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Thread: Scale Mold Question.

  1. #1

    Question Scale Mold Question.

    Hello,

    Thank you everyone in advance. I am very new here and appreciate all the information that is shared! I'm currently making my own Individual scaled tail.
    I have currently sculpted my scales from Plastalina Clay, and I am waiting on my order of Smooth On polyurethane resin to be delivered. My scales are currently on top of a piece of cardboard covered in saran wrap / kitchen cling wrap. As soon as my Resin is delivered I hope to pour it on top of my Clay Scales and make my scale mold. Before I do this, I have two questions I am currently stuck on, perphaps I've missed the information, but if anyone could help I'd appreciate it.

    1. Should I coat my scales with dish soap or smooth on ease release 200 before pouring my resin on top?

    2. Should I move my scales to a different surface before I pour my resin. I'm stumped, what do y'all normally use as the base surface for your scales to sit on when pouring resin? Tracing paper, saran wrap? I understand the sulfur free clay and clay walls, but maybe I'm over thinking it, but what should i put underneath?


    Thank you!

  2. #2
    When I make molds, I usually spray it with a coat of clear coat spray pain (Krylon Crystal clear, gloss not matte) and let it dry for at least a day. Then I do a coat of Ease Release, using a 1" paint brush all over it to make sure it's in all the nooks and crannies. I spray another thin coat of ER after letting the first one partially dry, and don't use the brush this time. Then goes my mold material. I've actually found that resin is so thin it leaks under the models, so I would recommend using something like Mold Star for a flexible mold or a 50/50 mix of fiberglass and Bondo autobody filler for a rigid mold. You'd need to use a small amount of ER in the Mold Star mold for each casting just because there's a chance the silicone will fuse to it, though that hasn't happened to me yet the few times I've forgotten or missed a spot (fins crossed). You don't need a release agent for the fiberglass/Bondo molds. Smooth-On also has a line of mold-making epoxies called EpoxAmite and EpoxAcoat - you'd brush on the Epoxacoat first, two coats each cured for about an hour. Then a thin layer of EpoxAmite, a layer of fiberglass cloth smushed in while that coat is wet, then a second coat. I haven't personally used this for casting silicone yet but will be doing experiments as soon as I have the funds.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Pod of The South Mermaid_Izzy's Avatar
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    Scale Mold Question.

    Lily gave a lot of good information for release agents, but here is my two cents from my molding experience...

    I use mostly plaster molds, but I did do one mold from fiberglass resin (which I am not a fan of working with). I use Van Aken Plastalina clay to make my sculpts and I have never used a release agent. Where the clay is oil based, Iíve found that it just comes right out of both fiberglass resin and plaster. In fact, when I did my top sculpt, the clay came out of the plaster in one whole piece, detail completely in tact.

    Edit: To answer your second question...

    I pour my molds on card board or poster board. Iíve found making a clay wall around the sculpt seem to work best for large sculpts.

    When I did my individual scales for my last tail build, I got some of the disposable aluminum pans from the dollar store, spaced the sculpted scales inside like cookies, and then poured the mold, so that I would have a standard square without building the clay wall every time.

    Itís also a good idea to keep in mind the materials that you are working with and what could cause an adverse reaction when picking a container of surface for mold making. (Like silicone and latex or resin and certain types of plastic)

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    Last edited by Mermaid_Izzy; 03-08-2020 at 01:36 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod
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    This might be an ignored topic now, but I am wondering if you were successful in creating a mold to make individual scales. Before simply purchasing a silicone tail, I was going to try and make my own based on what I found here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Silicone-Mermaid-Tail/

    The instructions there says to use clay, but I wanted something that would last a little longer. Since I am unable to find a mold for sale anywhere, I seem to have no choice but to make my own. I discovered the hard way that I am not an artist at this kind of thing. In my case, I melted plastic into a thick solid piece. This took time because I had to keep it all melted long enough for the bubbles to float to the top and disappear before trying to carve into it with a Dremel. After suffering through the fumes created from the melting process, I abandoned this effort after getting covered in dust and ending up with something useless.

    Though I don't need this anymore due to buying a silicone tail, I still want to know if I would have been able to do it. I don't know much about resin, but I've seen the videos of the cool things you could do with it. Admittedly, this is me being lazy about this part. If I could find a scale mold for sale, or get access to the tools to easily make one myself, I might reboot this effort. I can easily get hold of material to actually make the scales with. My only roadblock is the scale mold.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Pod of The South Mermaid_Izzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K Swim View Post
    This might be an ignored topic now, but I am wondering if you were successful in creating a mold to make individual scales. Before simply purchasing a silicone tail, I was going to try and make my own based on what I found here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Silicone-Mermaid-Tail/

    The instructions there says to use clay, but I wanted something that would last a little longer. Since I am unable to find a mold for sale anywhere, I seem to have no choice but to make my own. I discovered the hard way that I am not an artist at this kind of thing. In my case, I melted plastic into a thick solid piece. This took time because I had to keep it all melted long enough for the bubbles to float to the top and disappear before trying to carve into it with a Dremel. After suffering through the fumes created from the melting process, I abandoned this effort after getting covered in dust and ending up with something useless.

    Though I don't need this anymore due to buying a silicone tail, I still want to know if I would have been able to do it. I don't know much about resin, but I've seen the videos of the cool things you could do with it. Admittedly, this is me being lazy about this part. If I could find a scale mold for sale, or get access to the tools to easily make one myself, I might reboot this effort. I can easily get hold of material to actually make the scales with. My only roadblock is the scale mold.
    I made my tail from the same instructable! : )

    I understand wanting to make reusable sculpts, but clay is really best solution unless you are using a flexible molding material.

    I havenít had success with fiberglass resin and I have never worked with ďcraftĒ resin.

    I personally find plaster to be the easiest mold material to work with. When you use an oil-based clay, the clay scales will peel straight out of the mold and could be reused. (When I made my top the whole sculpt peeled right out of the mold in perfect condition). This wonít happen if you use air dry clay.

    As far as selling scale mold, I donít know of anyone that does this. I know that Fancy fish sales scale sheet and other tail parts on Etsy.

    If you have any questions feel free to message me on here or on Instagram at mermaid.izzy


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    I forgot to mention that before the molten plastic, I tried molten lead. Yes, I have the tools to safely do this. That design started with very thin sheet metal that I spent some time bending and eventually making into a small "tray" to pour the molten lead into which would give me a chunk of lead in the shape of a scale that I could Dremel lines into and shape it to look like a single scale. The plan was to have that as my original to press into some clay, then use that to make silicone copies. The problem is that my first pour made the lead stick really hard to my sheet metal tray and I had to destroy it to remove the lead chuck that did not really shape very well. Plus the afterthought of creating lead dust while using the Dremel caused me to abandon this idea.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Pod of The South Mermaid_Izzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K Swim View Post
    I forgot to mention that before the molten plastic, I tried molten lead. Yes, I have the tools to safely do this. That design started with very thin sheet metal that I spent some time bending and eventually making into a small "tray" to pour the molten lead into which would give me a chunk of lead in the shape of a scale that I could Dremel lines into and shape it to look like a single scale. The plan was to have that as my original to press into some clay, then use that to make silicone copies. The problem is that my first pour made the lead stick really hard to my sheet metal tray and I had to destroy it to remove the lead chuck that did not really shape very well. Plus the afterthought of creating lead dust while using the Dremel caused me to abandon this idea.
    Oh! I think I understand now.

    If you are trying to get scale detail without sculpting it there are a few options that I can think of....

    If you like the markings of sea shells, you can press the clay into that. This is a method Iíve see a few Mers do and if Iím not mistaken, thatís how PearlieMae gets her scale look. It should keep the scales looking similar.

    You could also do a silicone mold too of a shape/texture that you prefer, like they do for polymer clay. For casting clay scales from the mold, I would still recommend oil based clay. When you work with it, it gets warmer and easier to imprint. Then as it gets cooler, it get harder to change the shape therefore making it easier to remove from the mold without messing up the details.

    I have also seen one Mer use a 3D printer to print out scales that she then cast.

    This is just one of those topics where you have to go through research, trial and error, and more research. Tail making isnít always the easiest venture, but it is addictive.


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    Well I do still have the lead chunks I made that I might try to work with later anyways. I also have some sea shells I found during my years living in Florida. I had thought about using them, but don't really like those shapes. I was trying to go for the triangle-like shape that is seen in that instructables article. I also thought about a 3D printer, but don't have one.

    Again, I have since bought a silicone tail, so this is a low priority and just for fun type project.
    Last edited by K Swim; 06-02-2020 at 11:58 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Pod of The South Mermaid_Izzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K Swim View Post
    Well I do still have the lead chunks I made that I might try to work with later anyways. I also have some sea shells I found during my years living in Florida. I had thought about using them, but don't really like those shapes. I was trying to go for the triangle-like shape that is seen in that instructables article. I also thought about a 3D printer, but don't have one.

    Again, I have since bought a silicone tail, so this is a low priority and just for fun type project.
    I understand. Best of luck!


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