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May 28, 2006

silicone or foam latex next?

by sven at 8:00 am

I've got a puppet in progress right now that will be cast in flexible expanding urethane foam ("cold foam"). It will have an outermost skin of latex, which will be painted directly into the ultracal 30 mold. The armature will be made of aluminum armature wire.

I'm committed to seeing the puppet through -- but already I'm pretty sure that I won't be using this techinique again.

After this puppet, I want to make either a foam latex puppet or a silicone puppet. I suspect that one of these two materials will become my default for casting puppets here-on-out. Pros and cons for each...

Foam latex:


The notion that foam latex is going to rot so quickly is really appalling. ...But then, it's what Ray Harryhausen used. I wonder if part of me would always feel incomplete, if I didn't try making a foam latex puppet at least once? A thought experiment: If there was a class in Portland on making foam latex puppets, and the tuition was $250 -- and I got to keep all the tools and materials -- would I take that class? I think the answer is YES! -- in a heartbeat!

I've been pricing it out, and I think that I could actually get a foam latex set-up for only $90 - $100. ...But then, suppose that after I try it I find that don't want to keep working with latex? (Did I mention that it rots?) I'd be stuck with a big clunky oven eating up my precious space. If I got a used oven for cheap, I could probably just sell/give it back to the store where I got it. Even so, it feels weird to go through all that trouble and expense if I don't know that I'm going to stick with this material.

In the long run, I suspect that I'll wind up working with silicone. I just can't stand the idea of my puppets rotting away before my eyes. The main worry with silicone is that I'll need to get into the puppet to tighten joints -- but won't be able to. ...From what I've read so far, I think that I can cobble together a solution for painting the stuff. And all the other "cons" seem pretty surmountable.

I guess, then, that I ought to try silicone next. It's more likely to be the material that I want to stick with. If it's not, then I can try foam latex with a clear conscience. Or hey -- even if I love silicone, there's nothing preventing me from trying foam latex later on -- just for the sake of having the experience.

posted by sven | May 28, 2006 8:00 AM | categories: stopmo