The Usage of FiberGel Alginate

Alginate is a handy material commonly used in life casting. A fiber infused formula has been specially prepared to increase the strength and tear resistance of regular alginate that can be used in animation works.

Alginate is considered the be-all and end-all product for life casting. Even though skin-safe silicone rubber is now available, alginates are more popular and commonly used when it comes to making body molds. This dental grade material is safe for the skin even as it captures the surface impressions with a high accuracy of detail.

While alginate comes in different types, a special formulation has been created specifically for high-end detailed E F/X work. Known as FiberGel E F/X grade alginate, it has been independently tested 40% stronger than other leading brands.

The other benefits apart from extra strength and tear resistance, extend to preventing runs and drips making it perfect for applying on vertical surfaces. Moreover, the fiber matrix will retain moisture, thus reducing the shrink rate and allowing for delayed casting time sans any loss of detail. The mold will also stay soft and flexible for a longer time.

Delving into the Basics

The application of fiber alginate is the same as regular formulations. The manufacturer’s instructions related to the mixing proportions and timing have to be followed to the letter. The mixture should be smooth and free of lumps. It has a set time of 5 to 6 minutes when the consistency and thickness is right.

The alginate should be applied with a gentle but firm hand. Press it down slightly to ensure that it reaches every contour and crevice of the body part. This will ensure that the surface details are captured properly in the body mold.

The model has to be prepared properly prior to the application. The skin surface should be clean, dry and free of any creams or other products. A thin layer of release agent – like petroleum jelly – is preferable as it will avoid snagging of the alginate in the fine body hair.

Safety precautions are necessary in the form of ventilation, gloves and even communication signals with the model. It also essential to ensure comfort and support for the model for the time it takes to prepare the body mold. Props can be used as a reinforcement to maintain the desired posture of the model.

Once it has set properly, the alginate body mold can be easily demolded with a little twitching and prodding. It comes off easily and is ready for immediate use, after the requisite cleaning and finishing. In fact, time is in short supply here, even though the FiberGel alginate does push the evaporation window a bit, allowing more time for making the casting. Different materials like plaster, silicone and resin can be cast in alginate molds.

Finally, getting a life cast right comes down to practice along with oodles of patience. The artist has to keep trying and perfecting the art till they master the intricacies of life casting!

The Many Faces of Liquid Latex Rubber

Liquid latex rubber is in a class of its own with a broad range of artistic applications that are not just limited to mold making and casting. It occupies a special place in the world of masks and special effects.

Liquid latex rubber is like the Holy Grail of artistic applications. This fluid material is easy to use and can be used for different purposes. It proves to be flexible, tear resistant and displays exceptional tensile strength across its varied range of applications. It is not only durable but also economical as compared to other mold making and casting materials.

Let us take a look at some of the uses of latex rubber:

  • Molds – Liquid latex can be easily used to make molds of different objects. It will capture details well and can even be applied on vertical surfaces – like architectural details – without it running off. Anything from plaster to urethane or polyester resin can be cast in the latex molds to make figurines, moldings and the like.
  • Casts – What sets casting latex rubbers apart from their mold making counterparts is that they are less viscous. The casts turn out to be like a thin skin, making it perfect for making props, gloves, hollow toys and the like.
  • Mask making – Liquid latex rubber is most identified with making masks. It is the first choice for making different types of masks that replicate the contours of the face to the last detail. It can be finished with monster, zombie or other spooky effects.
  • Costumes – The same rubber is also used to make customized costumes for Halloween and other occasions.
  • Special Effects – Name any kind of special effects on the body and liquid latex can be used to create the same for film, television and theatre productions. Realistic looking wounds, gashes, scars and other effects become possible in the hands of an experienced artist. Many people use it for body painting and even nail art.
  • Protective Coating – Latex rubber is used to form a protective coating on tools and other surfaces. Simply dipping the object in the liquid latex a couple of times (while allowing each successive coat to dry in between) will render a better grip and comfort in usage apart from providing electric insulation.
  • Waterproofing – Dipping a material in liquid latex will make it waterproof after curing. This is usually used for making raincoats and rubber boots that will not allow water to seep through them.
  • Repair Jobs – Pouring a bit of liquid latex serves well for covering up holes and tears in certain fabrics.
When it comes to making a choice of liquid latex rubber, RD-407 Mask Making and Casting Latex is useful for all the above purposes. It remains the prime choice for making a latex mask.

In sum, there’s not much that cannot be done with liquid latex. The humble material is easy to use – as simple as pouring it into the mold or dipping the model into the rubber!

Troubleshooting Common Issues with Two-Part Molds

When a mold is made in parts from the original object, the going gets complex and can involve some troubles for the mold maker. Following is an attempt to clarify the common problems with solutions.

Mold making is a complex art of creating a negative image of an object. This mold is then used to cast a three-dimensional replica of the original object and results in a carbon copy of the same!

There are different techniques of making molds; even the materials used to make the molds can vary – from simple clay and wax to resins and rubbers. In addition to this, the mold cannot be made in one go at all times. Depending on the shape, undercuts and other detailing of the object, it may require the mold to be made in two or more parts.

Needless to say, multi-part molds are more complicated and time-consuming. The method is not only longer, but can get quite intricate too. Given the elaborate process, mold makers often face different issues in the making of multi-part molds.

Let us take a look at the common issues and how to deal with them:

Air Bubbles –
When air bubbles form in the mold, they will lead to voids in the final casting. These are more common in two-part molds. Therefore, the mold maker should be careful when mixing the mold making materials and pouring the mix into the mold. Some of them – like resins and rubbers – will require degassing in a pressure pot and vacuum chamber respectively.

Flashing – This refers to the excess material seeping out of the mold and forming a layer around the part. This can be due to problems with the parting line and the mold makers are always advised to design it properly. Errors in the parting line can also cause issues during the demolding process. Do not apply excessive force in the clamping either, as this can also make the mold making material seep outside.

Warping – One of the common reasons for two-part molds to get distorted is lack of proper alignment. It is crucial to align the parts of the mold properly before beginning the casting process. Only when the parts fit together properly, will it lead to a perfect casting.

Voids – It is not just air bubbles that can cause voids in the casting. This can also be due to the simple fact that the material was insufficient to fill the entire mold. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the mold is completely filled and the material seeps into all the undercuts and niches of the mold.

Apart from these, there are other mold defects like chipping, cracks, finger tracks, flow marks and so on. These can usually be corrected in two part molds by way of sanding and smoothening the surface. Other issues like depressions or gouges may require using additional material to fill them before sanding the cured mold.

In sum, as the object is complex, the mold making and casting will require extra attention and caution for sure!

Encapsulation by Way of Clear Casting Resins

Embedding a special object or even a biological specimen in a clear casting resin is an easy way to preserve it for eternity! The clear quality of the resin ensures that the object stays visible on all counts.

There are casting resins and then there is clear casting resin! Indeed, while polyurethanes are being used for making different types of resin castings, there’s something special about clear resins!

What sets clear casting resins apart from the rest of their ilk is that they can be used for encapsulation. Indeed, the clear quality of the resin makes it perfect for embedding different kinds of objects. They will stay clearly visible from all angles and look beautiful while at it.

The objects to be encapsulated can range from leaves, flowers, buttons, shells and other small objects to even special keepsakes like a stamp, coin, ring or a photograph. The casting process is used to make different objects like paperweights, key rings and jewelry that look both attractive and unique due to the items encapsulated inside them. The same technique also serves well for making point-of-purchase displays, rapid prototypes, special effects, sculpture reproductions, giftware, etc.

On a more serious note, science also falls on encapsulation for preserving biological specimens, like insects, plants and even small animals.

How to do it?

Clear casting resin is available as a two-part polyurethane casting system. It is usually mixed one-to-one by volume. Special molds are available that are specifically designed for clear casting. However, most artists prefer to make their own molds to ensure uniqueness in every feature of their casting.

While the mold can be made of almost any material, silicone molds are considered best. Especially, molds made with platinum-cure or condensation-cure silicone material will help preserve the clarity of the casting.

The casting process involves pouring the mixed clear casting material into the mold before gently embedding the object in the desired manner. Prior to this, it is important to degas the clear resin as it is prone to trap air bubbles. A pressure pot will work well here and the casting can be left to cure in the pressure pot itself.

Color can be added to the resin during the casting process – in the form of pigments or dyes. This can create a wonderful marbling effect in the casting.

All clear casting resins cure at room temperature. The cured cast will be UV resistant and non-yellowing.

Points to note

Encapsulation is not as straightforward as simply placing the specimen in the resin casting. The object has to first be cleaned thoroughly. It should also be completely dry. Leaves and flowers will have to be dried to remove the moisture content, and preferably coated with a preserving chemical. Biological specimens call for careful handling.

When it comes to the choice of clear casting resin, the number one option is obviously AquaClear Clear Casting Resin. Available at EnvironMolds, this is optically clear and cures to a hard and non-yellowing resin.

Creating, Recreating and Reinforcing with Plaster

Plaster is an adaptable material that has been commonly used since time immemorial. Therefore, many traditional as well as contemporary works owe their existence to the ever-versatile plaster!

Plaster is a simple powder made of gypsum, sand and lime. Simply adding water to the material will form a paste that can be used in many different ways. The very first thought is obviously in construction works, not just for plastering walls but also to create frescoes and other reliefs.

In direct contrast to this are the plaster bandages which are used to form shell molds that will reinforce the original mold and help it retain its shape. Then there are other varied uses like making original sculptures and other decorative elements apart from casting in molds to make replica casts and even life casts. Plaster can be carved after drying, which further increases its utility.

Getting into plaster casting

Making a plaster cast is as simple a task as anything can be. All it requires is mixing the plaster powder with water to get the desired consistency before pouring it into the mold. Once it has hardened, the mold can be removed to reveal an exact replica of the original model. What’s more, numerous replicas can be made in quick succession in the same mold as the plaster will set and cure pretty quickly.

However, alginate body molds tend to shrink on exposure to air and cannot be reused. Moreover, plaster also tends to give off heat while curing and therefore, should be used with caution.

Getting into plaster shell molds

Using plaster of Paris bandages to form a mother mold is another story altogether. This is nothing but thin gauze that has been impregnated with plaster powder and is available in the form of rolls. The usual method is to cut long strips of the gauze before wetting them with water. Gently squeeze out the excess water and apply it over the mold to form a covering. The bandages should be applied in an overlapping manner with each layer being smoothed out with a gentle hand to ensure that air does not get trapped in between and warp the mother mold.

Plaster gauze is generally used with alginate, silicone rubber and latex rubber molds. As these molds are flexible; they tend to flop over during the casting process which can distort the casting. The plaster in the gauze will harden to form a rigid covering which encases the flexible mold and helps it retain its shape.

In sum, plaster is a relatively inexpensive material. It is easy to use and does not take much time to set, thus giving quick results. The beauty of this simple material is that it has been an intrinsic part of many artistic movements of the olden days and yet manages to retain its utility till date! In fact, there’s so much more that can be done with plaster – the only limit is the imagination for sure!


The How To’s of Latex Molds and Casts

Latex rubber is a versatile material that lends itself well for different uses. It is relatively easy to make latex molds and casts, though the processes vary a lot. Find out more about them right here.

Liquid latex rubber is an impressive rubber that finds varied applications on both the mold making and casting platforms. The rubber forms a thin and flexible skin which is used to make different items like gloves, swimming caps, rubber bands, balloons, catheters and other hollow-molded objects. The most common application is in making props apart from regular things like mattresses, tennis shoes and other sporting goods. The same latex finds its way into chewing gums and even serves well as an adhesive for bald caps. Not to mention that latex rubber is widely used as a special effects product to create wrinkles, scars, gashes and other simulations of injury, age or non-human characteristics for television, movies and theatre. The rubber lends itself well for making a latex mask which is popularly used for Halloween!

How to use?

One of the best parts about working with one of the most economical, resilient, versatile, tough, tear resistant and durable materials, latex rubber, is that it can be used to make both molds and casts. The mold making variations are generally more viscous than their casting counterparts, however, experienced artists even use them interchangeably.

A latex mold is usually made by painting the rubber on the model. This is a slow and lengthy process as it requires a good number of coats to build up the required thickness while allowing sufficient time for each subsequent coat to dry. This rubber can even be applied on models where they are, without the worry of the material running off the vertical surface. These molds can be used to cast plaster, polyester resin or urethane parts.

When it comes to latex casts, they are usually made in plaster molds. The process is quite simple and straightforward. Fill the mold with the rubber and allow it to sit for around 15 to 20 minutes before pouring off the excess back into the container. A thin layer of latex will remain in the mold. The plaster will slowly suck the water from the rubber, thus creating a latex ‘skin’, around 1/8th inch thick, inside the mold. The mold should be left as it is overnight or so for curing. The latex cast can be demolded after dusting the inner surface with talcum powder so that the latex does not stick to itself.

This is how latex masks are usually made. In case numerous copies of the cast have to be made, it is prudent to first make a master copy with rubber. This is because plaster molds tend to wear quickly. The master can be used to make subsequent plaster molds for repeated use.

The cured and demolded latex rubber cast can be finished using special latex dyes and paints before being used as desired.

The Clay Medium for Artistic Creations

Clay has always been the quintessential product for making molds, sculptures and more. The soft and supple medium makes it easy to work with. Clay is formulated in many different forms to suit varied applications.

Sculpting is an age-old art form that involves creating three dimensional figures by hand. Clay is the common medium for sculpting as it is malleable and can be shaped with the fingers into the desired shape and form. Just holding clay in the hands can ignite creativity and the mental image can easily be transformed into a physical piece.

Clay modeling is popular among everyone – from little children to mold makers to seasoned sculptors and more. The benefit in mold making is that the artist can not only use clay to capture the shape of a model for casting purposes, but also fashion it into a novel mold straight out of his/her mind’s eye. This same material also lends itself well for making masks, special effects, etc. Clay animation is quite popular in the world of films and television.

While many artists prefer to work the clay with their hands and fingers, tools like knives, rasps, wire brushes and other trimming tools are often used to get the finer details right. Metal wires may also be used to form an internal frame (armature) to support the clay sculpture.

Types of Modelling Clay

Dough – Popularly known as PlayDough, this is preferred by children and beginners. This cost-effective medium tends to dry and crack easily, making it unsuitable for professional sculpting. It can be reserved for practice work at best.

Ceramic clay – This is regular water-based clay that is used for fashioning ceramics like earthenware, stoneware, terracotta and porcelain. It has to be baked at high temperatures in a kiln to give it a permanent shape. This makes it strong and long-lasting too.

Paper clay – This is clay mixed with cellulose fiber which increases the tensile strength of the material. It does not require firing as the clay will air dry to deliver a firm and lightweight structure.

Plasticine - Plasticine clay is the most popular oil-based clay. It can be shaped easily and can capture fine details. It will never dry even when left in the open for long periods of time. This way it remains reusable forever. Available in a multitude of colors, this clay is most preferred for professional mold making, mask making, sculpting, etc. Keep in mind that it cannot be fired.

Polymer clay – This is another oil-based sculpting clay that will remain soft and malleable until it is heated, which will harden it permanently. Therefore, it will never dry out unlessit is exposed to extreme heat! It is used by professional sculptors as well as for animation works wherein the static form can be manipulated frame by frame.

Ballistic clay – Not exactly clay, this material mimics human tissues which makes it perfect for using as the backing material for testing body armor and helmets. Ballistic clay can be molded into any shape and always remains reliable, easy to use and reusable.