I confess, I have no love of paper mache as a thing in and of itself, although I have come to appreciate its many qualities- strength, light weight, safety, low cost, and a long and interesting history. When I started out maskmaking I investigated many material possibilities but found none could match the qualities of paper mache.(Check out my earlier blog for the gory details.) The downside of paper mache, however, is how long it takes to cast anything with it- up to a week for one of my larger masks. That's a lot of time not spent sculpting or painting.
Either a lot of things have changed or I've been living under a rock for the past eight years, but when I discovered fursuiting (and just how far ahead of me the furries were materials wise) I learned of a new material, Smooth-Cast 65D, that could be slushed into molds to make masks. Instead of taking a week, I could cast a mask in.... fifteen minutes.
Above are pics of my first couple of attempts, using the silicone mold I made in my last post.
Some finer points I learned during my experiments:
The temperature makes a *huge* difference in how fast the material sets up. My first couple of attempts were done on a sunny porch on an 80+ degree day, and the material set up way too fast, as in I was happily slushing along, turning the mold this way and that, and the resin just set instantly in a huge gloppy wave in the middle of the mask's forehead or someplace equally inconvenient. The instructions say to cast at about 75 degrees F, and they mean it.
It's OK to use a plastic spoon to help distribute the material around the mold for the first few minutes after it is poured in, but the spoon should be set aside once the material sets up enough to start to stick to it. Otherwise the curing resin may grab onto the spoon more tightly than to previous layers of resin, which can cause the new layer to delaminate.
It really makes a difference to measure out Part A and Part B in two cups and then to use a third cup to mix them together. Otherwise, the mix ratio can be thrown off by material left behind on the inside of the cup that was poured from and/or extra material inside the cup that was mixed in, and result in an improperly cured cast, one which is very sticky and gooey with uncured leftover material. I found this out the hard way on my second cast. I was able to salvage it somewhat after a call to the Smooth-On tech department and much cleaning and scrubbing with rubbing alcohol, but it would still be something I would not want to sell.
I have to say, I'm struck by how *similar* the resin and the paper mache masks look like each other (at least from the outside) when they are finished- same color, same weight, same feel. They even warp the same way if they're not cast thick enough. I'm looking forward to learning what other experiments will bring.