Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hei's Daggers - Darker Than Black: Part 3

After all of those painful setbacks with the daggers, I was actually going into this part with a heavy and concerned heart. After using a product with the Smooth-On company before, I decided to give them a call and see what they suggested. They suggested their OOMOO 25 product, and so would I.

It's a really, really simple mixture. Take container A, add matching amount from container B, pour into mold. I built a mold out of some cheap thin wood I had lying around and hot glue, proving you can make a basic mold from anything. I put my dagger I built from the foam board/clay and poured this mixture over it. Low and behold, I ended up with the mold above.

Tis floppy, no? It picks up every little detail and texture, even the wood it was poured into! Its durable stuff.

Now, the problem came that their casting resin? Is 150 dollars a gallon. Mind you, I didn't charge my client nearly enough money to buy their resin. So, it got me thinking. I spent my lunch break hunting down some more fiberglass resin since Lowes decided to stop carrying it, and I lugged home a gallon of it for 35 bucks. Mind you, I didn't have any sort of releasing agent or anything for this. Now, after the problem with 'resin dissolves foam', I decided to do a wee test batch. I took a piece of the mold and cut it off, cut that piece in two, then submerged half of one piece into a cap full of resin and slathered a bunch of resin on the other piece.

Much to my joy, the resin didn't eat the mold material at all! Even MORE of a surprise, when I gave a light tug on the piece I had half-submerged? It slipped right out! No damage to mold or resin.... PERFECT.

So, I mixed up a match of resin, realized quickly after pouring it I made way too much, and hoped.

Very quick note: I discovered that for some reason or another, the resin will stay where you pour it. Meaning if you pour it thick in the tips, instead of evening out like, say, water... it'll stay real thick at the tips. Oh well, lesson learned... the instructions for fiberglass resin says to add 'a few drops' to it - screw that. I always had 'a hefty squirt' to it. It dries faster and, if you screwed up and didn't add enough hardener, you won't accidently have half-dry-but-unable-to-finish-drying resin like I had once.  >.>

One hour later...

I had this beauty. It slipped RIGHT out of the mold without any problems or damage to mold or dagger. It is PERFECT. It took to every detail like a charm. The dagger is going to need some facetime with Mr. Belt Sander and Mr. Dremel though, but I call it a huge success.

How thick it ended up being - thicker than required but that's what a belt sander is for.

Detail shots. You can see how the angles turned out beautifully.

I actually poured a second one right after this. I will have to play with the pouring to get an even thickness, but produce four or forty of these will be no problem. I need to do two more tonight, hit the under sides with the belt sander to get an even thickness, glue them together, then belt sander+dremel v. 2.0 to get the daggers even and flat all around. Then its gesso, painting, aging, and... SHIPPING! On schedule for Sept. 1st delivery date.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hei's Daggers - Darker Than Black: Part 2

It probably seems like I forgot about this prop, but I haven't. Actually, it turned into a complete nightmare. First, if you remember, I laid out the pattern on cardboard. Then, I cut it out.

Either I need a new knife or this particular cardboard was crap - it was so hard to cut evenly. But, it gave me and my client a perspective on the 3D design of it.

After some consultation on the length and width and such, we cropped it down to this.

So my original plan was to make it out of foam, sand it, then put a layer of clear resin over the foam to be able to make it into a mold for, well, molding.

While this started out as a success, and I was very pleased with my brand new jigsaw, there quickly became a problem I had never had before making props - it snapped, clean in half. I think I stared for a solid minute at the broken blade before I sighed and realized this wasn't going to work. Due to the double-bladed design of the daggers, I couldn't get in along the edges properly without the foam snapping. So, I ended up trying something new.

Don't laugh! I used this when I was in college. It's called foam board - two layers of thick paper with foam between them. First was the trick of finding this stuff in a new location since I didn't have a huge art supplies store (actually I had two) in Philly. Once I found it - surprisingly on sale which got me a lot for five bucks - I laid out my design on it. Now, building that cardboard cut out before? Came into amazing amounts of help. The foamboard version turned out nicer and was easier to cut.

Now there's a trick to it. To use foamboard like this, I had to layer it. You can see it in the picture above. The other problem was that this has very slight angles on the edges for the blade, which is quite thin, so I couldn't build on it. After some pondering, I carefully cut 1/8th of an inch from the edge into the paper and removed the first layer, then sanded the foam beneath to give me a sloped edge!

Now, all of this was very rough, not smooth, and clearly doesn't have the beveled edges the dagger should. So, that process began with an old friend of mine - Sculpy Clay!

Here's the final. I used my heat gun I have for paint stripping+wonderflex melting and baked the clay right onto the dagger as I was going. It's a nice, smooth look - not perfect, but I'll have to do some sanding on the resin when its molded. This is one half of the dagger - they're symmeterical, so I'll make four copies and glue two halves together. I am pleased how this is coming out after some serious agony about what was going on with it. I give a huge thank you to J-F, who is another builder and my good friend, who gave me some encouragement to keep going after the foam-snapping incident. (And after the clay-gourd 'frankengourd' incident, too.)