I had some creative time today. The lure of the cheap stoneware clay and the old dummy head.. you know how it is.

I’m really happy with it. It’s a believable shape for an anthro critter’s head. That is; realistically proportioned, non-toony.

I used a feline reference, but it came out more canid. Covered it in some leftover silicone so I can get a rigid casting before the clay dries out and shrinks off the dummy.

I’m a bit afraid right now.

The milling machine’s been delayed another month. ETA is now early December. But I’m not complaining. Technically I don’t have enough money for it anymore. Once it arrives I’ll have at most a fortnight to pay the rest of the outstanding balance.

Since the £700 set aside for it was going to be sitting in my bank account for some 3 (now 6) months longer than expected, I decided to try and grow the money a bit before it went finally into low-fluidity material goods.

I’ve been spending a lot of money this week. A lot of it either on repairing or replacing tools, but mostly on these horns I’ve won on ebay tonight and the upright rotary table for the 4-axis mill project.
And I’ll be spending more once the horns arrive. I’ll be casting a lot, painting, trying out foam-rubber casts, mostly in the hope of getting enough wonderful quality items ready that I’ll be able to storm both Etsy and MCM Expo with them.

I think I can do it. But I’m still gambling again. And to be honest with myself, my previous gambles haven’t had very good returns.

It’s a supportive routine though. Waiting for supplies and parts to arrive sets me up with a waiting list in my mind, so I get on with immediate jobs a lot faster.

All I do is talk about what I do now. I’m sorry it’s likely not a very interesting subject to most.

Backlog/owed items are almost all done. Legacy projects are either scrapped or progressing. Things are generally improving. Life’s clearing out the chaff.

Will try and get back on Skype in the workshop again tomorrow. Talking while I work may help further.

The new work order sheet is helping hugely. I’ve got them listed by resin type, rather than by order. I start at the top, then look at the list to see what moulds are still free that there’s an entry for, then do that.
Makes for some odd bed-fellows, but with the FAR shorter degassing times the bench-top de-gasser’s giving me, it’s easy to manage interleaving the different mixes.

Mondays castings:

Tuesdays castings:

Yes that’s an anvil. I thought it was overkill last time, but since they last couple haven’t bonded to the velcro right without it, it’s in play again.

At this rate, all orders should be complete and shipped at the latest, Monday. Phew.

Please keep an eye on the Twitter feed for up-to-the-minute updates if you’re concerned about your order.

[20/06/2010: Amalgamating old posts from “Dreamwidth Creative Blog” into sci-fi-fox.com to re-purpose DW blog account.]

So back to casting again, now the mini degasser’s working (and working well at that!).

Success in casting the hemispheres in water-clear styrene!
Last night I carefully trimmed the silicone moulds back to make the walls very thin, so they were drawn in with the surface tension as the styrene shrinks. This meant no streaks anymore, and there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable distortion of the shape.

The biggest problem us then actually getting the styrene out of the tin, especially in small amounts. It’s provided in a paint-tin, so unless you’re using the whole lot in one, you need a way to extract small amounts, and a plastic mixing cup is too big to fit in. So today I quickly brazed together mini ladle out of the stainless lid from a cocktail shaker and a long bolt with a couple of nuts for grip.
I’m keeping it in a glass jar, since I only have one sort of styrene to use, and apparently it’s not hygroscopic like the PU resins are. So this’ll keep it from needing repeated cleaning.

Colour mixing
Tonight I finally got a really rich chocolate colour for the only remaining casting order from before Confuzzled. “What would a melted KitKat look like?” was a good visual guide.

10pts Green, 4pts Red, 1pt Black

The resin claws and footpads are setting overnight. As tomorrow is MCM Expo and I don’t know what time I’ll get home, casting will probably resume on sunday.

T-shirts
I’ve been making enquiries into new variations on the standard UKFur design shirts. I’ll be getting a few “4XL” in in the unisex. Technically they’re still 3XL, but of a shirt type where it corresponds to a 54/56″ chest rather than a 50/52″.

Also been gaining interest in getting some shirts in fitted ladies sizes. Currently looking at getting some in standard black.. but also pink. And other colours too, of course!

http://www.promotional-store.com/%28ec5bicj0gpbrwr45b3qfzt45%29/product.aspx?sqs=5lBamEO6TJFdo0YhKUaoMLQ1W5R4IEWzphCPIqTnTSY%253d

Oddly enough, this one is a heavier weight of cotton than the one I was previously looking at, but much more affordable, and should put the ladies shirts at £12 in whatever colour.

As the next LondonFurs meet is only a week away, I’ll likely make the next order after that (as I may need the extra cash I’ll hopefully earn there, to make this increasingly large order).

[20/06/2010: Amalgamating old posts from “Dreamwidth Creative Blog” into sci-fi-fox.com to re-purpose DW blog account.]

I recently took a £20 commission from a dear friend to make a basic modification to a set of driving goggles. She wanted them “steampunked” and I had a lovely bit of filigree from a 1920/30s wall clock. I’m sad to see it go, but it did seem to be the perfect use for it. So on with making some Winged Messenger goggles.
The first thing I had to do was cut out the middle of the “sun flare”, as it had an odd number of points.

I then filed and put it on the sanding disk to get the burrs off and round the edges. The natural tarnish looks good and authentic, so there didn’t seem need to polish it.
The brass is also thicker than I remembered, so it didn’t seem like it would need extra reinforcement, and I just drilled out the existing holes to put in some rivets.
Standard rivets? Yes. But the frame on the goggles is silver, so the aluminium rivets fade in very well. Okay they’re not real metal (aluminised plastic frames), but the mix is pretty good and it drilled nicely. Too nicely. It was hard to stop the drill pulling through and through the padding.

Still, basically turned out nice. :)

Will be dropping it to them at Expo at the weekend rather than posting it as the timing’s not right for postage (will be refunding the postage, of course).


I’ve also just tried styrene water-clear resin for the first time, and have learnt a few things.

  1. It’s cheap.
  2. It STINKS. The whole workshop. Even after airing it for several days.
  3. 6% shrinkage is a problem when casting eyes, unless you’re costuming as something from a Rob Zombie music video.

The latter is actually an interesting effect, though likely to be hard to reproduce exactly. The pulling away from the mould due to shrinkage during gelling has left river-delta style patterns down the sides, with a clear centre underneath.
It may be avoidable by using a double-fill to take up the slack (but that may increase optical distortion), or a very thin mould that will pull in with the shrinkage due to surface tension (but may distort the shape).
The urethanes are more expensive, but looking more reliable. Will be making a comparison set tomorrow. The cure time is much shorter on PU’s compared to styrenes (3-5min vs 15-20). Gives much less time for proper degassing. May be doable degassing in-mould in a small fast chamber.

[20/06/2010: Amalgamating old posts from “Dreamwidth Creative Blog” into sci-fi-fox.com to re-purpose DW blog account.]

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