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Thread: Best Moulding Materials

  1. #1
    Senior Member Pod of Oceania The Water Phoenix's Avatar
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    Best Moulding Materials

    Heya merpeople!

    I'm thinking of making another silicone tail, and I've been sculpting things like a new fluke among others, during my time self isolating during this whole chaos about COVID-19. Those of you who've made tails, what did you use to make your moulds? I've used plaster to make previous moulds, but I want to use something that picks up detail better and produces a more lightweight mould as plaster can sometimes be heavy and crumbles as it ages. Tell me what you recommend, and any tips or tricks will be greatly appreciated!
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Pod of Cali Merman Storm's Avatar
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    I have not make tail moulds, but I have made moulds. I use West systems epoxy and reinforce them with fiberglass.
    https://www.westmarine.com/resin-resin-hardener
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod
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    Before buying a silicone mermaid tail, I attempted to make my own. Before I even started to draw a design, I wanted to make sure I would have all the tools...like a scale mold as you say.


    My first attempt was with plaster. I poured a little into a small dish, waited a few days to make sure it was dry, then spent some time with my Dremel. I was able to draw out a basic shape, but gave up before trying to draw detail because I felt that it would absorb silicone and be difficult to remove. Plus it made a dusty mess in my garage. Thinking about it later, I felt like I would accidentally break it halfway through making scales if it was successful. I wanted something that would last longer.


    My second attempt was with melted plastic. This was not easy because hitting it with a torch directly as I do when melting lead for fishing weights would make it catch on fire...and I did have a small fire or three while trying this. Instead, I had to kind of "cook" it in a metal dish with the heat hitting the metal from the bottom....like you were cooking some food. The fumes were horrible, and it took a long time because the plastic had bubbles in it. I had to keep it heated for a while to make them all float out of it. When I thought I had all the bubbles out of it, I went at it with my Dremel. I was able to draw a basic shape, but gave up because I was finding bubbles deep down that would not come out. Hitting it in random spots with a heat gun did nothing but start to mess up my shape.


    If I try again (I say "if" because I bought a silicone tail), I will just use wood. There are 7ft long whitewood studs at Home Depot for less than $3. Just chop it into sections and I will get multiple tries to draw it out with my Dremel. Once I get the shape I want, I will coat it with a few layers of Polyurethane so poured silicone won't absorb into the wood. If my patience is still holding up after I make the mold, I might try to make something. If not, then I might donate it to another aspiring mermaid.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod
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    Marinus Mortimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K Swim View Post
    Before buying a silicone mermaid tail, I attempted to make my own. Before I even started to draw a design, I wanted to make sure I would have all the tools...like a scale mold as you say.


    My first attempt was with plaster. I poured a little into a small dish, waited a few days to make sure it was dry, then spent some time with my Dremel. I was able to draw out a basic shape, but gave up before trying to draw detail because I felt that it would absorb silicone and be difficult to remove. Plus it made a dusty mess in my garage. Thinking about it later, I felt like I would accidentally break it halfway through making scales if it was successful. I wanted something that would last longer.


    My second attempt was with melted plastic. This was not easy because hitting it with a torch directly as I do when melting lead for fishing weights would make it catch on fire...and I did have a small fire or three while trying this. Instead, I had to kind of "cook" it in a metal dish with the heat hitting the metal from the bottom....like you were cooking some food. The fumes were horrible, and it took a long time because the plastic had bubbles in it. I had to keep it heated for a while to make them all float out of it. When I thought I had all the bubbles out of it, I went at it with my Dremel. I was able to draw a basic shape, but gave up because I was finding bubbles deep down that would not come out. Hitting it in random spots with a heat gun did nothing but start to mess up my shape.


    If I try again (I say "if" because I bought a silicone tail), I will just use wood. There are 7ft long whitewood studs at Home Depot for less than $3. Just chop it into sections and I will get multiple tries to draw it out with my Dremel. Once I get the shape I want, I will coat it with a few layers of Polyurethane so poured silicone won't absorb into the wood. If my patience is still holding up after I make the mold, I might try to make something. If not, then I might donate it to another aspiring mermaid.
    Why don u just try to sculpt some scales out of clay and make a mould of those it will be way easier than all that you just went through and itís much easier than the wood idea Iíve been making individual scale tails and scale moulds for years and they have reproduced hundreds of scales. Idk just seems like overkill to go doing all that extra steps when thereís an easier way to do it and with better effects depending on skill.


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    Marinus Mortimer
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    Merman Marinus


  5. #5
    Senior Member Pod of Oceania AnnaAbyss's Avatar
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    I did the standard foam scales with a hole punch technique because I like the look of them the most. Would recommend using Shell Shock by Smooth-On as the mold material. It's pricier than resin and fibreglass but it's worth it because it's higher quality, you don't have to let it de-gas like polyester resin and you won't be driven insane by having fibreglass hairs in your skin for weeks. I've made three scale molds since 2015 because I kept messing them up and the last one is made of Shell Shock which looks amazing compared to the previous resin ones (I haven't finished my tail yet lol). Just make sure your scale mold is thick enough and maybe reenforce it for extra strength.

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