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Topic: Molding and Casting small miniatures - an xmas project for a friend  (Read 1396 times)
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loopywolf
« on: December 19, 2009 06:53:27 AM »

I've found a couple of good posts that may help with this, and I'm going through them in detail.  Meanwhile, I'm posting this question because there's a shortage of time and I wanted to give every chance of getting an answer heh =)

The project:

I'm trying to put together a little miniatures game for me and a friend over Xmas.  I've made a bunch of small flat "pieces" such as arms, head, backpacks and I want to make a mold like the Sculpey push-molds that would allow us to press sculpey (preferably) into the molds and get out these small pieces, assemble them, cook and paint, then play.   I made the various bits so that you could have different poses and variations with a single mold. 

I've done some I'm having trouble finding just the right mold material and casting material.  I went and got some VERY firm plastic molding compounds and tried them with basic sculpey, but I wasn't able to remove them without a lot of distortion.   I'm looking for advice what would be the best mold material, and I would liek to use sculpey (any variety) as casting compound so that the pieces can be altered a bit, cooked and painted.   Hot glue would be an internate casting material, but I'd LIKE to use Sculpey if possible

Background:

I've been making things for years and years, used all manner of sculpey, I make costumes professionally, mold and cast jewelry, so I have most things you may mention in my house already.
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Diane B.
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2009 03:34:27 PM »

Cool idea!

Sorry I don't have time to give a lot more info right now, but definitely check out at least this page at my polymer clay "encyclopedia" site for loads of info on molds:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/molds.htm
That page deals with making molds with polymer clay then baking them (to use with raw polymer clay or other materials), and also with "casting" raw polymer clay into molds made polymer clay or from all kinds of materials (like 2-part silicone molding materials, e.g.), which releases to use when necessary, etc.
You might also want to check out a previous post I wrote here about molds:
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=101292.msg960710#msg960710

(Just re-read your post ... sounds like you're making "flat" shapes for the figures?... if so, you could make shallow molds or you could make your own shape cutters to use with flat sheets of clay, etc. Explain a bit more if that's the case.)

As for what to use in the molds for your miniatures or miniature components, you say you prefer "Sculpey" but it sounds as if you're using the word Sculpey to mean "polymer clay."  Or, various people may use the word Sculpey to refer to Sculpey III (colors in packages) or to SuperSculpey (flesh-colored in a box) or to original Sculpey (white or terracotta, in a box).  (Most of the lines of polymer clay made by Polyform have Sculpey in their names, but some don't.)

It's important to differentiate between all the brands and lines of polymer clay because they have different characteristics re handling, level of detail possible, etc, and the three I mentioned above are the worst in terms of handling/detail and also in terms of strength after baking (they'll be brittle and easily broken anywhere they're thin or projecting).
The "strongest" polymer clays would be brands like FimoClassic, Premo, Kato Polyclay, SuperSculpey-Firm, and Cernit, for example... with Fimo Soft between those and the Sculpeys above.

You can read much more about the various polymer clays as well as a few other types of clay on these two pages at my site, if you're interested, as well as more about the strength/brittleness issue on the first page:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/Characteristics.htm
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/sculpting_body_and_tools.htm

HTH, and I'll check back tomorrow or you can send a quickie question to my e-mail add (at bottom of home page at my site).

Diane B.


« Last Edit: December 19, 2009 03:43:31 PM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
loopywolf
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2009 04:30:18 PM »

Quote
(Just re-read your post ... sounds like you're making "flat" shapes for the figures?... if so, you could make shallow molds or you could make your own shape cutters to use with flat sheets of clay, etc. Explain a bit more if that's the case.)
   As in, the shapes can have a flat bottom, with details mostly on top and sometimes on the sides, suitable for a push mold with one blank side

Quote
As for what to use in the molds for your miniatures or miniature components, you say you prefer "Sculpey" but it sounds as if you're using the word Sculpey to mean "polymer clay."  Or, various people may use the word Sculpey to refer to Sculpey III (colors in packages) or to SuperSculpey (flesh-colored in a box) or to original Sculpey (white or terracotta, in a box).  (Most of the lines of polymer clay made by Polyform have Sculpey in their names, but some don't.)
  I prefer sculpey yes as in polymer clay, because I want to be able to demold and then shape, cut, and stick together in a variety of poses and things

Quote
It's important to differentiate between all the brands and lines of polymer clay because they have different characteristics re handling, level of detail possible, etc, and the three I mentioned above are the worst in terms of handling/detail and also in terms of strength after baking (they'll be brittle and easily broken anywhere they're thin or projecting).
The "strongest" polymer clays would be brands like FimoClassic, Premo, Kato Polyclay, SuperSculpey-Firm, and Cernit, for example... with Fimo Soft between those and the Sculpeys above.
I want something that picks up very small detail, and it doesn't need to have much or hardly any strength

Quote
HTH, and I'll check back tomorrow or you can send a quickie question to my e-mail add (at bottom of home page at my site).
Thank you for such a prompt reply!
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Diane B.
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« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2009 10:59:51 AM »

 
Quote
As in, the shapes can have a flat bottom, with details mostly on top and sometimes on the sides, suitable for a push mold with one blank side


Ok, then what you want I think would be a "flat-backed" shape or a "high-relief" shape.  That makes it easier to visualize what you want in a mold ... still not sure exactly how you're planning to put pieces like that together though --e.g., for arms, you only want the front side of each arm, but in high relief?... and how would the arm attach to a body if it were a relatively thin shape? 
Are you perhaps wanting to have the pieces lying down during play?

Quote
Quote
. . . it sounds as if you're using the word Sculpey to mean "polymer clay." . . .

Quote
I prefer sculpey yes as in polymer clay, because I want to be able to demold and then shape, cut, and stick together in a variety of poses and things


I think you're saying that you do use the word Sculpey to mean polymer clay in general (some people used to use the word "Fimo" for all polymer clays, but it's encouraged nowadays to use the term "polymer clay" instead unless one really wants to specify one brand or line of polymer clay for a particular reason, since they all have different characteristics).

You could certainly demold, then shape (we'd probably call that "distorting molded items" if it happened to a molded item**), cut, and stick together any brand and line of polymer clay, but some brands would work better than others for each of those functions.
 
For example, the firmer clays would do most all better than the softer clays like the 3 Sculpeys we've been talking about because the firmer polymer clays will distort less easily, demold more easily (less sticky), cut without distortion more easily, etc. ... most all the brands and lines would stick to each other reasonably well though***, but there are ways to increase the bonding of the area between two parts if they don't have a lot of contact, or if one part is sticking out from the other part making it more susceptible to falling apart at the join (those ways would be discussed in the category called "Some Bonding Techniques" on the Glues page, and also includes uses armatures between the parts:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/glues-Diluent.htm )

**the Heads/Masks (sculpting) page at my site has a section on "Distorting (raw) Molded Faces" if you want to check it out:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/heads_masks.htm

***the new line of Sculpey called Studio By Sculpey doesn't stick as well to itself though

Quote
Quote
The "strongest" polymer clays would be brands like FimoClassic, Kato Polyclay, SuperSculpey-Firm, Premo, and Cernit, for example... with FimoSoft between that group and the 3 Sculpeys above.

Quote
I want something that picks up very small detail, and it doesn't need to have much or hardly any strength.

For detail in a mold, if given a choice you'd probably want a firmer clay (pretty much in the order given in my previous answer just above), though even mushy old original Sculpey can get pretty darned good detail --the mold itself may be weak though if not thick.  However SuperSculpey in particular could be "leached" of some of it's plasticizer to make it firmer, or any clay could be mixed with a firmer clay to make a firmer mix, when more detail is desired... some boxes of SS at the store are firmer than others too (because of various factors) --but not stronger.

Few other things that occur to me off the cuff:

For extremely-high detail in molds, you'd probably want a 2-part silicone putty.  But in general, polymer clays will create highly detailed molds too.

Cooling the clay in a mold will help firm it up so it can be more easily removed without distortion (in the frig/freezer or just sitting around overnight).
Usually clay can be removed from molds fairly easily if the right "gestures" are used (especially when not using firmer clays), or if the proper release is used, or if a "helper" is used (for example, another wad of soft clay). 

If you're not concerned about darkening or color changes, baking any polymer clay longer (when making molds, for example) will make it stronger --even for weaker clays like the 3 Sculpeys.

I'm not sure why the clay used "doesn't need to have much or hardly any strength" if you'll be using the game pieces later... they will be receiving some stress from handling, won't they? 
The 3 Sculpeys will always be "harder" and stiffer after baking, but they'll be more breakable because of that unless they're fatter and rounded shapes... the "stronger" clays will be more flexible after baking if they're thin but won't break (just bend), and stiff if thicker.

Body components can be joined in other ways sometimes too (e.g., with jump rings or "brads," etc) for figures... if you're interested in seeing some of those, check out this page:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/sculpting_body_and_tools.htm
...click on "Jointed" under Types of Figures


Diane B.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2009 11:24:59 AM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
loopywolf
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2009 12:26:37 PM »

I thought at this point a picture might explain a whole lot more, so try this:
http://wolfwares.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!D76C8C3E077E4589!365.entry

That shows what my positives are like, and how I'm using the blank side vs. relief and how they will be constructed, at least, I expect you're clever enough to work that out =)

So, if I'm reading this right .. I should use perhaps super-sculpey in a silicon mold or a polymer clay mold.  I'm sorry if I don't understand.. there's SO MUCH wonderful and valuable detail here (I'm a costumer, so the links you keep sending me are things that I should study and try and learn) but it's all a bit much to take in suddenly heh =)

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Diane B.
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« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2009 02:42:32 PM »

Quote
I thought at this point a picture might explain a whole lot more, so try this:
http://wolfwares.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!D76C8C3E077E4589!365.entry

Yes!  It does help somewhat anyway. Thanks  Grin  

Quote
and how they will be constructed, at least, I expect you're clever enough to work that out =)

That part I'm not so sure about because there would be several ways.
These parts are at least thicker and bulkier than what I at first had imagined, but it would still be pretty difficult to press the ends of the raw legs to a raw body, for example, and have them stick together well if the final piece were not just mounted somewhere so the join would receive no later stress.  I'd also worry about the join between the upper arm and forearm on one of the arm pieces at top for that reason.  
If the top of an arm were joined to the side of a shoulder so there were more area of contact between them though, that could work.
(Or if you placed the parts together on a flat base shape of some kind, that could avoid later stress on the joins too.)

If you really want to connect the parts together well (rigidly) while the parts are raw, you'd want to do some of the things suggested by the sub-category I mentioned before called "Some Bonding Techniques"... a few of the suggestions would be:
...use liquid polymer clay as an adhesive (perhaps along with a superglue or something else)
...let the parts sit together overnight before curing
...use an armature of some kind between them (e.g., short length of toothpick, etc)

Quote
So, if I'm reading this right .. I should use perhaps super-sculpey in a silicon mold or a polymer clay mold.  

Making molds from polymer clay would be fine for this purpose and for the sizes/shapes you've chosen since it can easily capture that much detail (and a 2-part silicone putty would be more expensive).  

You could even use the SuperSculpey brand of polymer clay instead of a stronger brand, but be sure and put the cured mold down on the work surface while pressing the raw clay into it (rather than vice versa) since too much stress could break a thinnish SS mold.  
It looks like you might be using original "Sculpey" though rather than SuperSculpey since I see terracotta and white... remember though, that line is even more brittle than SuperSculpey and Sculpey III.
Or use a stronger brand of polymer clay and not have to worry about mold strength.  
(There's loads of info on doing all the steps on my Molds page.)

Quote
I'm sorry if I don't understand.. there's SO MUCH wonderful and valuable detail here (I'm a costumer, so the links you keep sending me are things that I should study and try and learn) but it's all a bit much to take in suddenly heh =)

That's totally understandable! Shocked  For any new field or material, etc., it's hard to know just what all can be done, how the materials/tools/equipment are referred to by those in the field, etc, etc, at first.  
And polymer clay in particular is so incredibly versatile that many craft clayers don't even realize all the things it can do (in addition to just using it as any other clay for "sculpting") --as just one example, using it to quite convincingly simulate materials like metals, wood, stone, jade, ivory, etc, etc.  
Check out this previous post if you want to see a summary of some of those other things polymer clays can do:
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=179746.msg1871616#msg1871616
(see the text in blue)


HTH,

Diane B.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2009 02:53:58 PM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
RapidZer
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2010 12:54:47 AM »

            I became more interested about this  small miniatures casting when  I read this discussion. You guys encourage me to know more information about this. I will make much wider research about this.
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Diane B.
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« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2010 09:16:45 AM »

Quote
I became more interested about this  small miniatures casting when  I read this discussion. You guys encourage me to know more information about this. I will make much wider research about this.

Great  Grin, Rapidzer, and glad that helped for what you're wanting to do.  Remember that you can always ask questions about anything you're having problems with or just want to know more about here in the PolymerClay Disucssions & Questions board. 

And when you've made something, let use see it! (over on the Polymer Clay Completed Projects board). If you didn't already know, you'll be able to post photos in your messages once you've written a total of 10 replies or messages anywhere on all the Craftster boards.

Oh, and you didn't mention exactly what kinds of "miniatures" you're interested in making in molds, but my Molds page (http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/molds.htm) also has info on 2-piece molds for making 3-D items, and info on using 2 part silicone putties for 3-D items--and just for making flexible highly-detailed molds.  Note that you can also cure solid polymer clay and liquid polymer clay right in those silicone molds too.

And if I didn't include this link below, you might also want to check out this thread showing at least a few of the push molds (and stamp-like molds) I've made for various items and patterns, which also has a kind of summary about using polymer clay with molds:
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=101292.msg960710#msg960710

Diane B.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2010 09:21:46 AM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

POLYMER CLAY "ENCYCLOPEDIA" 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/contents.htm
few of my photos
http://s96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/DianeBB
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
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