melting him and cleaned him back up with water and a soft paintbrush. Once he was clean I placed him into the new first half of the mould and added the plasticine wedges (I learnt from the first half and made sure to do this before adding the frame). Figure 24. shows I didnt want him to get any nappy rash so I covered him in petroleum jelly again...

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Here I repeated the process of using the hot glue gun to make a new frame around this half. Then I sealed any gaps with the small pieces of plasticine and covered everything in a coating of petroleum jelly to ensure water-tightness and to make sure the two pieces of polyurethane resin dont just stick together trapping my little guy inside.

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Again I measured out each part of the resin by weight and mixed them together. I didnt have any problems with air bubbles in the first half of the mould luckily, but I thought Id try brushing the first layer of resin onto this half to see if it reduced that do occur, then I poured the rest in before it began to cure, and left it to set.

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After the second half resin had set it was time to dismantle and see how it had turned out. I had a bit of trouble seperating this one, it was because the round areas I had made were a little bit too pronounced, I fixed this later on but that is why its so useful to have those pry open points. I separated the two halves, then had to scrape wee man out and scrub the two part mould with some warm soapy water and a brush. I used a toothbrush and a nailbrush for this, its a nice hard plastic it can be scrubbed clean without worrying about parts getting worn like it would with plaster. Then I dried it with a cloth and a cotton bud in the hard to get areas.

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Once the mould was clean I had to take care of health and safety. Whilst I was cleaning it, the backs were quite sharp just from how it had set in the frame and it cut me, so I had to smooth it off. In good health and safety practice I used ear defenders, dust mask, and safety glasses whilst working in a well ventilated area. Figure 33. shows how dusty things got. Image 34. shows the nice smoothness of the moulds now. This is also how I fixed the problem of the round locators inside the mould, I sanded them down ever so slightly and it was enough to make them fit perfectly without being too tight and hard to separate.

Air bubble

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When I separated the two halves an air bubble was revealed in the first half. I fixed this by mixing just a drop of each Part A and Part B, filling in the air bubble and leaving it to cure. After my first mould is now made I prepared the workspace to make the guys little wire armature.

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I constructed a little wire armature to be placed inside the little guy. Next step - Silicone!

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