-direct modeling and temporary molds with fibreglass

A lot of armour/prop work for costuming is fiddly and could get very expensive if sculpted then molded and cast. Or even printed and molded and cast! However there are ways to keep costs down as well as reduce numbers of steps of the process (where mistakes can come in).

My preference is for Epoxy resin as it is industray standard for very hard wearing real world applications. I use it for casting in molds as well. In fact my Shae Vizla helmet fell on some glass tiles and it bounced. Twice. It has shown no signs of damage and has travelled internationally on both long haul and short haul- in cabin and stowed. When used with proper glass matting/cloth and tissue it is very light and very durable.

CAUTION: It does cure/set up as an exothermic reaction and can burn. It is also an allergen for many people. I have a severe reaction if I do not take antihistamines for several days before and after using it.

Below is just a sample of applications for casting over temporary molds, making positive molds or creating one off pieces.

Lycra method:

Materials and tools:

Base shape- covered in a layer of vaseline to resist the resin
Stretch fabric over the form
Scissors to cut the fabric
Tape- to hold fabric edges flat
Needles and thread to hold the fabric in place
Epoxy resin- usually a 1:4 part hardener to resin mix
Fibreglass matting, cloth and tissue
Fairing filler- to mix the resin to a non slumping paste or to colour to gauge depth of layer
Wide synthetic paint brush- to apply resin
Acetone for clean up and to smooth paste surfaces to limit sanding once cured.
Sandpaper, dremel etc. to sand and prepare for painting.

Projects:

Female bust:

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Plasticine over a fibreglass mannequin. A temporary mold to create a single piece of armour.

 

Lekku molds:

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Pipe and expanding foam as innermost support, then lycra stretched over and resinned rigid. Many layers of filler and resin used to create shapes. Used to make a set of tentacles for my first Shaak Ti costume. Latex was painted in several layers to create a hollow latex cast.

Greave molds:

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Plasticine was layered over my mannequin”s legs and smoothed. Covered in vaseline and cast with fibreglass laid over. Resin and filler was sanded back the the forms removed by cutting straight down the front and back of each piece. These have been used as forms to stretch leather over for my Liara and Blood Dragon/Femshep costumes.

The pieces were cut off the form and tied with a rotary tool.

 

Foamcore projects:

Materials and tools:

Foamcore board
Cutting knife- to cut and bevel edges
Pliers- to snap the cutting knife tip
Ink pen or pencil- not a ball point or you will dent the surface
Metal ruler- to guide the cutting knife
Glue- contact adhesive, fast drying craft glue, glue stick/paste depending on the situation
Paper- to join edge to edge pieces that are on an angle other than 90 degrees
Epoxy resin- usually a 1:4 part hardener to resin mix
Fibreglass matting, cloth and tissue
Fairing filler- to mix the resin to a non slumping paste or to colour to gauge depth of layer
Wide synthetic paint brush- to apply resin
Acetone for clean up and to smooth paste surfaces to limit sanding once cured.
Sandpaper, dremel etc. to sand and prepare for painting.

M98 Sniper from mass Effect 3

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The barrel is made of a series of strips of the stuff, the edges beveled back and the top faces pasted to the card with lunch wrap. Not the waxed kind the paper stuff that can be used to wipe up messes… ehem. But thin enough to absorb the resin and let the card also absorb the resin. Hense using paste not any kind of serious glue barrier. The first barrel was made of white foamcore and the tissue buckled too much over it. The masking tape also did not absorb the resin and so the whole thing required more work and more resin to stabilise.

The second is from black foamcore and is much more stable.

There are internal supports of the same stuff. Two inner most have a hole large enough for the PVC pipe to go through and the outermost had holes poked so I could pour resin down the inside.

 

Shae Vizla Thighs, gauntlets and Greaves

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I had attempted several times to make the greaves and thigh pieces. The model had definite angles and flat surfaces and the normal method of using card to support the resin did not work as is warped heavily even before the resin was applied. The foamcore board meant I was able to make stable shapes that could be resinned without warping. The thickness of the board also allowed for deep edges as is seen in a lot of game armour.

Sadly I was in a rush while remaking the Shae Vizla costume elements and I have discarded two full attempts at making the chest armour work. However this post will be adapted and added to my construction notes as I do.