The last phase
Well – I’ve finally made it!
The figure has been through final clean up (eyes readjusted, buttons/badges/bottle strap added and generally tidied up). The figure was then coated with a release agent (nothing specialised or expensive – just a basic household furniture polish), then buffed to a shine.
I made a container around the figure using plastic from an old picture frame. This was scored into strips, then snapped along the lines and broken off to make the walls. To secure it to the tile I used super glue (cyanoacrylate adhesive), adding blue tack to the seams to prevent leakage (this also helps with strength).
As for moulding rubber and casting resin, I found a superb supplier on eBay who provided both items in small amounts. Link here to the shop if your interested?
Allowed the moulding rubber to cure overnight then poured the first cast the next morning. The first one out of the mould had a few air bubbles, so adjusted my technique by using a disposable brush to coat the surface of the mould with resin before I poured the bulk in.
The second cast came out better defined, but I found a weak spot on the ankle of the boot, which snapped when I removed in from the mould. Also I picked up a brush I though was clean, but to my horror found to still have red in it. when I de-moulded the figure it had a nice marbling effect!
Still practising casting whilst writing this post should have a few decent castings by the end of the day.
To wrap this project up there is many things that I will approach differently with the next sculpture.
- Future relief sculpts are going to have to be a whole lot thinner. I can now appreciate why other manufacturers produce them this way. Firstly it reduces material costs. Secondly the figure is more aesthetically pleasing from other angles. Thirdly you generate less ‘undercuts’ which make removal from the mould easier (reducing the possibility of damage!).
- The relief will still be produced using my method of contouring, but items such as the head/neck/feet/hands will be worked off the figure and be added to the whole when completed. This step for me is going to be big time saver! Can’t tell you how much time was wasted re-correcting mistakes down to the restrictions of working over a larger flat surface (in particular the face caused huge problems).
- I’m going to start using a mixture of sculpting mediums to produce the master figure. Sculpey firm is fine for the main bulk of the figure, but when it comes to fine detail its not fine enough to withstand carving (it tends to crumble very easily if your not very careful). I have experimented with Magic Sculp epoxy putty and have had some very pleasing results.
- The projects that I select will have to go under more thorough detailed scrutiny to determine if they will work well as a relief sculpture. This project worked to a point, except for the foremost boot. It created a weak-spot in regards of casting and was a swine to render any flatter that it is now! With the introduction of a thinner, flatter figure these sort of problems may sort themselves out. Ultimately it will be done to how my skills develop as I go from sculpt to sculpt.
This project has been a been a steep learning curve, it has taken far longer than I intended to, yet it has eventually been well worth the effort. Blogging its progress also has be far more rewarding than I initially gave it credit. Its made me think long and hard about the process I employ, helped to give birth to new techniques, challenged old bad habits.
I’d like at this point to thank Steve Lloyd of flattinfigures.com for inviting me to write this tutorial and for all his encouragement throughout. Steve many thanks…
The figure I am afraid will not be put out commercially at this present time (however a few will be winging they’re way to folks that I have promised them to). The decision not to distribute this comes down the fact that my casting skills are skill in their infancy. I have produced moulds in many mediums in the past, but that over 25 years ago; resin casting is a totally different ball game (I still have a lot to learn), at the moment I cannot guarantee the quality that people will spend they’re hard earned money on.
The next step?
Taking some time off to enjoy the fruits of my labour. I’m going to pick up the brushes once again to breathe some life into this figure. As with sculpting its also been a long, long time since I’ve done that!