Looking over my photos on my Facebook page I realized I had wanted to do a post about making lips for my masks but forgot! So here goes!
The snaky looking thing in the long moldbox on the right hand side of this pic is my first attempt at a lip for my resin wolf head. I sculpted it pretty straight because that's how I had seen other lips sculpted online. Silly me.
Above, trying to fit a silicone cast of this straight lip on my mask. You can see how it gaps underneath, between the lower edge of the lip and the jaw. No good.
Above, trying to glue the new lip on. I think that pile of clamps might be trying to tell me something....
Making a pattern for a more fitted lip. The green thing above is Frog Tape stuck to aluminum foil. I pressed a piece around the lower jaw, sketched the shape of the lip on it, and cut it out. I then made it symmetrical by folding it in half in the middle and trimming it so the two sides would match. Then I tried out the new shape back on the head (above), trimming and fiddling until I was happy with it.
Here I've built the lip up in Monster Clay. It's built right on top of the pattern thingy, stuck on around the edges with a little more Monster Clay, so I can fairly easily remove and reapply the lip to the mask or adjustments as needed.
Above, the two clay lips next to each other for comparison. The new lip is on the bottom. Very different shapes.
Gluing silicone casts of the new lip in place. Not so many clamps needed this time! (The rubber bands here are actually serving as clamps here too.) I tried using Weldbond instead of hot glue, as Weldbond is theoretically stronger and doesn't leave those lumpy ridges when it dries. Weldbond takes about 24 hours to fully cure, hence the clamps. It did a good job, but I'm not sure it does enough of a better job to justify the long wait time.
And, the new lips freshly installed. Wheee!!
Some sort of two part mold would seem to be the answer, one for the teeth and the other for the gums. My first thought was to cut the teeth out of a resin jawset with my Dremel, insert them back into the original mold, and make a model of just the gums from which to make a second mold. Below, getting ready to pour silicone for the model.
Below, pink resin gums cast from these new molds, with teeth inserted temporarily. Looks pretty good but....
Damn. The round thing in the middle is leftover resin that cured in the mixing cup. See how nice and smooth it is? See how full of bubbles the gums are? There's lots and lots of things that cause bubbles in castings but here it's due to replicative failure. Each time I demold rubber from rubber, microscopic layers peel away from the surface, creating these bubbles in the mold. (Even if I'm using plenty of release. Which can also cause bubbles, damn!!) Three times I poured rubber into rubber to make these, adding more bubbles with every step.
What to do next? Maybe at some point in the future I could investigate stronger rubber, but in the meantime, maybe I should go back to making molds from original sculpts whenever possible.
To date I've purchased teeth from other craftspeople to use in my masks, but I've always really wanted to make my own. Below, a pile of attempts made over the past couple of years, made with Monster Clay (a kind of plasticine), Super Sculpey and Apoxie Sculpt.(Skully is supervising. He is a very helpful skull.) A whole lotta nope right here.
I finally settled on the Monster Clay for making the prototype teeth. I got tired of waiting for the other two to dry and/or set up in between sculpting sessions, and I got REALLY tired of trying to smooth out the hardened model with sandpaper or a Dremel. Monster Clay can be frozen to make it very hard and can be softened with a hairdryer or microwave or such to make it very soft, so it is adaptable for a variety of sculpting situations. It also smooths beautifully using rubbing alcohol or its more powerful big brother, isopropyl myristate.
Above, looking to see how the lower part of the jawset is shaping up when viewed from the side. The teeth are just loosely stuck down to the gums at this point, so I can easily move them around if I need to.
And tada! Above, a finished Monster Clay plasticine model, ready for molding. Silly me, little did I realize that this would be the first of three finished jawsets I would mold. Sucks being a perfectionist.
Above, beginning the molding process, and a tongue while I'm at it. The jawset has been firmly attached to a thin piece of plywood, which will serve as a mold board. Every little gap between the model and the mold board is filled in, as otherwise the mold rubber could find its way under the model, and float the model up on top of it while it's curing. Which would not make a very good mold at all.
Above, getting ready to revise the jawset. Did I mention how I did this three times? Seriously though, it's easier to check the fit of the teeth in the head when they're in hard resin and not squishable clay. Above, a set of resin teeth that has been Dremelled down to fit the head better, and another set of clay teeth made by pouring melted Monster Clay into the mold, called a "borrowed casting". It's much easier to tweak the teeth from a borrowed casting than trying to make a whole new set from scratch. (If I wasn't such a chicken, I could have also resculpted my original set of clay teeth. But I wanted to keep them the way they were for extra insurance.)
Above, revisions. To the right in both pictures is the original sculpt, still on the moldboard. In the middle is a modified resin casting, and to the left is the resculpted "borrowed casting". This first go round I removed the "flare" thingy from the bottom jaw, as it only really served to complicate fitting it into the resin head. I also made the plate for the upper jaw more symmetrical. You can see how the original sculpt has a bigger "bulge" on the left hand side than the right. Why did I do this, you may ask. Well, I was using a reject resin head casting to fit the teeth in, and I forgot that the resin on one side of the muzzle was much thicker than that on the other so.... in order to center the teeth in the opening, the plate had to be a lot wider on one side. Definitely not going to be the case with the average resin head! Fortunately I realized this before I got too much further into this process! A great big duh, but could have been a much bigger duh.
Above, showing all three sets of revised teeth. The top set is the first one, the middle is the second and the set on the bottom is the final version. Besides changing the "plate" as described earlier, I did a lot of playing with the front incisors. I refined them in the second set but then realized I had also made the top ones too small, so I made them bigger in the third set. After re-checking my reference pictures of real wolves I also decided the gum area above the front incisors also needed to be longer, so I also changed that in the third set. I also did a lot of fiddling with the area circled in yellow in the right hand picture, with the way those particular teeth came together. The top incisor right next to the large bottom canine also underwent a fair bit of refinement.
And since I had spent so much time fiddling with the teeth, I decided to fiddle with the mold making method as well. At the suggestion of an acquaintance I made my next set of mold boxes out of Legos instead of Tupperware containers, so I could get the mold boxes precisely the size I needed them and save molding rubber. Molding rubber is expensive. They don't call it "platinum cure silicone" for nothing. (A good source of cheap used Legos is bricklink.com.)
Above, the nose and tongue models with their squishy rubber counterparts. Wheee!!!
Checking out the fit of the rubber nose in a resin head. Lookin' good! The resin head on the right wants a rubber nose too.
And above, a pile o' puppy parts, ready for maskmaking!! I'm feeling good about the results of my endeavors here. Time to think about colors for fur!!
And... on to a Mold That Matters. To the left and below is a sculpt that will ultimately be a base for a fursuit style head, with the first coat of rubber thinly brushed on. (The "halo" around its head is part of the mold, not part of the sculpt.)
This mold is made of silicone rubber, not urethane rubber as was my last mold. I want to cast resin into this mold, and urethane resin and urethane rubber, I've been told, do not Play Nice together. Among other things, a Runaway Exothermic Reaction may occur, which generates a lot of heat and results in the mold and the cast being irretrievably fused together. Not good.
More specifically, this mold is made of *platinum* cure silicone rubber, not *tin* cure silicone rubber. The former is much more expensive than the latter, but supposedly molds made with it will last a lot longer as well.
When I called to double check on this, the support person said that no, it was just to make the instructions easier to follow. If anything, I really could have applied more keys than I did.
Houston, we have liftoff!!!
There is definitely room for improvement for next time. The "halo" could be about half the width it was, in order to save on both weight and cost of material. (I made it that wide because the video said to!) The Plasti Paste shell could be more uniform in thickness. Most importantly, the cut seam down the center of the sculpt's face is not really needed, the sculpt is fairly simple, the rubber is flexible enough it will just peel off like a glove, and it's nice not to have to worry about seam lines. But for right now, I am very excited to have a functional mold!