Sculpting Archive
Page 3

Table of Contents:

Making a Pipe Armature
Paper mush and concrete
Where to buy Armature
Basic Maskmaking Supplies
Super sculpey solvent?
Baking Large Supersculpy Bust

Making a Pipe Armature

I'm looking for a website with a "how to" section about how to build an armature...
does anyone know a good one?

I'll take some pictures and write you up a simple way to make a sculpting armature. It's a fairly cheap thing to do with some pipe and wood from your local hardware store. You'll just need to add some plaster bandage to the mix and you'll be good to go. Honestly, all the big names use things like it!

dean please post um here it would also help me out along with many other newbies.

OK, here it is the info you need to make something cheap an easy. This is a basic pipe armature that Casey has used while sculpting at my house. Heh, heh, yeah I had to!

There are not a lot of parts, here's the shopping list:

1 6" lazy susan ballbearing ring
1 24" round particle board base
1 1" galvanized pipe flange
1 1"x18" galvanized pipe
1 package of screws
1 bottle of glue
1 roll of plaster bandage or
1 package of cheese cloth and 1 pound of plaster.

Some tools:
Yard stick or measuring device
Drill with assorted drill bits
Screwdriver to match your screws

Here's how I put it together:
Find the approximate middle of the 24" round base and draw an x across it at least 8 inches long. Drill a small pilot hole in the middle of the X.
Center the lazy susan ring, drill some pilot holes, fill the holes with glue and then screw down the lazy susan ring.

Now flip over the base so the lazy susan ring is on the bottom. Now you will need to attach the flange to the top of the base. this is where that small pilot hole is going to come in handy.
Find the small pilot hole and center the flange over it. Drill pilot holes, fill them with glue and then screw the flange down. With a pipe installed and it being covered with a bunch of clay and plaster.

Lastly we need to make the top of the armature. this is where it will take one or two rolls of plaster bandage depending on the size. It was commented that the top of my armature did not have to be this large and it is a bit rough. You want it somewhat smooth but bumpy so the clay can grab onto it. I made my top using burlap and plaster since I did not want to waste my plaster bandages. I've learned a few things with this method since then so my next one should be better.

Now, for those cheap people out there who are not using plaster bandages here is some helpful advice. Always prewet the material you're going to use. It should not be dripping wet but it can not be dry either. If your material is dry it will suck the moisture from the plaster and do bad things. The top should be roughly the size of a small ball, something between a normal hard professional baseball and a 12" softball.

Presoak your material, mix your plaster, let the plaster thicken up a bit, remove your material from the water and ring out the excess, adip your material into the plaster and cover it completely and finally apply on working it onto the top of the armature.

Here are some additional thoughts on making the top of the armature. I found it difficult to get the ball of the top started and staying in place. In order to work around this I thought you could also buy a galvinized 'T' fitting to put on the top of the pipe. This would give you something to wrap the plaster around easier and make for a nicer core.
The base can be made out of anything. I used the particle board becuase it's cheap and was precut at the store I shop at. If you going to use particle board it woudl be a good idea to seal it with a few coats of something. It will absorb moisture and be ruined over time.
One last bit of advice. Make sure you get galvinized pipe. It is treated to resist moisture and rusting. Notice the bottom flange on this picture and how it is rusting. I used standard black pipe because it was cheaper and it is now rusting. I've not used it much and it's not been exposed to a lot of moisture. So be careful in what materials you use.

Thanks a ton dean. this will help me out some. just like to add I used cheese cloth when I made mine and it seems to be working just fine. I took a piece of cheese cloth and wrapped it around the top of the pipe (to cover the open hole in the pipe) then why the plaster was still runny kinda like water I applied it on the cheese cloth to soak it a bit. then when the plaster thicked up a bit I started building it up then added more cheese cloth on it then covered that with more plaster. when you do this you can grab and the bottom and sqeeze the plaster upwards and it forms a ball/mush room. I now know this is wrong so I guess I will make another one but still gunna sculpt on what I have right now to see if it helps any (which I doubt) just my .02 cents.

Casey would use something of this sort to create a sculpt with a neck. He did mention that the top might have been a bit large to pull out of a one peice mold neck. Otherwise it was fine. It looks like Jordu used something very similar with his demo on sculpting for his dvd tutorial on movie fx magazine.


Paper mush and concrete

I once saw a model made out of concrete and paper mush.
I asked the woman who made it and she said that she started out with a chicken wire frame and then she covered it with bandages and then she put the paper mush and concrete mix over it.
I would like to do something like that but I have a few questions, can I use plaster instead of concrete and can anyone tell me what ratio of paper mush and plaster I should use.
Do you have any other tips on this.

What brand of paper mush were you thinking of using?
The paper is just there to bulk up the plaster much like burlap, hemp, cotton, paper towels, cheese cloth, terry cloth, table cloth, cloth of Magnesia, dogs/cats, small children and bread. Cats are my first choice, but the hair is a bit of a problem.
Douse the paper in the plaster until it becomes a paper mush, then glop it onto the chicken wire and it will set. You have to smooth it out with a kidney tool/sponge/hand/small child to avoid sharp edges. Burlap works great because it is a loose weave and the plaster flows between the fibers and locks it in very tight as well as bulking it up.
Experiment with a variety of mush sources to see what suits you best, but you'll probably agree with me on the cat thing.

Since plaster has a tendancy to set pretty fast (unlike concrete), you may want to extend the working time.
You can add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice per cup of cold water to double or tripple the work time or you can add up to 5% flour to make the plaster pliable for up to 3 hours. This works with ultracal too, but I don't know if it's ok for molds, just sculptures.

I think I read somewhere that the paper mush will lighten the plaster but keep it strong, does anyone know anything about this?
Thanks for the help.

Expirement with Aves Clay-shay. It's great stuff. You can almost sculpt it like clay, and gives more precision than the other mache type mixtures you can make.

I did it WOOOHHOOO, its setting right now, I decided to just use plaster and forget the paper mush, it worked out great.!!!

To retard the setting time of plaster add approx 1/2 a tsp of Sodium Citrate to a large bucket of water. Then add your plaster. This is suitable for mouldmaking as well! Often wondered why all them moulds in cinefex look as smooth as a babys arse?


Where to buy Armature

I want to try mask making and I was wondering what would or could be used for an armature with out making a life cast of myself.

You can buy one from:


Basic Maskmaking Supplies

I'm new to maskmaking although NOT new to sculpting. I'm looking for a list of supplies and places I can get them cheap. My friend showed me this monster makers beginner kit, but I figure I can get a better deal somewhere else. So far I have this list of what I assume I need.
Am I missing anything?
How much would this all cost me? What kind of oil based clays are good for making masks?

5 lbs. Oil based clay
25 lbs. White Hydro Cal
1 yard Burlap
Molding Tools
1 Quart Mask Latex
5 color 4 oz. Mask paint

Just a few starter comments (someone who has done masks, please chime in!)
Oil based clay: Any are good - pick what you feel most comfortable with. As long as you're not molding in silicone (which you wouldn't do for a mask), then sulfur content isn't even an issue...

Other sundry items to use:
Mold straps
Water based clay (to make the retaining wall that helps create the two halves of your mold)
Plastic cap material to seal the clay, and thus simplify mold cleanup
Drainage bucket to catch the excess latex...

Seems you don't have a big budget, so why not make your own latex paints? Get a little more casting latex, dilute it with 2 to 3 parts distilled water (be careful when you do this, as you don't want the latex to clump up..mix it slow). Pick up some acrylic craft paints from a craft shop or department of Walmart and mix them in. A lot cheaper than buying it already made.
Where are you located?

Depending on the type of mask you want to make, you'll need more then 5 pounds of clay. I would recommend a nice medium to medium firm grade of clay. Stay away from the #2 Roma or Prima, they seem a bit too soft in my opinion. Also, although Prima is cheap it is a lot harder to smooth so I would stay away from it for that reasona lone. I have a bunch on hand and I'm going to switch over to either Roma or Chavant when I get a chance.
You can make your own armature cheaply, check out the sculpting study forum.
Plaster can be from a local pottery supply house, burlap from your local craft store. Molding tools are almost the same as your sculpting tools. But your'll need the buckets and
stuff to measure out the plaster and mater and to mix it all in. Which can be found at your local home improvment store.

I'm from Brooklyn.
As far as making the masks goes I plan on making half masks or maybe even some 1/4 face masks that just cover the eyes.
Do I need anything specific for a half head mask?
Anything I can cut out from this list?

I personally started out with an Armature from Monstermakers and some of their oil based clay. I like their clay for sculpting teeth, horns, and ears. but I prefer soft and medium soft roma for skin and general facial build up. I really wouldn't start with a kit, try to establish some general sculpting skills and techniques before you create a mask. that way you can see where you have to work from skill wise, plus it forces you to stay focused on the sclupture, and not say "oh this is good enough" and slap some plaster on it and be final. I myself recently bought some sculpting books, videos, and my trusty anatomy book. As far as tools go you can make your own texture stamps with latex, and tools you can make yourself, or buy but I suggest to be creative, find some stuff around your home or garage and create some tools of your own. I do also suggest to invest in some nice sculpting tools. I bought a pro studio kit from monster makers for my first sculpt and they were really great to work with. I cant say much more, just sculpt til it hurts. Hope this helps some what.

Oh you can cut out a lot of things if you want. They just make the job easier. All you really need should be the following to get started. Styrofoam head for wigs, some clay and tools to sculpt. To make the mold all you need is some waterbased clay and plaster and the misc items tomix it.
If you really want to start with a rough face thing try laying out a thin sheet of clay about a 1/2 thick. Cover that with some plastic wrap on one side. Take a deep breatha nd push the plastic side to your face and try to get the rough form of your face. Build up the bakeside with more clay to keep it from deforming. Mix some plaster and dump it in there to make a cheap face casting for a rough mask.


Super sculpey solvent?

what does everyone use for smoothing their sculpey sculpts?

I have used vasiline sparingly on a brush and isopropol alcohol

I use vegetable oil.

I use turpenoid- low odour thinners. or lighter fluid

I use 99% alcohol and sometimes a mixture of alcohol and a little sculpey dilute. But for the most part the alcohol works well.

Hhhmmm, I was working with Premo (or whatever they're calling thier expensive, "high-grade" Sculpy), and after a while of smoothing it with alcohol, the surface became hard and sort of dry (it felt like it had started to cure a bit). Was I dehydrating it with the alcohol? It was very strange. Perhaps mixing with their diluent will help?

Hey Joe,
Yeah the alcohol will dry out the clay and the sculpey dilute will help keep it from doing that so much. I mix about 75% alcohol to 25% dilute so that the dilute doesn't sit on the surface to long and you can get back to sculpting quickly.


Baking Large Supersculpy Bust

I am getting close to finishing a life size character bust sculpted with super sculpy. And I am unsure of the best way to bake it without causing cracks etc.

I've baked large stuff like this before and the trick is to bake it very slow at a low temprature over a long period of time. You need to warm up the inside and make sure it bakes out completely. I would recommend starting at around 200 and bake it at that temprature for around 4 to 6 hours. You may need to raise the temprature if your oven isn't accurate with the guage. An extra temprature gauge on the inside of the oven will also help you make sure the temprature is accurate with your oven guage on the outside. Also don't ever open the oven or remove the piece until you let it completly cool off over night. Because Super Sculpey slightly shrinks when it's baked you may get some cracks no matter what you do, but those can be easily fixed with epoxy putty like Aves, magic sculpt etc......
Hope this helps.