Friday, January 18, 2008

Creating the Master and doing some molding

To make the master mold, you mix a two part casting compound (this particular type by the company Smoothon(tm)). It comes in two liquids, and is mixed at a ratio of 1:10 (10 ounces of Part A for each ounce of part B). However, you first have to box your creation in somehow to hold the compound until it cures. I used Legos, as they are very flexible and easy to customize to whatever "box area" I need. You need to ensure you have a sufficient seal between the board (my ceramic tile) and the walling in material, otherwise it will leak badly when the compound is poured in. I used white glue. This is what the final boxing in looked like after I'd poured the mold-making compound in. I also mounted and did a few "experimental" castings as well (hence the 2 other molds on the tile).

It takes about 6 hours to harden sufficiently, and for the 1st minute or so I gently shook the tile so that air bubbles would come to the surface. I didn't get back to this for a week so these molds had a full week of curing time. Overkill, but since this was my first time doing this, I didn't want to rush things.

The legos came off easily, exposing the mold in all its glory. There was a little residue on the bottom, which was no problem, but I felt that the detail did not come out- in fact I thought they looked lousy ! Also, for the gun pits I used thin wood for the supports I had to dig these out of the mold, as they refused to stay embedded in the clay when I removed the mold from the tile. I had my mold for casting, and I thought I'd screwed up, but decided I needed to go on anyway and see how these babies cast up.

I used an acrylic casting compound (also sold by the same company) that would harden in 2-3 minutes (it is a 1:1 ratio so 1 ounce Part A and 1 ounce Part B). It starts out clear as you can see, then gets milky after a few minutes. At that point its close to being able to be removed from the mold.

I was surpised that the detail came out as well as it did. I popped them out when they were a little soft, which allowed me to easily "trim" some of the edge off them quite easily where the compound went over the edge of the mold. One of these I used wood for the posts, the other rectangles made from clay.

The detail came out extremely well (as far as my very bad attempts at texturing could be), and I was very pleased with the results. I can now cast up a boatload of gun pits for my 10mm Civil War combined Ironclad/Land operations game. After I get a bunch ready, I'll paint them up and post what the final result.