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Figure Making Can Be Fun - Articles

Figure Making Can Be Fun?!? Series

Mold Making

This is the third in a series of figure making articles. The series focus is on the steps necessary to make a cast head for a professional size ventriloquist figure (works great for other types of puppets too!). This particular article will deal with making a mold of the clay head sculpture, that was done in the previous article.

   Although I have made molds for vent figures out of numerous materials over the years, including plaster, urethane rubber, fiberglass (epoxy and polyester), silicone rubber, etc., I have found latex mold rubber to be the easiest medium for begining figure makers to start with. Some who have tried latex in the past, with poor results have tried the 'hobby' latex and assumed that latex was not such a great mold making material. Professional grade latex is a whole different animal and bears no resemblance to the other variety. This can be purchased at A-R Products listed below. Ask for their #74 Latex.

A-R Products, Inc.
11807-7/8 Slauson Ave.
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
(562) 907-7707

Click on photos to enlarge

   Seal the head with Krylon matte sealer to protect the latex from the oils in the clay. The plastic shims divide the mold into two parts. The back of the head will be for a trap door. The front part will be the main part of the mold. The mold is not split down the side of the head for a specific reason. You can make castings of the head without having to bond two halves together later. This type of mold can be used for slush casting urethane to make a hollow casting, or you could hand lay up fiberglass. You can also press an epoxy putty material (like Magic Sculp) into the mold. This can be done through the open trap door area in the completed mold. Click on photo for shim info!

Applying Latex

   Dissolve a little dish washing soap in a cup of water. Dip your brush in this solution and then shake out the brush pretty well. This helps keep the latex from coagulating in the brush. The first couple coats are done differently than the rest. Use a small brush for the first few coats, and do a very thin application of latex. A half inch artist's brush can work well.

First coat of latex on clay head model

   Watch for any bubbles or pockets of air getting trapped and work them out with the brush. That is the advantage of starting out with very thin coats. It is very easy to see any bubbles or air pockets. This way, when the mold is finished, the inside surface will be bubble free and a quality mold. Apply latex to both sides of the shims. Let the first coat dry to the touch and then apply the second coat. which is similar to the first. Let this second coat dry to the touch as well. These first 2 thin coats tend to dry reasonably quick.

First coat of latex complete

   Subsequent Coats: After the first two coats, switch to a 1 inch disposable bristle brush. This should also be dipped in the soapy water solution first, and then wrung out fairly well. You can now put on thicker coats and the mold will begin to build faster.

Second coat of latex

    Do one coat in the morning and one in the evening. It is possible to push it to 3 coats per day if the air temperature is warm or if you aim a fan across the mold to speed the drying process. You should not see any wet spots of latex anywhere prior to applying then next coat. Make your coats of latex even.

Latex mold complete

    Watch for areas where the latex might get too thick, like in corners or deep recesses of the model. Take your time and make sure the coats are not super heavy or have areas that have globs of latex that won't dry well.12 to 15 coats (or about 1/8" thick) can be adequate for a hand or foot mold. On a head mold I would recommend going about 3/16" thick. This thickness will help a larger mold keep its shape better.

Latex mold - side view

    The secret to latex is putting on a healthy coat each time (probably 1/64" inch thick or less might describe it) and let each coat dry before applying the next. You do not however, want to go too long between coats. You can't skip a day of latexing. The next coat would not bond to the last. Stick to the schedule of 2 coats per day minimum (one in the morning and one in the evening).

Latex mold complete

   Latex is a good mold material to start with. It is reasonably 'fool proof' and you are pretty much guaranteed of having a useable mold when finished. Other mold making materials are not quite as forgiving and take more care to produce a useable mold the first time around. Most flexible molds (latex, urethane and silicone rubber) need a support shell, called a 'mother mold'. The next article will show how this is done. Click on 'Mother Mold Part 1' below or click on button to go to the next article.

Figure Making Articles...

Head Proportions
Sculpting a dummy's head
Molding a dummy's head


Mother Mold 1
Mother Mold 2
Casting a dummy's head
Mother Mold
Part 1
Mother Mold
Part 2



Do it yourself - Dummies!

        See what our customers have done with our cast dummy parts........


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